Green party offers substandard candidates in recent election
The Ontario Green party produced terrible results this recent provincial election across the board, earning a mere 3.9 per cent of the vote province-wide. Blame can obviously be placed on policies and affairs, but how inadequately does a party have to perform before some blame is directed toward local candidates? Sure a platform can be weak compared to another more established political party and not every aspect of a platform can be fully costed or completely problem free, but it is the responsibility of the representatives to pick up some of the slack and show confidence in what they are supposedly supporting for our province.
In Kitchener-Waterloo, the Green party candidate J.D. McGuire was a particular instance of this general party disappointment. He even created his own self-fulfilling prophecy when he announced to a room full of potential voters, “I’m a realist, and I’m pretty certain that the Greens aren’t going to form a government on Oct. 6.” Yes, he really did say that. I mean, let’s be realistic, the chances of the Green party forming a government on election day was extremely unlikely, but it is his political party. He was not just voting for them, he was representing them.
Being one of the rare K-W residents who paid attention to this past provincial election, I actually did go out and attend candidate meetings (multiple times even) to see what potential MPPs had to offer. Between the phone conversation with McGuire and the two all-candidate meetings I attended, my opinion of this Green candidate went from, “maybe he’s just having a rocky start,” to “oh, maybe it’s just an off night for him,” to “really, McGuire? Really?”
His comments just progressively worsened over time. When asked at a campus forum about women and women’s rights if elected, McGuire responded, “I’m married, I have a wife and I still don’t understand women.” I’m sure all the women in attendance really appreciated that heart-felt response about their livelihoods and general existence. When asked at another forum by a local high school student what he would do to help stop bullying, he responded, “I don’t know that we have a specific policy on that. So what I can offer is as an MPP, I would definitely support any legislation that made sense.” Well he may not know what to do specifically, but as long as a potential solution makes sense, then he’s all for it.
The thing is, I was never a Green party voter myself, but I still respected their ideas. I thought their initiatives towards the environment were noble, and the rest of their platform ideas were commendable, I would just never expect them to be strong political leaders if elected. And I’ll also admit that this opinion was founded on very limited research on background information into Green party specifics.
However, earlier this year I had the opportunity to speak with Cathy MacLellan, the federal Green party candidate for K-W and I was blown away. She had strong responses, an extensive knowledge on a variety of issues — extending far past the environment — and most of all, she had faith in her party. Never once did she say she had no hope of winning the federal election. Even if she was thinking it, I never got that impression. From talking with MacLellan, I felt at least a little more confident in the Green party because she was confident in her party.
The worst instance of what can only be called incompetence was at the all-candidates meeting held at Wilfrid Laurier University on Sept. 22, a tweeted question was posed to each representative: Who is your favourite Canadian?
McGuire’s response: “I don’t know that many great Canadians.”
I’ll admit, the other responses weren’t exactly extraordinary themselves, with answers ranging from the late Jack Layton to MPP Elizabeth Witmer’s own father, but at least they had answers. At least when asked during a Canadian political debate, they could name one person who inspired them in their lives. McGuire couldn’t even manage that.
What the Green party needs is candidates like MacLellan who actually seem to care about their party and the policies they represent.
McGuire’s performance reaped what he sewed, with getting only 2.6 per cent of the votes in K-W. To put this into perspective, the Conservative party got 43.4 per cent and the Independent representative got .64 per cent.
But I suppose McGuire said it best himself in his closing statement at the all-candidates meeting held at RIM Park back on Sept. 19, “I don’t know everything, my memory is terrible. I don’t have the platform memorized, I could read it for days on end without sleeping and I would never memorize it. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t know something.”
This is just one example of a disappointing Green party representative, which appeared to be the trend in this election.
Again, none of the Green candidates did well in the province overall, yet, more should have been expected of them after the successful growth in the federal Green party with its leader being elected as MP in the spring.
Ontario’s Green party should make a point of finding stronger, inspiring candidates who are well-versed in the party’s politics and can engage voters across the province in the next election if they want to have sustained longevity in the coming years.