Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Green Party cultivating credibility in campaign

Success of platform will be measured election day

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A new political party is trying to establish its credibility in this campaign.

The Green Party of Manitoba is running 14 candidates, up from six in 1999.

Party leader Markus Buchart said success for the fledgling party will be measured on election day.

"We'd really like to elect somebody. That is really important to us," Buchart said.

The Greens performed dismally in 1999, attracting 973 votes, 0.2 per cent of all ballots cast. But Buchart downplays those results, saying they didn't try. Buchart said the party's objective in 1999 was merely to nominate at least five candidates so they'd be recognized as a registered party.

As implied by their name, the Greens are synonymous with environmental issues but the party doesn't distinguish between environmental, social and economic issues.

"Society, the economy and the environment are fundamentally and inextricably interdependent," states the party's statement on common values as outlined on its web site. "Policies addressing one can only be effective if they address all three spheres at the same time."

The Greens aren't the only small party in this campaign but U of M political scientist William Neville thinks the public senses they are different from the Libertarians and the Communists, who are also running candidates.

"The other parties seem to be movements linked to issues of the moment, with no sustainability, but people understand that some of these (environmental) things must be addressed or they will become worse," Neville said.

The Greens have staked out a broad platform. They're opposed to mining and forestry in provincial parks. They're opposed to the rapid expansion of the hog industry and they'd impose regulations and legislation to contain the industry. They'd increase corporate taxes for large firms but reduce or eliminate them for small and medium-sized firms. Marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol and tobacco. On crime, they favour less reliance on prison as a deterrence, preferring community sentences for non-violent crimes but support victim impact statements and restitution. They'd ban VLTs and freeze new casino development and close down existing ones over a 10-year period. On labour, they'd extend workplace legislation to farm employees and they'd reduce the work week to 32 hours. They support same-sex rights, including marriage and adoption.

As a political force, the Greens are mostly a novelty in Canada where pollster Ipsos-Reid has them at four per cent of popular support. But in Europe, they're the established third party in many countries. In Germany, they've been part of the governing coalition for two successive governments. In France, they're credited with pressuring the government to create a 35-hour work week.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 29, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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