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Monday, August 22, 2016

Colby Cosh: Has Elizabeth May thought this through?

If only the Green Party of Canada could have held it together for a little while longer. We may be on the cusp of an electoral reform that gives Canada transferable ballots or some form of more proportional representation. It’s the moment the GPC has been spinning its wheels in anticipation of. An electoral reform can hardly fail to help a Green party. Indeed, at times the moral case for getting rid of first-past-the-post seems to depend quite heavily on the implied existence of people who would like to vote Green, but who are discouraged from doing so by the onerous inconvenience that elections are for choosing governments.

Now the actual Greens, the people who are firmly committed to the Green party and who work for it between elections, have steered the movement into the bottomless mire that is Israel vs. Palestine. At their national convention, held Aug. 5-7 in Ottawa, Green delegates voted to approve the adoption of the “BDS” approach to Israel — boycott, divestment and sanctions — as official party doctrine.

BDS received 58.5 per cent support from Green membership in a pre-convention ballot, just short of the 60 per cent needed for automatic adoption. This vote got the BDS resolution sent to a workshop at the actual convention, and when it came back to the floor it was carried — too precipitously, it turns out, to suit the taste of Green Leader Elizabeth May.

May seems surprisingly aware that she is a crank at the head of a party of cranks that is now crossing a tolerable upper bound of crankiness. The Green party is, broadly, supposed to be a party of hippie principles. (Sorry. It’s the best possible summary.) In the view of an apparent majority of members, those principles require intolerant opposition to the Israeli state. The GPC doesn’t have a formal position on North Korea or on the Russian occupation of Karelia, and nobody, much less a majority within the party, is proposing one.

You are already adrift in a sea of political dementia if you find yourself having this argument. The position that the Palestinians are just one of many peoples that drew a bad hand in history’s poker game is an unstable equilibrium, and it is kept that way intentionally by Zionism-haters with a wide range of motives...

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