There wasn’t much left to mourn when the Green Party of Alberta deregistered as a political party last week.
The organization now is merely a non-profit corporate entity and their website does little more than inform people that they’ll hold a meeting soon to plan their re-organization.
The party did not present suitable financial documents required by law to maintain party status because, due to an internal power struggle, they couldn’t.
So party leader Joe Anglin and his advisers decided to just let their current registration expire and come back later to rebuild again with a clean slate.
Given their internal mess, that would be the rational thing to do.
Anglin and his camp took over management of the party in one of those internal battles that just wouldn’t go away.
David Crowe and his supporters started the Alberta Greens in 1990, to push an environmental agenda in a province that had frankly been keeping environmental concerns on the back burner.
But the Green Party agenda would always have difficulty gaining traction in a province largely unable to distinguish green from red.
Anything that anybody could label “left wing” is never going very far in Alberta. As such, the Greens were content to merely use their party status to raise issues that don’t get enough attention at election time — and not much else.
There’s no shame in being a party of political conscience. Lord knows, we could use more of it.
But Lesson One in the political science handbook says that the basic aim of all parties is to govern.
If you don’t aim to govern, you never will.
And your agenda, however righteous, will never be implemented.
Joe Anglin is a lot of things, but you’ll never pin a “lefty” sign on his back. As the most electable of potential leaders within the party, and the one most determined to get elected and do something, he and his supporters swung votes in internal meetings and got themselves appointed to the executive positions within the party.
That’s when a lot of the original supporters went home, leaving behind a bit of a mess.
With the loss of party status comes the loss of ability to issue tax receipts for donations. Likewise, obviously, the ability to run candidates under your banner.
The loss is suffered mostly by voters who support the Green agenda.
Voters who do not like the government agenda must choose between Liberal or NDP candidates in their riding (who may or may not have the credibility to actually serve as an MLA), or just not vote at all.
Alberta’s electoral system already discounts minority votes, and the lack of credible alternatives at election time makes the anti-status-quo vote all the more worthless.
Joe Anglin, whatever else you may think of him or the Green agenda, has at least shown himself to be electable.
And even people who don’t like the opposition must agree that having one is important to preserve democracy. Especially having one that actually intends to govern.
Otherwise, you get a premier who thinks he’s president, someone who can decree a blanket ban on tax increases without informing his own cabinet. Or who can appoint a health care czar to reduce service at rural hospitals, without even the local MLA being informed.
Oh, but we’ve already got that.
Looking at the cardboard box containing the files and records of the Alberta Green Party, it’s hard to see them being the opposition that Alberta desperately needs, much less being a pretender to governing.
As little as that is, it’s still something to mourn in Alberta politics today.
Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.