A provincial wing of Canada’s ecocapitalist party has imploded in a fight over whether to be somewhat moderate or very moderate.
by Ian Angus
[It may help readers outside of Canada to know that the province of Alberta is the centre of Canada’s oil industry. It has elected right wing governments continuously since 1935.]
The Green Party of Alberta is no more. Just 16 months after the party got its largest vote ever in a provincial election (4.5% across the board and a high of 22% in one constituency) this statement appeared on the Alberta Greens website:
The “Alberta Greens” Green Party of Alberta has been de-registered by Elections Alberta as a political entity in the Province of Alberta. De-registration of the party is an administrative opportunity to re-organize and rebuild the party into a viable political organization. The importance and mainstream acceptance of the Green Party’s values and principles are on the rise, and the Green Party’s many supporters can now look forward to a fresh start.
The “Alberta Greens” Green Party of Alberta Society is now registered as a non-profit corporate entity in the province of Alberta for the purposes of advancing a “Green” agenda, and preparing the Green Party’s political future. A meeting will be announced in the very near future to plan a path forward.
This ignominious retreat is the ultimate result of months of infighting over control of the party apparatus, leading up to what’s been called a “coup,” led by former candidates Joe Anglin and Edwin Erickson. Their motivation can be judged by a recent comment from Erickson:
“We wanted to change it to something that was a little more electable and get rid of some of the riff-raff and left-wing nuts,” he said. “There are people in that party who have no interest in getting elected.” (Edmonton Journal, July 15, 2008)
Similarly, Anglin says the goal was “to take this party mainstream and to make it a viable political force,” by removing the “militant radicals.” (Camrose Canadian, July 16, 2008)
In fact, the Green Party in Alberta, as elsewhere in Canada, is a modestly pro-capitalist organization. Its election slogan in Alberta in 2008 was “Making Albertans Happier, Healthier and Wealthier.” Its platform included a rail line to Fort MacMurray, to improve access to the home of the grossly-destructive Alberta Tar Sands, where the Greens favor “properly planned and orderly” development.
Militant radicals they are not!
So what we seem to have had in this case is a falling-out between moderate greens and very moderate greens over who could best run election campaigns. Anglin and Erickson, who received 22% and 19% of the vote in their constituencies in the last election, apparently blamed the old executive for their losses — the party just wasn’t moderate enough for Alberta.
The factional battle, which apparently had been brewing underground for about a year, broke into the open at the party’s General Meeting last September, when an unexpectedly large number of new members showed up. Concerned that meeting had been stacked by Anglin and Erickson, the old executive walked out of the hall, convened a one-minute meeting in the parking lot, and immediately voted to adjourn.
Meanwhile, the Anglin-Erickson group held what they claimed was the real General Meeting inside the building. They elected new officers, including Anglin and Erickson as leader and deputy leader.
Subsequently, faced with a lawsuit filed by Anglin, most of the old guard walked away, leaving the new group in control.
On February 25, six months after being elected Deputy Leader, Edwin Erickson demonstrated his commitment to the party by resigning and launching the Alberta Progress Party, an organization that has been pretty much invisible since then.
On April 1, Anglin accused the old executive of refusing to hand over the party’s financial records. The former CFO denies this, saying he turned over all the records in January, and that the entire dispute involved three “arrogant and incompetent people” taking over the party “essentially by force,” and destroying what was “becoming respected as a real political force in Alberta.”
Whatever the truth about the party’s financial records, the Greens missed two deadlines for filing legally-required disclosure documents, and Elections Alberta removed the party from the list of registered parties on July 16. This means that the Party cannot issue tax receipts and cannot run in the next provincial election.
There’s no value in trying to trace this sordid story in any more detail. The dedicated ecology activists of the Alberta Greens’ rank-and-file were badly served by both leadership factions. Neither offers a political program that deserves support from anyone who is seriously concerned about stopping environmental destruction.