Wednesday, June 28, 2017

GPNS : the Four Year Cicadas of Nova Scotia Politics ?

Its no secret that I have have had a very rocky on and off again relationship with the GPNS (Green 
Party of Nova Scotia) membership since its beginnings more than 20 years ago.

People usually think I have issues with its leader or its Executive ---- but its not that at all.

A Sect of Like-Minded Greens

My beef is with its ordinary membership - that ever changing revolving door set of ordinary people who join it for a while, are very active internally and then quietly fall silent and eventually leave its formal membership.

They dont stop being green-minded, just stop being GPNS-minded.

Feeling themselves to be a very small and unloved portion of the overall Nova Scotia population, they seem to join "INTO" the GPNS as one might join "INTO" a religious sect : hoping to find a group of people who think like you, talk like you, laugh like you : a place where you can let down your hair, relax your guard and be yourself.

The GPNS as the one place where you can talk to like-minded people.

But that is not at all what real political parties do.

They spend their days talking to people who are not like-minded at all : people who are, at first, either actively indifferent or even actively hostile to your point of view.

Real political parties are outside-oriented, not inside-oriented like the GPNS.

Like cicadas, the GPNS is a rare sighting to ordinary NS voters

I truly believe that the only reason the GPNS even runs candidates every four years is because they would lose their official "party" status if they did not.

It is always a relief when thirty days later they can retreat again into their green-only little world.

"Now that is completely unfair !", I can hear GPNS members shout. "We often hold conferences and seminars, and meet ordinary people at public events."

No you don't : you hold conferences where only like-minded people, small "g" green-mnded people turn up.

You leaflet at farmers' markets, where you are sure to meet more like-minded people.

You hang out at Yoga, alternative medicine, peace groups, anti-poverty groups, etc where like minded people hang out.

Where people are friendly, polite and un-challenging.

Heavens to Betsy.

The GPNS membership will do everything possible to avoid going door to door where they are sure to meet people who disagree with them and challenge their views, ask probing questions.

This is the real reason I have decided to avoid joining the GPNS executive.

Think Provincially : Act Locally

At least at the local riding level, I can engage in  in-between-election activities that forces me to meet people who are not at all Green, who force me to sharpen and refine better my arguments.

The GPNS does not have any riding associations - not by choice - but because it seems impossible to assemble the (very) small group needed to take on the responsibility for meeting Elections Nova Scotia's annual reporting requirements.

I hope we can form a EDA here in my local riding of Dartmouth South.

But individual Greens needn't wait for an EDA to help advance the cause between elections.

They can turn up and speak, in a green-minded manner, at any local meetings.


They can file FOI (Freedom of Information) requests to overcover the darker dirtier side of Nova Scotia political life.

They can go door to door with petitions to present to the Legislature.

In fact, as only citizens can present petitions to the legislature, not parties, ordinary Greens can have an enlarged role here.

(Parties can only endorse petitions circulated  and signed by ordinary citizens.)

Petitions are the best single way for a political activist to present themselves at a voters' doorstep years before the next election without raising eyebrows : the best way to go outside our comfort zone and meet the people we need to convince if we are ever to have serious traction here in this province.

Comfortably Green Echo Chambers

But staying online in secret FB Groups, talking to each other, agreeing with each other, in little green echo chambers ain't going to do it...

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