Evergreen earns provincial recognition
Politics: New party rises from ashes of former Green Party
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012 10:43 am
Alberta voters once again have an opportunity to go Green.
The Evergreen Party of Alberta is gearing up for the next provincial election after receiving official recognition by Elections Alberta.
The Evergreen Party emerged from the ashes of the former Green Party, which fell apart after internal disputes over leadership. Once the dust settled, a group formed what was called the Vision 2012 Society in an effort to rebuild. With the provincial recognition, the membership of the society has been transferred to the Evergreen Party.
“This is a call out to all Greens,” said interim party leader Larry Ashmore. “Now is the time to organize most particularly in their home area.”
The party currently has three candidates in place, with Black Diamond-area resident Ashmore running in the Livingston-Macleod riding, which includes the High Country area and extends south to Waterton National Park. Candidates are also in place in Edmonton and Lethbridge. Ashmore said he expects more candidates to be in place in time for the election, but the Evergreens will have fewer candidates than the 79 who ran for the former Alberta Green Party in 2008 provincial election when it received 4.58 per cent of the popular vote.
“That really stretched us thin,” he said.
The Green Party moniker could be used again in the future because the slate is cleared for that name once it has not been in used in an election under Alberta’s election rules. Ashmore said no decision has been made on taking the former name back.
Ashmore became the party’s interim leader to move forward the process of registering the party with the Province and he doesn’t plan on remaining at the helm. However, he may lead the party into the next provincial election, expected in the spring.
While there could be a leadership race, he said there may not be enough time and the party is expected to decide soon how it will proceed.
“I’m the interim leader, but because this took so long we’re up against the election wall now and to do that we need lead time to inform the membership of an AGM,” he said, adding it could take as long as a month-and-a-half to prepare for a leadership vote.
If a leadership race isn’t held, Ashmore said the party’s rules allow for a co-leader. It’s a scenario he said he is willing to support as the party has a short timeframe to organize for an election.
“This will be a new thing for Alberta, we will cover more territory that way,” said Ashmore.
The party hasn’t yet released its policy platform and Ashmore would not comment on specifics until the document is released, but he said it reflects the Green movement’s six principles of social justice, sustainability, respect for diversity, non-violence, democracy and ecological wisdom.
“It will be a familiar starting point from the old Green Party, tweaked for current events,” he said.
Ashmore did say the oil sands will play a major role in the party’s policy.
“We’re up to the challenge and we’ll drive right into the thick of it,” he said.
He said the industry is important to Alberta, but it needs to start protecting the environment better. He said the environment hasn’t been factored into the cost of developing the oil sands and more needs to be done to protect water.
Political observers are skeptical over how much success the party will have at the ballot box.
Duane Bratt, Mount Royal University political science professor, said the party essentially took the time off from the last election to deal with internal issues, putting it behind in a time when the federal Green Party saw an upswing in popularity.
“This was a missed opportunity, it really was, since the last election,” he said.
Bratt said there are a number of parties fighting for voters and he’s not sure where the Evergreens will fit in.
“The political party structure in Alberta is so crowded right now, that I’m not sure if there’s room for a revitalized Green Party,” he said.
Ultimately, Bratt said the party may have to wait another election before it may see any success.