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The Green Party sprouts in federal politics

Far left, far right, or just plain far out, small political parties help put the "multi" in Canada's multiparty system. Since confederation, more than 100 parties have run candidates in Canadian federal elections, but most so-called "fringe" parties have never sent a single member to Parliament Hill. CBC Digital Archives looks at some of the many "other" parties that vied for office in the second half of the 20th century.

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They may be sleeping in tents in the woods, but one day the Green Party will form the government of Canada. That's what a skeptical CBC Newscentre reporter hears in 1988 as 100 enthusiastic Greens gather for a pre-election strategy session. The environment-focused party ran 60 candidates last time, but this year hopes to put up a Green in every riding and start their ascent to Parliament Hill. "From a campground?" asks a doubtful Mark Schneider. "That's right," says a feisty Green. "This is where we're starting."
• Growing out of the environmental movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and inspired by the election of die Gruenen to the West German parliament in 1983, the Green Party of Canada was founded at a conference in Ottawa that same year. Trevor Hancock took the helm as the party's first leader and the Greens ran in their first election in 1984, with 60 candidates. The hope expressed in this report for the Green Party to field candidates in every riding would have to wait until 2004. That year, the Greens became just the fourth party in Canadian history to run a full slate of candidates, putting up a candidate in all 308 ridings.
  • Although not connected to other Green parties around the world, they describe themselves as "philosophically aligned" with other environmentalist political parties. In addition to the German Greens place in government, several other European Green parties have elected representatives to their national legislatures, as well as to the European parliament.

• In 2008, party leader Elizabeth May was included in the nationally televised leaders' debates, which are normally reserved for parties with members in the House of Commons. After some public wrangling that included the other party leaders, the consortium of broadcasters that runs the debates decided to include May. She argued that because independent MP Blair Wilson declared himself a Green just weeks before the election, the party satisfied the requirement to have an elected member in the House.

Medium: Television
Program: Newscentre
Broadcast Date: July 30, 1988
Reporter: Mark Schneider
Duration: 1:34

Last updated: April 10, 2012

Page consulted on July 28, 2014

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