Policy FAQ

Green Party of Canada
2004 Election Platform

Frequently Asked Questions

Please Note: This FAQ is not official Green Party policy, but may be helpful in explaining the official policy statements in the platform and on the platform website. To see the official policy, or check for generic answers to common questionnaires, please check the appropriate Policy Plank at All Platform Planks . Also see party platform comparison

Table of contents

General Questions

Could the Green Party ever form a government?

YES! The Green Party is currently part of the governing coalitions in Germany, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Where is the Green Party in Government?

  • In 1999 the Flemish and Walloon Green Parties of Belgium achieved 7.1% and 7.4% support which, under the Belgium electoral system, gave them 9 and 11 seats respectively, which in turn gave them two cabinet posts, including the position of Deputy Prime Minister.
  • In 1995 the Finnish Green Party achieved 6.5% support and 9 seats, and received one cabinet appointment. In 1999, having gained 7.3% and 11 seats, they were given 1 cabinet post and a deputy position in cabinet.
  • In 1997 the French Greens obtained 5.1% of the vote and 7 seats, and received 1 cabinet post.
  • In 1998 the German Green Party obtained 6.3% of the vote and 46 seats, and were appointed to three cabinet posts: Minister of Foreign Affairs - Joschka Fischer, Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety - Jurgen Trittin, Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture - Renate Kunast. These are posts they continue to hold in the current government, having achieved 8.6% support and 55 seats in 2002.
  • In 1996 the Italian Green Party obtained 2.5% of the vote and 28 seats, and were appointed to 2 cabinet posts.
  • In 1998 and 2002 the Ukrainian Green Party obtained 5.5% and 1.3% of the vote respectively, electing 26 members and none respectively but still retaining a cabinet post.
  • In 1995 in Georgia and 1998 in Slovakia the Green Parties, while running in an electoral coalition, have held posts. More recently the Latvian Green Party, while in coalition and having been in government there since 1990, have seen their leader take on the position of Prime Minister in 2004.

Isn't a vote for the Green Party a wasted vote?

NO! Thanks to new election financing rules, we will receive $1.75/year for every Green vote cast. Between elections, your vote will earn us up to $10.

Voters should think long term - if you don't vote for what you believe in, you will never get the government you really want.

The Green Party vote is the most strategic vote there is - it will send a crystal clear message about the environment and democratic reform, and it will help build a serious alternative to traditional politics.

Don't I risk splitting the vote with the NDP?

NO! Both the Greens and NDP are socially progressive, but are very different fiscally. Voting Green supports fiscal conservatism, Green economics, and support for worker's rights abroad.

NO! The NDP supports the status quo. Greens will shift taxes away from income and onto unsustainable practices. Greens support strong decentralization, and community decision making.

No! The Green Party supports Grassroots democracy and brings forward new ideas. The NDP is still doing old-school politics, and has rejected calls for reform to change their outdated party machinery. (rejected the NPI reforms)

How do I get onto the electoral list?

Call Elections Canada at 1 800 463-6868 to find our where your local returning office is. Remember you can still register and vote at your poll on election day even if you aren’t on the list.

My Home and Family

Childcare and Early Learning

What does the Platform say about family, childcare and youth?

  • Ensure that all communities have access to non-profit family planning and day care.
  • Create tax-incentives for businesses to implement flexible schedules and on-site childcare.
  • Hold a referendum on creating a national public daycare program.
  • Increase funding programs for early childhood education.

What will the Green Party do about childcare?

The Green Party proposes to develop, in coordination with the provinces, a National Childcare Network. This network will encourage, support and fund local and diverse solutions childcare needs. We recognize that there is a critical shortage of quality childcare spaces, but also that daycare is not the preference of many families who would much rather have a parent stay home. We will address the shortage of reliable information about childcare, children's health, child development issues, and provide educational multimedia materials for early childhood education. After implementing these measures the Green Party will hold a referendum on a larger, national subsidized daycare program.

Food and Nutrition

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?

  • Prohibit human cloning.
  • Make unlicensed release of GMO species (whose DNA can easily cross with other species) into the environment a criminal offense.
  • The Green Party will not grant patents on genetic material or life forms of any kind.

You say you want to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, how?

The Green Party is proposing several initiatives to address hunger, nutrition and food safety issues. At the root, we feel that Canada is a wealthy enough country that we should regard access to healthy food as a universal right. To ensure proper nutrition for children at school, we are planning to coordinate and fund at-school nutrition programs to ensure that every school has a program to serve healthy lunches and snacks. At home we want to add a good food credit to the child tax benefit (baby bonus) which will reduce the cost of fresh, locally grown produce. In our communities we will support community gardening, and programs that provide a direct link between local growers and grocery shoppers, such as field-to-table, farmers markets, and food banks. When fully implemented, we want to ensure that Canadians in all communities can find nutrition support programs within walking distance of where they live such that no Canadian will ever suffer from lack of food.

Health, Not Just Health Care

Does the Green Party support including traditional or alternative medical treatments under the Canada Health Act?

Yes we do, but this is an area of provincial jurisdiction.

On Health... too much prevention?

It sounds like 'all prevention, no cure'. Obviously, people are still going to get sick, and there are people who are sick already and need care.

What does your party plan to do in terms of spending money on the existing health care system?

Our intent is to highlight the differences between the Green Party perspective and other parties. The Green Party is generally concerned about "throwing money at the problem" type solutions for health care - the doctors who work with us on this have all indicated there is a lot of money wasted by people who want expensive treatments like MRI scans that are not medically necessary. The serious problems are in having access to front line medicine, particularly in rural areas - this is mostly a provincial issue, but one we would address in the mandate of a National Health Care Council, as proposed by the Romanow Commission.

Health Care - Focus on preventative medicine to lessen long-term cost and improve quality of life?

  • Work to decrease pollution.
  • Protect Canadian consumers with stricter labeling requirements on packaged foods.
  • Promote health research and health services responsive to women's needs.
  • Establish the Canadian National Health Council recommended by the Romanow Commission.
  • Increase public funding for medical research.
  • Tackle barriers to active living such as unhealthy urban planning.
  • Renegotiate international trade agreements to protect health care.

What would the Green Party do to reduce diabetes and heart disease?

Obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition are risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Reducing the prevalence of these risk factors would likely be our policy goals.

What is your policy on Euthanasia?

To respect the wishes of patients who are of sound mind as to the manner and duration of their treatments.

(Mental Health)


Empowering Canadian Women

Where does the Green Party stand on abortion?

This is a rare case where we don't want to make any changes to the existing laws. This is a very difficult, personal family issue, and we feel the state should not be making decisions, or restricting options.

The GPC is pro-choice, but it would be good for our candidates not to be confrontational on this issue. I know of at least one GPC candidate who is solidly pro-life.

The Green Party goal is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. We share this objective with both the pro-choice and the pro-life folks.

To do this the GPC would strive to demystify birth control for people, make it available and inexpensive, make it cool. Our position is to give women choices. We would assist women financially to allow them to make this very serious decision free from money worries.

What about women and PR?

We advocate a change to proportional representation as a voting system, not only because it can make it possible to ensure more women get elected, but that it tends to reduce the antagonism and negativity associated with today's 'winner take all' system. In almost all parliamentary systems with PR, there is a higher percentage of women elected than in those without.

What is this Women's Committee on our Water Resources?

We decided to strike a women's committee on Canada's water resources to make a unique stand on women's equality, which shouldn't always mean 'same.' While usually we would expect and prefer that women and men should be able to work together as equals, there are occasions when women and men can choose to have equally important but different roles. When this committee was suggested it just seemed to 'click' with everyone, and it represented the diversity that is part of equality.

My Community

Our Cities

Cities - Give cities greater control of their funding and policy making?

  • Define the rights and responsibilities of cities within the provincial and federal laws.
  • Give municipalities a fixed share of federal tax revenues.

What if local governments are irresponsible? Isn't it better to have the federal and provincial government take care of sustainability?

While examples can always be made where the province did act to intervene in favour of environmental protection, dozens of examples can be found where the provinces and feds have run roughshod over the concerns of local citizens. The federal and provincial governments certainly have a role in laying down 'ground rules' - how to conduct environmental assessments, for example. The Green Party also wants to negotiate national standards for our resource industries. In the long run however, the only sustainable route is to ensure that concern for sustainability is enabled at the level where the vast majority of economic and political decisions are made - in the community.


What about education?

  • Reduce student debt by 40% by providing grants to ensure access post-secondary education.
  • Increase core funding to universities.

(Social Justice)

(Human Resources)



(Waste Management)


Arts - What is in the platform?

  • Establish a target for Canadian television content to achieve 10% viewing share.
  • Expand arts funding mechanisms to include smaller, community based, participatory arts programs.

What will the Green Party do for the Arts?

The Green Party recognizes that the arts are not only an end in themselves but that participation in the arts is critical to building citizenship, personal well being and quality of life.

The Green Party's proposals for the Arts consist of:
  • An increase in core funding for the Canadian Council for the Arts, with half the increase budgeted for improving community based programs to increase participation.
  • Fund a national touring arts festival to showcase the best in new Canadian talent.
  • Boosting existing programs to aid arts companies to achieve sound financial management and human resources polices.

Most provincial Green Parties have gone on the record in support of more arts in the public school curriculum.

Our financial commitment to the Arts, (within our balanced budget) is to add 110 million per year to arts programs.

(Sports and Recreation)

My Country

Good Governance

Corruption and Accountability - Greater accountability for MPs through grass-roots democracy?

Improve accountability through proportional representation: the percentage of seats won will equal the party's percentage of the popular vote.

(Democratic Reform)

Green Economics

What is the Green Tax Shift?

  • Lower taxes on income, profit & investment, to promote increased productivity & job creation.
  • Raise taxes on harmful activities such as pollution, waste and inefficiency.
  • Use tariffs to discourage unsustainable industries and human rights violations.
  • Increase grants for post-secondary education.
  • Reduce taxes on corporations that act responsibly (i.e., lessen environmental footprint, improve employee satisfaction, improve corporate governance).

How does the Green Tax Shift Work?

By shifting taxes off of 'goods,’ like employment and investment, onto 'bads,’ like pollution and waste, we create incentives for efficient and environmentally sustainable production while increasing employment, maintaining government revenue and reducing environmental damage. It is time to enact the 'polluter pays' principle and create price signals that reflect environmental costs.

For example, if we taxed carbon dioxide and toxic emissions into the atmosphere and used that revenue to reduce employers' payroll tax contributions or to reduce capital gains tax, the high-tech sector would be better off and the overall economy would be strengthened. Moreover, we would avoid some of the very real social costs associated with pollution and climate change.

A recent study carried out by the Center for a Sustainable Economy in Washington DC demonstrated that the vast majority of businesses in the USA, measured by employment, would receive a net reduction in costs of production under a wide-scale shift toward environmental taxation. These findings are borne out by many European countries that have implemented tax shifting and have built strong and competitive economies while addressing environmental concerns.

Zane Parker is Project Director with NEW BC, a non-profit, non-partisan economic and environmental policy organization based in Victoria BC. He is currently giving presentations on tax shifting to new economy industry groups and working to develop a computer-modeling tool to help demonstrate the outcomes of tax shift scenarios. He can be reached at (250) 595-0577 or zparker at newbc.org.


What about wind policy?

Sound Bite:
"I'm not sure how Paul Martin can think we can become a North American Leader in wind energy with only 4,000 Megawatts? That boat left the dock a long time ago. 4,000 MW is barely more than Texas and California have already installed."

Fiscal Policy

What about Fiscal Policy? If your policy of increasing taxes on vices, and your policy of basing taxes more on property than on income are both implemented. What happens when people stop using those vices, and move to smaller properties?

Most pollution based taxes and permit trading systems are continually revising what you have to pay for each unity of pollution. Once you reduce one bad thing you move on to the next one. Once we get rid of coal, then we get rid of gas. Once we get rid of gas, then we get rid of nukes.

Referendums and spending? I also heard a scary rumour that the green party would run a deficit if instructed to do so in a referendum. Is that true?

It's hard to argue against what the people choose, but I have a feeling that people would only vote to run a deficit because they do not fully understand the implications of debt.

The Green Party is proposing that citizens should get more of a say in spending decisions. Of course, holding a referendum would be contingent on also educating the public on the issues. Given Canadian's recent voting records, it does appear that the majority of people favor fiscal responsibility, so I made that comment about the referendums with the belief that the people are neither as gullible or foolish as the Liberals would like to think they are.

You say the gas tax is part of a tax shift, will I pay more?

Our 3.5 billion dollar tax cut, divided equally between those with taxable incomes would be about $232.

The cost of a 10 cent per litre increase in gasoline, for a 40 litre fill is 4.00.

The tax cut will cover the 'extra tax cost' of one visit to the gas station each week, plus 6 extras for holidays. For many people, it will mean extra cash in pocket at the end of the year.

In terms of distance, those who drive an average car (fuel efficiency rating of 8litres/100km) less than 500 kilometers a week will be ahead of the game.

What would the Green Party Do about the Federal Debt?

The Green Party would not craft a budget that increases the national debt, but would place fiscal debt repayment as a lower priority than repaying social or environmental 'debts' we are carrying.

(Natural Resources)

Deep Ecology

Environment - Change taxation to support environmentally responsible choices... (Carrot, not stick)?

  • Establish five year tax break on energy efficient retrofits in commercial & residential buildings.
  • Fund processing centres for composting.
  • Reduce reliance on polluting road transportation through decentralization of production, and increased funding of rail infrastructure.


What about the gas tax?

Most people overlook (and this is partly the way the media carried the story) that what the Green Party proposes is a Tax Shift - not a tax increase. We chose to shift taxes onto resources and away from incomes because it has a 'double payoff' in decreased pollution and increased employment.

The Green Party sees most people as fairly rational when it comes to their energy choices - in the long run, people change their habits because of prices more than anything. The tax shift will change the prices of gasoline to better reflect the clear danger of global warming and the other shared costs of pollution, while slipping those tax dollars back to people in other ways, so they end up no worse off than before. The end result is we use less fuel, save money, pollute less and live healthier - when you think long term, it is hard to object to this policy, it is just the short term 'ouch' that gets people riled. If you want short term thinking though . . . there's other parties that do that.

The Gas tax by the Numbers:
  • A 3.5 billion dollar tax cut, divided equally between 15 million Canadians with taxable incomes would be about $232.
  • The cost of a 10 cent per litre increase in gasoline, for a 40 litre fill is 4.00.
  • The tax cut will cover the 'extra tax cost' of one visit to the gas station each week, plus 6 extras for holidays. For many people, it will mean extra cash in pocket at the end of the year.

Transportation - Support clean and cheap transportation?

  • Cancel federal subsidies for highways and traffic systems ($150 million per year).
  • Fund municipal light rail and subways (guaranteed for ten years).

What is a 'Feebate' Program?

Gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles are responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions and air toxins in Canada. On a national basis they contribute 70% of carbon monoxide, 50% of nitrogen oxide, 30% of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), 25% of carbon dioxide, and 65% of benzene. One way to reduce these emissions is to introduce measures that encourage increased fuel efficiency in new cars, thereby decreasing the overall volume of fuel consumed.

A vehicle feebate system makes doing the right thing financially attractive by rewarding the purchase of efficient vehicles and penalizing the purchase of inefficient ones. It matches a FEE on some vehicles with a REBATE on others, usually balanced in a way that it is revenue neutral for the government. Thus, the name FEEBATE.

Addressing tailpipe emissions is different than addressing fuel efficiency; SUVs (sport utility vehicles), minivans, and other inefficient vehicles can still pass emissions regulations while burning a disproportionate amount of fuel, thereby offsetting their emission controls.

Our strategy for a Canada-wide provincial vehicle feebate system based on efficiency will:
  • Raise the GST on the purchase of inefficient cars and use that revenue to credit those who purchase fuel efficient vehicles;
  • Implement a range of fees and rebates across the whole range of fuel efficiencies, thereby affecting all new vehicle purchases (a similar mismanaged system in Ontario only affects 10% of purchases);
  • Accompany the program with a high-profile public education campaign regarding environmental and human health benefits;
  • Provide the public with clear information about its revenue neutrality.

If the Green party withdraws federal funding for highways, who is going to maintain them?

With respect to highways, the implication in our policies is that highway users should pay for the highway maintenance. In Saskatchewan, this is pretty much the case anyway, since the province has to maintain all those highways which everyone uses and everyone pays taxes to the province, but imagine if you could tap all the outsiders who drive through the province for ten or twenty bucks to pay their share as well?

Science and Technology

What about the open source software?

See Science and Technology for the official plank on Open Source Software.

Open Source software is software which is freely available for everyone to use. See http://www.opensource.org/ for more information on Open Source.

Two of the key policy points re open source software are:
  • Require federal agencies to initiate transitions to open source operating systems and productivity software.
  • Make technology that has been developed at public expense, a publicly owned resource. Software that has been developed at taxpayer expense will be released under an open source license, making it free for all Canadians to use.

The Green Party is commited to using open source technology. The Green Party uses open source software extensively. This website is based on TikiWiki, an Open Source Content Management System (see http://tikiwiki.org/tiki-view_articles.php. The web server is Apache, the world's most popular web server (Open Source of course!). The server uses the Linux operating system (which is Open Source).

Will your policies on stem cells inhibit research to cure diseases?

Our reproductive technologies policy is intended to prevent some kinds of commercialization of reproductive technology. 'Extreme Baby Makeover' is not something the Green Party wants to watch on TV. Our policies will not inhibit genuine health research by accredited professionals.

(Media and Culture)

Justice and Human Rights

What would you do to reform Marijuana Laws?

The Green Party believes that the war on drugs is not working. We would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as a controlled substance, but would allow the provinces to decide what kind of access should be allowed, (i.e. whether you would need a prescription for it, or you could purchase it at a government-run outlet etc.)

Decriminalization is not an alternative because it still leaves the production, distribution and sale of drugs to criminals. All you get with decriminalization is less embarrassment and hassle for drug users. To put the criminals out of business you have to legalize.

  • It would make it easier to treat addictions.
  • Harm reduction programs could reduce drug related crimes.
  • It would put an end to prison overcrowding, and unclog the court system.
  • It would free up police resources to address the problem of illegal imports and exports of drugs.
  • It would reduce opportunities for official corruption.
  • Legalization would save tax dollars and even bring in revenue.
  • It would cripple organized crime.
  • Legal drugs would be regulated to be safer.
  • Legalization would help stem the spread of AIDS and other diseases.
  • Legalization would halt the erosion of other personal liberties.

What is your stand on Gay Marriage?

We recognize the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. The Green Party supports the right of gay couples to choose a lifelong partnership and to achieve the full and equivalent legal status of any married couple. The Green Party will support legislation upholding the decisions of the British Columbia and Ontario Supreme Courts allowing gay marriage, and will respect the rights of individual congregations to conduct marriages according to their beliefs.

What about gun control?

There was substantial debate about the issue of gun control in our party in the run up top the election. Unfortunately, this is one of those issues where it is hard to keep everyone happy. We recognized that legitimate hunters should not be overburdened by a registry, but also that adding a one-time registration to the responsibility inherent in owning a gun (which is certainly comparable to that of owning a car) was not too much to ask if the registration fees were eliminated and that while compliance is important, no one should go to jail for not registering a long gun.

What does the platform say about gun control?

  • Disallow individuals with a criminal record to purchase guns.
  • Legislate mandatory jail time for any crimes perpetrated with any firearm.
  • Call a public inquiry to investigate how the gun registry expenditures were allowed to balloon.

What about Capital Punishment?

The Green Party is firmly opposed to capital punishment, and promotes restorative justice - in which the focus is on holding lawbreakers accountable for the harm they cause, rather than being strictly punitive. We believe that incarceration should be avoided as a punishment for most non-violent crimes.

What about the selection of Supreme Court Judges?

The GPC supports a selection process where the provinces prepare a short list of candidates and the prime minister chooses from that list, and maintains a balanced regional representation. The GPC does not recommend that we go to an election system, as it would introduce a whole new set of political pressures on judges which are detrimental to the delivery of justice. The short lists should be prepared by having a panel of knowledgeable independent persons from social, legal, and penal communities review the possible candidates.

Citizenship and Immigration

Immigration Policy?

  • Increase federal funding for integration and education of immigrants.
  • Improve access to language instruction and the education system.
  • Reduce barriers to reinstating professional credentials.

Aboriginal Peoples

What about 'First Use' rights... isn't that discrimination?

What we are proposing is mostly an affirmation of the treaties that Canada has signed with first nations peoples. We believe in upholding our commitments. The 'First Use' policy has been the court's interpretation of the significance of those treaties on aboriginal lands. The Green Party will negotiate standards with Canada's aboriginal and non-aboriginal foresters, fishers and non-renewable industries.

My World

Canadian Security

Defense/Military - Greens want to promote international peace and improve human rights abroad?

  • We stand against unilateral involvement in Iraq, but we support UN involvement.
  • Abstain from participating in the creation and use of space-based weapons, inc. Star Wars.
  • Push for the further development of the Intl. Criminal Court, and support the UN.
  • Create Rapid Response and Deployment Force to provide disaster relief and humanitarian aid.
  • Charge DFAIT to actively prevent situations that require the intervention of peace keepers.
  • Work to establish a standing international peacekeeping force under UN control.

(Foreign Policy)

Global Justice

Internationally - Improve human rights abroad and support multilateralism?

  • Renegotiate trade agreements to impose tariffs on nations who fail to protect human rights.
  • Provide minimum standards of democracy and accountability for future loans to countries.

(The Kyoto Accord)