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Template:POV-check Template:Refimprove The Green Party of Ontario (GPO) became an officially registered political party in 1983, in Ontario, Canada, and has been developing in size and sophistication since that time, expanding its membership and rising in the polls. The GPO has increased the number of candidates in successive provincial elections. Elections Ontario records that in the 1999 provincial election, the GPO fielded 58 candidates, and became the fourth largest party in the province.[1] In 2003, the party fielded its first nearly-full slate, 102 out of 103 candidates, and received 2.8% of the vote.[2] In 2007, the party fielded a full slate of 107 candidates, receiving 8.06% and over 350,000 votes.[3]

The late 1960s is widely seen as the start of the global ecological movement, however it wasn't until the 1970s that this movement began to gain political and economic legitimacy, with advances such as the founding of the world's first green party (New Zealand's Values Party), and the entry of the West German Greens (Die Grunen) into that country's legislature. By the early 1980s, the idea of organized Green politics began to gain in international popularity, and in 1983 the Green Party of Ontario was registered with Elections Ontario and began to contest provincial elections. It wasn't until 1993, however, that the party began to better organize itself, electing Frank de Jong as its first official leader. Mr. de Jong continues to hold this position.

In August 2006, GPO Heritage Council was organized, which oversees all heritage projects in the Green Party of Ontario. The GPO Archival Collection began to be catalogued in 2007. The GPO Heritage Council also established the GPO Historical Society in July 2007, with free open membership. The Green Party of Ontario is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2008.

Foundations of the Green movementEdit

Although writers like Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold had long written on the importance of nature, the modern Green movement started in Canada and around the world with the counter-cultural revolution in the 1960s. The counter-culture movement was the first mass rejection of consumer culture, and its rallying cries for peace, love and flower power eventually evolved into the Green Party values of non-violence, social justice and ecological thinking.[4]

The phenomena ended quickly because it had no structure or economic base. The movement's life-affirming values, however, didn't go away as much as underground. In the 1970s, the green movement re-emerged in isolated, small-scale enterprises and organizations such as health food stores, women's and environmental groups, renewable energy stores, and organic farms. Though disparate, these groups gave the green movement structure and an economic life, and became integral to communities rather than transient.[5]

In the 1980s, dissatisfied with the impotence of isolated activities, actions and opinions, Canadians decided to further organize the green movement into coalitions, including the Ontario Environment Network, the Canadian Organic Growers, Canadian Peace Alliance, the Voice of Women, Solar Energy Society of Canada and many others. The scale and organizational level of these coalitions brought the green movement to the next threshold: building national and provincial political parties. The Green Party of Ontario became an officially registered political party in 1983, shortly after the Green Party of British Columbia.[6]

Four Turning Points in GPO HistoryEdit

After the founding of the Green Party of Ontario in 1983, there are fundamentally four turning points in its history. These dates are 1993, 1999, 2003, and 2006.

The 1980s saw the rise of the "Ontario Greens", organized as a loose coalition of "Chapters". The Spring 1991 edition of the party's newspaper Ontario Green News states that "The Ontario Greens is a coalition of Chapters", and describes these chapters as follows:

The Chapter is the fundamental political, economic and decision-making unit of the Ontario Greens. Chapters abide with the provisions of the Ontario Green Constitution and further the purposes, aims and objectives of the Ontario Greens. Chapters are autonomous in matters of structure, choice of local candidate, and activities undertaken.[7]

Further, to become a member of the Green Party of Ontario at that time, you had to join "the Ontario Greens...through the chapter only".[8] As for the Green Party of Ontario, The Constitution of the Ontario Greens of Spring 1987 under "The Body Being Constituted" describes the Ontario Greens as follows:

The body being constituted is The Ontario Greens which is a coalition of chapters. This Constitution shall govern the political activity of the Ontario Greens (OG), the chapters of which it is comprised, and the registered political organizations under the control of the OG: The Green Party of Ontario (GPO), constituency associations (CA's), and electoral district associations (EDA's).[9]

Clearly, there are three points above that need to be highlighted regarding the Ontario Green movement in the 1980s. First, what is today known as the Green Party of Ontario, with its single leader, central office and organizational structures, simply was non-existent. There was "no permanent, executive body or council governing the day-to-day affairs of the organization".[10]The GPO was a necessary legal entity created to run Green candidates in Ontario elections, with a "leader" who appeared during those times, who acted as a spokesperson.

Second, note that the GPO was under the authority of The Ontario Greens, which in itself did not hold any authority over the Chapter (the sovereign unit), which in the 1987 Constitution is described as "the basic decision-making body of the Ontario Greens", and are "self-grouped according to interests that may transcend electoral bondaries".[11]


Third, as a matter of interest, note that federal EDA's were also under the authority of The Ontario Greens. The Green Party of Canada at that time was "a coalition of the provincial... organizations legally constituted"[12],also a bottom-up organization.

1993Edit

It was in 1993 that the first turning point occurred in the GPO due to previous difficult constitutional negotiations. Most notably, the Green Party of Ontario became the "Body Constituted", and Frank de Jong became the first dedicated Leader of the party (as he continues today). The Chapters gave way to "the constituency association (as) the fundamental political, economic, and social unit of the GPO"[13], which were naturally organized, unlike the Chapters, along geographical lines. The Updated Constitution of the Green Party of Ontario in 1997 confirmed the new organizational structure of an organized political party, with officers elected at Annual General Meetings (AGMs), and an Executive Council overseeing the operations of the party. Officers confirmed in the 1997 Constitution included a Membership Secretary (The Ontario Greens had no central membership lists), a Policy Coordinator, and "members of a shadow cabinet as required".[14]

1999Edit

In the 1999 provincial election the GPO became solidly entrenched as Ontario's 4th party. In addition, increased organization resulted in the addition of a Deputy Leader and a Shadow Cabinet. The first Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario was Judy Greenwood-Speers. She served the party in this role from 1999-2002. Ms. Greenwood-Speers was also the party's first Issue Advocate, continuously serving as the Advocate for Health and Long Term Care, and in the Senior's Secretariat from 1999 to today.

2003Edit

The next turning point was in 2003. The dawning of the 21st century saw Ontarians becoming increasingly aware of green issues, and increased organization in the GPO. The 2003 provincial election saw the Green Party of Ontario break an historic threshold. Never before had the GPO garnered over 1% of the popular vote. Indeed, the party went from just 30,000+ votes in 1999, to over 126,000 votes in 2003.[15]

2006Edit

Finally, the watershed year 2006 saw a move toward major constitutional changes in the party, led by Executive Council Member at Large Ron Yurick. During the May Annual Policy Conference in Toronto, and the September 2006 AGM in Lion's Head, Ontario, sweeping changes were approved to the party's governance structures. It was described as "the culmination of hundreds of hours of work that evolved out of a Directive passed at the 2004 (AGM) in Cambridge.[16] Included in the changes were the formation of a much larger Provincial Executive, which included two gender paritied Representatives from each of 6 regions, gender paritied Deputy Leaders, and the creation of multiple functionary roles (a quasi civil service) separated from the Provincial Executive.

The 2007 ElectionEdit

The Green Party of Ontario had its best electoral showing in the 2007 provincial election, winning 8.06% of the popular vote with 356,383 votes. The highest result for the GPO was in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, where Shane Jolley garnered 33.1% of the vote and second place.[17]This was the first 2nd place election result ever for the GPO, and the highest percentage for any Green Party candidate in Canadian history.

The Greens InternationallyEdit

The first green party in the world, called the Values Party, was started in the early 1970s in New Zealand. The tiny, short-lived Small Party, named after E.F. Schumacher's book Small is Beautiful, formed in the Maritimes in the mid to late 1970s, was the first in the Western Hemisphere. In Britain, the green party was called the Ecology Party, before the name "Green" became common. It wasn't until The Greens (Die Grünen) crossed the vote threshold of 5% and entered the West German legislature in the late 1970s that the green political movement started in earnest. It has since spread all over the world.[18]

There are now more than 100 Green parties worldwide, in all levels of government, and Green members have been elected in dozens of countries. Green parties are currently participating in governing coalitions in Mexico, New Zealand, Italy, France, Germany and Finland.

EndnotesEdit

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See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


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