| Jan 19, 2006


Feature Article - January 19, 2006

Feature Article

January 19, 2006

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Mike Nickerson:Green intellectual returns to frontline politics

by Jeff Green

Back in 1983, Mike Nickerson was involved in the formation of the Green Party of Canada and in the 1984 Federal election he was the first ever Green candidate in the riding of Leeds-Grenville. He has remained involved with the Green Party since that time, and has written books on environmental subjects, including “Planning for Seven Generations”. His next book, which is just about completed, will be called “Life, Money and Illusion”.

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“I’ve been working on writing and trying to communicate that we have to deal with the fact that the earth is filling up, and it cannot go on forever. It is not possible to keep growing and growing on a finite planet, while the other parties are just gung ho. You cannot deal with environmental problems without limiting economic growth,” he said in an interview with the News this week.

As examples of what he is referring to, he says that the amount of solid waste produced in Canada is growing faster than the Gross Domestic Product. He also says that, “the rate at which oil can be pumped out of the ground, worldwide, is not growing as fast as the amount that we use.”

Although the Green Party message can be seen as one of impending doom if current ways of thinking and acting are not altered, Mike Nickerson says that governments can act to reverse some of the destructive trends of the modern economy.

“Governments either encourage with subsidies or discourage with taxes. It’s a matter of taxing activities that cause harm to the earth, and subsidising activities that reduce harm. Practical measures such as taxing the production of harmful elements like lead and mercury have been very effective elsewhere; they can be effective here.”

The Green Party has come a long way since it was founded in 1983, and Mike Nickerson argues that if proportional representation were brought about in Canada, the percentage of the vote the party receives (roughly 5 or 6%) would translate into a voice in Parliament, “but the fact we have a first past the post system, which leads to strategic voting for many voters, also discourages people from voting Green. People are concerned because they are afraid of Harper and that makes them vote a certain way, or they think we should get rid of the Liberals, and that makes them vote a certain way. Under proportional representation they would be free to vote in a positive way, and that could mean a great increase in the number of voters who support the Green Party.”

If nothing else, the Green Party has pushed its alternate way of looking at economic issues - the so-called triple bottom line, where social and environmental impacts are counted as well as economic impacts - into the public mindset.

For Mike Nickerson, the work will not end on January 23.

“I’ve got 460 pages sitting on my bed at home. Once the election is over I’ll get back to those pages and finish my latest book.”

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