Friday, October 17, 2008

BC Green Party Leader Jane Sterk reacts to former interim Green Leader Christopher Ian Bennett joining BC Liberals

BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk says former interim Green Party Leader Christopher Ian Bennett "fails to understand the Green Movement" after he joins BC Liberals to support Premier Gordon Campbell

BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk doesn't appear to have much good to say about former interim Green Party leader Christopher Ian Bennett, who quit the Greens yesterday to join the BC Liberals.

Bennett was the controversial leader appointed by the Green Party after longtime leader Adriane Carr resigned to become federal Green deputy leader under Elizabeth May.

Sterk - in an exclusive email to this blog - said she wasn't surprised by Bennett's defection.

"Some people fail to truly understand the Green Movement, especially those who play comfortably in the dysfuntional political system that characterizes British Columbia, as Christopher does," Sterk said.

"Throughout Christopher's brief term (May - October 2007) as Interim Leader, many Greens thought his views and policy positions were more congruent with the BC Liberals than with the Green Party of BC so this should be a more comfortable home for Christopher."

Sterk said she even predicted Bennett's departure.

"I'm starting to feel rather prescient. The night before the municipal elections in 2005 I predicted I would top the polls in Esquimalt and I did and I predicted Christopher Ian Bennett would become a BC Liberal even while he was serving as Interim Leader of the Green Party of BC."

But Sterk found some positives in the fact that the BC Liberals issued a news release prominently noting Bennett's former role with the Green Party.

"I find it curious and complimentary that Premier Campbell and the BC Liberals would make Christopher's brief association with the Green Party of BC such a featured part of their announcement. It would suggest we are on their radar screen and they think they can persuade Greens and those leaning to our Party to vote Liberal because Christopher has made this decision."

Sterk doesn't think anyone who is a true Green could ever vote for Campbell and his party.

"The goals of the two parties are so fundamentally different that no-one who understands Green Principles and Policy would vote for the BC Liberals," she said.

"Finally, I would like to correct a misrepresentation in the BC Liberal press release. Christopher Ian Bennett was appointed by the then Provincial Council to the position. Provincial Council does not have the power to elect an interim leader. The power to elect a leader rests with the party membership. We wish Christopher well," Sterk concluded.

For his part, Bennett says on his own blog that he won't disown his Green Party work but sees Campbell and the BC Liberals as the party for him.

"I'm not interested in pointing out where I feel the BC Green Party started to fall short for me, or where I find fault in the way the party is moving strategically. I don't want to make it about that," Bennett writes.

"It's more important for me to point out that in terms of economic strategy, urgency towards climate change, as well as job creation and business leadership, the BC Liberal Party is getting it right, and I have found myself more and more aligned with the Premier's leadership on many of these fronts over the last year."

But Bennett - perhaps inadvertently - refers to the BC Liberals problems on his blog.

"I want to work with those who shape the laws in this province and aren't afraid to make the tough choices, even in spite of polling popularity," Bennett writes in an apparent reference to Campbell's strongly despised carbon tax on gas and other fuels.

Campbell lauds Bennett's "ability" in a news release issued yesterday.

"I'm pleased to welcome Christopher to the BC Liberal team where he can strengthen our discussions," Campbell says in his news release. "In his time as the leader of the BC Green Party, I respected his ability regardless of party label to stand up for what was right for British Columbia and right for the future of our Province."

The release says Bennett has already begun his work with the BC Liberals to help party candidates Arthur Griffiths and Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid in the upcoming October 29th provincial by-elections in Vancouver-Burrard and Vancouver-Fairview.

"Margaret and Arthur are quality candidates who understand the issues of the economy and sustainability in the 21st century," said Bennett. "More specifically, Arthur's been a longtime friend and mentor of mine and I firmly believe he would make an excellent MLA, as will Margaret."

Bennett - who was once described as "Wonder Boy" in a public relations news release uncovered by Sean Holman of Public Eye Online - was at odds with many in the Green Party several times during his tenure as leader.

Green leadership candidate Ben West took exception to Bennett's praise for Gordon Campbell during that contest, telling Public Eye Online that Bennett remarks in a Georgia Straight story were damaging:

"I've become increasingly concerned with Chris Bennett's comments - which I think have been harmful to the party and the province. Though I respect his passion, I've become increasingly concerned with his analysis."

"I don't think we should be giving thanks to the Liberals for lip service. The real credit should go to the voters for pushing a climate change denying government to make statements that make it sound like they support environmental issues and environmental concerns," West said then.


Christopher Ian Bennett has responded to my request for comment on this story. Here is his view, verbatim:

"I consider Jane Sterk to be an exceptional leader, someone I think will continue to serve the Greens with great ability and integrity.

Despite our differences in green perspective or leadership styles, I respect her a great deal and wish her and the party well.

I know both Carole James and the Premier have got another opponent to worry about now, and I think Jane is up to the task.
I congratulate her on the historic first steps into the UBCM this year where she got everyone talking and set the tone for the up-coming by-election.
Well done, Jane. Well done.

I haven't a negative thing to say about her or the provincial party. I stand PROUDLY behind the work I did as interim leader and the things the party and my team accomplished.

But alas, as Jane Predicted, the Green tent was not big enough for me and my often centrist or even right wing ideals across some platforms. There didn't seem to be much room for anyone who navigated outside the very leftist and often activist agenda that has dominated the party for so long.

In then end, one interim leader alone can't broaden the appeal of a party, that's up to the members, the council and each candidate the chooses to run as a Green.
I still think Damian Kettlewell is the other one to watch, I expect amazing things from him too.

I feel that those who consider the environment a top priority will find a new and emerging champion in Premier Campbell and his team. Without question he is the 'greenest' Premier we've had in BC and I know that there's even more he wishes to accomplish on this agenda - which was what made joining the BC Liberals such an easy transition for me.

I'll look forward to some spirited debates about this idea in the months ahead.Jane is 100% right -- the Greens are on everyone's radar these days, and I know she'll make a worthy opponent in this by-election and beyond.
I think the NDP are going to have really watch their flank with Jane, she's going to do VERY well in this by-election, I'd even go so far as to say on the record that she'll most likely come in 2nd (at least!).

To any of my critics within the party or without, I can only add: I'm all ears. I don't mind. I wish the party the best of luck.

Christopher Ian Bennett, Former interim Leader, Green Party of British Columbia Proud new father to an exceptional baby boy."


Anonymous said...

David Anderson was asked about the greens and his answer was pretty good. This is not a quote. To get it Go find Voice of BC on Shaw. "At the rate the greens are moving it would take a lot of years to egt numbers to show they are a mainstream party." I think he suggested 25 years or so.

Anonymous said...

Once the 'Greens' find their footing, as it is very hard in Canada to start a political party, they will rival the top three.

What we had last summer is a foretaste of thing s to come, yet the NDP; the Liberals (full of Suszukists); and the Conservatives have learnt nothing.

There was no public transport strategy or debate by any of the major political parties, just nebulous promises to invest in rapid transit (what ever that is) or buses. Pathetic.

Even the 'Greens' failed to do so which is doubly pathetic. Our whole 'Green' strategy or what ever one wants to call it, is nothing but new and higher taxes. Triply pathetically

As ye sows, so shall ye reap!

Anonymous said...

So Jane Sterk is swinging back and her predecessor for supporting Gordon Campbell, eh? Is this the same Jane Sterk who was full of praise for Gordon Campbell at UBCM ( The same Jane Sterk who got her podium appearance because of connected Liberal Kim Capri? That Jane Sterk?


Seems like Green leaders, both provincially and federally, have a hard time making up their minds, eh?

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the same Christopher Ian Bennett who, along with Stephen Rogers, was co-chair of the campaign to re-elect Sam Sullivan as mayor candidate for the NPA? Not surprised he's joined the Campbell crowd. Am surprised he was ever a Green.

Anonymous said...

Did David Anderson mean that he would cripple the Green Party for 25 years - making it a Liberal farm team?

Anonymous said...

The Greens continue to exude the kind of delusion that is reserved for treatment in a padded room.

The election should have been a cause for significant pause...issues related to the economy, taxation, crime and justice, culture and the like, all summarily trumped the environment. Why? Because the public have now been exposed to the utterly contemptible hypocrisy that is the Green Shaft, in general, perpetrated, in the main, by drips like Messers. Suzuki, Gore and, of course, our own Mr. Bennett. He thinks Herr Campbell is moving in the right direction? Perhaps the 17pt polling wipeout was lost on this lad.

After all, this wouldn't be the first time Mr. Bennett was caught asleep at the pinwheel...he was The Nutty Mayor's chief steward for the better part of the last year.

If you administered an enema to Christopher Ian Bennett's political accomplishments of record (and that of the entire Gree lobby in this country and the one below), you could walk away with any redeemable residue, in a thimble.

You pay this chap more attention than is necessary or he is worth.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Christopher sees an opportunity to bring his Green Ideals to a party better suited to see them implemented. Although activism changes minds (green approach), political players can get the laws made or changed (liberal/conservative approach).

Jennifer McMaster

Anonymous said...

Politics is such dirty sport. No wonder normal people are repelled by it - ultimately at everyone's peril. And no wonder Carole James, a normal woman with integrity, finds it difficult to get into ultimate fight mode.

Anonymous said...

Christopher Bennett---Lets call it what it is,he has a young daughter,the man wants a paycheque,period,end of disscussion--Campbell has done NOTHING GREEN! The gas tax hasn`t reduced emissions now or later,fish farms,SFPR,gateway,bridges,park intrusions,run of river,gutting the enviromental assessment agencies,private jets,trips to hawaii, CAMPBELL IS A WALKING TALKING,CARBON ABUSER,do as I say not as I do.

As for Bennett,morals or money the latter won out again! cheers

Anonymous said...

Who on earth is this inexperienced young lad who thinks Gordo is the greatest...? Get real. This is the greatest:
1. con artist to come down the pike--witness the Olympics designed to benefit developers and real estate industry (his friends) paid for by the long suffering taxpayers (see Georgia Straight article May 31/07);
2. investor who has lost $56 million of our money on the Canada Line by investing in sub prime mortgages;

and on and on. Bill, please remove that photo shot of him; he scams enough photo-ops with you helping him!

Anonymous said...

"WE ONLY CHEAT WHEN WE CAN'T WIN" . . . the un-official motto of the Liberal Party.


Brenton said...

"I feel that those who consider the environment a top priority will find a new and emerging champion in Premier Campbell and his team. Without question he is the 'greenest' Premier we've had in BC and I know that there's even more he wishes to accomplish on this agenda"

I would be interested to hear about the progress and policy-changes that Campbell has made as champion of the environment.

Westcoast Indie News said...

A truism one cannot escape, especially with the BC Liberals: you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Mr. Bennett better get himself a flea collar. Knowing nothing about the politics inside the Green party, I can only guess that Mr. Bennett found himself shut out, his "right-wing" thoughts, and the values underlying them, unpopular amongst the Green crowd. So, ever interested in staying in the game, as any good opportunist, or politician does, he gravitated to the club which would accept him, for whatever he has to offer in return. Maybe its the cache of a young "Green," or something we'll never find out about, but you better believe Campbell will get something out of this. I'm quite sure Mr. Bennett has found his "right-wing" home at last.

They all think they'll make out like bandits (on our dime), but what price the shame of selling out our children and province? Mr. Bennett will no doubt find out that price someday. It's inevitable
in the shadowy world of smoke & mirrors, illusions and lies he has just stepped into. Bon fortune, Mr. Bennett, you will need it.

As to the Greens chances in this election, they have little to offer as serious contenders. The federal election, with massive amounts of exposure & a strong leader in Elizabeth May did not deliver one single Green seat anywhere in Canada. They also helped split the votes in favour of lesser candidates, often neoConservatives (the equivalent of BC Liberals).

Ms. Sterk is intelligent, savvy and has a lot to offer and I wish her well, but her party is unable to secure the interest it needs to go further. I think that, more than anything, is why Mr. Christopher "Pragmatic" Bennett jumped into Campbell's sinking ship, better start bailing, it's going to be a short race to the bottom.

Anonymous said...

I consider Bennett the best political leader the Greens have ever had. Those who dump on him don't know him, and miss the point entirely. The lad is smart and very calculated. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss him or his supporters. New greens are just as influential as old ones.


Anonymous said...

Crossing party lines is a part of politics. As party platforms evolve and change, are politicians expected to change their principles and beliefs as well?

This seems foolish to many people. It seems like a good fit for Bennett, he did some good work for Greens but probably belonged with the Libs all along. I thought he did a good job, I'd vote for him if if he ran, and I'm still a green.