I have been sitting on a draught of this post for about a month now. It was simply a matter of time before a major poll came out with some convincing evidence to support my thesis. That is that the Health issue is one important direction the Green Party can move in order to broaden our support base. Now we have the second poll in the massive series that the CBC has commissioned from EKOS.
In a recent post, I suggested that Health care is a major issue that has simply dropped off the radar in the last two elections. It’s not because Canadians don’t care about it anymore, because they do. It’s not because it isn’t important, because it still gobbles up about 10% of our GDP. It’s not because it’s somehow been fixed, because there’s no permanent fix for people getting sick. It’s because the major Party’s have decided that elections are about slanging wars, sound bites, and that policy can jolly well take a back seat.
This content vacuum is a great opportunity for the Green Party. Yes, we certainly want to take back the Carbon Shift for our very own. That is an obvious major plank in our upcoming election plans. I propose that a second major plank should be a robust preventative health care program.
I have been digging up numbers, and there is lots of evidence to support my contention. Ipsos Reid released a poll on Dec. 4, 2008 in which 76% of Ontarians believed that there were toxic chemicals in their environment, 77% believed that there were toxic chemicals in the products they use, and over 80% believed that these toxins could be harmful to themselves or their families. These are pretty direct fears, and I believe it’s the kind of material that can motivate people to change their voting behaviour.
The EKOS Poll didn’t ask a specific question about Health Care. Instead, they asked a catch all question about ‘Social Issues’, which included Health Care. The ranking of the top issues is here:
Top issue for next election:
¤ 35% social issues
¤ 27% jobs & unemployment
¤ 18% debt & deficit
¤ 11% climate change
¤ 10% none of the above
The Green Party has pretty dismal poll results in all these policy areas with the obvious exception
of climate change. I don’t think that the Liberals will miss the boat in the upcoming election. They will have spending promises, and I will bet dollars to donuts that they will have a carefully crafted Health Care message to trot out. It should be no great trick for the Green Party of Canada to have a really well differentiated Health Policy. The trick will be to help steer the conversation in this election away from the economy, where the GPC fares miserably in the electorates eyes.
Obviously the Conservatives will be in a cleft stick. Their leader is at an all time nadir in popularity and trust measures. They can be castigated on the Economic front, and will be seeking to steer the election towards the right wing fluff they call policy. Mandatory prison time for dope smokers. No early release for convicts. Minimum sentences, etc. It’s the Liberals who will be both our closest ally, and our deadliest foe. How would it be if we were able to tag team with the Liberals by talking up the Health issue, but by presenting a dramatically different policy prescription? I don’t think we’ll have enough traction to bring Health to the forefront of the campaign by ourselves. If we are pulling in tandem with the Liberals, then it provides Ignatieff with a debating partner for a public dialogue, which will eventually oblige the Tories and Dippers to defend their turf on this issue. So long as they are all talking about it, and we are saying something valuable and really quite different, then it will expand the pool of voters available to us.
I will confess a personal bias on this issue. When I first joined the Green Party it was because I was upset that the proximate causes of my infant daughters Asthma were simply not on the political radar screen. The rest of the Green Party platform at the time was eminently sensible policy, that appealed to the small business owner that I was, but the impetus to consider change was the issue that touched me deeply, and personally. To whit, my families health and security. I hope that I’m not falling into the trap of assuming that my own experience is universally applicable. Perhaps this anecdote will help my readers though, because it illustrates just how this issue is different from most other issues available to us. When it has an impact, it is truly visceral, and touches people in a place that will influence them strongly.
Whether I’m wrong or right in this post, I still believe that there is an election right around the corner. This is the kind of thinking that absolutely needs to be happening at GPC Headquarters. WHAT is the objective in this campaign. WHERE are we going to focus our efforts to acheive said objective. Who are our target voters that will get us there, and precisely what message are we going to deliver that converts those electors into Greens?
Filed under: 2009 Election, election readiness, Its The Economy, Political Strategy | Tagged: Canadian Election, election readiness, green party canada, Green Party of Canada, green party organizing, Liberal Party |