The Green Party of Alberta's History

Here you will find a detailed history of the Green Party's history in Alberta, including their origins, significant moments, and significant figures. It is important to note that while this is a fairly comprehensive history, it is not the entirety of the story, nor is it necessarily perfect. If flaws are found, they will corrected as soon as possible. These histories are the best presentation of the facts as APAH could find, but will be updated and improved as time goes on and more resources become available.

 

          The current Green Party of Alberta is the most current iteration of parties in Alberta with a “green” ideology - this is a philosophy based primarily on environmentalism, usually with a left-leaning approach to social policies. In Alberta, Green politics have been represented under two names - originally known as the Green Party of Alberta when they were founded in 1986, that party was deregistered in 2009 when the party failed to file their papers with Elections Alberta. After a number of members left to join other parties, the remaining Greens created the Vision 2012 Society, which got the party re-registered as the Evergreen Party of Alberta in 2011. The party would change its name back to the Green Party of Alberta in 2012 after the election, and now runs under the name today.

          Before getting into what the Green Party of Alberta is, it’s important to recognize that the Green Party is somewhat unique, in that it not only has a federal counterpart (the Green Party of Canada) as well as sister parties in other provinces, but actually has an international affiliation with the Global Greens. This is an international organization that connects Green parties from around the world and works to establish the Global Greens Charter, which includes six guiding principles: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability, and respect for diversity. This means that the Alberta Greens are affiliated with nearly a hundred national parties from every continent, including the Green Party of the United States, the Australian Greens, the Green Party of Korea, the Egyptian Greens, and dozens more. Within Canada, 12 people have been elected to federal or provincial legislatures as members of a Green Party, although none were in Alberta.

          With that established, let’s look at their history in Alberta. The party was founded in 1986, but would not receive official party status until 1990 under the leadership of Norman Conrad. Conrad moved out of the province in that same year, passing the leadership on to Betty Paschen. The Greens contested their first election in 1993, an election that saw them field eleven candidates and get just short of two thousand total votes. Not a great showing, although they did beat the Communist Party, whose sole candidate came in with a whopping forty-seven votes. However, it’s fair to note that this was an election that largely saw consolidation of the left around the Liberal Party after the collapse of the NDP and the unpopularity of the PC government at the time - the Greens were fighting an uphill battle. Paschen, who viewed herself as an interim leader, was succeeded by David Parker in 1995.

          Parker would lead the Greens through the 1997 and 2001 elections, but wouldn’t find much more success. In 1997, the party fielded just seven candidates and took home half as many votes as in 1993 (however, this time they beat two parties - the Communist Party and the Forum Party, a party who developed their policies based on an internet “think-tank”). In 2001, Parker would field ten candidates and take home just over two thousand votes, but again, no seats.

          In 2003 the Greens replaced Parker with George Read, who had previously been President of the federal Greens. Read led the Greens into 2004 with a degree of seriousness that the party had not previously demonstrated in the province, nominating forty-nine candidates and taking home almost twenty-five thousand votes. Despite not winning any seats, this was the first time the Alberta Greens really showed that they could potentially hold their own. Three candidates got more than a thousand votes, and Edwin Erickson, the Banff-Cochrane candidate, took second place with fifteen percent of the vote. In total, fifteen candidates managed to get more than 5% of the vote in their elections, and the party had the best showing among parties who failed to win a seat, getting more votes than the Socreds, the Separation party, the Alberta Party, and the Communist Party combined.

          In 2008, the Greens continued building momentum - running an almost-full slate of seventy-nine candidates, the party collected forty-three thousand votes, making them one of only two parties to actually increase their popular vote count (the other being the PCs, who won the election). In fact, the party had even polled higher than the Wildrose Alliance Party within a month of the election and at times held even with the NDP, showing that they could gather serious support. The party saw their best result ever with Joe Anglin in Lacombe-Ponoka, who managed to secure nearly twenty-three percent of the vote to take second.

          However, while the 2008 election was a high for the party, by the end of the year, the party was in a state of chaos. The party’s annual meeting in September saw Sean Maw, someone who was not a member of the party executive, try to overthrow the established executives by running a meeting to vote for a new executive council and seriously revamp the party’s constitution. The main party establishment claimed that the meeting wasn’t valid, while the members of Maw’s meeting claimed that theirs was and the others were the ones holding invalid meetings. With this, the party would quickly fall apart - the party would lose their leader in December, as Read handed off the leadership to Joe Anglin as the interim leader. In early 2009, deputy leader Edwin Erickson would leave the Greens with the intent of starting a party called the Progress Party - however, he was approached by the Alberta Party to run for their leadership, which he successfully did in 2010.

          In April of 2009, the Greens failed to file their Annual Financial Statement with Elections Alberta, forcing the party to be deregistered. Former Green members distributed themselves among other parties, with the most notable being Erickson going to the Alberta Party and Joe Anglin went on to join the Wildrose Party and win a seat in 2012. He left the party in 2014 to sit as an independent, hoping to run as a PC member in 2015. However, the party rejected him, so he ran and lost as an independent. In 2018, he became a member of the Freedom Conservative Party, who would contest their first election in 2019.

          The Greens who wanted to re-establish the party had to jump through a few hoops to get there. They founded the Vision 2012 Society shortly after the party was deregistered - this was an independent group with the goal of establishing a new Green Party in time to run in 2012, which was required before they could apply to become a new party. In 2011, the Society successfully collected the signatures necessary to register as a party - however, here they hit another small hurdle. Elections Alberta has a rule that, once a party is deregistered, the name must be unused for at least one election cycle before it can be picked up by another party. Because of this, the new party was named the Evergreen Party of Alberta, and under the leadership of Larry Ashmore they contested the 2012 election.

          Unfortunately, the Evergreens would not maintain the momentum of the old Greens. Twenty-five candidates would cumulatively gather just over five thousand votes, with the party failing to have anyone place better than fifth place - one candidate even managed to place in seventh. In 2015, the party would contest the election under a new leader and their old name - Janet Keeping took over the party from Ashmore, and the Evergreens renamed themselves as the Green Party of Alberta. Despite running one less candidate than they had in 2012, they actually increased their total vote count to seven thousand, three hundred. Unfortunately for the Greens, they would once again fail to win any seats.

          In the run-up to the 2019 election, the party saw a series of changes in leadership - Romy Tittel would become leader in November of 2017 and run in a by-election in Calgary-Lougheed against UCP leader Jason Kenney and Liberal leader David Khan, which she placed fifth in. Less than five months later she resigned for unknown reasons, and Coral Bliss Taylor succeeded her in April of 2018 as the interim leader. Taylor would continue Tittel’s tradition, resigning less than five months later in September when Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes won the party’s leadership election against Brian Deheer.

          Chagnon-Greyeyes is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and led the party into the 2019 election as a candidate for the Calgary-Varsity riding.