After roughly outlining my version of an ideal secular humanist party, it’s now time to see how the Canadian political parties line up with it.
The first party up is the new upstart Green Party of Canada. Although they only have one member of parliament (who changed parties and wasn’t elected as a Green), I still think they are worth consideration (unlike Harper, Layton, and the Canadian Media).
So what are the Green Party’s positions:
- Environment first
- They support a carbon tax
- Government reforms
- Genetically engineering organisms
- No to Nuclear
- C-51 threatens natural products industry and Canadian health
This is a very strong secular humanistic position. Without ample protection of the environment, there will be no future for humanity. Thumbs up here
This is a contentious issue in Canada. I don’t want to argue political policy and whether a tax is better than cap-and-trade, as both methods achieve the end result and cost about the same. The issue for a sceptic or secular humanist here would be which works better. Generally, I think the opinions are that both are valid methods. So as long as the party advocates doing something (remember, human-caused global climate change is a scientific fact), it gets the humanistic thumbs up.
The Greens emphasize social rights here. From a better public health care, to child care, to legalizing marijuana, all of these positions are strongly humanistic while protecting liberties (or promoting them, which is still humanistic). They support abortion and womens rights and want to push policies to protect those rights. They promote LGBTQ rights and the ability to access post-secondary education. They also want to eliminate poverty, child poverty and homelessness. Across the board this page has the single most impressive humanistic policy I’ve come across.
Here the Greens advocate for reforms to the electoral process, make the government more accountable, and increase information flow. Although not explicitly humanistic, these policies do fall under the banner of improving the democratic process, which is very humanistic.
This section comes as the first blotch on the Green’s humanistic record. By advocating for a “ban experimentation with, planting and promotion of new GE crops”, the Greens are effectively advocating against science. Without the ability to experiment and test (safely and with government supervision), we potentially fail to continue the advancement of our research. There are many potential advantages to GE foods, and blanket bans are not the way to approach the issue. Thumbs down from the secular humanist view.
Here the Greens push against nuclear energy. Some statements are scientific in their defence, while others like “nuclear energy has an inevitable link to nuclear weapons proliferation,” are fear mongering (note, Canada has no nuclear weapons). This section is iffy for the ideal policy, and seems more fuelled by Greenpeace rhetoric than honest rational science and scepticism.
Here the Greens further move from humanistic to alarmist. They fall into the trap that alternative medicines are viable medications that need no regulation. This has been called an “Astrotuf” campaign by Skeptic magazine as much of the anti-C-51 rhetoric comes from large corporations likely to be affected by new rules (i.e. requiring scientific standards). Again we see the Greens move from a scientific humanist standpoint to new-age quackery.
Overall, the Green party gives very strong secular humanist principles, but falls slightly short of ideal secular humanist party. They give in to alt-meds, and woo without backing claims with science. The Greens have many good policies, but they seem to have arrived at them for the wrong reasons (they’re more Gaia worshippers than sceptics).
Despite these complaints however, I was surprised at the strength of many of the Green’s policies, and I doubt too many parties will come as close to the ideal as this.