Many people vote Green because they assume it is more grass roots, more democratic, than the others. They would be shocked to know that the party is the most top down of any of the federal parties - and that Harris simply ignores decisions that he doesn't agree with. The situation is so bad that five of the party's eleven officers have resigned from the governing council in protest or been suspended in the past eight months. Several positions remained unfilled for eight months, two are still vacant. According to dissidents, Harris delayed filling the positions because he was happy with the remaining officers who tend to support him and he did not want to risk having more people turn into troublesome dissidents...It has to be a bad sign if the Green strategy is indeed to pick up protest votes while actively refusing any attempts at internal democracy. And it's all the worse that a party nominally dedicated to promoting new policy alternatives can't even settle on more than the vaguest of policies within its own ranks.
There is a strong suspicion from some of those who resigned from the council, that Harris simply removed reference to party policies from the website because they caused him so much grief in the last election. You can see why. Enhanced food banks to solve poverty, more volunteerism instead of more money for social programs, reduced taxes on corporate income and investment, rejection of strong environmental laws and strong enforcement in favour of so-called "voluntary compliance" by corporate polluters. These 2004 policies were ridiculed as badly thought out, not costed and clearly contradictory of the Charter of the Global Greens which the party has adopted as its guiding principles.
The party is now issuing a news release with a new policy almost everyday. Some actually have a progressive tilt, but they are almost universally vague, hastily formulated, and have no roots in any party deliberations. And to make matters even more confusing, Green Party candidates in Saskatchewan are not even running on the national party’s policies but on their own locally developed platform.
It could be that being excluded from the debates was the best way for the Greens to avoid having their internal weaknesses exposed for this election. Hopefully voters deciding where to park a protest vote will take a close enough look at the Greens on their own to see some of the weaknesses which should rightly keep the party from making too many gains.
Update: Mark at Section 15 takes his shot at rebutting Dobbin's article. Most of the dispute seems to be over interpretations rather than facts, though there are a few areas where Dobbin is plainly wrong (e.g. claiming the Bloc's 2004 policies were rated better by environmental groups than the Greens').