Could Canada’s Greens win a seat?

In 2010, Greens won their first seat in each of two of Her Majesty’s Realms (UK and Australia*). Could Canada’s Greens follow suit in 2011?

The Globe and Mail today has an interview with party leader Elizabeth May, who has relocated across the country from Nova Scotia, where she ran last time. This time she is the party’s candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands, in British Columbia.

She explains the politics behind the move:

On the political side the Green Party decided after the 2008 election that perhaps they’d made a mistake not making my riding a priority. … The party had an epiphany … the council members were saying “good heavens, we did so well in this election, we got one million votes and all we’re getting is abuse … people are saying we didn’t elect the leader, but we weren’t even trying to elect the leader!” It was kind of a thought bubble that stayed dangling over the room while people started thinking, “Why didn’t we try to elect the leader? …”

I said you have to do some research … and Saanich-Gulf Islands emerged in every analysis as the place in the country where more voters were … excited about, in large numbers, the idea of electing the leader of the Green Party.**

In 2008 in the riding (district) the Conservative MP Gary Lunn was reelected with 43.4% over Liberal candidate Briony Penn, on 39.4%. The Green candidate, Andrew Lewis, came in third with 10.5%.

The Greens actually did far better in 2008 in several ridings in Ontario, even coming in second in one or two. But their research said this BC riding was the one to go for, and May claims (though take this with a grain of salt) that their own internal polling says it’s a two-candidate race between her and Lunn.

* Referring here to single-seat contests in the House of Representatives. They had held seats for a while in the PR-elected Senate.

** All ellipses in the quoted passage are in the original, except for the last one of the first paragraph.

2 thoughts on “Could Canada’s Greens win a seat?

  1. I’m currently in my first year of college taking political science in Victoria, and live in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.

    While it appears that May’s chances are slim, a classmate of mine who has been canvassing for the Liberals told me that many people are saying they’d normally consider voting Liberal but think May deserves a chance. The Liberals didn’t run a candidate in her riding last time, but she and the Greens are probably betting on the “hippies” of the gulf islands and overall concern in the area for the environment which is at least given a lot of lipservice.

    Also, the closeness of the Liberals to Lunn in the 2008 election was likely due to NDP voters not having a candidate, while there was one on the ballot, soon before the election a scandal came up but it was too late to take him off the ballot, and the 5% for him were likely by those who didn’t know about it. After the withdrawal there were automated phonecalls asking people to vote NDP, which many think were organised by the Conservatives but it can’t be proven 100%. In 2006 the NDP and Liberals were both around 26%, a little more than 10% lower than the Conservatives’ 37%.

    I hope that sheds some light on this area.

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