Elizabeth May is feeling bullish on the Green Party’s chances in a federal election, thanks to the party’s strength in B.C., and particularly on Vancouver Island.
The Green Party leader says that even the national media, which, in the last election, said she couldn’t get elected dog catcher, are saying the Greens can win some seats.
And the party’s polls point to Vancouver Island as being a likely place for a Green victory, in addition to some Vancouver ridings and ridings in the Kootenays. In the province overall, the party is polling over 21 per cent, May told a fundraising dinner at the Maritime Heritage Centre on Saturday, and everyone knows the party’s support in the Interior is not very strong.
“We’re polling over 21 per cent in British Columbia because we’re polling over 30 per cent everywhere on Vancouver Island,” May said. “Which is a whole other place for Green Party candidates and Green campaigns to start forming and start planning a campaign strategy.”
Because when the party goes door-to-door, they hear people say the Green Party will split the vote and allow the Conservatives to get in. People now fear the Green Party, she said.
“We’re in a very different position after my getting elected, after Andrew Weaver getting elected (to the B.C. Legislature) after Adrienne Carr in Vancouver polling the highest of any of the city councillors running in the municipal election,” May said.
The party can and has in other legislatures – like New Brunswick’s – and parliaments – like Australia’s – held the balance of power with one seat.
“The whole scenario of what Greens can do in Parliament has completely changed,” May said.
Ridings where Greens are successful have had higher than average voter turnout. Saanich-Gulf Islands, where May was elected, had 75 per cent voter turnout, the highest in the country, other than some of “those 30,000 population ridings in PEI.”
It proves that when you give voters “a reason to vote, give them something they want to vote for, not hold their noses and vote against something else,” they’ll turn out, May said.
Another characteristic of Green victories is that they have defeated sitting Conservative cabinet ministers. May defeated Gary Lunn in Saanich-Gulf Islands. The prevailing wisdom, May said, is that you run against a weak Conservative candidate rather than get into a David and Goliath struggle.
“I would prefer a David and Goliath struggle over any other kind because David wins,” May said. “I don’t want this to be a spoiler alert but in the David and Goliath struggles, David wins. I love David and Goliath struggles.”
Electing as many Green candidates as possible is important because May predicts Canada will have a minority government.
And anyone who says that you have to elect a Liberal or a NDP because Harper will get in again, keep in mind that between 2006 and 2011, Stephen Harper remained Prime Minister because the Liberals and NDP kept him in power, May said.
“The Liberals and NDP’s mutual antipathy was why Stephen Harper was able to be a minority prime minister,” May said.
She said in 2006, if the Greens were in the position then that they are now, they would have elected 12-20 MPs and could have forged cooperation and stopped Harper forming a minority government.
“We’ll do that next time because we will have enough elected Greens from across Canada,” May said. “But Ground Zero for Green strength; the wave of Greens, the strength of Greens starts on Vancouver Island electing lots of MPs. The wave crests and builds across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland and picks up a few more and keeps going right through to Fredericton.”
And the “really cool” part about this for British Columbians is that for the first time ever, when “people in Toronto go to bed thinking they know what government they’re getting, they wake up to a surprise,” May said.