Welcome to the new age. A brave new world where just about anything can happen, including the Green Party actually winning a seat in the House of Commons. And of course, if the Greens are going to be winning seats, it’s going to be in beautiful British Columbia.
The next provincial election is set for 2021. That’s still a couple of years away, and perhaps not yet on the minds of most of British Columbia. But for Green Party supporters, the next couple of years could be pivotal for the future of not just the Greens, but for the Canadian political landscape in general.
It’s not easy being Green. And that is no understatement. In the Party’s entire 36-year history, they have only won two seats, with this week’s victory in Nanaimo-Ladysmith being the second.
The party has had their ups and downs, but the general trajectory appears to be on an incline. The party broke one percent of the popular vote for the first time in the 2004 federal election, where they received 4.3 percent.
Since the 2006 federal election, the Greens have polled from anywhere between 3.1 percent and 14 percent in public opinion polls. The party made their debate stage debut for the first time in 2008, and achieved a personal-best of 6.8 percent of the popular vote that year.
In the 2011 federal election, Elizabeth May won the first Green Party seat in the House of Commons. In 2013, an MP from Ontario announced that he would be joining the Green Party, doubling the number of members the party has in the House of Commons.
The Green Party candidate Paul Manly won 37.1 percent of the vote in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election. John Hirst, the Conservative candidate, came in at a distant second with just over a quarter of the vote, at 25.1 percent.
The NDP polled in at just under 23 percent, with the Liberals coming in at 11.1 percent of the vote.
Manly called the Green victory a “protest vote.” If the Greens can continue to play anti-establishment card, it could see more results, as frustrated voters tend to make their voices heard in the voting booth.
As Nanaimo goes off into the wild Green yonder, leaders at the provincial must look at the Green victory as something that cannot be ignored. As the NDP’s federal polling numbers continue to dip under new leader Jagmeet Singh, who won a seat in BC just a couple of months ago.
Though there is no indicator as to whether voters would prefer a Green candidate over Singh, as the Greens did not run a candidate in the Burnaby South 2019 election, it’s still worth noting that most recent polls at a federal level polling at a consistent 10 percent.
As more left-wing voters seek non-Liberal Party options, the Green alternative looks more and more appealing, especially with Jagmeet Singh leading the party, an unpopular leader even within his own party.
2021 sounds far in the distance, but with 2019 already over a third of the way through, the Greens will surely be doing their damnedest to ensure that their party is no longer seen as some sort of fledgling party, but as a serious political party with a clear, defined voice that speaks to those hungry for change and climate action.
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