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Green results wither

John Bell

October 22, 2019

Green Party candidates did well across the maritime provinces, winning a seat in New Brunswick. Other Green candidates ran strong seconds. Early support held firm at around 10% of the vote. 

This is a region has always been a battleground between the Liberals and the Conservatives, with the odd strong showings for the NDP in urban ridings. So the idea of a protest vote going to the Greens, a party the sits between the LPC and CPC ideologically, makes sense. 

To be fair, the Green platform is strong against fracking, the destructive mining of fossil fuel. There have been strong campaigns against fracking in rural New Brunswick, contributing to the victory of Jenica Atwin in Fredericton.

But early predictions that the Greens were poised to make a major national breakthrough collapsed as results came in from the rest of the country. They increased their percentage of the vote to 6.4% nationally, and held on to their two BC seats.

Leader Elizabeth May tried to put a happy face on it, saying the three Green MPs would be the conscience of parliament. But supporters had expected more and disappointment was palpable.

May and the Greens ran a chaotic, amateurish campaign. Their slogan – “Not Left. Not Right. Forward together.” – was custom made for ridicule. Was this the party that couldn’t tell left from right? Were they twirling toward freedom?

May made a series of gaffes. Her own anti-abortion views, and those of a number of her candidates called into question their “progressive” status. Then there was confusion over tar sands pipelines. Then there was a flap about a Quebec candidate being a “sovereigntist”; May claimed he wasn’t; he said he was indeed.

It seemed like every day May was either clarifying or contradicting what she had said the day before. Promising not to impose caucus discipline in parliament just made them look more confused. Her personal appeal waned.

May has said she will step down after this term. The Green’s future depends on finding someone with strong appeal to carry them forward. But if another party makes their climate change plan more audacious, the Greens could become redundant.

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