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Election fallout: Greens wilt

John Bell

September 24, 2021

When parliament dissolved, the Green Party had 2 seats. After the election they still have 2 seats, but that only masks the disaster they have suffered during this campaign.

Only one incumbent, Elizabeth May, held her seat. Paul Manly was relegated to 3rd place in the riding he won last time. Across BC, Green support fell from over 12% to about 5%. Former Green MP Jenica Atwin won a close battle to hold her Fredericton seat, but she’s a Liberal now.

The wave of Green support that swept across the Maritimes in 2019 is gone. Most Green support moved to the Tories, which tells you a lot about Green Party politics.

In the 2019 election the Green candidate in Guelph ran a strong second with almost 20,000 votes, beating both NDP and Conservative. This time they got fewer than 5,000 votes, finishing a distant 4th.

In her riding of Toronto Centre, party leader Annamie Paul also came 4th. She had been 2nd in a 2020 by-election. The party spent a huge amount of their resources in this riding, for nothing.

The national vote total for the Greens was 394,397, or 2.3% of votes cast. Two years ago they received 1,160,694 votes (6.5%).

The only good news was an outlier win in Kitchener Centre, where Liberal incumbent Raj Saini was booted amid accusations from women staffers of unwanted sexual attention. Popular local environmentalist Mike Morrice, who had come 2nd in 2019, won for the Greens.

The fact that this election campaign came in the wake of a summer of climate change related disasters, and the Green Party failed to mobilize around the issue, is remarkable.

The Greens fell apart amid infighting, ostensibly a spat between party leadership that vocally supported the state of Israel, and MPs who expressed support for Palestinian human rights. In fact, the fractures go much deeper, between an entrenched party apparatus that is solidly small-c conservative and a new activist layer of eco-socialists. 

Paul is almost certain to be replaced soon, but simply replacing the leadership won’t solve the deep political split within its membership. The Green Party is in for more rough times ahead.

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