A lack of provincial Green votes last week in Nanaimo doesn’t temper high expectations for the federal Greens, says the party leader.
Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada leader, was in town on Sunday to celebrate the acclamation of Paul Manly as the Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate, and May said “you can’t read anything” into the Nanaimo provincial byelection results. On Jan. 30, the B.C. Greens saw their vote share drop from 19.9 per cent in 2017 to 7.4 per cent in 2019.
May said she thinks voters “felt that this is not a time that they wanted to take a chance with such a narrow margin (in the B.C. legislature).”
Manly had a similar take and said he was “not at all” concerned by the B.C. Green Party’s vote count.
“I think people understood that the government was hanging in the balance,” he said, adding that he heard it said that the Nanaimo byelection was viewed as a sort of referendum on the confidence and supply agreement between the B.C. Greens and the B.C. NDP and it became a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.
“A lot of Greens knew that if Sheila [Malcolmson] lost, that Tony Harris was going to win. I saw NDP signs on Green supporters’ lawns…” Manly said. “Because they knew they weren’t going to get their first choice, that it was going to be a long shot for Michele [Ney] to get elected and that’s the way it goes.”
May noted that she didn’t get involved in campaigning in the Nanaimo byelection, whereas she has generally campaigned in other provincial votes.
“I felt that the provincial situation in this particular byelection had downside risks for people that would make them afraid,” May said. “The reality of the federal byelection is there’s no risks, none at all. Vote Green, vote for what you want.”
She said hopes there is a byelection because it would be “unconscionable” to leave Nanaimo-Ladysmith without federal representation for so long, she has “heard a few rumblings” that a byelection will happen, and she thinks it will happen in early spring.
“We have legislation that matters, we have issues that need to be discussed and the voters of Nanaimo-Ladysmith have a right to be represented in the Parliament of Canada,” she said.
May said there are a lot of parts of Canada where there are signs that the Green party has momentum going into the October 2019 general election, and so a Green MP at her side during that campaign could mean even better results nationally for her party.
At Sunday’s acclamation, both Manly and May talked about the urgency for climate solutions. Manly took issue with the federal Liberals’ messaging of equating the economy and the environment.
“The economy shifts and changes and moves and we can change the economy. That’s a human construct,” Manly said. “The environment is a natural construct that we require to survive and they are not the same thing.”
People don’t need to leave the Island to go work in the “tar sands or in the fracking fields” if there are good-paying jobs in geothermal and other clean technologies closer to home, Manly said.
“We have all the solutions and technology that we need to avert a climate crisis,” he said. “What we need is the political courage to make those things happen.”
May recalled this past fall’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that suggested that there’s still opportunity to hold global average temperature to sustainable levels.
“Being hopeful is a political act because it gets harder and harder and harder to be honest and hopeful at the same time,” May said. “But that is our obligation to our kids, our friends’ kids, our grandkids, the Earth itself. Our relatives the whales, our relatives the samon, everything we love is at risk and this is our last election with a chance to change it.”
The Conservative Party of Canada candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith is John Hirst and the People’s Party of Canada candidate is Jennifer Clarke. The federal NDP and the federal Liberals do not yet have candidates in place for 2019.