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‘Toss-up’ in Nanaimo-Ladysmith a product of parties’ national campaigns, says poli-sci prof

Vancouver Island University professor helps unpack preliminary election results
Lisa Marie Barron of the NDP, left, Tamara Kronis of the Conservative Party and Paul Manly of the Green Party. (News Bulletin photos)

Uncertainty about the party may have contributed to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith incumbent candidate receiving thousands of fewer votes in 2021 than in 2019, says a political science prof.

The vote count won’t be finalized until mail-in ballots are tallied later this week, but Paul Manly, the Green Party of Canada candidate elected in 2019, is 2,700 votes behind vote-count leader Lisa Marie Barron of the NDP and 1,700 behind Tamara Kronis of the Conservative Party. Manly said in a social media post that “the current margin will be hard to overcome.”

Alex Netherton, Vancouver Island University political studies professor, said the Greens experienced turmoil during the election compared to the NDP.

“Jagmeet Singh’s election campaign was stellar in a sense … they had probably targeted this riding because Jagmeet was on the Island a whole series of times and so that was huge momentum for the NDP campaign and as we know, on the Green side, unfortunately the party had to air its dirty laundry and dissension before the election and there were leadership issues,” Netherton said. ““If you google the Twitter accounts of Annamie Paul and Singh, you’d find that Jagmeet has about 518,000 followers and Paul has about 35,000, so in the sense of a social presence and so forth, Jagmeet Singh is very effective.”

Netherton said in the competition for the “progressive” vote, Manly had the credentials and the name recognition, but the absence of a “Green tide” was costly considering the momentum the New Democrats were able to build.

The Conservatives taking a more moderate approach for this election was also interesting, according to Netherton.

“My best hypothesis at this point is simply that the Conservatives under Erin O’Toole have brought the party to the centre,” said Netherton, mentioning the party’s climate change plan and commitments to reconciliation as examples. “So all of a sudden, the Conservatives weren’t, according to their platform … the bogeyman of 2015 and 2019. I thought that was really quite interesting.”

Netherton said the approach seems to have paid off in the riding as the Conservative Party drew votes in “a way it hadn’t in the last two elections.”

He said going from the “sizable plurality that the Greens had” in 2019 to a “toss-up” suggests the Conservatives even picked up some votes from the Green Party.

Issues of affordability will be a pressing issue the MP will have to deal with, regardless of who that turns out to be, according to Netherton’s estimation.

“The other thing is about working people and living wages. We often hear, for example, employers saying they put notices out and they can’t get anybody to work for them … really what one needs is the ability to make service work, particularly [during the pandemic], more safe and to actually give service workers enough cash to basically make a living,” Netherton said.

RELATED: Election night doesn’t yield winner in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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