By Roy L Hales
While it is not surprising to find Canada’s three major parties virtually tied, this week’s Nanos poll showed an often overlooked trend. When respondents ranked their “two current local preferences,” the Green party scored 27.7%. They have been consistently receiving 25% to 30% ratings for a year. It is easy to see why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair do not want Elizabeth May to take part in leadership debates. There is potential for a four way race.
The Most Likely Province for a Breakthrough
The most likely province for the Greens to pick up extra seats is British Columbia.
Though during the last decade the majority of MPs from this province have been Conservatives, the most recent Insights West poll reports that 60% of the respondents agreed with the statement “I would be very upset if the Conservative Party forms the government again in Canada.”
This poll also found that the Greens are currently the second choice on Vancouver Island, where their candidates trail the NDP 32% to 39%. (The Liberals & Conservatives are tied for third place, with 15% each.)
“The Green Party is a virtual dead heat across the island,” says Julian Morelli, Green party Director of Communications.
Contrary to the impression conveyed by the mainstream media, this is not a one woman party. The Greens have some very strong candidates.
Some of the better known names on Vancouver Island are: Jo-Ann Roberts, the former host of All Points West on the CBC radio, running in Victoria; Brenda Sayers, who led the Hupacasath First Nation legal challenge against the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), candidate for Powell River-North Island; Paul Manly, a veteran film maker whose work includes the documentary “Troubled Water,” in Ladysmith.
Two of the better known candidates in Greater Vancouver are: SFU’s award winning biologist Lynne Quarmby, who came to the public’s attention because of her stand against the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline project on Burnaby Mountain and is now the Green candidate for Burnaby North -Seymour; Claire Martin, an award winning meteorologist best known from the CBC’s The National, who is running in North Vancouver.
One of the Green’s problems is that they are still perceived as a one issue party. British Columbians are aware of their stand on the need for Climate Action and opposition to both the Northern Gateway and proposed Kinder Morgan pipelines. Consequently, Elizabeth May was the overwhelming favourite when respondents picked who they thought was best suited to look after the nation’s environment (43%, with Thomas Mulcair’s 15% coming in second).
The Greens Are Making Headway
The Green Party’s positions on other matters are less known and will remain less known if the front leading parties have their way. Elizabeth May has been left out of the leadership debates in every election except 2008 and, aside from the MacLeans Leadership debate, this tactic is continuing in 2015.
Morelli says the Greens are making headway. They are probably more effective using social media than any of the other parties and Elizabeth May’s performance during the MacLeans debate created a lot of twitter buzz.
When Insights West asked British Columbians to give their approval ratings for the party leaders, the three front runners are Thomas Mulcair (55%), Elizabeth May (52%) and Justin Trudeau (51%).
Elizabeth May led the pack when BC respondents were asked if their opinions of the leaders has “improved, stayed the same, or worsened” during this election. She has gained 11%. Mulcair and Trudeau have also moved up, 7% and 1% , respectively. The big loser is Stephen Harper, whose approval dropped 45%.
“Reporters are starting to pay more attention to May because she actually studies the legislation,” said Morelli.
His prediction for 2015 is, “Canada is going to have a minority government and Greens will play a central role in co-operating with all the parties for the best legislation. That’s one of the messages we are working on now, working for Canadians and not your political party.”