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Fourth political party emerges to challenge old style politics in Canada

Ron Walter writes about the surge in support for the Green Party
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

By-election results from Vancouver Island raised a few eyebrows across Canadian political circles when the Green Party candidate won handily.

The Green Party almost doubled its vote to 37.3 per cent for a 5,000-vote lead. In the previous federal election, the Green Party candidate was fourth.

The NDP won that election by almost 8,000 votes but fell to third place in this byelection.

The win puts two Green Party MPs in Parliament with leader Elizabeth May, also from Vancouver Island – hardly a threat to our two-party system. Or is it?

Long considered a bunch of tree-hugger goofballs, the Green Party has gained traction in Canada in the last two years. Greens elected three B.C. MLAs and share power in coalition with the NDP.

The Greens have elected three MLAs in small ’c’ conservative New Brunswick and recently were elected official opposition in P.E.I.

If the Green Party success were limited to B.C., the gains could be written off as lotus land protests. But this party has established a toehold in three provinces.

The latest Angus Reid poll finds one out of every nine Canadians supports the Green Party, a distinct difference from the usual one in 25 supporters.

Green support has trended upwards for the months since the NDP selected a new leader, since the Liberal government reneged on a promise of proportional election choices and since the Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin affair. 

These matters and the inability of the Trudeau government to achieve climate change agreement with the provinces are factors in the Green Party’s increased popularity.

Some observers think the Green Party showing illustrates a desire for change from traditional politics where the Liberals and Conservatives alternate in power with the NDP acting as the conscience of Parliament.

No major change seems to get done with this system, a setup that Saskatchewan’s Tommy Douglas described as tweedle-dee/tweedle-dum in the 1970s.

His ranting got the NDP nowhere.

Today’s young voters are often worried about the future of this planet. Their concern is based less on the need for jobs that obsessed previous generations. They are wondering if the planet will be a fit place to live on when they age.

Overwhelmingly, scientists tell us future effects of global climate change — fire, flood, drought, wind – are almost irreversible.

Scientific evidence aside, politicians across the globe dither in taking drastic action on climate change. In Canada, politicians bicker over climate change policy and take each other to court.

New supporters of the Green Party are tired and disgusted with politics as usual. They want action now. The P.E.I. Greens’ success was based on that feeling.

When Justin Trudeau was elected many Canadians saw his style as different from the old politics. People are disillusioned with him and looking for a real difference in politics.

Historically, Green Party supporters tend to be practical in the polling booth, with actual support usually well below polling numbers as voters decide to try and keep out the worst option.

No party can ignore the influence of Green supporters in this October’s federal election.

Ron Walter can be reached at

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