Home Election Tracker Canadian Federal 2021 or beyond Green Leader in Victoria: enough to tip the tide of Green fortunes?

Green Leader in Victoria: enough to tip the tide of Green fortunes?

Last dash attempt for some fresh media coverage.

Saturday September 18, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated at 3:45 pm & 6:10 pm]

EDITORIAL by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Hastily organized overnight, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul arrived in Victoria today with a splash.

This is Day 35 of the 36-day 44th federal election campaign, and for Ms Paul it’s been a Toronto-centric campaign until now.

Masterfully initiated by former Green Party leader Elizabeth May who has been campaigning for re-election in Saanich-Gulf Islands, this sudden campaign event today (an outdoor oceanside press conference supported by crowd rally sentiments) seems motivated by a new assessment of Green momentum on South Vancouver Island.

The Greens could boast two candidates at dissolution of the 43rd parliament: May, and also Paul Manly (running for re-election in Nanaimo-Ladysmith). The NDP had five ridings locked down at dissolution. Three NDP candidates in the south Island area are incumbents (Randall Garrison running for a 4th term in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, Alistair MacGregor running for a 3rd term in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, and Laurel Collins running for a 2nd term in Victoria).

Victoria splash:

elizabeth may, august 2021

It was the Green candidate for Victoria, Nick Loughton, who caught the most limelight from today’s surprise appearance by Ms Paul, at Lime Bay Park in the Songhees area of the Victoria harbour on this partly sunny afternoon.

In front of the camera behind Ms Paul were candidates Harley Gordon running in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, as well as Vancouver East Green candidate Dr Cheryl Matthew, Vancouver Centre candidate Alaric Paivarinta, and Fleetwood-Port Kells candidate Perry Denure.

These candidates have likely been experiencing ‘campaign buzz’ in the last five weeks, with voter interest in the Greens being always something that party can count on — they’re different, they’re scientific, and generally young and new to politics. They want to do politics differently, but today’s event was doing it much the same as any other party… capitalizing on media coverage and perceived changes in momentum.

Behind the camera and the organization of the day for Ms Paul in Victoria was Elizabeth May, who has many times expressed her wish to let the party be taken forward by fresh blood, while still hoping to be a parliamentarian in the 44th Parliament. May has recently gone through knee surgery but has maintained a steady pace on the 2021 campaign trail.

Why now?

Today Ms Paul faced media questions about why finally venturing out of the Toronto Centre riding (a long-time Liberal stronghold) where she is hoping to win and thereby have a presence in the House of Commons. She blamed much of the campaign decision-making on COVID safety factors. But there’s also the reality that her party executive became fractured in recent months, and the financial coffers went down with that. Campaign travel is expensive.

Andrew Weaver, Justin Trudeau
Andrew Weaver said during a Liberal announcement on September 14, 2021 that the Liberal Party climate action platform held all the factors he’d dreamed of for most of his life. [Twitter]

Following a strong appearance in the English-speaking federal leaders debate on September 9, it could be said that she has resurrected herself rather well out of the internal-party-impacted political obscurity that she has found herself in (self-generated or not).

Ms Paul also faces the bite of the Liberals having paraded Victoria-based climate change scientist Andrew Weaver (former leader of the BC Green Party) on their sleeve this past week. Today she said the PhD’s who composed the Green climate policy are ‘colleagues’ of Weaver (same sector?).

Today Paul delineated between a big plan on boasting a big climate action plan and taking actually taking impactful action — something NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also said and proposed in the climate action section of the NDP campaign platform which also loops in attention to jobs in a new green economy. Ideas are great, and all parties can be said to be concerned about climate change, but having enough seats in the House of Commons to make a difference on these matters is ultimately what counts.

Greens correctly say that their influence on Canadian politics has sped along the attention to climate matters. But the juggernaut here is, frankly, how many seats the NDP can achieve in this election; if punching above their weight in terms of protecting Canadians with a suitable CERB amount and high-enough wage subsidy is any indication, it’s the number of NDP seats after September 20 that will make the most difference for Canadians in the years ahead (through their pressure on whichever larger party forms government after the election).

Shifts in the Green plan:

Sudden changes in campaign appearances always mean the party is responding to perceived shifts in the plan or the realities on the ground. It appears that young male candidates Nick Loughton and Harley Gordon have stirred up interest in their respective campaign areas, and Elizabeth May continues to capture the public imagination. Obviously the Greens want to capitalize on that nationally.

Randall Garrison, NDP, 2021

Other than in BC, no other regions of Canada have federal Green candidates (other than Ms Paul herself). Former Green MP Jessica Atwin defected to the Liberals a few months ago.

BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau was not present at today’s press event (with rally), and neither was Adam Olsen, who is the other Green MLA in the BC Legislature.

At today’s seaside Green splash (followed by a rally at Hillside and Blanshard later this afternoon), Paul is obviously counting on the coverage by Victoria-area media (who are generally sensitized to environmental issues) that she will get on this final weekend of the campaign.

“I’ve never seen so many Greens all in one place,” said Paul during her live press conference today. This pit stop in Victoria could be the last time for such a crowd, or the beginning of something bigger. The next chapter of that will be known after election night on September 20.

green, annamie paul, victoria
“I’ve never seen so many Greens in one place,” said federal Green Leader Annamie Paul on September 18, 2021 in Victoria. [Twitter]
alistair macgregor, ndp

===== RELATED:

Elxn44: Campaign signage profile in central Langford (September 11, 2021)

Poor debate format a disservice to viewers & voters (September 9, 2021)

Elizabeth May: child care boost, supporting other Greens (August 30, 2021)

Day 6 #elxn44: Elizabeth May lunches in Cordova Bay (August 20, 2021)