The battle for the survival of the Federal Green Party unfolds on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is a long way from the seat of power in Ottawa, but this election is a vital battleground for the survival of the federal Green Party.

The party’s only two incumbent candidates, former leader Elizabeth May and Paul Manly, hope to maintain their position in the far southeast of the island, despite bitter infighting between party leader Annamie Paul and some of the seniors. Party positions that lasted until the eve of the elections.

Election observers suggest riding in May in the Saanich-Gulf Islands It’s in the baggiven that he has easily won the historic Greens’ first seat three times since winning it in 2011.

However, experts predict it will be an uphill fight for Manly, who won the Greens’ second seat in Nanaimo-Ladysmith in a by-election in May 2019. Manly secured it again six months later in the federal election with a margin. healthy 5,000 votes over its closest conservative competitor.

Regardless, Manly’s campaign is likely to be hampered by infighting and acrimony between the party executive and Paul, who succeeded May in October 2020, said Kim Speers, a political scientist at the University of Victoria.

Paul escaped facing a vote of no confidence in July. And the month before, Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin crossed the word to liberals after inter-party disputes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, taking the third Green seat and the only one outside of BC along with her. The internal dispute so close to the election does not build voter confidence in the party, Speers said.

“People are not really sure what the Green Party will look like after the elections,” Speers said Wednesday, noting that polls put the party in a low position. all-time low and behind the People’s Party of Canada.

“So, I can understand why there might be some doubts about voting for the Greens at this time.”

But Manly is undeterred, insisting that what is happening at the federal level is not reflected on the ground in leadership, and voters will see his record regardless of party problems.

The former filmmaker and communications specialist says his campaign got off to a good start and the momentum is good given that he is a well-known entity in the industry that has successfully advocated across partisan lines for issues that concern local voters.

“I have a lot of support from progressive voters because it’s not just about climate change on this trip,” Manly said, noting that he has championed affordable housing, changes in long-term care for the elderly, dental care and universal pharmaceutical and guaranteed income to live.

Experts predict #GreenParty candidate Paul Manly will not regain his seat due to leadership-level turmoil, but the Nanaimo-Ladysmith incumbent says voters will back him based on his work in horsemanship and in Ottawa. # elxn44

“People see that I am leading the speech in the House of Commons on a lot of these things,” he said, adding that the party has a newly elected federal council and that he was not involved in the conflict.

Regardless of Manly’s track record, Speers doubts his campaign can overcome the struggles of the Green Party.

“No matter how good a congressman is, he has just been affected by those external variables that are beyond his control and that happen in elections all the time,” Speers said.

While Vancouver Island has been a green foothold hotspot, much of that hinged on May’s popularity as a leader, he said.

May crushed the competition in 2019, winning 49 percent of the vote, more than double the votes of her closest conservative competitor, David Busch, who got 20 percent and is running again in this election.

But May’s mantle of popularity probably won’t benefit Manly, who also can’t count on a hit from Paul given that the leader hasn’t left her Toronto Center driving area to campaign nationally and is unlikely to do so. Speers said.

“Since the new leader doesn’t travel through Canada, he doesn’t visit Vancouver Island, which has really strong green support, I don’t think that has helped the overall level of support for the Green Party.”

Paul is unlikely to win his seat or survive the leadership review scheduled for the fall, indicating further upheaval for the party, Speers added.

Leadership transitions can be bumpy, Manly said, pointing to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s struggle for popularity before he won his Burnaby in a by-election in 2019, nearly 18 months after becoming party leader.

Now in terms of leader favoritismSingh leads the polls, if not in vote intention.

The NDP is probably the Greens’ biggest competitor for progressive voting on Vancouver Island, and a trustee of the school board. Lisa marie barron is the party’s candidate for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

But there is a possibility that the federal NDP will pay a price for the perceived sins of its provincial counterparts, said Kathryn Harrison, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia.

The cutting down of ancient trees, forest policy, and the controversial Fairy Creek blockades are hot topics among environmentally conscious voters throughout British Columbia, but particularly on Vancouver Island.

“What can happen in federal elections is that people’s frustration with a provincial government can extend to voting,” Harrison said.

“And one of the challenges that I suspect for Jagmeet Singh is that there are a lot of green voters who are unhappy with the John Horgan government right now.”

Manly agreed, saying that voter discontent with the NDP includes the federal party’s unwillingness to override the BC government’s Coastal GasLink project to funnel natural gas to the LNG Canada terminal on the north shore.

“(The NDP) is opposed to the Trans Mountain Pipeline, but I can’t even get Jagmeet Singh to say a word in the House of Commons when I ask him if he will support a ban on fracking,” Manly said.

Despite the NDP leading everyone else on Vancouver Island except those won by the Greens in the last election, the Conservatives represented this election by Tamara Chronicle – turned out to be the closest competition for the Greens at Nanaimo-Ladysmith in the last vote.

Manly won 35 percent of the vote in 2019, topping 26 percent of the Conservatives, 24 percent of the NDP and 14 percent of the Liberals.

Manly’s first foray into federal politics under the Green flag in 2015 resulted in a close four-way race in which he got 20 percent of the vote for the Greens, then increased it by 15 percentage points to win the race. in the next elections.

The Conservatives’ performance in horsemanship has been more or less stable in the last two elections with around 25 percent of the vote.

Manly said that while he is confident in his reelection chances, he is not taking any risks and is doing everything he can to get his seat back.

“I worked hard before I was an elected official,” he said.

“And as a deputy, I worked hard for the community and I will always work hard.

“I don’t take anything for granted.”

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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