The federal Green Party stormed the bastion Monday night, taking Nanaimo-Ladysmith from the NDP in a byelection win that’s given rise to much speculation on which way the political winds are blowing, especially on B.C.’s south coast.
The surge in Green support from under 20 per cent in 2015 to over 37 per cent, the governing Liberals’ nosedive from 23.5 to 11 per cent, and the NDP’s 10-point drop and loss of the seat suggest a sea change in voter preference that could spell big change in October.
The shift was predicted. Three days before the byelection, the Angus Reid Institute released a poll that tracked “the ongoing fragmentation of Justin Trudeau’s 2015 progressive coalition.” It found that 44 per cent of those who voted for the Liberals now disapprove of the leader and 51 per cent plan to vote for another party or are undecided.
“While the Conservative Party of Canada holds a sizable lead among decided and leaning voters, it is the Green Party – fresh from a provincial-level breakthrough in Atlantic Canada – that is building up the greatest amount of proportional support,” the pollster said.
One of the key findings was that Green Party leader Elizabeth May enjoys the highest approval rating among federal leaders (at 45 per cent) and is the only leader with a positive net approval score, meaning more voters approve of her than disapprove. For Trudeau, only 28 per cent approve while 67 per cent disapprove.
Another Green-friendly finding was that environmental issues now top the list of priorities identified by Canadians heading into the 2019 election, surpassing health care and the deficit.
“Canadians are becoming increasingly confident that voting their values, voting for the healthy future of the planet for their children and future generations is not a wasted vote,” Maureen Bodie, president of the federal Green Party riding association for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, told Coast Reporter this week.
Bodie said the Greens are “all extremely pleased but not shocked” with candidate Paul Manly’s success in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. She noted the total number of elected Greens in Canada provincially and federally has grown from one to 17 in the last eight years and the party is seeing a “Green Wave” of support internationally.
The latest speculation is around whether former Liberal cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, now sitting as Independents, will bring their considerable talents to the ascending Greens. May said Wednesday that she expects the two women to decide by early June.
We can see it happening, because it’s starting to look like a good time to go Green.