Good Sunday Morning!
Election count-downs galore – Six days until voting is done in British Columbia and Saskatchewan!
Eight days until the two Toronto federal by-elections!
Fifteen days until the Prince Edward Island By-election in Charlottetown!
And the scariest of the scary elections- 16 days until the US presidential election.
All of these elections and their campaigns have been taking place in the shadow of COVID.
In all of these Greens are running to make a difference – and in most cases – to win.
And I chose my words carefully – the voting will be done by October 24 here in BC, but with the volume of mail-in ballots some anticipate we may have a longish wait to have the results.
We had extremely good news from our New Zealand cousins. Their election on Friday resulted in a landslide win for Labour and its leader Jacinda Ardern. The success of the Greens in New Zealand has gotten less notice on this side of the Pacific.
There are several important take-aways from the NZ vote. Twenty-four years ago, New Zealand got rid of First Past the Post, opting for Mixed Member Proportional (MMP).
Quick refresher: under MMP the parliament reflects the way the electorate actually voted in terms of allocating seats to align with the percentage vote by party. Some seats are won as we do in Canada – the winning candidate got the most votes in that electoral district. The rest of the seats are “at large” – not tied to any particular district, but used to rebalance the proportion of seats to the proportion of public support.
Ardern’s victory puts paid to a typical objection to Proportional Representation – that it always results in minority governments. This NZ election makes it clear that, even under MMP, a party can win a majority government. I will leave to one side the reality the one party having all the power does not give us the best kind of decisions.
The major right wing party, the National Party, suffered a huge defeat. New Zealand First, a smaller right wing effort, lost all its seats falling far below the 5% vote threshold. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54519628
For the New Zealand Greens and co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson, the election result was a huge win. Winning 8% of the popular vote, Greens will likely emerge with ten seats (up from 8) under MMP. As well, in a stunning breakthrough popular young Green MP Chloe Swarbrick won the seat of Auckland Central. (You may remember Chloe from the Green Party of Canada Convention in 2018 by video link or from her quip in parliament “OK Boomer.”)
Chloe Swarbrick’s win is only the second time in the NZ Greens’ history that a seat was won on FPTP terms. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/election-results-2020-the-greens-chloe-swarbrick-has-historic-win-in-auckland-central/QWFZDA46IWABJZEML7FLUQIQFA/
It is important for Greens, especially in BC, to consider how and why the NZ voters returned the Greens with more seats in Parliament. Greens went into the election looking at falling numbers in the polls. In fact, there were serious concerns that the party would fall below the 5% threshold. They had worked constructively with the ruling Labour party for three years under a CSA - Confidence and Supply Agreement. (Sound familiar?)
Unlike the BC CSA, the New Zealand Greens had Cabinet roles, with co-leader James Shaw holding both minister of statistics and climate. Ardern’s strong climate policies owe an enormous amount to Shaw. So too was the New Zealand COVID lock-down a credit to Shaw, who as minister of statistics explained to skeptical members of the other parties the nature of exponential growth of virus infection rates. The “go early-go hard” strategy was also a credit to Greens.
But being supportive and collaborative in a CSA often leads to the “junior partner” losing ground. That is why Chloe Swarbrick made the brave decision to leave the party list for an at-large seat and contest Auckland Central to win the seat outright – just in case the party failed to hit the 5% threshold.
But the New Zealand electorate could see there was no chance of the right wing National party gaining ground. Like the BC Liberals, their campaign was a flop and support in free-fall. At the last minute, there was a surge of support for the New Zealand Greens.
The dynamics are similar in BC. John Horgan is no Jacinda Ardern. If British Columbia has a Jacinda Ardern, it is our own Sonia Furstenau! BC Greens now have the momentum. Fundraising records are being smashed and pundits point to Sonia’s debate performance as reason for voters to switch to vote Green. Click here to find ways to support the BC Green campaign in this crucial final week: https://www.bcgreens.ca/support_sonia_furstenau?splash=1
And looking to other inspiring Green leaders, Annamie Paul continues to impress at the national level. In a stunning column in the Toronto Star, three prominent names from the three main parties call on voters in Toronto Centre to vote Green. Liberal Greg Sorbara, former Minister of Finance, veteran Tory Hugh Segal and NDP former Cabinet minister Zanana Akande penned a call to non-partisan support for Annamie Paul, saying she “deserves to win” in Toronto Centre. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/10/13/green-party-leader-annamie-paul-deserves-to-win-toronto-centre-byelection.html
Annamie and her team are giving it their all – despite the high COVID rates in this densely populated urban riding. Please offer to help. This link takes you to instructions for how to volunteer and make phone calls into the riding, how to donate and when to join call-in parties! https://www.annamiepaul.ca/welcome
Lastly, I am distressed that former NDP MP Murray Rankin’s terrible offence against Canada remains unmentioned as he runs in what was Andrew Weaver’s Green seat in Victoria. In 2015, media could never get him to answer the simplest of questions: how much were you paid by Bilcon, a US mining company, to testify against Canada? I know of several people who have sent letters to the editor of the Times Colonist on the Bilcon issue, but the letters remain unpublished.
Nicole Duncan, school trustee, is a tremendous Green candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head. Read about Nicole here: https://nitter.fdn.fr/NicoleBCDuncan
Read about Murray Rankin, here: http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/930
Please, if you live in Victoria, do whatever you can to help Nicole hold that Green seat!
Best wishes for the coming week! In the PS to this message I am sharing a survey that the Canadian Federation of University Women, a group to which I belong, is circulating. If you are a senior, please take a moment to fill it out.
With love and thanks,
CFUW Senior' Survey: Senior Issues Related to Aging.
Although this is a very comprehensive survey, it takes about 6 minutes to complete.