Greens decry NDP ‘fear campaign’ as party’s vote share collapses from 2017 election
The outcome of Wednesday’s byelection in Nanaimo means that the governing alliance of the NDP and Green parties will retain power, but it’s still a sour outcome to the junior partner in that deal.
The BC Greens finished Wednesday night with a little over seven per cent of the vote, a massive downgrade from the nearly 20 per cent they secured in the 2017 provincial election.
The party had sought to portray itself as an equal party in a three-horse race, but by Wednesday night, party leader Andrew Weaver conceded that he was hearing concerns about vote-splitting on Nanaimo residents’ doorsteps.
“Clearly this isn’t the result we wanted, but for many I’m pretty sure when you were going on the door and you were hearing the message, this is what we were expecting,” said Weaver.
“We know that the BC NDP ran a message of fear, we know it was very successful on the doorstep.”
Nonetheless, Weaver sought a silver lining in the result, arguing it showed that people like the sitting government his party supports, along with its current agenda.
WATCH: Global News interview with Shelia Malcolmson
Green candidate Michele Ney said she was “a little bit angry” about the “fear campaign” waged by the BC NDP.
“However, the results we are seeing tonight clearly reflect that our constituents did not want the government to tumble, that they truly wanted stability.”
Political strategist Mike McDonald said with Wednesday’s result, he sees storm clouds on the horizon for the junior partner in B.C.’s governing alliance.
“The Green vote appears to have gone to the benefit of the Liberals,” he said.
The BC Liberals increased their vote share by nearly eight per cent in the 2019 byelection, from 32.5 per cent to more than 40 per cent, while the NDP increased its vote share by just about three per cent.
“When you look at the Lower Mainland next election, a lot of those votes that left the Liberals last election… may have parked with the Greens, if they come back to the Liberals this is a big game changer,” said McDonald.
WATCH: Tony Harris of the BC Liberals on his election loss
“The Greens have an identity crisis right now. They’re supporting the government, they’re tied into the government policies, they’re not as distinct as they used to be. And I think coming out of this byelection… the Greens are going to have to do some thinking about what sets them apart from the government.”
University of the Fraser Valley political scientist Hamish Telford wasn’t as dire in his assessment of the Greens’ performance.
“I wouldn’t read too much into a weak Green performance here,” he said.
“This is not an area where we would necessarily expect the Greens to prevail, it’s a strong NDP riding. And in this particular byelection, given the configuration of the legislature, it wouldn’t necessarily be surprising if it becomes a two-party race.”
However Telford, too, said the outcome will likely affect how the Greens assess the political lay of the land in the days and weeks to come.
“The Greens need to think seriously about if they can increase their standing in the legislature through a new election, and that would speak to their willingness to bring down the government in a confidence vote.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.