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Future of Canada’s Greens in the spotlight after election setbacks

Click to play video: 'Canada election: Green Party leader Annamie Paul’s full speech to supporters' Canada election: Green Party leader Annamie Paul’s full speech to supporters
Speaking to supporters late Monday evening, Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul said she was happy that her party would be sending "two, probably three" MPs to Ottawa to sit in the next Parliament. Despite losing her own riding, Paul hailed the "passion" of all the Green Party candidates and said in her opinion, her party offered Canadians a "real choice" in this election. – Sep 21, 2021

The future of the Canadian Green Party is in the spotlight after a disheartening finish in the 2021 federal election.

The party won at least two seats, and remained hopeful for a third late Monday.

But the night was tinged with disappointment, as party leader Annamie Paul failed a second time to win her seat in Toronto Centre, finishing fourth in a blowout to Liberal Marci Ien.

“Certainly, I am disappointed. It is hard to lose, no one likes to lose. But I am so proud of the effort, the creativity, the innovation, that our team brought to this race,” Paul told supporters in her concession speech.

“We promised to offer real representation, we promised to offer a real choice to the people of Toronto Centre, who have so much need, so much work to get done, and you did that and I thank you for that.”

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Read more: Canada election: Complete list of promises made during the 2021 campaign

The party failed to recapture the seat it won in Fredericton in 2019, though did add its first-ever seat in Ontario, in where Mike Morrice won in Kitchener—Centre.

Even that victory came with an asterisk, however, coming in a riding where Liberal contender Raj Saini was forced to withdraw after accusations of sexual misconduct.

And incumbent Paul Manley looked to be in trouble in Nanaimo—Ladysmith, a too-close-to-call three way battle with the NDP and Conservatives.

Former leader Elizabeth May, who won the party’s first seat in 2011, held on in Saanich—Gulf Islands, and had strong words about the campaign.

“There certainly will be issues the party is discussing internally; we always do a post-mortem after every election,” May said.

“This one, I’ve never seen the party so unprepared for an election. Not to have candidates in every riding, is something we need to explore and investigate how that happened.”

Of particular concern to the Greens was their popular vote collapse.

After locking in a record-high 6.49 per cent in 2019, the party appeared on track to pull in just 2.3 per cent of the vote late Monday night.

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Click to play video: 'One-on-one with Green Party Leader Annamie Paul' One-on-one with Green Party Leader Annamie Paul
One-on-one with Green Party Leader Annamie Paul – Sep 6, 2021

In 2019, the Greens won a historic three seats, including its first-ever seat outside of British Columbia with the election of Jenica Atwin in Fredericton, and held onto Nanaimo—Ladysmith, a seat it had only acquired six months earlier in a byelection.

Read more: Annamie Paul sticks to Toronto as some Green candidates reject riding visits

While climate change has consistently polled as a top issue for Canadians, it took a back seat in a 2021 campaign dominated by COVID-19 and viewed by some as a referendum on Justin Trudeau.

Click to play video: 'Global News speaks 1-on-1 with Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul' Global News speaks 1-on-1 with Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul
Global News speaks 1-on-1 with Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul – Aug 31, 2021

Further complicating matters for the party, former BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver publicly backed the Liberals’ climate change plan.

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Moreover, the Greens were beset by highly public internal strife of their own.

Read more: Green Party unveils platform, vows to cancel pipelines, boost carbon prices

They faced a messy summer that began with Atwin defecting in June, crossing the floor to the Liberals amid infighting over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Paul then faced an attempt by party executives to force a membership suspension and vote of non-confidence in her leadership.

Though both were blocked by an independent arbitrator, the revolt proved damaging for the party.

Paul spent most of the election campaigning in Toronto, acknowledging that it was “not a given” that all candidates wanted her in their riding. She made her first and only visit to British Columbia just two days before the general vote.

You can find full results for the election here, and find your riding here.

Editor’s note: This is a corrected story. Global News previously reported the candidate’s name as Mark Morrice, and that the Greens received 12.5 per cent of the vote in the 2019 election. 

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