Green gains

At Chris Tindal’s victory party at the Pear Tree restaurant on Parliament Street last night, we were all pretty excited.  When the polls opened up at 10 pm, the clear leader was Bob Rae for the Liberals.  Chris was just behind Don Meredith, the Conservative candidate, but far ahead of El-Farouk Khaki of the NDP, who looked like he wouldn’t clear 10%.  Then, Chris edged into second place and kept pulling further ahead.  He was at 15% to the Conservatives at 12% and the NDP just about at 10%.  As the polls rolled in, the Conservatives kept losing ground, the NDP kept gaining, but with 2/3 of the polls in, Chris maintained the second place position.  At that point, the Greens were beating the NDP in 3 of the 4 byelections.  Then, Chris was behind by 7 votes to Mr. Khaki.  Then they were tied, then Chris was briefly in the lead again by 6 votes, then behind again.  We left and walked home to discover that with 8 polls left, Chris was leading again, and leading even more with 7 polls left.  Then, with 5 polls left, he was behind by 4 votes.  He ended the night in third place, 36 votes behind the NDP’s Khaki.

The Greens finished in 3rd place in 2 of the 4 ridings.  In 3, we ran very competitively against the NDP.  In one we beat the Conservatives.  This morning, the Star reported on Green Party gains, commenting:

The Green Party may not have won a single seat in last night’s by-elections, but its strong showing in Toronto and Vancouver seals its standing as a political force to watch in days and months ahead.

As the results were still being tallied late last night, the Greens were vying for second place in Toronto Centre and poised to surpass the New Democrats in Willowdale and perhaps Vancouver Quadra, too.

The implications are significant and likely to be much discussed by strategists of all parties in the coming days.

Among the questions:

Will Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion ratchet up his talk of co-operation with the Greens?

Are the Greens making the New Democrats irrelevant?

Does this mean that Greens leader Elizabeth May should be guaranteed a spot in the televised leaders’ debates in the next election?

Will Prime Minister Stephen Harper read this as a judgment on his environmental policy and renew efforts on that score, as he did in the wake of Greens’ strong showing in late 2006 by-elections?

And, most important, is the next election going to be about the environment?

See here for Chris Tindal’s victory/concession speech at the Pear Tree.

And here‘s the CTV story about Green gains:

The Liberal leader came within a hair of losing a Vancouver fortress — and perhaps his hold on his party — as his troops bled away votes to the Greens in one of four byelections Monday.

In other races, the seatless environmentalist party chipped away at support for the NDP — beating New Democrats in one Toronto riding while finishing less than a percentage point behind in two other races.

The Greens even beat the Conservatives in Toronto Centre.

* * *

However, pollster Bruce Anderson said the Greens can hurt every party in some parts of the country, while helping them elsewhere.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt, the Green party will play this (spoiler’s) role,” said the president of Harris-Decima.

“The Green party is drawing strength from the NDP, from the Liberals, and from the Conservatives.”

Anderson said it’s not clear how many seats could get flipped thanks to a strong Green performance — and where those seats are.

“All of the traditional rules about how vote splits work to advantage one party or the other . . . all those rules need to be completely re-evaluated. The math isn’t going to get simple soon.”

Fearing the consequences on their own party, New Democrats have long downplayed the possibility of a Green breakthrough. They continued to do so Tuesday.

One NDPer said the Greens campaigned hard in the four byelections and spent resources they could not afford in a general election.

“They bet the farm on these byelections and I can’t imagine they’d be anything but disappointed,” said B.C. MP Peter Julian.

“They ran expensive campaigns. And what do they have to show for it? Well, 13, 12, six per cent.”

May scoffed at the suggestion that the Greens spent beyond their means. She said she’s not aware that a single penny flowed from national headquarters to any of the four Green candidates and said campaign funds were locally raised.

“Our candidate in Willowdale — who did better than the NDP — didn’t have a single paid staff person. He didn’t have an office,” May said.

Here‘s the story from

Finally, here‘s the story from the Globe and Mail.


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