Election Post-Mortem: The Greens
The Greens got 360,000 more votes in 2008 than on Monday - in fact, they lost a larger proportion of their vote than either the Liberals or the Bloc.
And yet, the 2011 election will go down as a historic night for the Green Party of Canada, having elected its first MP.
Making sense of the election that was for the Greens is a lot easier than for the other parties. In short, the Greens gave up on the national campaign and went all in on Saanich. They dragged every volunteer they could find to the riding, polled it heavily, and May spent every waking moment this election tricycling through the riding, mostly ignoring the national campaign. They were rewarded with a seat on Monday, validating her decision to run there. As I said at the time, Saanich was likely the best riding for May and, at the very least, it was a better call than her ill-advised and ill-fated decision to take on Peter MacKay in Central Nova.
So what should the Greens watch out for as they drive their one-seat hybrid down the road to relevancy?
Having a seat in the House will make a huge difference. Even in a majority parliament, it will give May an outlet to broadcast her message. The challenge for her will be finding the right message. The environment has faded as an issue in recent years, and despite May positioning the Greens as a party who rise above the petty attack that dominate Canadian politics, she has been rather sharp in her criticism of Harper in the past. Striking the right balance in the House will be a challenge.
So will be winning that second seat. The Greens were not over 20% anywhere else in the country, and only got their deposit back in 8 ridings.
Monday was certainly historic for the Greens, and they have every right to raise a glass of beet juice in celebration. Even though I'm not a fan of the party, May will bring a different perspective to Ottawa and will contribute more to the political dialogue than most backbench MPs. She is a welcome addition to the House of Commons.
However this was only the first step on the road to relevancy and there's still a lot of work left for the Greens.