Tasha Kheiriddin’s piece in today’s National Post does a good job highlighting MP Elizabeth May’s hubris regarding the results of the three recent federal by-elections. Ms. May sees three losses in three by-elections—one a solid trouncing in the Ontario riding of Durham, in which her Greens got only 4 per cent of the vote—as warranting her assessment that her party did “remarkably well.”
Kheiriddin quotes the leader of the Greens as crowing, “…Green party surge was a key factor in both [Victoria and Calgary Centre] elections and that’s something that’s a take-home. We’ve arrived.”
I suppose one claims victories where one can, when you’re the leader of a party caucus comprised of one member—the Greens aren’t even an official party in the House of Commons. All Ms. May has been able to offer her party is misses, both near and far, though she did win a British Columbia seat for herself in the 2011 general election—the only seat the Greens have ever won in an election.
Ordinarily one might admire the pluck of Ms. May, but when she crows over these poor results, I just loose patience with her hyperbole. After all, it’s not like the Greens are a new, or even newish, party—the environment-first party has been around since 1983.
The Green Party ran a full or near-full set of candidates in several past general elections, and in the last one it managed to garner less than four per cent of the national vote and elect only one member. Since their founding in the early 1980s, they have set Canadian records for futility at the polls.
Consider that during the Green Party’s almost 30 years of existence, the Alberta-based Reform Party was founded from scratch; gained status as the official opposition; out-grew the entrenched Progressive Conservatives before later absorbing them; and formed the government of Canada after each of the last three general elections.
In contrast, Elizabeth May finally won a seat in the House on her third try, and hers was but one seat of 304 her party contested. Doesn’t this lack of accomplishment tell us something about the Green Party, its leader and its message? Would it suffice to say ineffectual or perhaps irrelevant?
As Kheiriddin observed:
Elizabeth May has been the leader of the Green Party since 2006. During that period, we constantly have been assured that the Green moment is just around the corner. But it never seems to come. And there is little evidence that it will be coming any time soon.”
Really, do we even need a Green party? Over almost three decades, they have collected millions of dollars in taxpayer money and elected exactly one member. What a dismal return on our investment.