When a party doubles its standings in a legislature, that sounds like cause to celebrate. If it means going from one member, to two, you might have pause for thought.
But then, considering that in Canada voters tend to fumble their way among three main parties, seeing the Greens come up with a win in a byelection is indeed worthy of notice.
It happened this past week in Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, with Hannah Bell capturing 35.3 per cent of the vote in the Charlottetown-Parkdale provincial byelection – substantially ahead of the second-place Liberal candidate who took 28.5 per cent.
Bell will join Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker as the second party member in the 27-seat P.E.I. legislature. He was elected in May 2015.
No doubt regard for the individual candidate makes a big difference in what many might perceive as a political upset. But we can only hope it also reflects growing dissatisfaction among voters with the status quo – namely the constricted vision in policy from the main parties.
Some new blood and ideas never hurt.
New Brunswick also has a Green member of the legislature in leader in that province, David Coon.
The Greens are a party that has managed to win a portion of support on the federal level and in some of the provinces. The gain of a couple of seats here and there is just what any small, relatively new party needs to show people that it’s not, as some might assume, focused solely on environmental issues but has a full-range platform.
And never underestimate what a couple of seats can mean.
In the B.C. provincial election last May, the election of three Green candidates ultimately saw them able to discuss some policy with the NDP to reach an agreement. The two defeated the Liberals by one vote in a non-confidence vote to allow the NDP to form government.
We’ve had a lot of talk in recent years in Canada about election reform, usually focusing on some sort of proportional representation. It hasn’t gained a lot of traction, but it’s certainly not a dead issue. Political change is seldom hasty, particularly in Canada.
But many people are disgruntled about the idea that quite often a party that garners 37 or 38 per cent of the popular vote gets to form a majority government.
Interesting to note when a minority government is elected, an observation inevitably made is that at least there’ll be more co-operation. It’s sad that in governments, co-operation generally takes a back seat to the absolute, unchecked wielding of political might.
A system that sees a greater range of voices and views, the inclusion of more across the political spectrum, might on occasion slow the political process. But it could also mean getting things done right, rather than according to one particular ideology – then unravelling and redoing it when the opposition gets voted in next time around.
Few would expect to see a Green government anytime soon, federally, or in any of the provinces. But many would consider their potential contribution offers some ingredients typically lacking in the policy of many governments.