Voters on Vancouver Island elected Canada’s first Green MP in 2011. They also came close to choosing one to represent Victoria in a 2012 by-election.
With recent survey numbers suggesting that almost one in five voters on Vancouver Island could go Green in the May 14 provincial election, Vancouver-based pollster Mario Canseco has no doubt that Greens on the west side of the Strait of Georgia are on a roll.
But the key question, according to the vice president of Angus Reid Public Opinion, is whether or not this will translate into actual seats come voting day. In Angus Reid’s online survey of 803 adults, conducted February 21 and 22, the Green Party of B.C. garnered an impressive 19 percent voter support on Vancouver Island. The survey has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
“What we see on the Island is definitely a trend that suggests that the Greens are going to be doing better,” Canseco told the Straight in a phone interview.
Acknowledging that Greens on the Island are better organized than previously, Canseco said they have a big decision to make whether to replicate the federal Green party’s strategy for the 2011 election. The federal party focused its resources on the campaign in Saanich–Gulf Islands, and leader Elizabeth Maymade history by becoming the first Green MP to be elected in Canada.
B.C. Green leader Jane Sterk is hugely optimistic. She sees not only one but four potential breakthroughs on the Island.
According to Sterk, candidates Andrew Weaver, Susan Low, and Adam Olsen could win in their respective electoral districts (Oak Bay–Gordon Head, Esquimalt–Royal Roads, and Saanich North and the Islands, respectively). She’s hoping to capture Victoria–Beacon Hill herself, which would involve unseating incumbent MLA and ex–B.C. NDP leader Carole James.
“If this election becomes about wanting a diversity of voices in the legislature, then we could see the same things that happened in 1991, when the [B.C.] Liberals unexpectedly won 17 seats, or in 2011, when the [federal] NDP won 58 seats in Quebec,” Sterk told the Straight in a phone interview. “It’s not outside the boundaries of possibility.”