Marc Emery blogs from prison about the B.C. election, the NDP loss, and the B.C. Greens' future

The Toronto Maple Leafs' historic record as biggest losers in a single game lasted all of one day until the B.C. New Democratic Party took the title away from them in an even more breathtaking fashion.

In a situation that must have deposed NDP leader Carole James smirking today. She, according to the rebels like Jenny Kwan, couldn't win an election in B.C. (despite taking the NDP from two seats in 2001 to 35 seats in 2009. James won her seat while the NDP collapsed spectacularly in unprecedented way.

The NDP was 20 points ahead of the B.C. Liberals only six weeks ago. Twenty points! And yet, after election night, the NDP was five percentage points and 17 seats behind, a collapse of 25 percent of the electorate. The B.C. Liberals had 45 seats to the NDP's 36 seats before the May 14 vote. Now it's 50 B.C. Liberals.

Of course, this is really the Socred alliance—as the Conservative vote collapsed and fell in line behind the B.C. Liberals. Their candidates, by and large, are even more conservative (in the bad way) than the new B.C. Conservative party.

NDP leader Adrian Dix has to be the most uninspiring, charisma-lacking, vacant "leader" ever, and offered up nothing to the voters of B.C. that could inspire confidence. No policies, no platform, no campaign. "Just let the Liberals implode" was the whole NDP campaign. Astonishing arrogance, such hubris!

The B.C. Greens will have a new leader and their first MLA in climate scientist Andrew Weaver, elected in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, a constituency that overlaps federal Green party leader Elizabeth May's Saanich-Gulf Islands riding. This is great news for the B.C. Greens, who have been declining in popularity since the 2001 election campaign when they received more than 12 percent of the B.C. vote.

It dropped to nine percent in 2005, then eight percent in 2009, and remained at eight percent in 2013 under Jane Sterk's unfortunately inadequate (and largely invisible) leadership. 

The B.C. Greens could have had a higher percentage but for an unexplainable decision not to run candidates in every B.C. riding. Huge gaps across the province, in areas like the two ridings in my wife's hometown Kamloops, did not have a Green candidate, which left a lot of people disappointed.

Had the Greens run in all 85 ridings, I believe the total would have exceeded 10 percent of the total provincial vote. Hopefully in the next election, four years from now, the B.C. Greens will have a candidate in every riding.

I am particularly proud of my wife Jodie and her campaign in Vancouver–West End as the B.C. Green candidate. Despite so much going on in her regular life, Jodie campaigned every day for the final 15 days before the election with a shoestring budget of her own money, and received 1,897 votes for 11.1 percent of the riding total. (Absentee ballots will be counted in the next two weeks and then added to all candidates' vote totals across B.C.)

That was an increase over the previous nine percent result for the constituency, and a doubling of her own personal total of 904 votes in the 2009 B.C. election campaign as the Green candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.

The B.C. Green party under Sterk's "leadership" failed to marshal any resources for anything resembling a worthy campaign provincewide, and left all of the candidates outside of four in southern Vancouver Island to fend for themselves. Sterk will resign in the days ahead, an inevitability after going nowhere with the party in five frustratingly ineffective years in charge of the B.C. Green franchise, and Weaver will be de facto B.C. Green party leader.

He'll have the prestige of being a veritable Nobel prize-winning climate change scientist and now MLA for the next four years, and in that time I hope he'll inspire the next wave of B.C. Green candidates for the May 2017 election. (In fairness to Sterk, the first Green MLA in B.C. has been elected under her party leadership, but there isn't any other accomplishment to note.)

The B.C. Greens are far more progressive on almost every issue than the NDP, which is still the proxy for labour unions. As for the B.C. Liberals, leader Christy Clark proved that chutzpah can win elections. She lost her own seat to former B.C. Civil Liberties Association lawyer and NDP candidate David Eby. So some poor sap of a B.C. Liberal MLA will have to give up his or her safe seat so Clark can parachute into it and get elected to the legislature. Some lucrative government appointment awaits some lucky B.C. Liberal MLA!

Clark won by standing up for something while the NDP seemed to stand for nothing. The B.C. Liberals hammered the NDP for its apparent policy-less drift, and the accusation resonated with voters. Clark has done the Boston Bruins one better: a political come-from-behind that I doubt is equalled in any province over the last 30 years. It's a shame that her government is filled with regressive troglodytes like Mary Polok, Rich Coleman, RCMP-kissy-face Daryl Plecas, and numerous others.

But the B.C. Liberals also now have former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who (if he resists being whipped into line by Clark) actually believes in legalization and ending prohibition. And the drug-policy reform movement has another hope in newly elected NDP MLA David Eby, but both of these two parties are so controlled by largely inept and corrupt leadership that I doubt we'll ever hear Sullivan or Eby seriously ever criticize the police or prohibition ever again, and certainly not while in the legislature.

As former B.C. Liberal MLA Kash Heed showed, and current NDP MLA Nicholas Simons reminded us, the legislature is where antiprohibitionists go to "shut up and never be heard from again" in any meaningful and relevant way.

Thankfully, this was the last election in the USA or Canada that I'll ever be absent from participating in as a result of my current exile. I'm excited to be Jodie's campaign manager if she seeks to run in Canada's 2015 federal election as the Green Party candidate for Vancouver Centre, which includes all of the provincial boundaries of Vancouver–West End, where she ran this time.

We'll raise serious money to do an effective election campaign with mailouts, phone banking, advertising, more buttons and signs, and an organized volunteer campaign. Jodie and I have worked together for our entire relationship as a "campaigning couple", and she did her best in this election while I've been imprisoned so far away. But I know we're both eager for my return home so we can campaign as a team again.

Marc Emery is a Vancouver marijuana-policy reform advocate, publisher, and former politician. He's serving a five-year prison sentence in the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds.

Comments (26) Add New Comment
Votesplitters
When the BC coast is drenched in oil because your party re-elected the Liberals and guaranteed the pipeline and port, I hope you are still feeling proud about your little symbolic victory.
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worried
Under the NDP we had affordable childcare, university, more public housing, less debt, the first sky train project ontime and on budget. Under the Liberals we have skyrocketing debt, rampant open pen fish farms, terrible forest management, an almost broken B.C. hydro saddled with debt from IPP's (many ex-liberals profit from them); unaffordable ferries, no daycare program, worst child poverty rate in Canada, open season on wilderness by Mining, Oil and Gas, 500 million dollar roof on B.C. Place, multimillion dollar overruns on B.C. Convention Centre,doubled tuition fees and no student grants, doubled MSP fees and less coverage. So Mark, to say that the NDP shouldn't be supported because of unions (Adrian was going to cut all party donations from unions and corporations)seems to me using a very small perspective on our society. The greens have a rep for being Libertarian and you seem to exemplify that. We'd have an NDP majority and no pipelines and much stiffer penalties for mining and forestry infractions if the Greens had voted NDP. Now we have 4 years of Attila the Hun for our environment.
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John P
The Greens are partially why the NDP lost. Or rather, why the Right won and the Left lost.

We don't need more Green candidates. Or NDP or Marijuana Party or whatever. What we need is a united left. I don't really care what we call it, but we need to stop bickering, find consensus and create one party that most people on the left can get being. We're not at the ice cream parlour, this isn't about picking the flavour that best suites your tastes. This shit is for real, and it's time we got practical.
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FRJ222
Someone needs to tell the felon the Greens, despite their name are not the ridiclous pothead party he runs. I have n idea why the Greens associate with them, the pt activists tend t be Libertarians who are the enemy in every way of greens
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Hans Greene
It is truly sad to see Emery lashing out at the NDP, and patting the prohibitionist BC Liberals on the back. The NDP leader was very candid with his view that he supported marijuana legalization for adults. Emery should respect that.

The NDP also had an awesome Rural Hospital Initiative, that would have reversed the serious damage done to smaller hospitals by the BC Liberals. When rural hospitals provide good services it takes pressure off the large urban hospitals. It was a win-win platform.

The NDP did have a platform, and they got my vote.

Also let's be truthful about the "marijuana party". That party is just a glorified bong store that endorses the Green Party. Real political parties have their own candidates on the ballot, and they do not endorse other political parties. What's up with that?

Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Greene-Dogg in the house.
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Eric Walton
At most maybe 4 or 5 seats might have switched if NDP leaning Greens had voted NDP (given the diverse mix of Green supporters) and this would not have affected the outcome of the election. In any event no political party owns any voters ballot day vote - they must earn it every time - and if NDP supporters want to push the bogus vote splitting argument then they need to square their logic with the history of the federal NDP who are now the official opposition. Stop being sore losers - you cannot have it both ways.
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BE the Change
it isironic how someone who is in prison for breaking the law gets to give public commentary??
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Stephen Rees
The explanation why there was not a Green candidate has been explained - but I'll do it again. The federal Green Party got its leader elected to parliament by concentrating its resources. The provincial Green Party decided to follow suit. The Green Party has nothing like the organization or financial resources of the BC Liberals and the NDP. Andrew Weaver has asked Jane Sterk to stay on as Leader - as he has too much to do as an MLA and academic. Getting the first Green MLA in BC is a significant achievement.

It is silly to keep on pretending that the Green Party and NDP are some how part of the same movement. The Green Party draws support from across the political spectrum. Jane Sterk describes herself as conservative. I don't but some NDP supporters call me that. I have no idea why. I also reject the notion that a party that supports legislation to restore environmental protection and have effective environmental assessments of major projects is "libertarian" - though it is easy to understand why some of our supporters might embrace that label.

As for the ending of prohibition on marijuana it is simply a very sensible policy that the other parties seem fearful of conceding. Prohibition has not worked. Marijuana - and indeed hemp for all sorts of other uses - could be a very successful part of a legal BC economy. Instead of the profits supporting organized crime, it could be supporting education or healthcare.

The problem is still the first past the post electoral system. And a bunch of NDP "supporters" who forgot the basic principles of electioneering - and now seek to place the blame they deserve somewhere else.
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Jymn
I have lost much respect for the Emery's. They have a one-dimensional attitude towards the importance of ending prohibition at the expense of all British Columbians. With the votes from the Greens, the NDP would have a majority and the poor and the middle class would have benefited greatly from NDP leadership. Marc and Jody have selfishly gone after a selfish pursuit of their own interests over those of BCers.
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RUK
Excellent analysis. At least, he's saying what I was thinking about the lack of visible leadership from Dix in the campaign.

Those who blame the Greens might do well to ask yourselves, or better yet the NDP braintrust, why it is that they were vulnerable to an encroachment from the Greens. Or why it is that the Greens did not feel that their goals could be met within the longstanding progressive party in our province.
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Pat Crowe
Funny? I googled winners of the Nobel peace prize. I couldn't find Andrew Weavers name?
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Graham Greene
We'll welcome you home, and the sooner the better! You have evidence-based policy on your side, and not just on the issue of drugs prohibition.
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JT
I thought Mark made some great points here and I, for one, look forward to his return to BC and politics. I thought Jodie ran a commendable campaign considering the lack of resources.

While I appreciate and agree with Elizabeth May's "beachhead" strategy, I don't understand why the Green's didn't run candidates in every riding, either. The incremental cost of adding a "self funded" candidate like Jodie Emory must be pretty low and the boost in popular vote would have been nice.

All the NDP's accusing Green's of being liberal loving vote splitters should consider that much fewer than 100% of Green voters would put the NDP as their 2nd choice. The Green Party is much closer to the centre economically, does not owe anything to the unions and offers an alternate vision to either major party.

I am sure I am not the only traditional BC Lib voter that couldn't stomach a vote for the Clark Libs and would never, ever vote for the NDP.

I believe that not voting is unethical so decided to vote for the Green candidate as the best of the 3 options available in my riding.

Any sensible analysis of this election that properly apportions Green votes to the other parties would conclude that at best, the result would have been a BC Lib minority.
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B. Reynolds
I echo other comments that the Green Party did split the vote & helped to elect the Liberals - even the Liberals were inviting people to vote Green during the election! CONGRATS GREENS may you enjoy 4 more years of BC coal, pipelines, container traffic & highway expansions!
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Don Barthel
Given the resources at her disposal, I feel that Jane Sterk did a good job. She was well prepared for the debates and spoke well whenever I saw her on TV. I agree with her strategy of concentrating the resources where they did the most good. I do agree with JT that it wouldn't have hurt the Greens to run candidates in every riding.
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Fracked
I crossed off "The Best Place on Earth" from my drivers license. :(
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BE THE CHANGE
How can people approve someone to have a
voice from prison, when, law abiding citizens do not even have a voice?
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Bradley Martinson
A hair-brained article from the periphery. Proof that horrible, mind-numbing substances smuggled under the name of 'good drugs' are still making their way into correction facilities,

Carole James is NOT smirking that her party lost. She's a decent person who does not hold a pre-teen vendetta against her colleagues.

She alone did NOT raise the NDP from their 2 seats in 2001. The NDP simply reverted to their historic role as a secondary, protest-vote, opposition party, with 40% of MLAs.

The NDP did NOT "collapse spectacularly in unprecedented way." As above, they recently achieved the same, average results as they did in the 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1986 and the 2005 & 2009 elections.

The NDP was NEVER 20 points ahead of the Liberals in the hearts and minds of British Columbians. That's why a fall of that much is unbelievable. It didn't happen.

A Greenie in a Victoria suburb is nothing more than a gimmicky, a fringe-party vote in a fringe riding. Weaver and the party will remain marginalized. There is nothing to build on. The movement is stuck at 8%.

No, this is not a movement or a sea change. Many Greens across the provincial ridings collected vote numbers normally reserved for kook candidates. Only in a few ridings was there potential for them to deny a local NDP success, which still would not have affected the provincial election.

Jodie got less than 1900 votes? In the West-End??? That's fringe. Think of the thousands of pot-smokers and enviros who clearly rejected the Green vote.

And for Emery to attack his own party publicly? Even the fringe parties have enough sense to keep that private.
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What's the diff?
Are there more crooks in prison or in the government?

Prohibition is a crime against human rights and Marc is a f'ing HERO!! He's got more balls, brains than anyone on the ballot! (Except Libby D, Luv U) And the guy's got a loving devoted wife, that show's he has a good heart and might even be trustworthy.
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Shut-Up About Vote Splitting
The Greens steal votes from the NDP? How about the NDP stealing votes from the Greens? If people want a progressive, liberal party that actually stands for something then you can't possibly be voting for the NDP. With the NDP sticking around, it's just stealing votes from a party that comes right out and says that they oppose pipelines, etc (Greens) instead of the NDP waiting months to hold focus-groups to determine if it's in their best interest to come out against pipelines.

I don't agree with the Green Party 100% (or even 75%) of the time but how can you call this a democracy when there are only two parties that have any chance of winning. EVERY vote counts, not just those that vote for the two richest parties. Do you want a US-style voting system which bounces back and forth between two parties which have much more similarities than differences?
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