Green voters face difficult choice in federal election, says pollster

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      Pollster Mario Canseco thinks it’s going to be tough deciding to vote Green in October.

      By saying that, the vice president of Vancouver-based Insights West is courting the risk of being accused by Greens and their supporters of perpetuating what they consider to be an erroneous claim that Greens split the progressive vote and allow the right-wing politicians to win.

      But with the fall election shaping up to be a dogfight between Conservatives and New Democrats, Canseco believes that “when you see the NDP with a chance to form the government at the federal level, the environmentally conscious voter has a decision to make”.

      “Do you give your vote to the Greens with the hope that there will be one or two more people accompanying Elizabeth May to Ottawa?” Canseco posed the issue in a phone interview with the Straight.

      “Or do you give your vote to the NDP if they have a chance to form a government that is essentially going to implement policies that are going to be helpful to the environment? And I think that’s a very difficult choice for the progressive voter,” Canseco continued.

      “Maybe you want to see more Greens in Ottawa, and try to get something out of it, but it’s a much tougher decision to make when the party that has definitely done things differently and said things differently than the Liberals and the Conservatives particularly when it comes to climate change, if they have a shot at forming the next government, then you might think twice about voting for the Greens,” the public opinion canvasser also said.

      According to Canseco, the political landscape is much different compared to the times when the revered Jack Layton was around as NDP leader.

      He recalled that although Layton framed his 2008 campaign as one where he was running for prime minister, it was likely more of a strategy to siphon off votes from the Liberals because their leader Stephane Dion was seen as “fairly weak”.

      “It wasn’t a question of, you know, can Layton be the next prime minister?” Canseco said, noting that New Democrats ended up in their usual third place.

      What changed for Layton, according to Canseco, was the 2011 leaders’ debate whose aftermath saw the NDP rise to become second to the Conservatives.

      “But then, it really becomes a little too late for that to really materialize,” he said about that point in the campaign that culminated in the NDP scaling historic heights as the new Official Opposition.

      Now with Tom Mulcair as leader, it’s a different ballgame.

      “At this point, you know, to have a discussion of whether the NDP can form the government four months before the election is definitely uncharted territory,” Canseco said.

      What this does, according to him, is spur the voters who might have been considering the Liberals, who are currently languishing behind the Conservatives and New Democrats, to reassess their choices.

      As a side note, Canseco said Liberals used to use against the NDP the argument that the only way to defeat the Conservatives is to vote Liberal.

      Back to the NDP’s promising prospects even before the writ is dropped, Canseco said: “You’re starting to have this conversation at an earlier time. You could be having your own struggle in your mind if you’re trying to figure out who you’re going to vote for if you want to get rid of [Conservative Prime Minister Stephen] Harper or if you’re upset with the Harper government: ‘What is going to happen with your vote?’ And you know, mostly it’s the kind of discussion that is half ideological and half pragmatic. You know you want to vote for a party that’s going to have a chance to win.”




      Jul 29, 2015 at 2:48pm

      While voting on single issues and/or feelings may make you feel good it's a waste of a vote.

      The current GPC is in effect a get a job for Liz project.

      I am not impressed with what appeared to be a drunken rant by the GPC leader on national TV.

      I don't see a detailed plan on implementing the feel good slogans on the GPC site.

      The Greens are clueless on how to effectively execute Green policies in a modern global economy and have no track record of doing anything at scale either national or global.

      Seat projections at best show 2 seats for the Greens.

      Even if they somehow via a miracle get 12 seats it does nothing.

      Under our Westminster Parliamentary system minor parties like the GPC are a non factor.

      It's only the party that can form government that matters under our Westminster Parliamentary System.

      In a coalition they would be the minority easily ignored member.

      In summary a vote for the GPC is a non factor vote.

      If you do vote for a Green than you either don't understand the Westminster system or don't care.

      If you really want change and care for the environment you would choose a party that can form government and shares Green values that's either NDP or Liberal.

      Guilin Fish

      Jul 29, 2015 at 5:56pm

      I am Green but will vote NDP because they are committed to change to a proportional representation system and - basically - that will give the Greens much more power, come the following election.


      Jul 29, 2015 at 9:14pm

      You're wrong if you think it will be a difficlut choice. I'm Green and I vote Green. I don't hold my nose and vote. Just look at the new NDP in Alberta and their recent pro pipeline policy if you think the federal NDP will implement environmently sound policies. The big 3 are all the same when they get into power. If the Liberals or the NDP want to win the election then they should get off their high horse and get their voters out instead of using scare tactics. There isn't a single Green policy I disagree with that's why they have my vote! GO Green!!!!!

      Barry William Teske

      Jul 30, 2015 at 6:34am

      I admire Green MP Elizabeth May.
      The woman has the gravitas to get things done given a democratic chance.
      Sadly Canada has become a faux democracy.
      The only green in this country as of late are the elites with off shore bank accounts.
      I for one ( and I now know there are others ) who are tired of doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same results. The very definition of insanity.
      No I am not implying The Green MP is insane.
      I am accusing the system of corruption.
      I posted somewhere earlier I was not going to vote this election.
      I will stay my course.
      You can't win against money.
      History is replete with proof of that.
      Lots of poor corpses too.

      NDP are not an equivalent choice for Green voters

      Jul 30, 2015 at 9:38am

      The NDP are NOT an equivalent choice for Green voters. Here are but a few examples of policy illustrating why voters should VOTE GREEN rather than holding their nose and voting NDP:

      - On the environmental front, Mulcair accepts the continued expansion of the tarsands, which is irreconcilable with meeting any climate targets. The Green Party is the only party committed to putting a full stop on tarsands expansion. Similarly with oil pipelines. NDP are playing loose and noncommittal on multiple pipelines, whereas Green Party is the only party opposed to any and all new pipelines transporting unrefined bitumen. And don't get me started about the Alberta NDP's pro-pipeline stance. Remember that the Alberta NDP is a federated party, so they work closely with the federal NDP. You won't ever hear Mulcair oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline, not when Rachel Notley supports it. And because the NDP whip the vote, any local candidate's opposition to the pipeline means absolutely nothing. In a parliamentary vote, they'll vote the way Mulcair tells them to.

      - The NDP support trade agreements such as TPP, TTIP, TiSA, etc and have said they'll vote for them so long as they deem to be overall beneficial, problems and all. This despite the fact that these trade deals are really corporate/investor rights agreements, with their "investor state dispute settlements" which enable foreign corporations to sue a host country for laws or policies, or even court decisions, that impact their profits. The Green Party is the only party that is serious about fair trade.

      - Tackling poverty: the NDP are proposing middling policies such as their $15/hr federal minimum wage, which would only help 100,000 out of 35.5 million Canadians, or 3 in 1000, according to Nathan Cullen's own numbers. This is because it only applies to federal workers, and most federal workers already make $15/hr or more. These days the NDP seems to be targeting the middle class more so than those most needy. The Green Party's "Guaranteed Liveable Income" (GLI) is a concept that has been proven to work elsewhere in the world, and multiple newspaper commentaries have praised it over the NDP's proposed approach.

      These are just a few reasons to vote Green rather than holding your nose and voting NDP.

      It's a fallacy that we need (or even prefer) an NDP majority over a minority with Green representation. Green MPs matter!

      Voting strategically? Look at your riding's candidates!

      Jul 30, 2015 at 10:18am

      If you want Harper gone and are going to vote strategically, then blindly voting for NDP is NOT the way to do it. You need to look beyond federal, nation-wide numbers. You need to look at the candidates in YOUR riding, and listen to them, and look at the polls, and make an educated decision as to who will win in YOUR riding. The Green Party is giving the NDP a run for their money in multiple B.C. ridings. For example, I would put my money on Green candidate Lynne Quarmby in Burnaby North - Seymour over the NDP candidate. Voting NDP in this riding would be "splitting the vote".

      All that said, there are enough differences in policy between Green and NDP that you may wish to simply vote for the party whose values are closest to your own, and whose politicians you most trust to keep your promises and represent you most truly in Parliament.

      Ian Coutts

      Jul 30, 2015 at 10:37am

      I will be voting for my Green party candidate because I want to support the Green party. My conscience will not allow me to vote strategically for a candidate of another party. That's not how voting is supposed to be done. I respect my vote too much to sacrifice it to some ulterior purpose.

      Some might consider me naive. If I am naive it is because I choose to be so.


      Jul 30, 2015 at 11:05am

      There are many ridings where vote splitting will just be a non-issue. Ridings that are so progressive that they are out of reach for the CPC or Liberals or so conservative that they are out of reach for the GPC or NDP. This article generalizes the entire election as an existential crisis for Green voters and by doing so does a favor to the NDP in the process. Even strategic voting proponents like LeadNow have said there are only a few dozen ridings where vote splitting truly appears to be problematic. These are ridings where CPC candidates won with 10% of the vote or less. As the NDP gets a taste of power it already appears to be moving more to the centre and right on trade issues, taxation and energy policy. Having a handful Green MPs in Ottawa is a great way to both work with and support an NDP minority government or a coalition and also hold them accountable to Canadian voters to be strong on environment, energy, climate and other issues. And to do that we need to get Canadians excited about the election, not afraid of it. Voters need usable data to be informed about the risks (or non risk) of vote splitting not generalized musings on data. Carlito I'd love to see you do a story more along those lines, where are the risks? And where aren't they?

      The Westminster System In Canada and Your Vote

      Jul 30, 2015 at 11:25am

      Under the current system a Vote for the Greens gets you the same result as before 1 or 2 seats.

      In Westminster Parliamentary Systems like Canada majority and/or the party in power Rules.

      This is effect leaves out as irrelevant minority parties like the Greens or even third place parties currently the Liberals.

      What is does do is give the majority or Party that forms Government unchecked power to d whatever they want without much consultation or none at all.

      Basically a Dictatorship like the current Corporate Welfare Big Business Cons.

      Both the Liberals and the NDP have promised some sort of Electoral reform, either Proportional Representation or a hybrid system vs the current majority Dictatorship.

      So if you really want to see a real Green Party in power and/or have meaningful representation you would Vote for either Liberal or NDP to change the system for the next election.

      Or you can Vote Green regardless and be an irrelevant Party under our system of Government.

      The choice is yours :).


      Jul 30, 2015 at 11:42am

      Pollster Canesco claims "You know you want to vote for a party that’s going to have a chance to win.” The question to ask then is: to win what?

      I want to win more accountability to the Canadian people. Green MPs will be the voice of their constituents in Ottawa and report back to them on the actions of government.

      Elizabeth May has led the national conversation on Bill C-51, climate change, and the 21st century low carbon economy. Green votes elect Green MPs who are accountable to you - vote for what you want in ‪#‎elx42‬