VICTORIA — Green party Leader Elizabeth May won re−election in Saanich−Gulf Islands, but her journey for the party remains lonely.
She will again be the only Green MP in Ottawa, dashing hopes of bringing more Green voices to the House of Commons, especially from British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.
May watched the Liberals sweep through the country as Green supporters gathered in Victoria.
“I called Justin Trudeau and spoke to him and congratulated him on forming government and asked when we can have our first meeting on the climate conference that starts next month,” she said.
She said she was elated with the defeat of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. May said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called her and offered his congratulations on her victory.
“Welcome to the first night of the post−Harper era,” said May to a crowd of about 300 cheering supporters.
B.C.’s interim Green party leader, Adam Olsen, who lives in May’s Saanich−Gulf Islands riding on southern Vancouver Island, said Trudeau’s Liberals espoused Green philosophies during the campaign.
“The reality is a lot of the Liberal platform are things Elizabeth has been saying all along,” said Olsen. “I think Elizabeth will have a good relationship with Mr. Trudeau.”
He said May raised the issue of budget−deficits during the first leaders’ debate. Days later, the Liberals announced the party would run deficits to rebuild Canada’s infrastructure.
The Liberals also appeared open to democratic reform issues raised by the Greens, said Olsen.
May said the Greens decided to target 15 ridings where they had support in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and B.C.
But there was no sign by late Monday that her party had gained a hold elsewhere in the country.
She said she believed Vancouver Island would deliver Green votes, particularly in Victoria.
“This is always a place that is very committed to environmental values,” said May.
Former CBC radio host Jo−Ann Roberts, a first−time candidate, had parlayed her credibility into a formidable political force. She was challenging incumbent New Democrat MP Murray Rankin, the party’s environment critic, in the Victoria riding.
Those hopes were dashed Monday when Rankin was declared elected.
“Here on the Island, I guess people decided an NDP vote was a vote for change,” said Roberts. “I actually believed we were building. I ran on what I believed in.”
She said a factor in the campaign that was difficult to counter for the Green Party was voter commitment to turf the Conservatives.
May almost couldn’t vote Monday when she forgot to bring proper identification to her Sidney, B.C., polling station.
She said she carried a green leather purse to match her party’s political colour to vote, but her correct identification was in another purse in her campaign van.
May ran back to the van and rummaged through her second purse to find the identification that matched her current address with her election−registration address.
“I was so embarrassed,” said May. “I held up the whole line.”
The leader spent the final days of the campaign driving the length of Vancouver Island, where the party has visions of capturing up to four of seven available seats, including May’s riding.
Vancouver Island is a traditional hotbed of Green−leaning voters and often votes in blocks against the national tide, also of benefit to the Greens.
May started the campaign pledging to erase university and college tuition fees, expand transit and stop the use of fossil fuels by 2050.
Her message lost steam in the final days, as several high−profile West Coast environmental leaders urged strategic voting to defeat of the Conservatives.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press