Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Time to paint NB green?

My friend Spinks has an interesting post today on the report that Greens in NB plan to form a party and run candidates in every riding in the next election.

Spinks says that this is bad news for the NDP and I agree. I think it is really, really, really bad news. I cannot think of a word to describe how bad it is. Why?

First, I was surprised to learn that NB is the only province left in Canada without a Green Party. Logic suggests that the national party organization would be keen to lend a hand and some money to the effort to enable them to say they have a party in every province.

Let's look next door to Nova Scotia. Their Green Party was not founded until April 6, 2006 and managed a full slate of candidates for the June 13 election. They elected a 24 year old student with no political experience as their leader. They exist in a province where the NDP is a contender for power and is not bleeding any votes. In two months they ran 52 candidates in 52 ridings and got 2.3% of the vote.

In New Brunswick, we are four years from an election and the Green Party is starting to get organized. One presumes they should be able to at the very least match Nova Scotia's success even with all things being equal.

Things are not equal however. The NDP got a near record low (0 seats, 5% of the vote) (their third worst showing and worst since 1974) in the last provincial election in NB. The NDP got a record high in number of votes and number of seats (20 seats, 34.6% of the vote) in NS in the last provinical election.

The Green Party in NB got 2.4% of the vote in the last federal election.

So, at the very least, if the NB Green Party takes off they should get at least half of the votes of the NDP in the next election.

The news gets way worse for the NDP however. The NDP has not had a seat in the legislature since 2005 - that will be for 5 years by the time of the next election barring a shocking floor crossing or by-election victory. They will have received only 5.1% of the vote in the last election and will likely be at around that level in the polls unless there is a change in leadership. The Green Party will have, by then, three straight federal elections of full slates in the province and, likely a full slate for the provincial election at hand. The NDP will have missed a full slate in the last provincial election and may or may not have a full slate for the election at hand. What am I getting at? The 2010 leader's debate will include either two or four leaders, but certainly not three. The stage is set for the Green Party to be on par with the NDP in terms of credibility by the mainstream media and, therefore, have just as much shot as being in a leaders debate.

This is a long way to be making a prediction. But, I would say, the odds are that in 2010, the Green Party will poll more votes than the NDP.


Daniel said...

I think the New Brunswick NDP needs to find its Robert Chisolm; he took the NS NDP from a handful of seats to darn near forming the government back in the late 90's. Who do I think could do this in NB? Why, Yvon Godin, of course. The federal NDP tends to poll strongly in Francophone ridings, and the provincial NDP almost finished 2nd in Carmel Robichaud's riding (a riding which, to the delight of Spinks, would almost certainly go NDP with Godin at the helm). Yvon Godin could develop a strong base in Acadia, and once the NDP became relevant again, other NBers would be more likely to vote for them. Godin himself could easily knock off Cheryl Lavoie or H├ędard Albert, and could fare decently in many North Shore ridings. Nepisiguit, Caraquet, Lameque-Shippigan-Miscou, Centre-Peninsule, Miramichi Bay-Neguac and even Tracadie-Sheila could all go NDP. Ironically, I think a stronger NDP presence would result in a Tory win in Bathurst.

Of course, once people saw NDP numbers rising (to 15%-20%, maybe?), they might be less leery of voting NDP. This scenario, however, probably won't happen, as old Yvon seems content with his landslide federal victories and the pivotal role of the NDP federally.

nbpolitico said...

daniel - you may be right. I wrote in a post a while back that had Dennis Atchison won in Fredericton-Silverwood, we would be the NB NDP's Chisolm.

You could be right about Godin though. I don't think he would play well in Anglo NB but if he could win 3-7 seats in Franco NB it wouldn't really matter would it?

Spinks said...

I'd take some claim of accountability from Madame Robichaud's for her actions Daniel but her voters telling her they didn't care for her actions would also be good.

NBPolitico is right. Godin probably wouldn't play great in Anglo N.B. but he would do very well in Franco NB and with a little building and getting some competant candidates, he probably could grow the NDP throughout N.B. C'mon, could he do worse than Brewer and the gang running the NDP now?

Anonymous said...

NBPolitico questioned the relevance of discussing Lord's fiascos under Tanker Malley issue. I agree but this “Lord hater” issue was brought up unnecessarily. Now Spinks would you care to explain what Madame Robichaud has to do with Green Party. It is also obvious that you are Carmel Robichaud hater. Her letter is a dead issue and you keep bringing it up.

As far as Green Party is concerned there are more pressing issues facing NBers than worry about Green Party at this time. A Green Party in NB will do only good given our record on environment issues.

nbpolitico said...

anon - Spinks was responding to daniel's comment which said "the provincial NDP almost finished 2nd in Carmel Robichaud's riding (a riding which, to the delight of Spinks, would almost certainly go NDP with Godin at the helm)"

Anonymous said...

NBpolitico, I have serious doubts that Spinks will be delighted by NDP win:) Although once Godin runs provicially political winds may change for him. A successful Federal politician does not necessarily make successful provincial leader. Previous to Lord leaders of P.C party are good example.

Anonymous said...

Godin could forge some inroads within Anglo NB - after all, he has a strong union background, doesn't he?

Harrap said...

Great post, I agree the Greens could be a viable force by 2010 spelling trouble for the NDP if things don't change with the leadership and members.

Godin could lead a breakthrough in Francophone New Brunswick, which would be a good point to start from -- build on that base and in subsequent elections, as the NDP would be seen as a more viable force, it would gain in English NB.

An example is the federal Tories, when they were gathering steam in 2006, their fortunes in Quebec improved -- a bandwagon effect.

Spinks said...

Actually anon, I'd like to see the NDP (or some other third party alternative) play a factor. Do I want them to be government? Not with their tax and spend mentality but the NDP often make an effective opposition. They've simply lost their way at least for now.

...and since you brought it up, the Carmel Robichaud letter issue is far from a dead issue (although some would certainly like it to go away). As recently as two weeks ago this was raised again by none other than former Liberal MLA and Liberal leader Bernard Richard in his report on the matter. This is over when Madame Robichaud addresses it. I don't hate her but I do hate her actions of not being accountable and publicly addressing this. The issue is public and she should address it. I suspect if it were a Tory who did this, you would demand some accountability. I know I would.

Anonymous said...

Spinks, if I remember correctly you wanted us to forget about Orimulsion. $1 billion down the drain already and another loss of $2 billion for expensive fuel plus legal fees and other expense. I am not sure that you want accountability when it comes to Tories. However, NBers did make Lord government accountable by not re-electing it.

Our soldiers are getting killed in Afghanistan for Bush's war. Why not make Harper accountable. That is much more important cause to fight for than some letter which had no impact other than attempted political hay by Lord Tories and you continue on that like a broken record. I am afraid you will find excuses to defend Harper.

nbpolitico said...

Stay on topic, please.

Daniel said...

Anon 3:30, I sense that you seem to be harbouring some resentment for the Tories ;) (For the record, we joined "Bush's War", as you so put it, when the Liberals were in power federally)

And to say that NBers somehow booted Lord out of office over Orimusion is stretching it a tad; don't forget that whole "popular vote" thing ;)

Anyway, with regards to the Greens: don't they realize that the only ripple their presence makes provincially is to torpedo the NDP? (Of course, with most of them being ex-Tories, I doubt they mind!)

The Green party's bane is that the public perception of it is that it is to the left of the NDP, which is, of course, not true. Almost everyone I know (even some with "knowledge" of politics) thinks the Green party is some pot-smoking hippie party, and don't realize that they are basically environmentalist Conservatives.

I know this isn't the norm in Canada, but maybe the Greens should be trying to play up their "conservativeness" so that they don't get pigeonholed as a left-wing fringe party.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, how long Cons will blame Liberals for their woes. You do not elect a new government that it keeps harping about the previous governments for its failures.

Harping about popular vote will not help either. Tories were turfed out.

On the issue of Green Party I agree with you. I believe they stand for good environment and in that regard all the power to them.

Spinks said...

Anon wrote, "Spinks, if I remember correctly you wanted us to forget about Orimulsion."

Nope, you don't remember correctly but you can go into my past blogs on the issue (pretty much at the beginning of the election campaign)for a refresher. I've written that I didn't believe orimulsion was a wise campaign tactic because a) most people don't understand it so it's not a very appealing topic for the average voter, b)the 2 billion dollar cost is disputable and c) while Lord is accountable because he was premier, NB Power execs are the ones who screwed this one up. Like daniel, I'm still not convinced it won the Liberals many new votes.

NBpolitico, my apologies for straying off topic but hey a man has to defend himself. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Spinks, for the sake of staying on the topic I will say no more. You made my point for me.

By the way if you forgot NDP are in favour of same-sex marriage and abortion. Are you sure you want them to win? :)

Spinks said...

Anon, see 2:21pm comment regarding NDP. No I don't want them to be government.

Anonymous said...

NDP effective Opposition? Does it not mean that they will have considerable impact on the legislation. Bad news for Cons and Neo-Cons.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about predictions, however there does seem to be a few other readers here who aren't at other blogs. I think the case above was proved that from the Nova Scotia experience the NDP DOESNT need to worry much about the Greens. And as mentioned above, province and country are two very different things.

In other words, what happens to the greens depends on New Brunswickers. As well, a provincial Green isn't necessarily ANYTHING except what those members are. So if you get somebody like David Coon running for leadership, well, you won't be seeing an 'environmental conservative' there. Federally, they have a new leader, while this is a party that had online voting to determine policies, so really, anything goes.

While the only thing the NDP could get press on was human rights (which most New Brunswickers don't care much about), the Greens would only get press about what the Irvings would see as 'radical' green policies. Anybody that thinks the owners of all the print media are going to be printing environmental issues that affect their bottom line is seriously deluded.

But New Brunswick has only a VERY small group of people who are active at the party level, this isn't Nova Scotia. So I suspect the only people stepping forward will be the marginalized environmentalists. Every New Brunswicker knows that talking about the environment means taking on Irving, and there's been forty years of daily print media reminding NB'ers of why thats a bad idea.

WHile nobody can predict what voters will do, its far easier to predict what New Brunswickers will do. Any person who had wanted could have emailed the Greens anytime and said 'hey what about New Brunswick'. That NOBODY did says a lot.

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