Open, I mean. A little. First the Bloc, then the NDP, and at last the Conservatives have buckled, and now the Greens are in the debate(s). It’s not much, but it’s a start: the sight of the Green Party leader in the debates is going to give them instant legitimacy, of a kind they have never had before. A whole lot of people who had previously never considered voting Green are going to give them a thought. I don’t mean that everyone’s going to see Elizabeth May and be blown away by her: I agree with those pundits who say she might turn off as many people as she turns on. But just by standing on the stage with the other leaders, she and her party ascend to a whole new level. We are no longer in a three- or four-party system. We are now, and for the foreseeable future, in a five-party system.
As it was, more than 660,000 people trudged to the polls to vote Green at the last election. I say trudged, because every one of them went through the exercise of casting their vote in the certain knowledge that they would not elect a single MP — such is the ludicrous unfairness of our first-past-the-post electoral system. (A refresher course: Tories 5.37 million votes/124 seats=43,000 votes per seat; Bloc 1.55-million votes/51 seats=30K votes per seat; NDP 2.59-million votes/29 seats=89K votes per seat; Greens 664-thousand votes/0 seats=Infinity…) With the lift they will get out of the debates, and given where they are in the polls already, it is possible, even probable, that the Greens will pull more than a million votes this time out. Indeed, they may even outpoll the Bloc.
Which raises a couple of interesting scenarios. 1. Suppose the Greens manage to win a few seats. And suppose they have the balance of power in a tight parliament. The Greens are on record as supporting proportional representation. (So are some other parties, but the Greens appear to mean it.) Could this be the price of Green support?
Or 2. Suppose the Greens, despite outpolling the Bloc, win no seats, while the Bloc comes home with — worst-case scenario — 30 or more. Could this absurd situation be maintained for long? A system that shuts out a party with more than a million votes — and particularly strong representation among younger voters — while handing a bushel of seats to a party dedicated to the country’s destruction?
It’s not quite a Green Revolution, but this may go down as a historic day in Canadian politics.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.