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EDITORIAL: Going Green

Federal Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May called on the Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose to conduct an independent epidemiological health study of the rates of cancer and other diseases in Pictou County.
Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. — File photo

Whither the federal NDP?

Or should that sentence read “wither”?

On Tuesday, a slew of former provincial candidates for the NDP in New Brunswick pulled the plug on their party affiliation and went Green.

To put that completely accurately, 14 former NDP candidates — and Jonathan Richardson, a member of the party’s national executive representing the Atlantic region — announced they will be supporting Elizabeth May’s Green Party instead, saying they “encourage New Democrats, New Brunswickers and, indeed, all Canadians in voting for the Green Party of Canada this election.”

All 14 of the candidates ran under the NDP banner in the 2018 New Brunswick provincial election — the Greens, by the way, won three seats in that election, while the NDP hasn’t had a member in the New Brunswick legislature since 2005.

Last week, the Green Party had 274 nominated candidates as of last Thursday (there are 338 seats in Parliament), while the NDP had just 174. Organizationally, the party is surprisingly unprepared.

Richardson put it succinctly at a news conference Tuesday, saying “I am joining the Green Party of Canada and New Brunswick and I invite my NDP colleagues to do the same … The Green Party of Canada has been steadfast in their beliefs, never flip-flopping on achieving their goal.”

Some of it sounds a little like noses out of joint; the group’s declaration particularly cites the fact that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has found time to visit New Brunswick, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hasn’t visited since winning the federal NDP leadership in 2017. It’s easy for those on the edges of this country to feel slighted by a lack of attention from the centre of the country, but that alone isn’t cause to sever a relationship.

The defections are not the only sign that the NDP has some serious troubles, troubles that extend beyond New Brunswick.

Last week, the Green Party had 274 nominated candidates as of last Thursday (there are 338 seats in Parliament), while the NDP had just 174. Organizationally, the party is surprisingly unprepared.

Remember: this is not a snap federal election. The dates have been well known for months, and preparations should be well underway. Finding a candidate is usually the first step, followed by everything from selecting campaign managers to marshalling volunteers.

There’s also a problem with the NDP’s bench strength: fully one-third of the current NDP members of Parliament have announced they’re leaving federal politics.

And, right now, polling numbers aggregated by CBC News show that support for the Greens crept above the NDP in June, and the Greens are currently showing voter support from 14.3 per cent of voters, while the NDP has dipped to 10.8 per cent (as of Sept. 2).

Of course, as politicians are all fond of saying, the only poll that matters is the one on election day.

But when your own members and candidates decide to very publicly walk away from your party, it’s hard to argue that everything’s fine.

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