Sunday, October 5, 2008

Independents, Greens to watch on election day

In this election, a number of ridings feature interesting independent and Green candidates. A few stand a legitimate chance of winning and several threaten to influence the final outcome on election day, but most will be simply noted for their colourful role in the campaign.

Here’s a summary of the independents, in rough descending order of anticipated impact on the final election result.

  • Portneuf–Jacques-Cartier, QC
    André Arthur, the only independent MP elected in 2006, is a virtual shoo-in this time around. The right-wing former radio host votes with the Tories so frequently that they decided not to bother running a candidate against him. For all intents and purposes, this is a Tory candidate, though he’s likely too much of a maverick and too controversial (
    some say racist over his remarks about African students) to ever join the Tory caucus. Other parties nominated candidates only at the last minute. Expect Mr. Arthur to be easily re-elected.

  • Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley, NS
    Bill Casey is a the Conservative MP who was booted out of caucus for voting against the 2007 Conservative budget, given his belief that it betrayed the Atlantic Accord with his province and Newfoundland and Labrador. Very popular locally in this typically safe Conservative riding, he is likely the candidate to beat in this election.

  • Rimouski-Neigette–Témiscouata–Les Basques, QC
    Louise Thibault was a socially conservative Bloc MP who quit the party over differences with left-leaning leader Gilles Duceppe. She’s running a strong campaign as an independent, which is likely to split the Bloc's vote and make this race what may be one of Canada’s first five-way races (the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP are all contenders to some degree). With the Bloc recent resurgence, I anticipate a loss to the new Bloc candidate, Claude Guimond.

  • Welland, ON
    Past NDP candidate Jody DiBartolomeo decided to run as an independent after losing the nomination to Malcolm Allen, a local councillor, deputy Mayor and CAW rep. The poor sport, who put in a very impressive second place showing for the NDP in 2006, threatens to split the NDP vote in this very tight three-way race.

  • Cardigan, PEI
    Larry McGuire, brother of Egmont Liberal MP Joe McGuire, is running as an independent in Cardigan. Larry McGuire is known for controversially suggesting in 2006 that “fat-cat, well-heeled Tories” in provincial government jobs would be replaced by Liberals if that party was elected to government in P.E.I. The Liberal leader refused to sign his nomination papers, after which point he decided to run provincially as an independent, earning 19% of the vote. He’s back at it again and, while he stands little chance of winning, there is a possibility he could draw enough votes from Liberal MP Lawrence MacAuley to cause him to lose to the Tory candidate.

  • Kildonan–St. Paul, MB
    Ex-Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes is now running as an independent after being turfed from the Liberal party over a column she wrote a number of years ago. While she’ll likely pull in several thousand votes on election day, her presence in the campaign is unlikely to have any effect on the final outcome in this race, where Tory MP Joy Smith is expected to be re-elected.

  • Calgary Northeast, AB
    Local cab company founder Roger Richard decided to run as an “independent conservative” after losing the Conservative nomination to replace MP Art Hanger. He alleges “unscrupulous nomination practices” are to blame for his loss to winner Devinder Shory, a lawyer. Despite running a relatively high-profile campaign, Richard is likely to come up short against Shory, whose party took 65% of the vote in 2006.

  • Edmonton-Sherwood Park, AB
    Another riding with
    controversy over the Conservatives’ nomination process features an independent candidate. James Ford, a former Tory, is running against Tory Tim Uppal, in protest against rules that allowed the Tory to win by announcing a run at the last minute and stacking the meeting with supporters. In 2006, the Tories won with 64% of the vote, far ahead of the next closest rival with 14%. Expect an easy Tory win despite the controversy.

While the Greens appear unlikely to elect any MPs on October 14th, they will put in an impressive showing in a number of ridings across the country, particularly in suburban/exurban Ontario and BC. Here’s a summary of the ridings to watch, including all those in which they earned at least 10% of the vote in 2006. If the Greens were ever to shoot up further in the polls, these are the seats they'd be most likely to start winning.

  • Central Nova, NS
    Green party leader Elizabeth May is running against Conservative incumbent Peter MacKay and NDP candidate Louise Lorefice in what, by all accounts, is an uphill battle for her. In 2006, the Green candidate received only 671 votes, a mere 1.6%, in what is a traditional Conservative riding. Recent polling also shows Green Party support lower in Atlantic Canada than anywhere else but Quebec. Still, with their leader running here, this remains one of the Green Party’s best hopes for electing an MP.

  • Dufferin—Caledon, ON
    Ard Van Leeuwen is the Green candidate in a riding in which they earned an impressive 10% in 2006. Gains made largely at the expense of the Liberal Party in this Tory riding may push Van Leeuwen over the 20% mark.

  • Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, ON
    Dick Hibma is running for the Greens in a riding where their 2006 result was 13%, which was one of their strongest showings in the country. In the last provincial election, the party won a whopping 33%, a result which put them second to the Conservative candidate. In this election, they stand a strong chance of placing a distant second behind Conservative MP Larry Miller.

  • Guelph, ON
    Mike Nagy ran a strong campaign during the by-election that was superseded by the current federal campaign. The federal campaign inevitably focuses on two or three national leaders, which will probably result in lower support for Nagy than the by-election, where the focus is much more on the strength of the local candidates, would have. Near the close of the by-election, a Green Party-sponsored poll placed Nagy’s support at 24%, behind the first place Liberal. The race nevertheless remains one of four serious contenders, with the Liberal and Tory most likely to duke it out for first place.

  • London North Centre, ON
    Mary Ann Hodge is running for the Greens in the riding in which Elizabeth May captured 26% of the vote while running as the candidate in 2006. Without such a high-profile candidate, expect the Greens to sink back down to a respectable 10% to 15% of the vote this time around.

  • Ottawa Centre, ON
    The Green Party’s deputy leader, David Chernushenko, won 10% here in 2006 and was set to run again, but withdrew as the party’s candidate. While Jen Hunter, the party’s new candidate, is likely to carry her party’s share of the vote to a higher echelon, the result in this relatively safe NDP riding is unlikely to change.

  • Peterborough, ON
    Emily Berrigan is the candidate in Peterborough, an area the Greens cited as having the fastest growing membership in Ontario in early 2007. While the party is likely to see an increase from the 5% it received in 2006, the Conservative MP is likely to be re-elected, while the Liberals and NDP fight it out for second place.

  • Calgary Centre-North, AB
    Eric Donovan is the Green candidate in a riding that voted 13% Green in 2006, making it one of the party’s strongest ridings in one of its strongest cities. Like in the other Calgary ridings, expect the Conservative candidate to be elected in a landslide while the other candidates duke it out for second place.

  • Calgary Centre, AB
    Kim Warnke is the Green party’s candidate in Calgary Centre, where the Greens received 11% in 2006.

  • Calgary West, AB
    Randall Weeks is the Green party’s candidate in Calgary West, where the Greens received 10% in 2006.

  • Wild Rose, AB
    Lisa Fox is running in Wild Rose, a riding that includes Airdrie, Cochrane, Canmore, and Banff. The Greens came in second place in 2006, with 11% of the vote.

  • British Columbia Southern Interior
    This currently NDP seat includes left-leaning communities of BC, such as Nelson. Those same communities provide some base for the Green Party, which earned 11% here in 2006. Andy Morel is the Green candidate in this election.

  • Saanich–Gulf Islands, BC
    This seat may offer the Greens their most likely opportunity for winning a seat in the wake of NDP candidate Julian West’s withdrawal. Green candidate Andrew Lewis, the Party’s Deputy Leader and perennial local candidate, first made a splash when he achieved 25% in a local provincial constituency. In this election, he is facing off against Liberal candidate Briony Penn, a popular former member of the Greens and incumbent Conservative MP Gary Lunn. With Conservative numbers up in BC, the Liberal and Green candidates face an uphill battle to defeat the Tory, even with the NDP now out of the race.

  • Vancouver Centre, BC
    Adriane Carr, the former provincial leader and another Deputy Leader of the federal Greens is running in what has been billed as a high-profile four-way race. The incumbent, Liberal Hedy Fry, faces academic Michael Byers of the NDP and former provincial politician Lorne Mayencourt of the Conservatives, in addition to Ms. Carr. With such high-profile candidates and a mere 6% 2006 base to build on, Ms. Carr faces long odds in this race.

  • West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast, BC
    Blair Wilson, originally elected for then turfed from the Liberal Party for alleged spending irregularities, is the Green Party’s first MP, having joined the party just before the current election campaign. Facing a likely Tory win, he is unlikely to be elected under his new party’s banner.

  • Nunavut
    Peter Ittinuar is the Green Party’s candidate in Nunavut and is best-known the first-ever Inuit person elected as MP. He brings quite a storied past, which may hamper his ability to draw votes. First elected as a New Democrat MP in 1979, he later crossed the floor to become a Liberal. When he lost that party’s nomination in 1984, he ran as an independent but was defeated. Two years later, he was convicted for assaulting his wife. He sought to run again for the NDP in 1993, but was refused the opportunity. An Ontarian these days, he also recently ran for the Green Party’s nomination in Brant, but was defeated. In this election, he has acknowledged his past mistakes and is running a strong campaign. However, he faces very strong candidates for each of the other three parties, all of whom are targeting Nunavut this time around. The Greens received 6% in this riding in 2006.


Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

The Green Party got 33% in the general election in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, not a by-election.

janfromthebruce said...

And in that general election, the vote went Green mostly to do with Greens running on one school system and it became the election around Tory "funding of private religious schools."
This past winter that Green candidate took some really bad press for peeping in peoples' windows and doing a vigilante around bicycle theft, thus smearing the Green brand with this behaviour.

Prairie Topiary said...

Jeff, thanks for the correction -- I've fixed the post accordingly.

Stimpson said...

So, with a week to go, do you have any predictions?
I'm thinking the Cons come out of this unnecessary, promise-breaking (fixed elections, remember?) election with maybe 140 seats.
I agree with you that the Greens probably won't win a seat. There support is a mile wide and an inch deep, and voters will be drifting away from them in the coming days.
More at my blog, in a post open to comments from anyone.

donaldstreet said...

Please also watch Elmwood-Transcona! We're aiming to outdo the 3% from the last election....