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Green Party Loses Support Provincially After Electing First Ever MP Elizabeth May

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The Green Party elected their first Member of Parliament when Elizabeth May beat Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands on May 2. Since then they have struggled provincially. (Getty) | AFP/Getty Images

This year has been a bit of a mixed bag for the Green Party.

On the one hand, they elected their first Member of Parliament when Elizabeth May beat Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands on May 2.

On the other hand, the party lost votes federally and took a hit in this fall’s provincial elections.

The problems for the Greens started during the federal election campaign, when the party concentrated on getting Elizabeth May elected. Unlike during the 2008 campaign, the Greens had little national profile and were excluded from the debates. In an election in which turnout increased, the Greens lost more than 360,000 votes and dropped from 6.8 per cent to only 3.9 per cent in the popular vote.

This slip carried over into the provinces.

Last week, the Greens only took 2.9 per cent of the vote in Ontario, a huge drop from the eight per cent the party captured in 2007. That adds up to nearly 230,000 fewer votes than in 2007.

The party was also unable to make any real gains in the Manitoba election. Though the party did increase its vote share from 1.3 to 2.5 per cent, this was mostly due to having more candidates in the race. Leader James Beddome managed to get the names of 32 candidates, including himself, on ballots, 17 more than in 2007. But the Greens won only about 341 votes per riding in 2011, compared to 372 in 2007. This despite the fact that fewer votes were cast in 2007.

And in Newfoundland and Labrador, no Green Party exists. Though it's unlikely the party would have done well even if it had been part of the race, as the Greens only captured 0.9 per cent support in the province in the 2011 federal election.

The only good news for the Greens coming out of the provinces this fall was in Prince Edward Island. Sharon Labchuk increased her party's number of candidates from 18 in the 2007 election to 22, and upped the vote share from three per cent to 4.4 per cent, beating out the P.E.I. New Democrats for third place once again. Labchuk increased her votes per riding from 138 to 147, a feat amplified by the drop in turnout in the province from 84 to 77 per cent.

But gains in Prince Edward Island, a province of less than 150,000 people, are little consolation for a national movement. A lesson the Liberals should take to heart after Robert Ghiz’s re-election with a majority government in the island province.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.

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