POLITICS

Green Party Holds On To Elizabeth May's Seat

10/19/2015 09:28 EDT | Updated 10/20/2015 01:59 EDT

VICTORIA — Elizabeth May will return to Ottawa, but she won't be bringing any reinforcements to bolster her environmental crusade.

The Green party leader easily won re-election in Saanich-Gulf Islands, but despite optimistic forecasts of three or more seats from Vancouver Island, her quest will remain lonely.

"I did not want to go back to Ottawa as the lone Green MP,'' May told 300 party supporters in Victoria.

"I can tell you that I really had clear notions of exactly who was coming back with me,'' she said. "And it was a really good plan.''

May said she believes the Greens were blocked from winning more ridings for two main reasons: strategic voting and the cancellation of a major, televised leaders' debate.

The Greens' support was eroded by the electorate's decision to defeat Stephen Harper's Conservatives, she said, meaning they chose the most plausible option.

She also had difficulty raising the Green profile without appearing in a nationally broadcast debate.

But May said that she too was elated that Harper was vanquished.

"Welcome to the first night of the post-Harper era,'' May said to her cheering crowd.

She also used the evening to make a congratulatory call to Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau.

"(I) asked when we can have our first meeting on the climate conference that starts next month,'' she said.

May said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called her and offered his congratulations on her victory.

B.C.'s interim Green party leader, Adam Olsen, who lives in May's Saanich-Gulf Islands riding on southern Vancouver Island, said the Liberals espoused Green philosophies during the campaign.

"The reality is a lot of the Liberal platform are things Elizabeth has been saying all along,'' he said. "I think Elizabeth will have a good relationship with Mr. Trudeau.''

He said May raised the issue of budget-deficits during the first leaders' debate. Days later, the Liberals announced the party would run deficits to rebuild Canada's infrastructure.

The Liberals also appeared open to democratic reform issues raised by the Greens, Olsen said.

May said the Greens decided to target 15 ridings where they had support in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and B.C.

She said she believed Vancouver Island would deliver Green votes, particularly in Victoria.

"This is always a place that is very committed to environmental values,'' said May.

Former CBC radio host Jo-Ann Roberts, a first-time candidate, had parlayed her credibility into a formidable political force. She was challenging incumbent New Democrat MP Murray Rankin, the party's environment critic, in the Victoria riding.

Those hopes were dashed Monday when Rankin was declared elected.

"Here on the Island, I guess people decided an NDP vote was a vote for change,'' said Roberts. "I actually believed we were building. I ran on what I believed in.''

She said a factor in the campaign that was difficult to counter for the Green party was voter commitment to turf the Conservatives.

May almost couldn't vote Monday when she forgot to bring proper identification to her Sidney, B.C., polling station.

She said she carried a green leather purse to match her party's political colour to vote, but her correct identification was in another purse in her campaign van.

May ran back to the van and rummaged through her second purse to find the identification that matched her current address with her election-registration address.

"I was so embarrassed,'' said May. "I held up the whole line.''

The leader spent the final days of the campaign driving the length of Vancouver Island, where the party targeted up to four of seven available seats, including May's riding.

Her momentum lost steam in the final days, as several high-profile West Coast environmental leaders urged strategic voting to defeat of the Conservatives.

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