OTTAWA — If the 2019 election ends up in a minority situation but the Tories have the most seats, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May thinks the Liberal government should try to form a new government with support from other parties.
In an interview with HuffPost Canada’s politics podcast ‘Follow-Up,’ May said that if the campaign results in a hung Parliament, “yes, of course” the party in power should try to convince the governor general that they can hold the confidence of the House.
It’s the way our Westminster parliamentary system works, she said. “You can’t do that without talking to each other and figuring out what do we have in common here, with whom do we have the most in common? How do we make this work so the people of Canada feel that the way they cast their votes has resulted in the parliament they want.”
May is careful about setting out her conditions for support. She still believes electoral reform is a “critical issue for improving the fairness of Canadian democracy” but she’s sobered by what she witnessed in British Columbia, where she feels John Horgan’s NDP government kept to the letter of the B.C. Greens’ demand for a new electoral system but not the spirit of their agreement.
“Whether we make it a condition or just through persuasion or just through popular support, whatever it takes, we really do need to shift through a system of voting where the way the Canadian public votes is the way the Canadian Parliament is formed after the election.”
The Green Party leader is riding high in public opinion polls. A survey by Abacus Data this month showed support for the Greens at 12 per cent, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they were open to voting for the party. That’s the highest the polling company said it has tracked potential Green support and only four points behind support for the NDP.
Provincial party successes — most recently in Prince Edward Island, where the Greens are now the official opposition — has helped boost green support. With federal Green Party MP Paul Manly elected this month in the Vancouver Island byelection of Nanaimo–Ladysmith, May has doubled her caucus.
“We’re now up to 17 elected Greens across Canada. And that’s pretty cool.”
May thinks the party’s support is due in part to the public’s increasing concern over climate change but also to “a general disillusionment with the idea that any of the old three parties tend to disappoint and will say one thing in an election and something else afterwards.”
“I don’t think that, you know, adherence to ignorance is really something that encourages voters to support you.”
She remains concerned that support for her party could swing back to the Liberals or the NDP during a campaign when voters are told a vote for the Green candidate would indirectly help elect a Conservative member. But she’s hopeful “fear factor voting” has prompted enough voter remorse that Canadians will feel free to vote for candidates they believe in.
What’s more, May said, is that while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer may represent the same policies as former prime minister Stephen Harper, he is less polarizing a figure. Not that she thinks he should become prime minister. She calls him “unfit to govern” due to his position on climate change.
“I don’t think that, you know, adherence to ignorance is really something that encourages voters to support you,” she says. Scheer could remedy the situation, she adds, by getting a briefing on climate science.
“I certainly know that the NDP and the Liberals talk about understanding climate science; they just haven’t put forward anything that suggests they actually understand it. But to be wilfully ignorant is another thing.”
She thinks Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada might shave off some Conservative support and allow more races to split in ways that benefit her party.
“I think it’ll be very likely we see six political parties represented after the next election.... And in that context, the vote that is the smartest vote, in fact the vote that is the strategic vote is to have as many Greens elected as possible, knowing that we will work across party lines to get things done.”