Ladies and gentlemen, my eyes turn once again to Canada, as four federal by-elections, all with (Canadian) Green Party candidates, took place yesterday.
The results of the by-elections in question were as follows:
Alberta, Fort McMurray-Athabasca:
David Yurdiga, Conservative, 5,945 (46,8%, -25.0%); Kyle Harrietha, Liberal, 4,491 (35.3%, +24.9%); Lori McDaniel, New Democratic Party, (NDP) 1,449 (11.4%, -1.8%); Brian Doeher, Green, 449 (3.5%, -1.0%); Tim Moen, Libertarian, 374 (2.9%).
John Barlow, Conservative, 12,394 (68.8%, -8.7%); Dustin Fuller, Liberal, 3,062 (17.0%, +13.3%); Larry Ashmore, Green, 1,042 (5.8%, +1.2%); Aileen Burke, NDP, 766 (4.2%, -5.9%); David Reimer, Christian Heritage, 763 (4.2%, +3.7%).
Ontario, Scarborough Agincourt:
Arnold Chan, Liberal, 12,829 (59.3%, +13.9%); Trevor Ellis, Conservative, 6,344 (29.3%, -4.9%); Elizabeth Ying Long, NDP, 1,844 (8.5%, -9.6%), Kevin Clarke, Independent (1.5%); Shabaz Mir, Green, 307 (1.4%, -0.9%).
Adam Vaughan, Liberal, 18,434 (53.4%, +30.1%); Joe Cressy, NDP, 11,823 (34.3%, -20.2%); Benjamin Sharma, Conservative, 2000 (5.8%, -11.0%); Camille Labchuk, Green, 1,919 (5.6%, +1.2%); Linda Groce-Gibbons, Christian Heritage, 174 (0.5%); John Turmel, Independent, 141 (0.4%).
Quite a night of woe for the New Democratic Party in particular-especially in the Trinity-Spadina riding (constituency), where they suffered one of the heaviest negative swings in their history-25% towards the Liberals. With Trinity-Spadina being a known Canadian bellwether, this looks good for youngish Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Incidentally, in one of the Canadian Conservatives' safest ridings, a 25% swing to the Liberals was also achieved. However, it does not look that good for Canadians in general-as in Britain, the real differences between the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP are becoming fewer and fewer. None of these three parties have any real commitment to stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for example, which is even more dangerous to Canada than NAFTA has ever been. The Conservatives suffered quite signficantly in all cases, even in MacLeod, a riding so safe for the Canadian Conservatives it makes British constituencies like Beaconsfield look more winnable for non-Conservative candidates.
Sadly, it was not that good a night for the Canadian Greens as I hoped-only in two ridings did their vote share increase, and even then, only slightly, despite the hard work of Elizabeth May and ex-NDP MP Bruce Hyer in exposing the cruelty and recklessness of Stephen Harper's neoconservative regime-within the English-speaking world, its gratuitous disregard for human rights and our environment is on par only with Tony Abbott's and David Cameron's regimes in Australia and Britain. In particular, our Canadian colleagues were just 81 votes behind the Conservatives in Trinity-Spadina and worryingly we were beaten by perennial candidate Kevin Clarke in Scarborough-Agincourt-how?
Turnout for these by-elections was also terrible, even compared to the turnout of British by-elections- the turnout in Fort McMurray-Athabasca was apparently as low as 15.2%-even Manchester Central could achieve a better turnout (18.2%), two years ago! In all cases, turnouts fell below 1/3 of the registered electorates-FPTP is bad for democracies everywhere, not just in the United Kingdom.
With the next Canadian federal election having to take place by the end of next year,and with more ridings up for contention this time around (338 as opposed to 308 in previous years), I hope the Canadian Greens will be able to make another breakthrough, the same way my Green colleagues in Britain will try to make more breakthroughs next year.