See also election night video and results.
Friends, our hard work has paid off. Just two years ago we finished a distant fourth with 5% of the vote. Last night, we tripled our support to 14%, beat the government’s own candidate and came within 36 votes of taking second place (what CBC radio this morning is calling a “virtual tie” for second). By any measure, this is a huge victory we should be very proud of.
In fact, Greens can be proud right across the country. We broke 10% in Toronto Centre and Vancouver Quadra (where Dan Grice represented the Greens), meaning those campaigns will receive a valuable 60% campaign expense refund. In Willowdale, Lou Carcasole finished third ahead of the NDP. Nationally, our support averaged in the range of where we’ve been polling, disproving the myth that we are unable to convert favourable public opinion into votes.
Our impact goes beyond numbers as well, as those of you who have been in Toronto Centre know. On February 27th, Bob Rae said at the St. James Town debate that he did not support a carbon tax. The next day at the Rosedale debate, he said we needed to put a price on carbon in the form of a “tax shift.” At the final public debate in the St. Lawrence on March 11th, he called for a “green tax shift” and described what has been Green Party policy for years, hinting strongly that it would be in the next Liberal platform. Four days later, and just two days before the election, Liberal leader StÃ©phane Dion (who has consistently opposed a carbon tax) announced that the Liberals were seriously considering adopting the Green Party’s tax shifting policy. This was not a coincidence; it was an indication and result of the strength of our campaign and our ideas.
Writing in The Toronto Star this morning, Susan Delacourt says that we have moved closer to “becoming [a] major player” and that last night’s results “show that voters are not willing to accept the status quo in politics:”
The Green Party may not have won a single seat in last night’s by-elections, but its strong showing in Toronto and Vancouver seals its standing as a political force to watch in days and months ahead.
As the results were still being tallied late last night, the Greens were vying for second place in Toronto Centre and poised to surpass the New Democrats in Willowdale and perhaps Vancouver Quadra, too.
The implications are significant and likely to be much discussed by strategists of all parties in the coming days.
Congratulations to Bob Rae, who ran a strong, positive campaign and earned a decisive win last night. We were never in this to run “against” anyone, and I told Bob last night that I believe he’ll be a good Member of Parliament. I also want to congratulate my other opponents, El-Farouk Khaki, Don Meredith, Liz White, and Doug Plumb. Whenever engaged citizens participate in their democracy by running as candidates, our democracy and our country are stronger.
We will continue to build on this success and defy expectations. Two years ago, last night’s results would have been unthinkable; just think what we’ll be able to accomplish two years from now. Let’s keep moving.