On Jan. 23 Canadians go to the polls to decide who will govern the country. The campaign got underway in the last days of November, making it nearly two months long. But because of the holiday period, interest in the election has been less than usual.
In the re-named riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky – the largest riding in the country by population – a new MP will be elected. John Reynolds, the long-time Conservative/Alliance/Reform MP is retiring.
John Weston is the Conservatives’ candidate vying to replace Reynolds. He’s being challenged by Liberal Blair Wilson, NDP candidate Judith Wilson, Green Party candidate Silvaine Zimmermann and Anne Jamieson of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada.
Last week we profiled Weston and Blair Wilson. This week the NDP’s Judith Wilson and Zimmermann of the Green Party are profiled.
There was a time, and in the not too distant past, when Green Party candidates were dismissed as fringe players in Canadian politics.
Thanks to candidates like Adriane Carr and Dennis Perry at the provincial level and federal party leader Jim Harris – all people with serious business backgrounds and impressive CVs – the Green Party has officially entered the mainstream.
In the last federal election the Green Party finished with more than four per cent of the popular vote, close to 600,000 ballots, earning official party status and government funding. The party did not win any seats, however, despite the fact that they had a third as many votes as the Bloc Quebecois (which captured 54 seats) and over a quarter as many votes as the NDP (19 seats).
If Canada had proportional representation, and people weren’t forced to vote strategically by the first-past-the-post system, Green Party co-founder Silvaine Zimmermann believes Greens could one day be a major factor in Parliament.
"Once again the NDP is saying they would like to have proportional representation, and the Liberals have said the same thing in the past… and both had the chance to do something in the last Parliament. Neither one decided to implement it because they thought they could get away without it. They’re used to the status quo of politics, the jostling for power," she said.
Zimmermann is the Green Party’s candidate for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding, as well as a founding member of the party, and one of the party tacticians that has helped the Green Party enter the mainstream by enlisting business leaders and community leaders as candidates. The Green Party ran a full slate of candidates in the 2004 federal election, and has managed to do the same again this year – despite limited funding, and the fact that the party does not accept corporate or union donations.