British Columbia

Greens not to blame for NDP loss, says leader Sterk

In the aftermath of the NDP failure to win the B.C. elections, some pundits are blaming the Green Party for splitting the vote on the left, but not everyone agrees with the analysis.

Green-NDP vote split allowed Liberals to win 12 ridings, say critics

Not all supporters parked their vote with Greens instead of NDP 1:52

In the aftermath of the NDP failure to win the B.C. elections, some pundits are blaming the Green party for splitting the vote on the left, but not everyone agrees with the analysis.

In 12 ridings across the province, Liberal candidates won with fewer votes than the Green and NDP votes added together.

Critics say if those votes had not been split between the two parties, the outcome of the election could have been very different.

But Green Party Leader Jane Sterk said the NDP's loss was the NDP's fault.

"I don't know how a party that had a 14 to 20 point lead can blow it, and that demonstrated that they ran a very poor campaign and it has nothing to do with the Green Party," she said.

Liberal wins from 'Green-NDP splits'

  • Boundary-Similkameen
  • Burnaby North
  • Comox Valley
  • Coquitlam-Maillardville *
  • Delta North *
  • Fraser-Nicola *
  • Maple Ridge-Mission
  • Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows *
  • North Vancouver-Lonsdale
  • Port Moody-Coquitlam
  • Surrey-Fleetwood *
  • Vancouver-Fraserview

* indicates Liberals took seat from NDP

Likewise, the Green Party's first MLA Andrew Weaver denied the Green Party split the vote.  

"We didn't split the vote. We are the vote in Oak Bay-Gordon Head," said Weaver on Tuesday, after winning his seat.

Oversimplified analysis

Katherine Harrison, a UBC political scientist who specializes in environmental issues, said arguments assuming Green Party supporters would vote for the NDP instead are oversimplified.  

"That calculation is far too facile. It's not the case where all those Green voters are really just parking their votes with the Greens," she said.

And Harrison said many Green supporters would simply never vote NDP.

Fellow UBC political scientist Max Cameron agreed, and said while there are ridings where even a small number of Green voters could have given the NDP a win, it is still not fair to blame the Greens for the NDP loss.

"I don't think that accounts for the result, because really the NDP vote is much, much lower than we anticipated just looking at the polls."

Cameron said a larger factor in the Liberal win was the failure of B.C. Conservatives to lure more Liberal supporters and split the vote on the right.

No change in Green leadership

Meanwhile, as the lone Green candidate elected on Tuesday, Andrew Weaver said he's not looking to take over the leadership of the party.

Leader Jane Sterk said she would quit if she wasn't elected. But Weaver said he'd like Sterk to stay, because he already has enough on his plate.

"Yesterday I was a scientist with an internationally-regarded lab, with a bunch of grad students and today, I'm an elected MLA," he said.

"I cannot just transition and so I have asked her, 'Please, please stay on as leader, because I could work with you as leader. It would be an honour.'"  

For her part, Sterk said she is consulting with her party and Weaver's team before deciding whether to remain as leader.

Focused on 3 ridings

Across the province, the Greens won just eight percent of the total vote, after the party focused almost all of its resources on three southern Vancouver Island ridings that seemed winnable.

Weaver, a Nobel Prize winning climatologist, defeated long-time Liberal incumbent Ida Chong by about 2,400 votes in the Vancouver Island riding of Oak Bay - Gordon Head.  

Sterk did not win her seat in nearby Victoria, where she lost by about 3,500 votes to former NDP leader Carole James.

In an unexpectedly close race in Saanich North and the Islands, Green Party hopeful Adam Olsen placed third with 9,294 votes, behind Liberal candidate Stephen P. Roberts with 9,629 votes and NDP hopeful Gary Holman with 9,681 votes.

The Greens went into the 2013 election riding high on the success of federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who won her Saanich-Gulf Islands seat in the 2011 federal election.

But the party has consistently lost ground since capturing 12 per cent of the provincial vote in 2001. In 2005, the party won just over nine per cent of the popular vote. In 2009, support fell to just over eight per cent of the popular vote.