New Brunswick

Green Party's Elizabeth May hopeful for federal win in Fredericton

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is making it official: her party is targeting Fredericton as a winnable riding in the federal election.

Party is focusing resources on target ridings, leader says

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (on left) says she believes Fredericton candidate Mary Lou Babineau (on right) will be the next member of Parliament for the city. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is making it official: her party is targeting Fredericton as a winnable riding in the federal election.

May was in the city on Wednesday to roll out her platform on seniors' issues, her third stop in the provincial capital in 2015.

"You noticed that, did you?" May joked when she was asked about the attention she's been devoting to the city.

May says provincial Green Leader David Coon's win in Fredericton South in last year's New Brunswick election shows the party is electable in the city.

"The Green Party of Canada doesn't have the resources to run the kind of campaign that you see Mary Lou Babineau running here in every riding across the country," she said, referring to the federal Green candidate in Fredericton.

We are clearly targeting resources where we see the best opportunity to elect Green MPs.- Elizabeth May, Green Party leader

"We are clearly targeting resources where we see the best opportunity to elect Green MPs."

Babineau ran in the riding in 2008, earning 10 per cent of the vote.

May says that result — among the party's best in eastern Canada — came after a campaign in which the Greens had virtually no resources at all.

"Now we've seen David Coon's win here and we absolutely believe that the next member of Parliament for Fredericton will be Mary Lou Babineau," she said during an event in a church gymnasium.

Coon's win pivotal

Babineau says Coon's win last year was an important psychological breakthrough that persuaded many voters a Green vote isn't a wasted ballot.

She also says Coon's work since then in the Legislature has drawn notice from voters around the larger Fredericton riding — not just the downtown core of Fredericton South, where Coon's environmental positions were popular.

"Of the 10,000 homes I've been to, many of them are over on the north side [of Fredericton], and it was interesting how many people requested lawn signs and expressed support," she said.

But Babineau will have to overcome efforts by a non-partisan group to persuade people in the riding to vote strategically.

Margo Sheppard, a former Green supporter, says she 'conflicted' about possibly voting for another party, but wants to ensure the Conservatives are pushed out. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)
LeadNow, a national organization, has picked Fredericton as one of 12 ridings nationally where it plans to conduct polls as part of an effort to rally voters behind the best anti-Conservative candidates.

Margo Sheppard, a former Green supporter now working with LeadNow, admits she's "conflicted" about possibly voting for a different party.

"You have to make up your mind what's more important," she said, "whether it's more important to get the Conservatives out of power, which it is to me, or to vote your preference, split the result and let the Conservatives get back in."

NDP also targeting riding as winnable

Conservative candidate Keith Ashfield did not respond to a CBC News request for an interview about the Green push, and Liberal candidate Matt DeCourcey's campaign turned down a request for a comment.

NDP candidate Sharon Scott-Levesque says she's not concerned about the Greens targeting Fredericton as a winnable riding, because her party is doing the same.

Nor will she try to talk people out of voting Green if their minds are made up, she said.

But Scott-Levesque says she will point out that national polls suggest the NDP has a shot at winning the election.

"What we encourage people to know is that we have been trending in the polls to form government in October, and we're very pleased to inform them of that," she said.

In 2011, Ashfield won Fredericton with more than 48 per cent of the vote. The NDP was second with 23.8 per cent of the vote, and the Liberals were third with 23.2 per cent. The Green candidate had four per cent.

About the Author

Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. Raised in Moncton, he also produces the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

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