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Byelection called a game-changer for Greens by party and opponents alike

The neck-and-neck battle which saw the NDP eventually beat out the Greens for the federal seat in Victoria is being viewed as a game changer by Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

The neck-and-neck battle which saw the NDP eventually beat out the Greens for the federal seat in Victoria is being viewed as a game changer by Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

For the Green Party of Canada, Monday night’s byelection demonstrates people trust us in numbers greater than ever, May said. The Greens almost tripled their showing in Victoria compared with 2011.

“I think without a doubt the only party in these byelections yesterday that had real gains was the Green party,” May said in an interview Tuesday.

NDP MP-elect Murray Rankin won with 37.2 per cent of the vote but a close second was Green Party’s Donald Galloway with 34.3 per cent. The Conservatives finished third with 14.4 per cent and the Liberals with 13.1 per cent.

 In Calgary Centre, a different political demographic from Victoria, Green candidate Chris Turner pulled in 25.6 per cent of the vote compared with Conservative Joan Crockatt’s win with 36.9 per cent of the vote.

“We now need to build on that trust and offer every Canadian a real choice in 2015,” May said.

Victoria’s NDP MP-elect is also putting a positive spin on almost losing to the Greens in Victoria by just 1,151 votes. Rankin said Tuesday that Victoria voters supported two strong environmentalists Monday night — a total rejection of the Stephen Harper Conservatives, he said.

“If you look at who came out first and second and if you add it up over 70 per cent were voting for the Greens and NDP,” Rankin said, Tuesday, saying he hopes to work more closely with the Greens.

“This is a very progressive community and on the environment particularly,” Rankin said.

Voter turnout at 43.9 per cent is also considered high for a byelection and according to Rankin an inspiring sign that this community is very engaged in the political process.

“Isn’t it amazing that 44 per cent came out,” Rankin said. “People are engaged in politics.”

However, Rankin rejects the idea that the contest was a dead heat and that if the advance polls which the NDP won had been released early in the night, the New Democrats expected win would have been apparent from the start.

However, Ken Wu, on the Green campaign team, noted that all parties in Victoria dropped support except for the Greens showing a strong Green momentum.

“The Greens surged to increase their vote by 23 per cent, to 34.3 per cent up from 11.6 per cent,” Wu said.

The NDP dropped by 14 per cent to 37.2 per cent from 50.8 per cent, but that is to compare a byelection with a newcomer to a general election where the candidate is the incumbent. 

The Conservatives evaporated, dropping by nine per cent to 14.4 per cent from 23.6 per cent while the Liberals barely moved from 2011, dropping just one per cent to 13.1 per cent from 14 per cent.

 Galloway is going to consult with his supporters and colleagues to consider whether he’ll run for the Greens again in 2015. Summerville has said he will run again in 2015 while Gann said he will also consider running again.

Rankin sets off for Ottawa next week.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com