In the discussion on climate change, the tide is turning.
That’s the perspective of Mike Sawyer, the Green Party of Canada’s candidate in Skeena-Bulkley Valley for the upcoming federal election.
Discussing the Sept. 3 announcement that 14 former candidates for New Brunswick’s provincial NDPs would be jumping ship and throwing support behind the provincial Green Party, Sawyer said he sees the move as part of a larger exodus of the party’s environmental wing, adding he feels the NDP — both provincially and federally — is in dire straits.
“For many years they’ve been the tent that voters with environmental values would gather under and I think what is happening is that both provincially and federally the NDP have been underperforming in terms of policies and actions that would be appealing to people with environmental values.”
The move comes as the NDP have not been able to nominate a single federal candidate in New Brunswick.
As of Sept. 3 the party has nominated only one federal NDP candidate in Prince Edward Island.
“I think what we’re seeing is … they’re losing those people who have strong environmental values to alternatives — and the only alternative for people with strong environmental values right now happens to be the Green Party.”
The 14 former New Democrats announced their departure in Moncton on Sept. 3, alongside David Coon, leader of The Green Party of New Brunswick.
With respect to a potential coalition between the federal Greens and another party (or parties) after the federal eleaction in October, Sawyer said the Greens are looking for a non-partisan approach to climate change.
“The Green Party is the only party that has publicly stated that in order to deal with the so-called climate change emergency that we need a level of co-operation between the different parties that has been essentially unprecedented since the Second World War.
“If it turns out that the Greens had the opportunity to work with other parties and if those parties were sincere in rolling up their sleeves and addressing the looming crisis that is about to come on us, of course we would work with them.”
But Sawyer said this statement comes with a huge underlying caveat.
“We would work with them, but we’d be relatively uncompromising in terms of the need to address climate change in a relatively short order.”
NDP candidate Taylor Bachrach said the idea of a Conservative-Green coalition should give voters pause.
“Progressive voters need only take a look at the numbers in this riding to see it’s a race between the NDP and the Conservatives,” he said. “When they find out the Greens are willing to prop up a Conservative government, I think their choice will be fairly clear.”
Sawyer said he was surprised at the “nastiness” of the suggestion that the Greens would “prop up” a Conservative government.
“At no time has the Green Party said they would prop up a Conservative government … what Elizabeth May said is that these are challenging times in terms of getting everyone to work towards a climate change solution [and] if the Conservatives came up with a proposal to deal with climate change that she would work with them — or any other party — that had a solution that was workable.
“That is not propping up a Conservative government.”
For his part, Bachrach expressed excitement and confidence in the New Democrat plan to tackle the issue of climate change.
“The NDP’s climate plan is the the only plan this election that embodies the spirit of the Green New Deal by tackling both the climate crisis and economic inequality.
“We have solid plans for pharmacare, affordable housing and more.”
Bachrach was also recently announced as one of 25 candidates endorsed by the non-partisan organization GreenPAC, which supports environmentally-conscious candidates from all major parties (other notable endorsements included Elizabeth May [Green], Michael Chong [Conservative] and Jane Philpott [Independent]).
The federal election must be held on or before Oct. 21. Current polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck, with current seat projections tending to slightly favour the Grits.
In 2018, the New Brunswick Greens won three seats in the province’s Legislative Assembly, up from one seat in the 2014 election.
Currently 15 Green representatives hold seats in provincial legislatures, with the Green Party of Prince Edward Island’s eight members forming the official opposition to the province’s Progressive Conservative minority government.