Green Leader Elizabeth May predicts minority government, warns against majority

VICTORIA — Green Leader Elizabeth May says it appears Canadians are about to elect a minority government, which could make the environment the biggest winner.

Minority Parliaments force parties to work together and the Greens can play leading roles in implementing environmental policies that fight climate change, she said Wednesday.

"The point is right now we're looking at a minority Parliament," May said. "What you want is members of Parliament who know how to co-operate across party lines and deliver good results. A minority Parliament gives us the opportunity to actually deliver on what is needed."

The Greens held two seats when the election was called and are hoping for a breakthrough on Oct. 21 that has eluded them in previous votes.

"I don't want to count chickens before they're hatched," May said. "You really do have to wait to see what happens."

Practically as she was speaking, the Green candidate in a close-fought Edmonton riding quit the race and endorsed his New Democrat opponent, indicating the challenge even active Greens have figuring out how best to fit into an electoral system where split votes make results unpredictable.

But the Green leader warned against electing a majority Liberal or Conservative government, saying neither party is truly committed to climate action.

"If you are not careful with your vote you could wake up with a majority Justin Trudeau government," May said. "I would regard a Trudeau majority just as bad as a Harper majority because neither one of them is committed to the climate action that is urgently required."

(May did not clarify if she mistakenly referred to former prime minister Stephen Harper instead of current Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.)

She said she's willing to talk to all parties in the event of a minority situation, but described New Democrat, Conservative and Liberal environmental policies as road maps for failure.

"I've also said very clearly we could provide support no support on a confidence vote to any party or combination of parties that failed to take the required action on the climate crisis," May said.

She said the Greens' "Mission: Possible" climate plan includes halting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and cutting Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions by 60 per cent below 2005 levels over the next decade. The Greens also promised to plant 10 billion trees over the next 30 years to reduce carbon and recover vast areas of land devastated by wildfires across Canada.

May said the Greens will push its environmental agenda in a minority Parliament.

"If you vote Conservative you've got the pedal to the metal to get to disaster faster," she said. "If you vote Liberal you get to disaster a little slower. If you vote NDP you get to disaster a little slower."

However, in the riding of Edmonton Strathcona, it is the Greens who are facing disaster after candidate Michael Kalmanovitch announced Wednesday he was stopping his campaign and throwing his support behind NDP candidate Heather McPherson.

"I ran this campaign with the goal of winning the Edmonton Strathcona riding, but based on polling projections, it has become clear that success is unlikely under our first-past-the-post system," Kalmanovitch said in a statement Wednesday. "My goal has never been personal political power. My goal has always been policy change.

"That is why I am ending my campaign effective today, and calling on supporters to consider voting strategically for the candidate and party with the next-best climate action plan. I believe that candidate is Heather McPherson of the NDP."

The Greens confirmed Kalmanovitch's departure in a terse release and said they would not comment further on the matter.

The NDP's Linda Duncan has been the MP for Edmonton Strathcona since 2008 but didn't run for re-election. The riding is expected to be the site of a close race among the NDP, Conservatives and Liberals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2019.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press