October 20, 2019

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It's not easy being Green

How does Manitoba's party leader follow up a loss in Fort Rouge in Tuesday's provincial election? By taking a run in next month's federal vote, of course

Manitoba Green party Leader James Beddome took a couple of days off after the provincial election Tuesday, but he's back on the hustings this weekend drumming up votes once again — this time as a federal candidate.

"It doesn't hurt to sleep for a bit... to catch up and recoup," the 35-year-old Winnipeg lawyer said with a laugh Friday as he prepared to knock on doors in Winnipeg South Centre.

Beddome, the provincial party's leader since 2008, had always planned to run in the October federal election. He was nominated in the riding currently held by Liberal Jim Carr last fall.

Manitoba Green party Leader James Beddome took a couple of days off after the provincial election Tuesday, but he's back on the hustings this weekend drumming up votes once again — this time as a federal candidate.

"It doesn't hurt to sleep for a bit... to catch up and recoup," the 35-year-old Winnipeg lawyer said with a laugh Friday as he prepared to knock on doors in Winnipeg South Centre.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>Green Party of Manitoba leader James Beddome plans to continue to serve as the Greens' provincial leader for as long as the party wants him.</p>

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Green Party of Manitoba leader James Beddome plans to continue to serve as the Greens' provincial leader for as long as the party wants him.

Beddome, the provincial party's leader since 2008, had always planned to run in the October federal election. He was nominated in the riding currently held by Liberal Jim Carr last fall.

Then Premier Brian Pallister threw him — and the rest of Manitoba's political world — a curve, calling a provincial election nearly 13 months ahead of schedule.

While the writs were issued in August, Pallister made it clear much earlier there would be an election this year.

So Beddome changed gears. Instead of spending the summer canvassing for votes federally, as he had planned, he shifted his focus to the provincial constituency of Fort Rouge (which, handily, fits inside the larger national riding).

He's been campaigning virtually non-stop since the end of June. The federal election is Oct. 21.

"It does put pressure on your finances," Beddome said of the four-month vote-seeking marathon, but he added that he enjoys campaigning and his partner and family have been supportive.

Under Beddome's leadership, the Greens fielded a record 43 candidates in the provincial election, but failed to win a seat. Green candidate David Nickarz, the party's best hope for a win, finished second to school trustee Lisa Naylor of the NDP in Wolseley.

Beddome disagrees with the notion that the Green party spread itself too thinly by running so many candidates. He said the party had wanted to run a full slate (57 candidates) so that every Manitoban had a Green option.

"We were pretty strategic about where we put our resources in terms of volunteers and money. It didn't come through in the end, but I can tell you we definitely ... targeted Wolseley in a way that was appropriate. It just didn't give us quite the outcome we had hoped for." — Manitoba Green party Leader James Beddome

"We were pretty strategic about where we put our resources in terms of volunteers and money," he said.

"It didn't come through in the end, but I can tell you we definitely ... targeted Wolseley in a way that was appropriate. It just didn't give us quite the outcome we had hoped for."

In Fort Rouge, where he challenged the NDP's Wab Kinew in a battle of party leaders, Beddome finished third with 1,579 votes, to Kinew's 5,031 and Progressive Conservative candidate Edna Nabess's 1,854.

In addition to Nickarz's runner-up finish in Wolseley, the Greens also finished second in Morden-Winkler and Turtle Mountain.

Green candidates bested Liberal hopefuls in 14 constituencies. And, Greens attracted more than 1,000 votes in five constituencies. The party received 6.4 per cent of the provincial vote and more than eight per cent in the constituencies it contested.

Beddome said to receive the support of more than 30,000 Manitobans and have no MLAs to show for it points to the need for proportional representation, a system in which parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them.

The 2019 election produced a minimal change in the makeup of the legislature, he noted.

The NDP argued during the campaign that the only way to defeat Brian Pallister was to vote New Democrat.

"I think that line worked with voters, but I think it's very unfortunate because Brian Pallister is still premier," Beddome said.

Meanwhile, Beddome plans to continue to serve as the Greens' provincial leader.

"Yeah, as long as they want me," he said, when asked Friday.

He'll face his next party leadership review next fall.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read full biography

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