February 20, 2020

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Greens' best shot falls short

Aiming for a historic victory to vault its first MLA into a seat in Manitoba's legislature, Green hopes were dashed Tuesday, as the party's grasp on Winnipeg's granola belt slipped away.

Wolseley has been an NDP stronghold for 29 years — and first-time candidate Lisa Naylor continued the run with a win over Green runner-up David Nickarz. Naylor had 2,944 votes and Nickarz had 2,258, with 36 of 43 polls reporting.

Green Party leader James Beddome: 'We’re having an impact on politics already'

SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Green Party leader James Beddome: 'We’re having an impact on politics already'

Nickarz's candidacy had been widely considered the Green Party of Manitoba's best chance at winning a seat in 2019, after he came close in 2016.

Green supporters asked to vote with their values

As provincial election campaigning came to a close Monday, the Green Party of Manitoba was forced to speak out against a last-minute NDP plea for would-be Green and Liberal voters to cast their ballots for the NDP instead.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew urged those who intended to vote Green to vote NDP, in an attempt to claim victory over the incumbent Progressive Conservatives.

In a statement issued the day before the election, Green Leader James Beddome urged Manitobans to vote according to their values. He said the Greens are the only party prepared to take “bold action” on climate change.

As provincial election campaigning came to a close Monday, the Green Party of Manitoba was forced to speak out against a last-minute NDP plea for would-be Green and Liberal voters to cast their ballots for the NDP instead.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew urged those who intended to vote Green to vote NDP, in an attempt to claim victory over the incumbent Progressive Conservatives.

In a statement issued the day before the election, Green Leader James Beddome urged Manitobans to vote according to their values. He said the Greens are the only party prepared to take “bold action” on climate change.

“Mr. Kinew’s plea for Green supporters to vote NDP represents everything that is wrong with the current political system. Being pressured into voting for the lesser of two evils robs Manitobans of their voice, and removes any chance of real change in Manitoba. For 17 years, the NDP failed to take meaningful action on climate change, and failed the people of this province time and again,” the statement says.

The Green Party of Manitoba captured five per cent of the popular vote during the last provincial election in 2016, with the tightest race in Wolseley, between David Nickarz and now-retired longtime NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer. Nickarz lost by 392 votes.

Three other Green candidates came second in 2016, all losing in not-so-close races to PC candidates in rural ridings (Midland, La Verendrye, Morden-Winkler), where the Liberals and NDP had failed to make gains.

"This is a great stepping stone for this election and elections across Canada," Nickarz said, conceding just before 10 p.m. and offering his congratulations to Naylor on her win.

With Green Leader James Beddome falling well-short of NDP Leader Wab Kinew in Fort Rouge, none of the 43 Green candidates was elected.

The provincial Greens ran more candidates in 2019 than ever before, Beddome reminded a packed house at Charisma of India on Sherbrook Street. Nickarz’s campaign had about 130 volunteers and door-knocked at every home in Wolseley.

Beddome said the party will continue to push for a basic income in Manitoba and education property-tax reform.

"We’re having an impact on politics already. We’re already forcing the other parties to respond to our ideas, and that’s not going to stop," he said.

Beddome, who has been leader of the Manitoba Greens since 2008, plans to run in the federal election in the riding of Winnipeg South Centre — campaigning for which begins Wednesday. Union Station candidate Andrea Shalay will also run for the federal Green party.

Four out of 10 provinces have elected a total of 17 Green party representatives — and Beddome said he still has hope Manitoba can join those ranks as people become more aware of the climate crisis.

"It’s now the 11th hour, and people are waking up to that, but we’ve been calling out this since the sixth or seventh hour, so I think people recognize that there’s a certain degree of credibility there," he said.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Katie May

Katie May
Justice reporter

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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Updated on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 6:14 AM CDT: Minor correction

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