Accusations of Vote Splitting are Baseless

Pundits were quick yesterday to point the finger at the Green Party for allegedly splitting the left-of-centre vote in the Calgary by-election. I don’t think these people paid attention to the campaign.

 Polls conducted at the beginning of the campaign credited Green candidate Chris Turner with only 7% of the vote. The same polls credited the Liberal Harvey Locke with 30%. Locke’s final number after Monday’s vote: 32.7%. Not a lot of splitting happening here.

 Splitting… the Conservatives

 By the way, Chris Turner’s final share of the vote is 25.6%. So where did this almost 20% increase came from? We know it’s not from the Liberals. The NDP? Never a factor in this campaign. No, the bulk of Chris’ support came from first-time voters and from ex-Conservative voters. Harper’s choice in Calgary, Joann Crockatt, went from 48% in the initial polls to only 36.9%. The Conservatives’ loss was the Greens’ gain.

 Victoria Momentum

 In Victoria, by-election results clearly show every party’s support dropped since the last general elections, sometimes drastically, with the exception of the Green Party of Canada.

  • The Greens surged to increase their vote by 23% (from 11.6% to 34.3%)
  • The NDP dropped by 14% (from 50.8% to 37.2%)
  • The Conservatives dropped by 9% (from 23.6% to 14.4%)
  • The Liberals dropped by about 1% (from 14.0% to 13.1%)

 Green Gain

 In fact, if you combine results in Durham, Calgary and Victoria, and compare 2011 and 2012, the trend is clear: Greens have momentum. These numbers show the difference in support between 2011 and 2012:

  • Greens                 +12%
  • Liberals               +5%
  • NDP                     -6%
  • Conservatives    -11%

 We have to take that momentum with us leading to 2015. We also have to continue offering our cooperation to other parties in the House of Commons. Inter-party cooperation is part of our values and it must be developed: our members want it, and more and more Canadians also want to see MPs work together.

 Canadians also want a voting system where every vote counts. We urgently need proportional representation (highlighted by the continual low voter turnout). It is fairer and it allows us the freedom to really vote for what we believe in, not just against something. We may only get there with all of the parties cooperating. The Greens are willing and waiting to engage in the conversation.

Emily McMillan
Executive Director
Green Party of Canada


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Thanks Emily for an excellent analysis

I really appreciate your breakdown of the percentages on the by-elections Emily. This makes the case that the Green Party is an organization that understands the details of its impact electorally. 

I would like to discuss something with you that I think needs to be considered by the Green Party before the next election cycle. I think that there is something that a political organization could do in Canada that would make the Charter of Rights more real and accessible to all citizens. That is,  if there was a system of non-profit legal clinic services available across the country that would be available to all citizens regardless of their income to help get their legal issues examined, vetted re evidence and possible patterns of other complainants identified - before the person deals with retaining legal counsel, this would aid to the efficiency of dealing with the legal system. 

At present, many people who have a problem, are expected to go to a lawyer and shell out hundreds of dollars per hour - with no identifiable remedy that they can focus on. This means that many legal actions are doomed from the start because there is more preparation cost required than the case is worth. This destroys many peoples' resolve and their savings - for nothing - leading to intense skepticism on our whole legal apparatus. Needless to say this causes a lot of avoidable alienation, bitterness, and social isolation that could have been an opportunity to build a community devoted to justice - if we had a network of legal clinic resources available to everyone. I cannot think of a better way to operationalize the Charter of Rights than to have a political party develop such a problem solving resource as this. 

I would deeply appreciate your reply to this idea, and an opportunity to see it developed as something that the Green Party could adopt as a human rights objective. 

Best regards,

Alan Blanes


Ph 250-860-7719



Alan Blanes


Ph 250-860-7719

Electoral reform

Stephane Dion came to our convention in Sidney and spoke about his plans for proportional representation. Judging by the reception he got both before taking the stage and when leaving, Greens liked what they heard. Are we and any other parties supporting his version of electoral reform? I would like to be able to enter the BC Prov. campaign next May able to answer a question about our position on rep-by-pop by saying "We support Stephane Dion's plan". When the questioner points out that he belongs to the competition, I would love to come back with "That's right, and he has an excellent plan for Electoral Reform, that's why we support it".

Everyone seems to have their own, favourite version of rep-by-pop but, instead of quibbling over detail, I think we would be better to choose the plan that seems to be acceptable to the most people and go with it - just about anything would be better than FPTP. It should also be reviewable and amendable on a regular basis.

Having decided on one plan, we can then put pressure on both federal and provincial parties to enact reform. This would ensure that there would be support from at least some parties right across the country and parties that oppose federally would probably find their provincial counterparts supporting change in provinces where they were not doing so well. Green policy should be to push as long as there is FPTP and, when we form government (fed. or prov.) - push even harder, not back off because FPTP worked for us as so often happens.

An added bonus would be that we would be seen pushing hard to get a competitor's plan enacted just because it is .  .  .  .  . The Right Thing To Do. Co-operation can be as hard to critisize as Apple Pie.

Elizabeth is being listened to, the rest of us should get sweaty and grimy and MAKE SOME DAMN NOISE!!

John F. Dunbar

Support Dion's work, not his plan

Despite it's name, Stephane Dion's 3P electoral reform plan is not actually proportional, except that it would better apportion seats between the major parties. It would still do nothing to get seats for smaller parties with significant vote (like us), even parties with 10 or 15% support. Therefore, I don't see it as enough of an improvement over our current system.

Dion's main goal was to overcome regionality where you get all the Liberal seats from Ontario, all the NDP from Quebec, and all the Conservative ones from the West, or where all the urban areas have Liberal or NDP MPs and all the rural areas are represented by Conservatives. What his system does is take the current seat standings (more or less) and mix them up such that you'd have some NDP from Alberta and some Liberals from SK and some Conservatives from Toronto, thus reducing the current regional nature of our House standings. But you would still have no Greens. (Dion himself even confirmed this to me when I asked him about it when he was on the panel at Fair Vote Canada's AGM this past May).

Also, although Bob Rae has allowed Dion to promote his plan, it is NOT officially supported by the Liberal Party. The only reform they support is ranked balloting (AV), which is not a proportional system and would do even less than 3P to improve on our current system.

But in the spirit of wanting to show we can cooperate with other parties and aren't wedded to one specific model, you could at least mention that we are supportive of exploring alternate voting systems, such as the one Stephane Dion has presented, alongside models like mixed-member proportionality, BC-STV, or other ways to have the election results (and government) better reflect the will of the voters.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins, Barrie ON - although I'm on Cabinet (Nat'l Rev. and Ecol. Fiscal Reform), views here are my own and may not reflect official GPC positions. Please visit

Mixed System

Seems clear what we really need is a mixed system - people like having local representation, and ideally that representative should have 50%+1 support.  Thus the ranked ballotting that the Liberals are pushing for should be in place for MP's.  It would prevent any argument about vote splitting and prevent any representative from being in place  when over 50% of the riding does not want that person in.

Now , to balance it we need a proportional system.  How to make one that average people would accept though?  Given how many people told me they voted against changing the system here in Ontario due to 'more politicians' it is clear anything that adds more politicians to the mix is a no-go.  So I'd say go with a simple method - each ballot asks you to vote for the local rep (ranked method) and for what party you wish to represent your interests.  Then the party vote is assigned to each party leader to vote with in the HOC.  Thus if there are 338 seats next time you have 338 MP's plus 338 votes split among parties based on their popular vote (via party vote) - in the current 308 seat system that means Elizabeth May would be standing and voting for 3.91% or 12 'seats', giving the Greens 13 of 616 votes.  The highest any non-MP party got was 0.13% for the Christian Heritage party, which is less than 1/2 a seat so they wouldn't have a voice.  I'd say any party that gets enough to reach 1/2 a seat should be represented thus 0.16% gets the leader into the HOC (the only 'new' politicians) and that person gets to say what their party votes go for.  This would also allow MP's to be more independent (in theory) as people would be able to vote for a local MP without fearing that they are helping a party they don't fully support have power.

FYI: that system would've given the CHP a voice in the 2008/2006/2004 legislature as well as putting the Greens in for 2008/2006/2004/2000 plus the Marijuana party would've been there for 2004/2000 too and the Canadian Action Party for 2000 and the Natural Law party in 2000 (on the edge of getting in).  Boy would that 2000 legislature have been entertaining eh?  The non-Greens would've had more than 1 vote in 2000 (Marijauna) only and then with (barely) 2 votes.

John Northey

Election Shift

For fun I checked the 1993 results (which grossly went against vote percentages when it came to total seats with the PC's getting 2 seats with 16% of the vote) to get an idea of changes if you just did the 295 MP's and 295 party vote system (without figuring how many seats the Liberals would've lost to the PC/Reform parties if an alternate vote system was in place).  296 votes needed for majority

Liberals: MP: 177 - popular vote adds 122 = 299
Bloc: MP: 54 - popular vote adds 40 = 94
Reform: MP: 52 - popular vote adds 55 = 107
NDP: MP: 9 - popular vote adds 20 = 29
PC: MP: 2 - popular vote adds 47 = 49
Independent: MP: 1
National Party: popular vote adds 4
Natural Law: popular vote adds 2
Green Party: popular vote adds 1
Christian Heritage: popular vote adds 1
MP's: 295, 292 popular vote extra 3 lost due to tiny parties and independents which would be cleared up via adjusting percentages to fit afterwards. 

So the Liberals still (just) get that majority but if alternate vote happened they wouldn't have (many Ontario ridings were split Reform/PC with Liberals sneaking up the middle) most likely.  Also, a popular vote would most likely get more votes to the smallest parties as people wouldn't feel they were 'wasting their vote'.

John Northey

Electoral Reform

Great summary of what happened in the by-elections Emily. 

John Dunbar - I 100% agree with you. It is crucial that we figure out not only what the best form of electoral reform is but WHAT other parties AND the public are most likely to embrace. Otherwise any eventual referendum will just be lost the way it has happened in several provinces already. This is a conversation we need to have in our party but as importantly with the Liberals and NDP. 

We will probably be better off making a compromise on purity of proportional represention by going with something like an alternative vote rather than something for which a complicated formula would be used to determine who gets elected.

Simon McMillan - Sudbury -

Not a lot to comment on

Not a lot to comment on here.  The Green Party is obviously the only honest party in federal and indeed in provincial politics. "Liberals with a conscience" I label you when anybody asks. I'm sorry if I misrepresent you here but that's how I regard you, and sheeple need a quick sound bite these days or they can't figure anything out. And so your vote increases but your representation in seats does not.

I am wholly for proportional representation, having lived in nothing but landslide ridings throughout my life, so my votes for the last 50 years have been totally useless.  Only marginal ridings count in elections and I wish I lived in one! No wonder voter turnout is so low - the result is already determined.

But I always vote.  Voter percentages might one day shame the government into realizing that prop. rep. is the only moral thing to do.  And I hear the temperature in hell is getting nearer to freezing over.

Prop rep is sensible.  The largest parties would only lose roughly equal numbers of seats so it's no skin off their noses in reality.  Yet they are terrified of it.  Only Canada, the US and the UK still hang on to this archaic system.  The Irish had prop rep 60 years ago.  I used to marvel at it, listening in bed as a teenager on earphones on my home-built crystal radio set back in the 1950s.  "Why can't we do that?" I thought. It was so simple. Voters rated each candidate in order of preference. The lowest was then eliminated and their votes redistributed according to second choices.  And so on until someone had more than 50%.  What could be simpler?  This was all done without computers too yet they had a quick result!  But then the Irish have brains - I thought Canadians did too but apparently not.  I stress that I am not Irish - sometimes I wish I were. Actually I am a Brit who emigrated to Canada 45 years ago (two thirds of my life) and this is now my home country and I care and I also despair.

Splitting the vote is not a legitimate reason for discarding a political party at the polling booth.   The object is a minority government (why are naïve Canadians so scared of them?)   If votes go against the government then in a true democracy the government then goes and does what the general will of parliament has asked it to.  And the reverse of the coin is that this should not provoke an election, and fear of an election should not be held over the opposition or we have no democracy.  Just get on and do what the House has told you to and you will remain in power. Only a vote of non-confidence should provoke an election.  I have long held that party whips are the real death of democracy in our federal government.  MPs are immediately forced to vote against the wishes of their own constituents if the party decrees so.  Forgive me for wondering if we really have a democracy.

Perhaps I too am naïve - or perhaps I have a true vision of democracy.

In ancient Athens, the home of our concept of democracy, everyone was able to  vote on everything - apart from women and slaves of course but that was 2500 years ago and nothing is perfect. We could do better of course - we have the internet and we could actually achieve this, but our entrenched goverment systems on the gravy train are hardly going to suggest letting the hoi polloi in on each vote!  They might learn the truth about what the public wants.  Amusing thought for the day.

Where does the Green Party stand on universal internet voting?

Speaking of vote splitting...

Here's one of the better articles I've ever seen on the topic, by Andrew Coyne.

Ard Van Leeuwen (Dufferin-Caledon, ON)

The views I express on this blog are purely my own and should not be construed to represent the official position of the Green Party of Canada.