Rhino's Ramblings - BC Green Win Should Be Wake Up Call For Saskatchewan NDP

By Robert Thomas - Opinion/Commentary

It came as a shock and awe for federal political watchers last week when the Green Party of Canada managed to capture their second seat in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election.

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Paul Manly of the Greens captured the seat with 15,302 votes versus 14,074 votes when he ran in general election.

It is a win which is being heralded as evidence the Green Party is on a move upwards due to the politics of climate change but it is also a move where NDP voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith simply stayed at home as they placed third with just under 10,000 voters who bothered to show up versus just over the 23,000 voters who showed up for the 2015 general election.

A sure NDP seat had gone to the Greens.

The key thing here to ask though was this a protest vote given it is really just a by-election with just five months to go until the next general election or is it an actual swing upwards for the Greens? Is it a regional win or is it part of a national trend? Is there a lesson here for Saskatchewan and by extension to the Moose Jaw - Lake Centre - Lannigan federal riding?

Well if you take a look at the political career of Paul Manly there is in fact a lesson to be had and I personally believe can have a great effect on the upcoming federal race here in Saskatchewan and yes right into the local riding here as well.

And the lesson is in Manly’s past and how he was denied the right to run for the federal NDP in the last federal election as an NDP candidate because of his stance when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The federal NDP executive said no and Manly was out and he went straight to the Greens.

Now here is the thing with Paul Manly he is well liked in his home riding and he has a big NDP pedigree with his dad Jim Manly a former NDP MP who was infamously arrested by Israel while part of a flotilla trying to run the blockade of Gaza in 2012. It is something that did not grate very well with the NDP brass and as such the younger Manly was refused his attempt to run for the NDP.

Now how does this tie into Saskatchewan?

It all has to deal with two words and those two words are - Erin Weir.

You know the very popular MP from Regina - Lewvan. The NDP MP who was booted out by NDP federal leader Jagmeet Singh who himself is not the most popular person amongst NDP voters in this province.

Could the Green Party victory have a major impact on the federal race in Saskatchewan as well as locally?

It all has to deal with two words and those two words are - Erin Weir

Weir has done everything in his power to win back his good graces with the powers to be with the federal NDP but all to no avail. Weir is out and that is the end of it.

Well what this has set up is not only the prospect of the highly personable Weir taking back Regina Lewvan as an independent - which still gives the NDP the opportunity to accept Weir back - or the progressive vote ends up splitting and the NDP takes enough votes away from Weir to prevent him from winning the seat back.

So popular is Weir that many highly placed NDP stalwarts in the province have appealed to Singh publicly to allow Weir back into the NDP fold. But despite the pressure Singh has said it is not happening.

The key thing here though is that the NDP stalwarts who have appealed for Weir’s reinstatement did so publicly. It had grown out of the backrooms - where they could quietly whisper their concerns - to a public realization the Weir expulsion had hurt the NDP in its rank and file union support column.

If you read the letter it even bears the signatures of four former NDP representatives here locally - two federal and two provincial.

SEE RELATED - Letter to reinstate Erin Weir

It is something I have personally been hearing lots of from many hardcore and NDP supporters here locally they are hesitant to vote for Singh, because lets face it political campaigns are about the leader, and with Singh seemingly punishing Erin there is no way they can vote for him.

This could be the makings of a major disaster for the NDP in Saskatchewan.

Many were telling me during the winter they were going to be voting Liberal as a result of the entire Weir fiasco.

With the win of the Greens though, not only in Nanaimo-Ladysmith federally, but also in provincial elections it does give the party most associated with the environment a greater toe hold and opportunity locally and throughout the province. If they can find the right candidates and run great campaigns it could very well not only mean big trouble for the federal NDP in this province but also add to their argument for electoral change.

A promise made by the way by the Prime Minister in the last federal election but then backed off of for various reasons such as it gave a voice to dangerous fringes. The one thing he was not telling you it also would likely give a greater voice to the Green Party of Canada.

A large percentage-wise gain for the Greens would in my opinon lead to more pressure for change and the demise of the first past the post electoral system in the next general election. For Green supporters and those sympathsizing towards that Party it may well be the catalyst to break the “anything but Conservative” mold and vote Green.

In his knee jerk reaction to the Manly win the NDP leader Singh also ironically gave Weir the opportunity for more support locally in this province.

What Singh did was he immediately signalled he was withdrawing the NDP federal support for a BC project to liquify natural gas and ship it to Asian markets. So how does this help Weir? Simple to get the gas to the coastal liquifying facility it has to travel through pipe as in pipe manufactures at Evraz Steel right in Regina and right in you guessed it Weir’s riding.

Weir is well liked by those working at the plant because Weir on more than one occasion has come out in support of the workers at Evraz and they like him for it.

It is also a sign federally the NDP ship is still being battered as Singh attempts to find the rudder in policies which can save the NDP from hitting the rocks and being reduced even more. The polls right now

It is also one topic we are not hearing anything about by our own local NDP candidate Talon Regent but it is one he is likely going to start hearing once he hits the doorsteps - a NDP minus Weir - may very well be something he cannot overcome.

It might be a policy race for some but in politics it is also an issue of popularity and the growth of the Green Party as well as the treatment of Erin Weir is likely to have a greater impact locally than many may well think.

We will know how much in five months.

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