GUELPH – The same pollster that estimated the Green Party was just mere percentage points off the Liberals in Guelph predicted this week that a New Democratic Party-Green alliance could potentially hold the balance of power to form a minority federal government.
Philippe J. Fournier, who runs 338Canada, wrote in Maclean’s Magazine on Sunday that what he dubbed the “Green Democrats” would receive an average support of just under 27 per cent — roughly the combined support of the two parties that he said would likely remain.
“The Green Democrats would still likely fall in third place behind the Conservatives and Liberals, but the race at the top would become far more competitive,” Fournier explained, writing that the seat projection would be more than twice the current seat projections of the parties combined at 59.
“What is perhaps more striking is that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals stand at an average above the 170-seat threshold for a majority at the House of Commons,” he continued, adding that more than 80 per cent of 338Canada simulations found the model resulted in a minority Green Democrat government.
The seat projection probability density outlined by Fournier — essentially the likelihood of the Green Democrats winning — sits at 58.6 seats but his graphics show clinching 70, even 80, seats is not out of reach.
The New Democrats and Greens, as it stands now, are not projected to clinch any seats in the Atlantic provinces despite the Greens nearly winning Prince Edward Island earlier this month. But Fournier said the Green Democrats could win an average of 4.4 seats.
The New Democrats came down hard after having 59 seats in Quebec in 2011 and 16 in 2015, projected only to hold onto one seat this fall and the Greens have never been competitive in the majority-francophone province. The Green Democrats could win just over nine seats.
Fournier says that the Green Democrats could take several seats in Ontario as a team, including Guelph. The city would be a clear win with the New Democrats and Greens together claiming over 50 per cent of the vote in polling.
The Guelph Post has reached out for comment from Steve Dyck and the New Democrats, who are expected to select a candidate come June. Neither party in Guelph has ever indicated that they are seeking a merger and the Greens handily out-paced the NDP in the Royal City for the historic provincial election last year.
338Canada reported last week that the Greens were only 2 per cent behind the Liberals in Guelph, considered a stronghold for the ruling party. Lloyd Longfield will be running for re-election and will face stiff competition from Greens, New Democrats and likely also a Conservative Party candidate come fall.
Out west, only in British Columbia would the two parties combine grow their seat count and actually go from a distant third and fourth place to potentially clear winners.
Fournier concludes his argument by saying that the New Democrats and Greens have a lot in common: Pro-environment policies, halt off-shore tax havens and bring about electoral reform.
“Some will say such fictional exercises are useless because a hypothetical merger between those parties would completely change the political landscape in Canada,” the pollster writes.
“Yes, it would, but it doesn’t make this hypothetical scenario futile. We have witnessed recent examples of successful party mergers in Canada. Jason Kenney will soon be sworn in as Alberta premier under the United Conservative banner.“
Fournier also cited the 2003 merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance that shot Stephen Harper into the Prime Minister’s Office in 2006 for a nine-year reign with majority status for part of it.
Small parties generally have a hard time in first-past-the-post systems such as the one used by Canada, the pollster writes in his hypothetical analysis.
“But to change the system, you first have to beat the system. And in doing so, a little math and politics-fiction can’t hurt. It all starts with a little imagination.“
Local reactionSteve Dyck, the recently nominated Green candidate for Guelph, notes that the election is “several months away and told The Guelph Post “the most important poll happens on election day”, emphasizing that voters want “thoughtful answers to the challenging problems Canada is facing”.
“The Greens offer hope and a responsible way forward. Working with other parties and MPs is core to my commitment of making every vote count,” Dyck continued, neither confirming nor denying that he would create a coalition with the New Democrats for the balance of power.
NDP executive Tim Matthewson made it clear that his party would not join a coalition with the Greens, pointing out similarities on the environment but major differences on workers’ rights and economics, where he said the Greens are closer to the Conservatives.
“We are an unapologetically left-wing party that believes in social justice,” he emphasized, adding that “the Greens are not, and have never claimed to be, a left-wing party.”
“If people want a party that is committed to environmental issues and social justice, they already have that option: the NDP,” Matthewson said. The Guelph New Democrats plan to nominate a candidate in the coming months.
Image of NDP and Green logos.