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Strategic vote dashes Green dream

If not for strategic voting, the election night story might have been different for the provincial Green Party.
“The biggest challenge we faced was that strategic voting really brought our results down,” said party leader and Guelph candidate Mike Schreiner following the June 12 election.
When the polls were all counted, Schreiner was in third place. According to Elections Ontario unofficial results, he finished about 1,000 votes behind Progressive Conservative candidate Anthony MacDonald.
The result didn’t come as a complete surprise to Schreiner, who got some hint as to the final outcome as he was canvassing in Guelph.
“I can’t tell you how many people said, ‘I want to vote Green, but I’m going to vote Liberal to stop Tim Hudak.’”
Being left out of the televised leadership debate “certainly hurt us as well,” but not as much as strategic voting, he said.
Polls had shown Green support increasing prior to the debates, but that support dropped off significantly afterwards, he said.
But it was fear of the PC plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs that drove people to vote for the Liberals in order to keep the PCs out of power, Schreiner said.
“They didn’t want to see Ontario take a hard right turn,” he said.
Kathy Acheson, provincial campaign manager for the Greens, agreed.
“Strategic voting is a huge challenge for us in the Green Party,” she said. “Our voters go to the poll and they’re terrified of a Hudak victory.”
The party fought back with its own strategy – having its leader run in a riding with strong green sympathies, and focusing party resources on that riding.
“Focusing on what we think is the greenest riding in Ontario is the best thing we can do,” said Acheson.
The party’s election night celebration, held at the Red Chevron Club on Elizabeth Street, highlighted the extra focus the Guelph riding was getting. Green Party candidates from neighbouring areas – including Hamilton, Cambridge, Kitchener and Mississauga – had chosen to forgo their own local events in favour of joining the party in Guelph.
“We wanted to support our leader,” explained Hamilton Centre candidate Peter Ormand, who brought several supporters with him to join in the Guelph celebration.
The group brought strawberry plants to give away – something that they had done instead of handing out campaign literature.
Supporters seemed undaunted by the fact that the party came away with no seats. Instead, they were pleased to have made inroads.
“You don’t fight the fights you know you can win; you fight the fights that are worth fighting,” said party supporter Michael Nabert.
As results continued to be tabulated and projected, Acheson highlighted what the Greens had gained. “We have increased our vote provincewide by more than 50 per cent.”
“The message we had around honesty and integrity really resonated,” he said. “We got a really good response on the street.”
It’s too bad not to get a seat, but the fight is not over, Higgins said.

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