Walton gains subtle victory for Greens

Green Party breaks ‘critical threshold’ of 10 per cent of the vote by 0.97 per cent

Green Party candidate Eric Walton says strategic voting hurt both his candidacy and the Green Party as a whole during the election.
Green Party candidate Eric Walton says strategic voting hurt both his candidacy and the Green Party as a whole during the election.

Green Party candidate Eric Walton couldn’t pull off a win in Tuesday’s election but he still made a significant gain. Walton finished with 10.97 per cent of the vote, past the 10 per cent threshold he needed to reach to have 60 per cent of his campaign expenses reimbursed by the government.

Walton said breaking that barrier was a tremendous achievement for him.

“I’ll definitely see that as a victory,” he said. “That’s really a critical threshold.”

Walton said not receiving funding before this election handicapped his campaign to a degree.

“The budget for a fully-funded campaign is around $90,000,” he said. “We’re around maybe a quarter of that. … We are at a big disadvantage because of that.”

In the 2006 federal election, Walton earned eight per cent of the vote.

He said the Green Party would have gone on in Kingston even if they hadn’t cracked the 10 per cent barrier, but reaching that level will make preparing for the next campaign much easier, especially if another election is called quickly.

“It would be harder to re-mobilize, especially on a short time frame,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time to rebuild that reserve and we’re still a young party.”

Walton said strategic voting likely hurt both his candidacy and the Green Party as a whole during this election.

“We’ve always felt we’ve maybe lost one third of our votes to strategic voting,” he said.

On the national scene, Walton said, he was disappointed Green Party leader Elizabeth May lost her bid to unseat Defence Minister Peter McKay in the Central Nova riding in Nova Scotia, but the party didn’t expect her to win.

“We knew it was going to be a long shot,” he said. “The reality is she really needs to be in Parliament. She would add so much to the debate.”

Walton said the Queen’s Greens club played an important role in his campaign and he envisions future efforts to increase student voter turnout and student support for his party.

“To have a presence on campus really makes a difference,” he said. “Queen’s is an area for us to really develop a higher profile.”

Emma Daughton, ConEd ’11 and co-chair of Queen’s Greens, was a parachute candidate for the Green Party in her home riding of Cardigan, Prince Edward Island. Although never present in her home riding during the fall campaign—opting instead to assume the position of office manager in Walton’s headquarters—Daughton garnered 3.7 per cent of her hometown vote, almost quadrupling the Greens’ performance in 2006.

She attributes part of Walton’s campaign success to clear campaigning directed at students.

“We’ve been trying to reach everyone [at Queen’s] in some way and make sure we were present,” she said. “We are determined to make education accessible, possible and affordable. We have the best policy for students, absolutely.”

The Queen’s Greens saw an increased student presence in the voting booth this election, Daughton said.

“The number of students turning out to vote—from Victoria Hall to St. James—was, from what we could see, great,” she said. “The tone is that more students are voting.” But, despite being actively involved in the Green Party, Daughton said partisan politics are far from her ambitions.

“We want people to understand Green policy but, more importantly, be engaged in whatever way works for them. There’s a greater movement and more engagement. We want civil literacy to sky-rocket."

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