Green Pary won't be running full slate of candidates in northern Ontario
Voters in northern Ontario may find they're missing a major political party from their ballot when they go to the polls on Sept. 20.
The official list of candidates has been published by Elections Canada and the Green Party is missing from three of seven northeastern Ontario ridings.
That means there will be no candidate in Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins-James Bay and Nipissing-Timiskaming (North Bay).
"There's been a bit of a mess inside the party," said Sudbury candidate David Robinson. "Look, we're in the process of building a national party from what was a group of very, very foresighted people who saw what was coming.
"And so you can see it as a kind of sect or cult at one point of very smart people with a scientific background and a commitment to the environment wanting to build a national party."
Robinson said the party is at 3-8 per cent in the polls, depending on what you're looking at, which he said should be seen as a tremendous accomplishment.
"And when you're building something, you get into choppy waters to make the transitions and now suddenly you have people coming in from the NDP, you have people come in from the Liberals, we have people arguing about the vision of the party again and that's wonderful, but it's caused some confusion inside and not everyone's happy with how our new leadership happened," he said.
Robinson is the official candidate for the riding of Sudbury and this will be his fourth campaign.
He said distractions facing the Greens right now are common and one of those things that will pass. He said it's nothing serious and that it made headlines only because it was a "slow news day."
An economist, he was one of the dozens of professors laid off earlier this year by Laurentian University after the school sought creditor protection.
He doesn't expect to win the seat, but told CTV News if he can even increase his vote total by two per cent, those are margins that help drive discussion and the agenda of backroom staffers.
He said voters should not be deterred from voting Green, since the values of the party have not changed.
"A vote for the Green Party anywhere in the country is a message -- it's the only clear message a voter can give," Robinson said. "If you vote for a shopping cart are you voting for the milk or the eggs? If you vote for the Greens, you're voting for climate action."
"If you look at how the Greens have performed over the last number of election cycles, I would say that I'm quite surprised," said Nipissing University political scientist David Tabachnick.
Tabachnick said the party appeared to be gaining momentum and in the last election were able to elect three Green Party members to Parliament.
"In all likelihood because of some of the infighting that has gone on within the party, this has trickled down to the riding associations and maybe deterred some good candidates from putting their name forward," he said.
With more and more Green policies coming out of big cities and with candidates missing in North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins, Tabachnick said this is a missed opportunity for the party.
"Here we have the electorate kind of coming around to what the Greens have been preaching for 25 years or more and their presence is far diminished because of party organizers and issues," he said.
It's hard to say who will benefit from their absence, although Tabachnick predicts it may end up being the New Democrats.
Timmins-James Bay New Democrat candidate Charlie Angus tweeted after learning the news of his own riding his thoughts.
"The Green Party candidate in Timmins-James Bay has withdrawn his name. This is unfortunate. Democracy is about choices and this is the first time the Greens will not be contesting the TJB riding," Angus tweeted.
CTV News has also reached out to the Green Party and the riding associations in Sault. Ste. Marie and North Bay for comment.
The Timmins-James Bay EDA has an email address at the national office and the former contact through Sault Ste. Marie said their association dissolved and referred CTV to the national office.
A recent Canadian Press article determined the Green Party would be about 100 candidates short of a full slate.