Local Green candidates banking on steady support in B.C., despite slight dip nationally

Cheryl Matthew, Imtiaz Popat, and Mike Simpson are all Green Party candidates campaigning to stand out in crowded Metro Vancouver ridings.

Matthew, a member of the Simpcw First Nation, who consults Indigenous communities on territorial stewardship, is running in Vancouver East, against six other candidates, including the NDP’s Jenny Kwan.

“Part of what we’re doing with the Green Party is trying to put forward solid policy, and moving the conversation,” she said.

That sentiment also rings true for Popat.

A therapeutic counsellor who identifies as Muslim, queer, and non-binary, Popat is hoping to win a seat in Vancouver Granville.

The riding could see a tight race that includes the Liberals’ Taleeb Noormohamed, Conservatives’ Kailin Che, and the NDP’s Anjali Appadurai, who previously told CTV News she was greener than “most Green Party candidates.”

“They might be running a few star green candidates, but that doesn’t make them a Green Party,” Popat said of the New Democrats

Non-profit veteran and climate advocate Mike Simpson, in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, where the Green Party candidate in 2019 had a strong third-place finish with over 22 per cent of the vote, says he’s running because he wants to send a message to Ottawa.

“Drop the politics, drop the infighting, and actually get along,” Simpson said.

“If anybody actually wants to take our (climate) policies...I couldn’t care less what the party colour is, I really couldn’t, or what the name is,” he added bluntly. “It doesn’t matter.”

The Green Party platform pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030, “with clear enforceable targets."

It's a plan which Simpson said is “locked to the science,” and which Matthew pointed out is a greater commitment than any other party.

“We’re the only party who’s committed to cancelling the TMX and other pipeline projects,” she said.

Pollsters like Mario Canseco, the president of Vancouver-based Research Co., questioned whether the Green Party might have trouble retaining some voters because nearly every other major party has also made firm climate commitments.

A recent Research Co. survey of decided B.C. voters showed support remaining steady for the Green Party in the province at seven per cent.

A Nanos Research poll conducted for CTV News and the Globe & Mail found support had inched upward during the campaign to eight per cent, while dipping nationally, from 4.3 per cent down to 3.7 per cent.

And earlier this week, former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver appeared with Justin Trudeau in Richmond to endorse the Liberals' climate plan.

“I think this could play a major roll in the way people who are environmentally conscious are going to cast their ballots,” Canseco said.

But Matthew indicated the party was also getting attention in Vancouver East for its affordability platform, including the Green’s proposal for a guaranteed livable income.

And Simpson added that voters in B.C. seem to have a better understanding that the party operates with membership-driven policies, with more emphasis placed on individual candidates.

As the two Green incumbents in B.C., Elizabeth May and Paul Manly, fight to hang onto their seats, all three candidates who spoke to CTV News urged voters not to vote strategically, but instead, to vote with their conscience.

“I think minority governments are better: it forces governments to listen,” Popat said.

“The most strategic thing that people can do right now is vote Green right now so our voice is loud and clear and influential,” Simpson said.

The Nanos survey of British Columbians conducted from Aug. 18 to 22 had 221 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The survey conducted from Sept. 10 to 14 had 300 respondents, with a margin of error of 5.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Research Co.'s survey was conducted from Sep. 11 to 13 among 1,000 adults across Canada, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.