With a provincial election nine months away, the local Green Party is getting ready to take on the NDP to pull left-leaning voters over to its camp.
“We’re going to give [Nelson-Creston MLA] Michelle Mungall a run for her money,” said Nelson-Creston Green Party Constituency Association spokesperson Sjeng Derkx.
He believes widespread opposition to the Jumbo Glacier Resort and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline prove that voters are concerned about the environment and will support a party that will stand up against these issues and others, such as fracking in the province and Kinder Morgan’s quiet pursuit of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.
“People are under the mistaken understanding that the NDP is a semi-environmental party, but it’s not,” said Derkx. “Before the next election, we’re going to be talking a lot about that.”
In a province-wide Angus Reid public opinion poll released earlier this month, 49 per cent of decided or leaning voters said they favoured the BC NDP, while 22 per cent would vote BC Liberal, 19 per cent BC Conservatives and nine per cent supported the Green Party.
Derkx said though the Greens won’t form government, getting even one Green MLA in the BC legislature will make a difference.
“Just look at Elizabeth May,” Derkx said. “She’s such an inspiration, I think everybody can see now how important it is that we do get a Green voice in the BC legislature.”
The last time Nelson-Creston had a strong Green candidate on the provincial ballot was in 2001, when Colleen McCrory pulled 21.5 per cent of the vote. In 2005 local Greens collected 15 per cent of the vote, and 7.2 per cent in 2009.
“We’ve been working hard to rebuild out membership since 2009,” Derkx said. “There’s a lot of new people and new energy.”
On August 19, the Green Party Constituency Association will hold its annual general meeting and announce its unofficial Nelson-Creston candidate for the May 14 election. The person — who will remain a secret until the event — still needs to be supported at a nomination meeting and vetted by party officials.
Derkx said they want to get an early start on campaigning, as well as selling Green Party memberships.
The AGM will run 3 to 5 p.m. at the Rotary shelter in Lakeside Park, and will include presentations from Michael Jessen, BC Green Party energy critic, who will speak about the Enbridge pipeline, and Kim Kratkyof of Jumbo Wild, who will give an update on the ski resort development proposed for Jumbo pass. Nelson councillor and Green party member Candace Batycki will also speak, and there will be music by Oscar Derkx and Malaika Horswill, who recently directed a youth performance of The Pajama Game.