Photo: Green Party of Alberta leadership candidates Grant Neufeld, Romy Tittel, Marco Reid, Brian Deheer and James Friesen.
While the Green Party has succeeded in electing MLAs in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as MP Elizabeth May to the House of Commons, the party remains below the radar for most Albertans.
Five Albertans seeking to lead our province’s Green Party are hoping to change that.
Grant Neufeld, Romy Tittel, Marco Reid, James Friesen and Brian Deheer have submitted their applications to run in the race to replace Janet Keeping, who has led the party since 2012 and announced earlier this year that she would step down. Members will select a new leader at the party’s annual general meeting in Red Deer on November 4, 2017. According to the party website, members can either vote in person at the AGM or cast their ballots online.
The party is far from the mainstream of Alberta politics on issues like the construction of oil pipelines, but it could be position to gain the votes of some environmentalist New Democrat voters dissatisfied with the Notley Government’s avid pro-pipeline advocacy and working relationship with energy industry leaders.
Somewhat ironically, a book published by former Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft, Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa, could provide a savvy Green Party leader with the manifesto required to carve a small beachhead in Alberta’s political discourse.
No one expects the Greens to form government, and their potential for electing their first Alberta MLA appears to be slim, but the lack of high-stakes puts the Greens in a position to talk about certain issues – especially around the environment and development – that the mainstream parties will not touch.
The party ran candidates in 24 constituencies in the 2015 election and earned a total 7,321 votes across the province. Leadership candidate Brian Deheer had the party’s strongest showing in the last election in Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, where he earned 2.8 percent of the vote.
More recently, Keeping earned 2.9 percent in the 2015 Calgary-Foothills by-election and Thana Boonlert earned 2 percent of the vote in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway by-election.
The Green Party’s best ever showing in a provincial election took place in 2008, when the party earned 43,222 votes, or 4.5 percent of the province-wide vote. In that election, property rights activist Joe Anglin earned 22 percent of the vote in the Lacombe-Ponoka constituency. Anglin led the party for a short period until it was dissolved in 2009 (it reformed in 2011) and was later elected as a Wildrose candidate in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, where he served as MLA until 2015.
The Green Party published a list of questions and answers posed to each of the five candidates: