Growth gives P.E.I. Green Party hope for a harvest in 2019 election

Originally published in the Guardian by Mitch MacDonald, June 11, 2017:

Anna__Peter__Jordan_M_at_Spring_Conference_2017_-_Guardian.jpgThe Green Party of P.E.I. was busy planting some seeds of support this weekend with hopes of a big harvest during a 2019 provincial election.

Creating district associations, growing grassroots support and preparing to campaign were some of the topics party members focused on during a spring conference in Emerald this weekend.

Party president Anna Keenan said the conference’s goal was to put down roots for future success and build on the party’s recent surge in support.

“The challenge for us is to make sure the growth we’re currently experiencing isn’t a boom and bust. We don’t want to be a flash in the pan so we’re trying to grow gradually and sustainably in line with our values,” said Keenan, noting the goal is to eventually form a Green government in P.E.I. “We have no illusions about how hard that would be to achieve but we’re hearing from more Islanders that is something they like to dream about.”

Keenan said the party has grown in membership and pointed towards leader Peter Bevan-Baker’s popularity.

The past two CRA polls have shown that Bevan-Baker, the first green MLA elected to P.E.I.’s legislature, is currently the most popular leader in P.E.I. with 37 per cent. Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s personal popularity currently sits at 24 per cent.

The party has also seen its popularity grow in other provinces, with three Green MLAs holding the balance of power in B.C. following last month’s election.

P.E.I. member Jordan Bober has seen how party’s growth has translated into seats in other provinces.

Bober previously lived in B.C. for about nine years and was involved with the provincial party, and federal Green Party, before moving to P.E.I. a year ago.

He was optimistic about the party’s future on P.E.I. and said the trajectory of growth in the province has exceeded that of the B.C. party.

“I’m quite new here but even the growth I’ve seen over the last year in terms of the Green Party, our capacity and volunteers has been phenomenal,” said Bober. “There’s a strong upwards trend, we know if we put in the groundwork in forming the district associations, attracting more volunteers and upping our fundraising, there’s no reason we can’t elect a handful of Green MLAs.”

The conference also had a theme of “doing politics differently.”

“We want to bring integrity and honesty back to politics and make sure it’s something people can believe in,” said Keenan. “Politics and government is meant to make people’s lives better, not more difficult.”

Although a number of individuals have expressed desire to run for the party, Keenan said they’ll be decided through a grassroots nomination process.

“We’re not going to be deciding them from the top-down or picking candidates at this early stage before we really build the grassroots infrastructure,” said Keenan, adding that it will likely be in the fall or winter before the party starts the nomination process.