Alas, the Green Party didn’t pick any seats up in the Nov 26 Canadian federal by-elections. While their strong showings probably count as a real moral victory, I imagine at this stage they’d prefer amoral, real victories. ;) As it turns out, Parliament’s composition is unchanged, “while my green heart gently weeps”. Despite donating to the Official Opposition (whomever it’s been) since 2008, I have a soft spot for the plucky upstarts.
Chris Turner got 25% of the vote in the Calgary Centre riding; which, according to a Globe & Mail commentary from Canadian polling blog threehundredeight, could mean that he pulled a lot of the “Red Tory” voters. Since probably only 1-2% of Canadians are dues-paying members of political parties (see p16 of this report), some of this blog’s other readers might not be up to speed, so I’ll attempt to summarize for their sake. :)
After years in the political wilderness first as an Opposition member and then as a lobbyist, current PM Stephen Harper succeeded in uniting far-right-wing (by Canadian standards) Alliance party with right-wing (by Canadian standards) Progressive Conservative party. And promptly positioned the new Conservative Party considerably to the right of the old Progressive Conservatives.
In the recent provincial elections in Alberta, the federal Conservatives openly supported the far-right (by Canadian standards) Wildrose Party, infuriating many Albertans who vote Conservative federally, but vote Progressive Conservative, provincially. These folks are called “Red Tories” because they’re on the progressive side of the conservative spectrum, and globally, red tends to be the colour of progressive parties, and blue is the colour of conservative parties.
The main exception is the US, where the red party — the Republicans — are the conservatives. (And wow, are they ever!) This is because they actually used to be the progressives, and the Democrats used to be the conservatives, with a hammerlock on the white vote in the southern US. This all changed in the 1960’s when the Democratic Party embraced the Civil Rights movement. The Republicans went after the white southerner vote, which is why the US has a progressive (by American standards) “Blue” Party and a conservative (by any standard) “Red” Party.
But back to Alberta, these so-called “Red Tories” appear to have defected en masse to the Green Party in this byelection, in displeasure at the Conservatives’ “as-right-wing-as-the-Wildrose-Party” candidate.