Canada Greens pin hopes on rivals' promises of electoral reform

Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:04am EDT
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By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Green Party, which is in fifth place behind the separatist Bloc Quebecois in Canada's closely fought election, is banking on its rivals' promises of electoral reform to help boost its showings in future elections.

Led by Elizabeth May, a fiery lawyer and vocal opponent of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Green Party has in recent years broadened its message from a single issue - the environment - into what it believes is a viable alternative for progressive voters.

This has helped boost its support, but with its supporters spread unevenly across the country, Green candidates are projected to take just one seat in Canada's competitive first-past-the-post system.

This has the Greens hoping that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair will stick with their early promises of reforming Canada's electoral system, if vaulted to power in Monday's vote.

"We have to get rid of first-past-the-post," said May, 61, last week. "I've heard both Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair say it, and with Green MPs in parliament, we'll hold them to their word."

Canada's current electoral system allows a party to win a majority government with less than 40 percent of the vote.

Current front-runner Trudeau has promised to study alternatives and introduce reform legislation within the first 18 months of his term.

Mulcair has backed a mixed-member proportional system, where each voter would cast two ballots - one for a local representative and one for the preferred party.   Continued...

Elizabeth May gestures as she takes part in the French-language debate in Montreal September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Adrian Wyld/Pool