Public Opinion

Do voters want a breath of fresh Green air?

The Globe and Mail

Elizabeth May poses for a photo during the Green Party's convention in Toronto on Aug. 22, 2010. (JENNIFER ROBERTS/Jennifer Roberts for The Globe and Mail)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's unscientific view of her party's recent climb in the opinion polls is that Canadians are "turned off by old style politics."

"I keep hearing the same phrase from people who stop me on the street or in airports to say they support us - 'breath of fresh air'," she told The Globe, reacting to a new Angus Reid poll. "I think that means they find the stale air of mainstream hyper-partisan politics unpleasant."

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The poll, which was conducted this week, shows Ms. May's party has climbed four points, to 11 per cent national support, since the 2008 election. It has the Harper Conservatives at 34 per cent compared to 26 per cent for the Liberals. The NDP is at 18 per cent.

Angus Reid pollster Jaideep Mukerji attributes the Green growth, in part, to the fact that Canadians are "parking their votes" with the party. "There hasn't been a corresponding rise in concerns about the environment to suggest to me that Canadians are turning to the Greens for policy reasons," he said.

Ms. May - not surprisingly - doesn't agree.

"I think the surge in Green support is partly disgust with the current state of politics, but it is more than 'parking' and more than a protest vote," she said. "Canadians are increasingly really excited about how it would improve Parliament to elect Greens."

Last week, Ipsos Reid released a poll that showed the Greens and the NDP tied at 12 per cent support nationally. The firm suggested in its analysis that the NDP squeeze was a result of Jack Layton's refusal to demand his MPs support the long-gun registry.

And a poll commissioned by the Green Party last month has Ms. May competitive in the British Columbia riding in which she has chosen to run against Gary Lunn, the sports minister, in the next election. Mr. Lunn has 34 per cent support compared to 32 per cent for Ms. May, according to the telephone poll by McAllister Opinion Research in Vancouver.

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