Canada’s first Green caucus isn’t where and when you think

Much has been made about how the three BC Green MLAs elected in the May 2017 Provincial Election re Canada’s first Green caucus. But that’s not actually true. It is true that they’re Canada’s first Green caucus elected under first-past-the-post… in fact, they’re the first Green caucus elected anywhere in the world under first-past-the-post, a monumental achievement given how terribly difficult it is for third-parties to succeed under that terribly unfair and unrepresentative electoral system.

But if we expand the definition to include anyone elected anywhere in Canada under any electoral system, we see a different story. In the October 2014 local government election, the Green Party of Vancouver contested seven seats across and won four of them. This election, like all local government elections in British Columbia where two or more people are elected to the same body, was held under the “at large” system where each voter gets as many votes as there are people to be elected. They elected one city councillor, one member to the Vancouver School Board, and two members to the Vancouver Parks Board. That’s definitely a caucus of two on the Parks Board, and arguably a caucus of four across the Vancouver city government. Surely that’s Canada’s first elected Green caucus, right?

No, we have to cast our eyes even further back, to 2008 to be precise. The Green Party of Victoria ran two candidates and they both won seats on Victoria’s 8 seat city council, marking the first time in Canadian history that two or more people listed on the ballot as Green Party candidates won election in the same jurisdiction.

This was following the 2005 election where the Green Party of Victoria elected a single city councillor. It’s also worth noting that the Green Party of Vancouver elected a school board trustee in 2002. So BC’s history with electing Greens runs further back than most people know.

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