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Green Party leader makes surprise, last-minute trip to back B.C. candidates

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Federal Green Party leader Annamie Paul arrived Saturday morning on a last-minute trip to British Columbia to show her support for two Green incumbents in Parliament and stump for other candidates trying to win seats on Vancouver Island.

Paul landed at Victoria International Airport amidst cheers from dozens of supporters waving Elizabeth May signs.

“Welcome, welcome to Vancouver Island,” May said after hugging Paul in the terminal.

May, the former Green Party leader, is campaigning to keep her seat in Saanich-Gulf Islands, which she handily won in 2019 with over 49 per cent of the vote.

Paul’s team didn’t release a full schedule, and it’s unclear if she plans to travel to Nanaimo-Ladysmith on Sunday to campaign for the other Green incumbent, Paul Manly.

Manly was re-elected to the seat in 2019 with 34.6 per cent of the vote, after winning it earlier that year in a byelection held after the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson stepped down.

At an afternoon news conference at Lime Bay Park, surrounded by half a dozen Green candidates, Paul called the elected Green MPs from the province “champions.”

“It was very important to us to do all we could in the last days of the campaign to come out here and support our candidates,” Paul said.

The trip is Paul’s first to the West Coast during the campaign, and only her fourth outside her Toronto riding, where she is trying to win a seat for the first time.

The latest Nanos Research polls for CTV News and the Globe & Mail show 3.9 per cent of decided voters nationally planning to vote Green, a slight drop from at the start of the campaign.

And just two per cent of decided voters nationally would select Paul as their preferred Prime Minister, behind the Bloc Quebecois and People’s Party of Canada leaders.

(The polls surveyed 1,200 voters across Canada from Sept. 15 to 17, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

Support for the Green Party in B.C., however, has held relatively steady.

“I think (Paul’s visit) sends a message to people who aren’t in British Columbia, that this is a party which is still competitive and could actually get a couple seats,” said Pollster Mario Canseco, the President of Vancouver-based Research Co.

At the news conference, Paul mentioned she was disappointed the party wasn’t running a full slate, something that Canseco said complicates its position ahead of the election. He said the party is on track for its worst showing in two decades.

“The numbers for the Greens don’t look that great provincially or federally,” Canseco said. “But if you have those two well-known candidates knocking on doors,” he said, referencing May and Manly, “they could be safe.” 

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