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Greens: Threshold passed

Globe and Mail Update

The Green Party has carved out a niche for itself in the political mainstream by winning more than 4 per cent of the vote nationwide.

Although the Greens did not come anywhere close to electing a member to Parliament, they managed to secure enough votes to bridge the gap between the four parties in the House of Commons and the tiny parties that occupy the fringe.

The vote tally shows that the party has scored well over the threshold needed to secure substantial funding to allow the party to build for the next election.

By scoring more than 2 per cent of the popular vote the party has put itself in line for more than $1-million in funding a year. The new funding formula is calculated by multiplying the number of votes received by $1.75.

Green Leader Jim Harris says that some of the party funding will go to hiring a permanent staff, which would give the leader a better chance of securing a seat in the House of Commons,

The Green Party has showed a mixed bag of results across the country, from 1.6 per cent in Newfoundland to 6.4 per cent in British Columbia. In Ontario, the most populous province, Green support was at about 5 per cent.

The party's nationwide average is 4.3 per cent.

Out of roughly 13 million ballots, the Greens took more than 565,000 votes. No other party without a seat in the House of Commons has secured more than 0.3 per cent of the popular vote in this election.

One independent, former Conservative Chuck Cadman, won Surrey North, the B.C. seat he has represented before. Other independents — including former Saskatchewan premier Grant Devine and expelled Conservative MP Larry Spencer — failed to win their seats.

The closest any other politicians outside the mainstream came to power was in Mississauga East-Cooksville, where Marxist-Leninist candidate Pierre Chénier led briefly early in the evening. The riding was ultimately won by Liberal Albina Guarnieri, with Mr. Chénier scoring only 0.4 per cent.

It has been an uphill struggle for the Greens. They were shut out of the two leaders' debates and have struggled to make their message heard amid the well-financed campaigns of the other parties.

The Greens have come a long way from their humble political beginnings. They made a point of running a candidate in every riding and said they would take a major step forward in winning even a single seat.

The party's star candidate, Andrew Lewis, was touted as a potential winner in Saanich-Gulf Islands but scored a fourth-place finish with less than 17 per cent of the vote.

He was philosophical after an urgent campaign that had his team working furiously until the end, but which produced a result far inferior to his 25 per cent showing in the last provincial election.

"We have to rethink our view of what winning is. We win when we introduce innovative ideas to voters. I think that's what we did in this election," Mr. Lewis said.

With a report from Canadian Press

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