Opinion: The surging Greens did their best to entice Jody Wilson-Raybould.At the height of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould was arguably the most high-profile politician in Canada.Now that she’s decided to seek re-election as an Independent, she risks becoming a number — just pick a random one between one and 338. That’s how many MPs are in the House of Commons. Wilson-Raybould could end up as just another face in the crowd, and that’s assuming she gets re-elected in the fall.Independent candidates are usually losing candidates. Why would Wilson-Raybould choose this route back to Ottawa, rather than joining another party like the surging Greens? I suspect the former Liberal MP and her supporters figure she has enough local support to win without a party label. Maybe it will help bring along some wavering Liberal voters, who might be willing to support her as an Independent, but not a Green.But what happens if she pulls it off and becomes an Independent MP? It will mean much-less profile and clout, with no staff, no research budget and none of the built-in support that comes from a party machine.Green party Leader Elizabeth May undoubtedly pointed out these downsides to her, but to no avail. The Greens courted Wilson-Raybould heavily. They also reached out to Jane Philpott, another ex-Liberal who quit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and who also announced Monday she will seek re-election as an Independent.
Jody Wilson-Raybould announces that she will seek re-election as an independent candidate in Vancouver on May 27, 2019.
NICK PROCAYLO /
It’s a big disappointment for May and her Green party, who have been on a roll. The Greens won the recent Nanaimo byelection, and were poised to double their strength on Parliament Hill if they had persuaded Wilson-Raybould and Philpott to join them.Instead, the double decision by Wilson-Raybould and Philpott could end up hurting the Greens and the Liberals, while indirectly helping Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives. The Tories finished third in Vancouver Granville, well behind Wilson-Raybould’s victorious Liberals. But if Wilson-Raybould steals away enough Liberal votes, the Conservatives could sneak up the middle and win in October.The math looks even better for the Tories in Markham-Stouffville, Philpott’s riding in Ontario. Philpott won there in 2015, but the Conservatives were a pretty close second. If Philpott splits the Liberal vote in the fall, it would clearly be to the benefit of Scheer’s Tories.Were does all this leave Trudeau? It leaves him down a couple of key MPs with his opponents breathing down his neck as his approval ratings continue to slide. Trudeau just lost another B.C. Liberal candidate in Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, who announced she won’t seek re-election in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country. That seat, which includes Whistler and Squamish, is another one where the Greens are hoping to make gains.The only good news for Trudeau lately is the continuing bad performance by Jagmeet Singh, the struggling NDP leader. Singh’s recent troubles include refusing to say whether he still supports LNG Canada, the biggest private-sector project in B.C. and Canadian history. That’s a gift for Trudeau, who will beat the drum loudly in support of the project as he looks to rebound from his own recent stumbles.As for Wilson-Raybould, I give her an excellent chance to win in October as an Independent.By the way, by declining to join another party she also leaves herself an easier path to possibly rejoin the Liberals later, when recently opened wounds have had a chance to firstname.lastname@example.org/MikeSmythNews