Former Green Party candidate Byron Tenkink still likes a lot of what his old party stands for, but said he also has to be realistic.
Tenkink, an organic farmer and small business owner, ran as the Green Party’s nominee in the riding of Prince Albert during the 2015 federal election. This year, however, he said it’s a two-horse race between the Liberals and Conservatives. For that reason, he’s decided to endorse Liberal candidate Estelle Hjertaas for MP.
“The election in 2015 was very interesting for me,” Tenkink said during an interview on Monday. “It was a great learning experience. I got to poke under the hood at how elections are run in this country and I got to learn a lot. Also, most crucially, we (the Green Party) lost. We lost badly, and this election, looking at the political reality, at how things are, in order to be able to get what is needed we basically have to focus on the top two candidates.”
The NDP finished second in Prince Albert last election, well ahead of the third place Liberals. Tenkink said he really admired the work of the 2015 NDP nominee, Lon Borgerson. However, this year he thinks the Liberals have a better chance of unseating incumbent Conservative MP Randy Hoback and forming the next government.
“It’s very much a two-party race,” Tenkink said. “Anything beyond those two parties is really splitting the opposition. Personally, I think there’s just too much at stake right now.”
“In a perfect world, the Green Party would still be my choice, but the Liberals have at least extended the olive branch,” he added. “They’re not completely beholden to the oil and gas industry. They’ve actually put through a carbon tax, which I think is very good, and they’re passing those taxes on to the people who need it most.”
Beyond environmental policy, Tenkink said he’s very impressed with Hjertaas’ candidacy. He first met her in 2017, when they both campaigned to have the City of Prince Albert stop using pesticides to kill weeds, and said he’s impressed by her drive and passion. He also likes other Liberal policies, like their decision to expand the Child Tax Benefit.
However, it all comes back to environmental policies, and until Canada moves away from the current electoral system, Tenkink said it makes sense to support the Liberals.
“I think everybody needs to be realistic about what’s at stake,” he said. “Not to badmouth all the myriad of parties that are going to be in this next election, but until we get around first-past-the-post, we really need to focus on the top two.”
Tenkink finished in fourth place in the electoral district of Prince Albert with 1.9 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives won with 49.8 per cent, while the NDP finished second with 28.5 per cent, and the Liberals came third with 19.8 per cent.
An interview with current Green Party candidate Miranda Friske will be in the Friday edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.