Historic Green win in Ontario ‘humbling’ given party turmoil, says incoming MP

Kitchener-Waterloo·Audio

Mike Morrice, the incoming MP in Kitchener Centre and one of two Green Party candidates to win their seats, hopes to work with all parties following his historic win in Ontario to ensure communities are being helped.

Green candidate and incoming MP for Kitchener Centre Mike Morrice is pictured outside his campaign office in downtown Kitchener, Ont., on Tuesday afternoon.(Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

In the hours after his historic federal election win in Ontario's Kitchener Centre, Green Party candidate Mike Morrice was both exhausted and exhilarated.

"It's a bit surreal," Morrice told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo just before 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Morrice is the first Green candidate to win a federal election in Ontario, earning one of two seats for the party following Monday's vote, with former Green leader Elizabeth May winning her riding of Saanich-Gulf Island in British Columbia.

Morrice laid the groundwork for this win when he ran for the Greens in 2019, taking it from a fourth-place finish in 2015 to second place behind Liberal incumbent Raj Saini.

This year, Saini ended his campaign for re-election on Labour Day weekend following allegations of unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate comments. Saini has called the allegations "unequivocally false."

Morrice, centre, talks to volunteers in his campaign office during the 2019 campaign, when he boosted the party's profile in Kitchener Centre, taking it from a fourth-place finish in 2015 to second.(Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Morrice credited the work on the ground in 2019 and in the two years since with helping him take the riding this time around.

"There's months and months of hundreds of people putting in so much into something that, you know, we all care a lot about," Morrice said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's after getting about two hours of sleep.

"To have thousands of my neighbours that I've met and listened and spoken with over the years, to have so many folks place their trust in me and and believe that I could be a voice for them in Ottawa — it's a pretty humbling experience."

As of Tuesday afternoon, the unofficial Elections Canada results showed Morrice had won the riding with about 34 per cent of the vote, followed by Conservative candidate Mary Henein Thorn with nearly 29 per cent.

NDP candidate Beisan Zubi, who was third with 17 per cent of the vote, took to Twitter to congratulate Morrice.

"No matter who you voted for, our whole community must now come together to make sure we support the most vulnerable among us, as we face the biggest challenges we've ever seen," Zubi said. "It's on all of us to keep fighting for better."

'More grief' compared to 2019

As he knocked on doors, Morrice said, he heard concerns about long-term care, health care, affordable housing and rising rent prices, mental health supports and the climate crisis.

"So much of what I heard in 2019, I feel like for so many people in our community, those things all got worse and worse through the pandemic," he said.

"There was more grief. Everything got heightened over the last couple of years."

He said people would sometimes ask him: What can you promise me?

"I can promise to continue to listen. I can promise to to be respectful even when, and maybe particularly so, we might not always agree," he said.

"I feel like for so many in our community, the benchmark of the bar is pretty low."

What's next for Green Party?

Morrice and May will be the only two Green Party members in Parliament after Canadians re-elected another Liberal minority government. Green Leader Annamie Paul failed to win her seat in Toronto Centre, finishing fourth to Liberal incumbent Marci Ien.

Morrice said turmoil in his party had a lot of people on the campaign trail voicing concerns and asking why they should still support the Greens.

"It was a distraction and a disappointment," Morrice said in an interview with CBC Radio's Tuesday morning

Tamara Small, a University of Guelph political science professor, said the Greens suffered from "self-inflicted wounds" in this election, but Morrice's win was a bright spot for the party.

"It's both a positive outcome, maintaining two seats, picking up this interesting seat in Kitchener, maintaining Elizabeth May's seat, but also, the party has been damaged in a number of ways going forward, and it will be interesting to see how Annamie Paul is able to maintain — if she's able to maintain — the leadership of that party," Small told .

But Morrice said what he's inspired by is that even knowing the internal strife of the party, voters chose him.

Morrice was joined at a Kitchener pub by his parents, friends and supporters to celebrate Monday's victory, which he called 'quite humbling.' (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"We had to have a good conversation about what transpired and what that meant in terms of if they were to support me," Morrice told CBC K-W.

"I was glad to continue to run with the Greens knowing that this is the party that gives me the best chance of holding on to my integrity while seeking public office."

He said now it's time for the minority Liberal government to work with the other parties to ensure work gets done in Ottawa.

Morrice wants to see fellow MPs "who are willing to focus on that more respectful approach of getting things done together, turning down all that partisanship," he said.

"That focus on … representing each community well and doing so across party lines, I think that's a big part of the future of the party," he said in an interview on CBC Toronto's on Tuesday.

He noted that May and Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner have become known for trying to work with others on a federal and provincial level.

"I hope it might inspire others — I don't care what party they're with — but for all of us to have that focus on actually making progress working across party lines."

With files from Kate Bueckert

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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