The Green Party of Nova Scotia officially called it quits on Tuesday, saying that “a political party cannot exist without an active membership.”

In a heartfelt statement posted on the party’s website, interim leader Brynn Nheiley called it a sad day, and that “with no one having stayed the course, or stepped forward for the Leadership of the Party, we are no longer able to function.”

An era has passed, Nheiley wrote, thanking the executive past and present for building the party from the ground up. The Nova Scotia Greens have been an official party since April 2006, fielding 52 candidates in both the 2006 and 2009 provincial elections, and 16 in the 2013 elections.

"Please recognize the contribution that our Party has made over the past decade," she implored Greens across Canada and the voting public. "We have been a crucial participant in conversations about full-cost accounting, guaranteed annual income, and building a fair and sustainable future."

Nheiley did not return National Observer’s calls for comment on the closure, but Aspen ApGaia, the party’s policy convener, explained that the party was unable to acquire enough members to keep it alive. He didn’t know how many paid members the party had, but noted that only one or two individuals would show up and participate in meetings.

“I don’t know if it’s a perception that we weren’t getting things done," he told National Observer. “Whatever the case, this didn’t seem to be the vehicle in which people were dedicating their energy.”

Demise of the Nova Scotia Greens "lamentable"

The party's folding was marked by other politicians and academics across the province, notably Gary Burrill, head of the Nova Scotia NDP. He called the Greens' demise a significant and lamentable change to the province's political scene.

“We need a diversity of voices to have a vital political culture,” he explained, adding that the NDP takes environmental justice seriously. He noted in the last session of the legislature, the party introduced an environmental bill of rights.

“There is no need for supporters of the Green Party to find themselves without a political home," he said.

Louise Carbert, an associate professor of political science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, also chimed in, pointing out that Nova Scotia is a small province with a population of just under one million people, but has 51 seats to fill in the provincial legislature. Within that context, she suggested it is difficult enough to maintain a three-party system, much less support a fourth.

“There are simply too few people to operate another competitive party,” she told National Observer.

And while Nheiley touted her party's contributions during its decade in politics, Carbert unfortunately begged to differ. She doesn't believe the Greens were able to make much of an impression in Nova Scotia, citing a reluctance for the major parties to take opposing positions on environmental policy issues, such as fracking and aquaculture.

A question of impact

“Environmental conflicts are not front and centre in the legislature and all the parties appear to agree with each other, so it’s difficult for the Greens to insert themselves into the political scene," she explained.

Halifax’s Ecology Action Centre was more effective than the Greens in championing environmental issues anyway, she added, noting that it carries greater credibility and legitimacy among legislators and policy makers.

Indeed, despite a fiery passion for a "healthy environment, conservative use of our natural resources, thriving communities, and a sustainable economy," as its website states, the reality is that the party never gained a seat in the Nova Scotia legislature. They generally fared poorly in the elections, attracting less than three per cent of the vote.

But provincial Greens across the country have not fared much better, with provinces electing one candidate in some and zero candidates in others. Some chapters however, such as in British Columbia, have fielded effective candidates such as Andrew Weaver, who is skilled at keeping the issues in front of both the legislature and the media.

Waiting for another to pick up the torch

In Nova Scotia however, the party will now have a meeting to wind down its affairs with members who have already paid for the fiscal year.

"We will do our best to reimburse you for our inability to deliver the thriving party which you paid for with your hard earned dollars,” Nheiley wrote, acknowledging her own role in the party's failure.

"While several people have come forward to aid the Party I was not able successfully harness this new energy and these new ideas, nor did I effectively reach out and communicate with those who have always supported the ideals of our Party. I’m sorry for not showing the best of what we are."

But the party's guiding documents, she added, will continue to be publicly available, waiting for another to pick up the torch and carry the Nova Scotia Green Party into the future.

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