Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Green Party of Canada Leadership

I have a soft spot for Green parties, but often find most of the active members politically amateurish and dogmatic.   I am still a fan of Jim Harris and I remained impressed with the work he did to put the party on the federal scene with no resources at all.

Now we have a Federal Green Party in turmoil, I was alerted to this by Greg Morrow on his blog, I had not been paying much attention.  Among other things, the Federal Green Party may or may not be holding a leadership race, the rules call for a review this year, but the party leadership seems to be opposed to the idea.  The party council seems to have ditched the leadership review months ago, but there is someone challenging Elizabeth May for the leadership - Sylvie Lemieux.

The argument they are using for not holding a review is that with a minority parliament there could be an election at any time and they might be caught without a leader.   I think they only need to look back to the 1980 federal election that the Liberals went into without a leader and simply kept the old one and he won a majority.

The arguments for not having a review are draconian and undemocratic.   The Greens are supposed to be something different, tight control by a small central group is hardly the way to build a strong and different political party.

Elizabeth May has managed to get a lot of media exposure for the party, but she has not been able to build the party, she has not managed to really get the fundraising going or build the member numbers.   The hard work by Jim Harris could easily be lost if the party does not build on his work.

Elizabeth May has made some dubious personal political decisions, running in Central Nova was hubris and doomed to failure.    Her decision to parachute into Saanich Gulf Islands to try and win there indicates to me that she does not understand electoral demographics.   The riding is simply too far to the right to allow for enough support for her to win.   Even a strong Liberal candidate last time and the withdrawal of the New Democrat were not enough to defeat Gary Lunn.  The reality is that there is no way that Elizabeth May will be able to siphon off enough Liberals and New Democrats to be able to win.   If she was looking for a place to win, she needed to look at somewhere like Victoria or Vancouver Centre.   Ideally a riding that all three major parties have held in the last generation or have thought they could win.  Making a four way race in this sort of riding means 30% becomes enough to win.

In theory the Greater Victoria area is the heart of the Greens in all of Canada.  The federal leader is based here, the BC leader is based here, the party has won seats on city council.   Where has the party been for the last couple of years?   There is no sense of life to the party on the ground, there are no regular events, no consistent fundraising, no one stop shop for people to connect with the Greens.

The Greens are at a point where they need to succeed and be serious, or they will fade away as a party.   A leadership race would sharpen the skills of the party and boost membership.


Chrystal Ocean said...

Agree with you regarding the leadership of Jim Harris vs that of Elizabeth May.

May is a media darling and should be taking advantage of that. Which she is, I suppose, but only to further her own agenda it seems. Everytime she gets to a mic, it's talk of the environment and so very rarely anything else.

Based on her performance, it appears that the GPC has reverted to being a single-issue party. That's the perception the public is getting, thanks to May, which is contrary to the maturing of the party under Harris.

'Tis sad.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with your take on SGI.

It is not that the riding is to the "right", its that Saanich has one of the highest percentages of senior women in any riding.

Lunn and the Conservatives have maintained these as their base. May does really well with the grannies.

They like her.

Anonymous said...

Bernard von Schulmann said: "Even a strong Liberal candidate last time and the withdrawal of the New Democrat were not enough to defeat Gary Lunn."

Not necessarily.
The vote could have easily gone to the Liberal environmentalist candidate Briony Penn were it not for the unresolved (and largely uninvestigated) massive voter fraud. A sophisticated phone scam blanketed Saanich-Gulf Islands by a "coalition of environmental voters" urging them to vote for NDP's Julian West who had withdrawn too late to be taken off the ballot. The caller ID was faked to show the NDP called.

Election results:
CON: LUNN 27,988; LIB: 25,367; NDP (withdrawn candidate): 6,732. It would taken only half the wasted NDP vote to push Penn over the top.

I and other friends received this automated dialer message the night before the election and I can assure you it was very professionally done.

The fact that so little resources were employed by Elections Canada and the RCMP in pursing this suborning of democracy shows how little democracy is actually valued in Canada.