Oh no! John Fryer just quit as Elizabeth May`s campaign manager in SGI. I won`t bother going into the endless list of people who have been briefly associated on a professional basis with Elizabeth May and the current leadership of the Party who have quit, been fired, or just shunted aside. So why do I start tapping at my keyboard over this latest head to roll? Because it makes a mockery of everything that the Leadership and Federal council have done since the writ dropped in the last election.
After the last election, the Party didn`t move as quickly as possible to repay election loans. The election plan had envisioned re-paying election loans with the election expenses rebate, as sound management would dictate. The leadership ignored sound management, and started spending like crazy. Never mind that there were known payments to be planned for, the money would somehow come from somewhere. Well, the money didn`t come from anywhere. Only when the situation became critical did anything happen. The response to the realisation that the money was not there was that the majority of the organisers were laid off. So there we were, and here we are. A National Party with full slate of directors, leader, deputy-leader, and communications staffers on the payroll, but NO FIELD ORGANISERS!
So why have we got no organisers left? The Federal council decided that electing Elizabeth May to the house of commons was, and is the overaching priority of the Party. This required an immediate infusion into SGI coffers of $60,000, and a re-direction of staff towards meeting this goal. The Salaries of the leaders political allies are sacrosanct, so Elizabeth May, Adriane Carr, and Sharon Labchuk need to continue to be paid. Communications needs to continue, so Elizabeths assistant contuinues to be paid. Ralph Benmurgei is in a communications consulting role as Party spokesperson, so his salary is continued. There are legal compliance issues, like financial reporting to Elections Canada which requires staff. The website cannot be permitted to collapse, so ther are another one or two staff slots retained. With large bank loans scheduled for repayment over the next 3 months or so, those salaries, plus the SGI campaign are the only thing that the Party can afford.
It will not be all over and happily dealt with after the bank loans are repaid though. Oh no, not by a long shot. There are still the outstanding private loans raised to fight the last election. Repayment is not currently scheduled, and in fact Adriane Carr is spearheading a campaign to raise large amounts of fresh loans to add to the debt pile. She has already gone back to the EDA executives, and asked that they forego their revenue sharing payments. The terms of these loans are that they will be repaid in full when the writ drops for the next election. This was largely successful, and the Party has taken on a bunch of new obligations that we will have a lot of trouble with at the launch of the next election. I do not know whether or not we are fortunate that Adriane attempts to raise large fresh loans from private lenders have been unsuccesful. It means that we will likely suffer yet another budgetary crisis when planned spending cannot happen due to lack of fresh loans, but at least the Party is not being burdened with yet another tranche of debt.
Adraine Carr is apparently the leaderships answer to losing, (or willfully chasing away) the services of Jim Harris. Not only is she to step into his shoes and raise loans, but she is also to spearhead a big fundraising initiative. The Party is going to plug a half million dollar shortfall by setting Adriane loose to raise the funds from fresh sources. I wish her the very best with this. Her fertile imagination has sprouted a plan for innumerable dutch auctions, so the current spending levels can be maintained ongoing. Well I am a long standing proponent of creative fundraising approaches, so I will not disagree with it. I will caution you though, that literally banking on stellar results from untried initiatives is a pretty risky proposition. Cross your fingers that she does not fall on her face.
So to summarise, the current leadership has been exposed as hopelessly incompetent with our finances and Party management. They ramped up hiring and spending, then were forced to 180 and fire everybody. The response to the unfolding woes has been to re-focus the Party from encouraging and supporting local organising at the grassroots level, to making electing Elizabeth May the sole priority of the Party. The means to enable this strategic shift have entailed some very risky shell games with our money and Party. Now here we are, in the midst of this dubious and dangerous situation, and John Fryer, the man entrusted with the task of electing Elizabeth May in SGI up and quits in anger.
I am very discouraged by this latest news. Is it symptomatic of a looming failure in SGI? I can only see the two reasons for John to quit so abruptly. Either John quit because he sees a disaster in the offing, or he cannot stand working with the Leaders coterie. Either way, the large and risky investment our Federal council has made in SGI is in great peril at this moment. Were all the risks that council, and the Leadership took with our Party wasted on a Quioxitic strategy? Are we in the situation of dismembering our Party infrastructure, so that we can gamble on a losing pony? And what will we be left with if SGI is a bust? No Party infrastructure, no Leader, a whack of private loans to retire, and no strategic direction or resources. Without field organisers, there will not be a full slate of candidates, so the votes of GPC supporters from the missing ridings will not be counted. There goes a whack of funding. The attendant bad publicity of a drop in support, and the public humiliation of Elizabeth May might just be something we cannot get over safely. Oh my, what are we to do?