Green Party grass-roots haemorrhage: Liberals and Dippers be advised.

Well here we are, the Elections Canada filing deadline for Electoral District associations has come and gone, (June 1) so I thought I would update which GPC Electoral Districts are still alive and kicking. A little more than a month ago, I blogged on the slow motion collapse of the Green Party`s Electoral District Associations. In the past 5 weeks, there have been 2 more EDA`s de-certified by Elections Canada, and no new EDA`s formed. That leaves a grand total of 160 EDA`s technically still in existence. I have updated this table accordingly:

GPC EDA formation
Year Registrations Deregistrations
2004 96 1
2005 35 5
2006 24 13
2007 56 3
2008 16 5
2009 48 9
2010 4 44
2011 2 19
2012 4 18
2013 0 8
Total: 285 125

I have attached an Excel spreadsheet with detailed financial statements for the EDA`s that have filed returns for this year here. There are two things to note immediately, firstly, only 142 EDA`s submitted a return at all. That implies that 18 more EDA`s are at risk of de-certification by Elections Canada. Please note that there may be valid reasons for a few of them to be filing late, as the deadline was only two weeks ago, but the majority of those non-filing EDA`s are probably going to be de-certified over the course of 2013. The second interesting thing to note is that 13 EDA`s are reporting either null, or zero assets. Some of them look like they are transferring, or spending the last pennies in their accounts, which looks and smells like preparing to shutter the windows. So between EDA`s failing to file, and EDA`s closing their bank accounts, it is looking like 2013 shall see the demise of something like 31 Electoral District Associations. I will take that with a wee grain of salt though, as I noted Guelph EDA was conspicuously absent from EC filings. I just cannot credit that Rob Routeledge and the Guelph Greens are folding up their tent, so this total will need revision later on in the year. Wow, I feel like I am writing an obituary for the grassroots of the GPC. From 285 local organisations down to 129.

From the financial returns, we can see that there are 99 EDAs that have over $2000 in cash. I mention this fact because assuming those EDA`s survive until 2015, those are the ridings where we can expect a local Candidate to step forward with sufficient resources to capture roughly 4% or more of the popular vote. Out of those 99 ridings, there are about 20 that currently have $10,000 or more. I mention that because these are the ridings where the Candidate will have a fair chance of exceeding 10% of the vote, and earning their deposit back. ( Campaigns that exceed 10% of the vote receive a rebate of 60% of their election expenses from Elections Canada). Only 44 ridings managed to raise a single penny from donors! Out of those 44 who actually raised some money, only 20 raised $1000 or more. Hmm, I think the point I made previously that the existence of the local EDA`s is dependent on the per vote subsidy is amply demonstrated by that simple fact.

So are there any meaningful conclusions for Liberals, Dippers, and Conservatives to draw from the slow motion collapse of the Green Party local units? If I am correct, and the Green Party does not actively recruit candidates across Canada, then it is safe to assume that less than half of the ridings in Canada will even have a GPC candidate to split the vote. That may not seem like a big deal, but about 3% – 5% of the electorate in those ridings will be voting for somebody other than the Green Party. Those votes are up for grabs. For those 20 or so ridings where the EDA is relatively well-financed, there will continue to be a GPC vote that will be large enough to influence the outcome. For the Conservative Party, there is no real upside from the collapse of the GPC.  It will be unequivocably bad for them, and will cost them a dozen of more seats in 2015. For the Liberals and NDP, there is obviously an advantage. Depending upon how well they each appeal to the Green Party voters, they will tip the balance in a handful of ridings each. Even in those ridings where the local EDA is strong, and the bank account is robust, there is a good opportunity to simply hammer the Greens, and bury them as an electoral factor. That is not very nice language I know, but seriously, the Leader of the Green Party has been harping on the same message since her first General Election. That message is that voting for the Greens is splitting the progressive vote, and allowing the Conservatives to get elected. It is no wonder whatsoever that her acolytes, and the EDA`s are voluntarily closing the curtains and putting out the lights. Anything else would be the heights (or depths) of cynicism, and the electorate deserves to be reminded of this fact come 2015.

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7 Responses

  1. Shame. Trudeau the Younger will dangle Environment. Lizzie will cross the floor. Bets?

    • Nope, no bet. I will equally bet she will not change Partys though. She will sit as a Green, but on the Government side (assuming the Liberals form Government that is)

  2. Minister of the Environment is pretty juicy! :-) Oh c’mon, we’re waiting to pick up the pieces.

    http://rpnamerica.com/

  3. From inside an EDA I do see weakness in many ridings and because the party flogs the fundraising letters so often and call 3-4 times a year by the time the EDA make a plea for money the supporters willing to give are all ready tapped out by the mother ship.

    Also when the new riding boundaries are set we will lose a few more EDAs because the EDAs with a handful of members will not be split evenly and some areas will not have enough willing bodies to organize the extra ridings.

    May needs to get out on the road and visit every still active EDA to give them a boost of local interest and fund raising pull. Write off the dead EDAs for now, but dammit do something to help us survive. While I’ve not always agreed with her she’s doing a pretty good job and her presence as leader in the EDAs would help,, sadly there seems to be no such initiative planned for this summer.

    • Hi Brad, well, there has been tension between the Hub and the EDA’s forever. It was only put to rest when the sharing formula for the per vote subsidy guaranteed stable funding for the EDA’s back in 2004. I think it was inevitable that the tensions would re-surface as the subsidy was phased out. It truly was the rationale behind the formation of so many EDA’s, to be able to receive guaranteed funds. Now if the hub refused to put resources into EDA support and field organising when they had a financial reward in the form of subsidy $$ from the stronger vote in elections, I seriously doubt that they will spend time and effort now that the subsidy is gone, and the rewards for a stronger eletoral performance with it. Same logic applies to running a full slate of candidates. It costs time and money to put together a full slate, and in the absence of the vote subsidy I doubt that time and money will be spent. Well now we shall see how many EDA’s are serious enough to keep the lights on in the absence of a financial reward. And you are absolutely correct that a number of EDA’s will have a small team split further with the new ridings carved out. Remember though, in Ontario the GP Ontario will likley be organising Constituency Associations as quick as they can for the new Provincial riding boundaries, and they will likley mirror them (or some of them) with federal EDA’s.

  4. Your argument is false. Weak or non-existent EDAs do not preclude a candidate from running for the Greens in any riding. Candidates will always be drawn to run for a party if it has public resonance. Early in Canada’s history EDAs did not exist and parties did just fine, and many candidates in the last federal election won with non-existent EDAs, Quebec NDP being a prime example.

    • Hi Scott,
      It is not a question of precluding candidates from running. It is a question of finding someone willing to run. The EDA’s run a candidate selection process, which all too often results in the EDA executive serving as Candidate and Financial agent for a campaign through lack of interest. In the absence of an EDA that ‘fail-safe’ is gone. Both EDA’s and the central party had a powerful incentive to field 308 candidates in the past so they could maximise their vote, thus maximising their revenues from the per vote subsidy. This was explicitly understood, and deliberate policy. The subsidy is gone, and the GPC does not do field organising anymore, so who is to find those candidates? You claim that candidates will be drawn to a party that has public resonance, but in the past, the Party has had to resort to canvassing madly amongst members in most of the un-organised ridings to find someone willing to stand. My argument is that without any salaried organisers tasked to make all those candidate recruitment calls, and with an ever increasing number of ridings without an EDA the task has gotten that much harder. Add to it the fact that the rationale to run a full slate is gone, I seriously doubt that the GPC will even try. Please note that the evidence I am presenting here is precisely in support of my contention that the interest in running candidates is evaporating, both at the local rinding level, and at the Party central office. You do not have to take my word for it. I may be wrong, and Elizabeth May and the Federal Council might decide that they need to run a full slate to maintain their credibility, and to support their argument to include EMay in the televised debate. I do not think that will happen though.

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