Thanks to Mark Taylor for picking up on this tidbit in the news: Riding on May’s radar, by the Owen Sound Sun. So it appears that the search for a Riding for Elizabeth May to run in is under way, and that search might not be limited to the riding of Central Nova. Let’s make a bold assumption that Elizabeth May wants to be elected to Parliament at the next opportunity. What is the best riding for her to run in? I am a very strong proponent of data driven decision making, whether in business, life, or politics. The most important data is simply not available to myself, or the Green Party for that matter, until either I, or They spend a chunky six figures on some very well defined polls. I’ve written elsewhere about how you conduct opinion research as a political Party, but basically it revolves around defining target issues, target populations, and the impact that a well delivered policy can have on peoples voting intentions. I’m sorry that I don’t have this data, because if I did, I would share it with the GPC, and we’d have several elected members right now. I guess the beauty of Blogging is that we can let our opinions have free rein, but please bear in mind that the data I use here is incomplete at best.
I guess we can start with Bruce Grey Owen Sound. The riding has an interesting history for the GPC. It was pretty much a run of the mill riding in terms of electoral results for the Greens, until 3 years ago. Shane Jolley, a popular local business man made it his business to build the Green prganization in the riding, and really took fire. They have now had three elections, two Federal, and one Provincial where their results have grown dramatically into a fairly strong second place to the overwhelmingly strong Conservatives. The Liberals, and the Dippers are a vanishingly small presence, and therin lies the problem. Because the Liberals are vanishingly weak, and the GPC is so strong, this is a faint hope riding for the Liberals. That’s something that isn’t calculated to attract a strong Liberal candidate to come along and split the Conservative vote. Any increase in Liberal strength, at the margin, will impact more strongly on the Greens than on the CPC. What this all points to is the need for the GPC to take on the Conservatives toe to toe, and beat them in their own chosen demographic. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the GPC taking 1 in 4 Conservative votes from the incumbent. Failing that, the Campaign strategy will have to be to effectively go negative, and suppress the Conservative turnout. That will entail a Campaign that highlights Conservative failings. An example would be to focus on the Conservative voters, and don’t stop telling them that the Conservatives failed to manage the budget, and have brought in the worst defecit ever. The intent here would not be to win their votes, it would be to deny them to the Conservatives by persuading them to stay at home. This kind of strategy doesn’t serve the Party leader very well, because the Green Party will want to be running a positive, well differentiated communications strategy nationally. All in all, BGOS is a great riding for an agressive local candidate who can implement this strategy effectively, but the Leader cannot spend the next election convincing Conservatives to stay at home.
The second riding to look at is Central Nova. I have made no secret of my opinion that Central Nova was a big big mistake in 2008. Peter MacKay isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. He will not be unseated by Elizabeth, unless his hands are caught in the cookie jar. Anything can happen in Politics, and MacKay has displayed bad judgement in the way he has been manipulated and sidelined by the Reform Party/Conservative Party. That doesn’t mean that he will allow himself be photographed swiping the crown jewels or anything. It’s a very long shot, but Elizabeth would be well advised to only consider another run there if MacKay slipped on a giant banana skin.
The third riding exists by a fortuitous coincidence. That is Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, which I’ll refer to as CCMV. This riding is extremely interesting because it fits in so well with Elizabeth May’s stated intentions. First of all, the incumbent, Bill Casey sat as an Independant PC, which is to say he is a Progressive Conservative, not the neo-con variety. He is retiring from the house, and so a By-election will be called before the year end, assuming a general election doesn’t happen first. Elizabeth has promised to run in the next available by-election, so this is at this moment one of three possibilities. CCMV is right next door to Central Nova, where Elizabeth May has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building a local office, and election team. What could be simpler than shifting your efforts a few miles down the road? If Elizabeth commits to running in CCMV for the by-election, then she has met her criteria of a riding close to home. In the event that the By-election gets displaced by a General election, then Elizabeth doesn’t need to destroy her credibility by re-locating her campaign yet again. She simply needs to keep on campaigning hard, and seek the seat in the general election. There is actually a reasonably good chance in CCMV. There is no incumbency factor at play, and since both the Liberals, and Conservatives are running Progressive Conservative candidates, there is the opportunity to differentiate the GPC. Elizabeth will have her presumably experienced Central Nova campaign team to call on, which is reputedly a good cadre of activists and volunteers. I must also confess that I am completely ignorant as to why Elizabeth May didn’t run a Green Candidate against Casey in the last general election. Who knows what was being concocted, perhaps with this exact eventuality in mind? That could be grounds for some wonderful, if somewhat idle speculation.
There are several other ridings which bear investigation, mostly in Ontario, but I simply do not have the time to write an enormous essay here, so I’ve thrown three obvious ridings into the mix.