While it is true that I am allergic to council politics, it’s not true that I think it’s irrelevant, or un-important. I just don’t have the patience to unravel the tangle of personal, policy, and parochial conflicts, alliances, and armed neutrality. Over the last 5 years or so, council has been a bit of a revolving door. During the actual Council elections, there are a bare sufficiency of candidates stepping forward. During the actual working year, council sheds members on a pretty regular basis. This results in the ‘losing’ factions retreating to the sidelines to plot their revenge. It’s not a very entertaining prospect to get involved in this cycle, so I have the utmost respect for those people who go into the fray with eyes wide open. On the flip side, there is always a fresh crop of cannon fodder, who don’t realise what they are in for. Someone they sort of trusted told them: ‘Run for council, Elizabeth really needs your support’, or conversely ‘Run for council, we need to stop Elizabeth from controlling everything’. These are the people most likely to throw up their hands in disgust, and resign after a few months. I feel sad for both the individuals, and the Party, as often these are the hardest working organizers, and as often as not they are lost to the Party after they have been used up and thrown away.
In the period between the 2004 election, and the 2005-6 election, much of the conflict was over what to do with the per vote subsidy for Political Party’s. The Leadership, under Jim Harris wanted some serious funding to run the Leaders tour, hire staff, hire consultants, and generally beef up the ‘Hub’ in Ottawa. Much of the Party, especially at the EDA level wanted the revenues to devolve to the Electoral District Associations, to help fund the expansion of the most local units of the Party. Both arguments had significant merit, and the debate was spirited to put it mildly. Ultimately, a Revenue Sharing Agreement was put in place whereby a significant chunk of the vote subsidy was channelled back to the EDA’s, according to a formula taking into account the depth of the EDA executive, the number of members, and the number of votes won in the last election.
It’s not as simnple as it sounds of course. For example, the RSA funds were not supposed to be disbursed until the election debt was paid off. Surprise, surprise the election debt was large, and the Hub got to spend a lot of money in the election, which was subsequently repaid from the subsidy funds. It should really surprise no-one that the fight over how to spend millions of dollars would be hard fought, and that the various constituencies used any number of tools to fight the good fight. The issues have changed a little bit, but it is, and will remain true that the next council will be the arena in which the GPC’s strategic direction, and resource allocation will be decided.
I have my own opinions about what the Party needs to do to become stronger, and to ultimately elect members of Parliament. I guess that my opinions start at that point. The direct route to influence is to elect sitting members of the house. The indirect route to influence is to grow, and earn a significant proportion of the vote at the ballot box. As our vote grows, the incentives for our opponents to win the votes back grow, and they adopt those of our policies that they believe are best in the effort to win their coveted minority government status. EVERYTHING stems from our strength at the ballot box, so that’s where we must focus on winning.
When I paint the broadest strokes of a general election campaign, there are three main elements. The Air War, and the National Campaign, which are the province of council, and the Ground War, which happens at the local campaign level. All three elements are very damned important if we are to become a serious force in parliament. The Air War has to build up a willingness to support the Green Party across the country. That means that there needs to be a coherent strategy to target potential voters with a compelling message. Then the strategy needs to be implemented, and the War Room, (or whatever we want to call it), needs to ensure that the earned, and paid media delivers the compelling message on target.
The National Campaign isn’t just the War Room, and the Leaders media presence. There is also the neccessity to provide a degree of co-ordination between the National Campaign, and the local Campaigns. The Party structure needs to provide a degree of assistance to weaker, inexperienced, or non-existant EDA’s. There are a lot of mechanistic details, like Candidate recruiting, literature design, election sign bulk orders, candidate deposits ensured, liability Insurance coverage, and tons of other legal, and practical requirements co-ordinated. The third element is the local ground war.
The ground war happens locally, and is the ultimate key to electoral success. When the Air War succeeds in delivering the right message, on target, then it becomes the job of the ground war to put the puck in the net, and win the vote on E-Day. While the National Campaign can demonstrably increase the vote by hundreds of thousands, the effectiveness is multiplied many fold by having a strong local Canvas, Candidate, and Campaign to identify and get the new supporters out to vote on E-Day. The Green Party has a growing number of EDA’s that are capable of running an effective ground war. Those EDA’s come out of every election with a larger membership base, and bigger lists of ID’d supporters. In short, they capture, and retain resources with every election. Unfortunately, there are still hundreds of ridings where there is no EDA, or the EDA is too weak in human and monetary resources to do much good. In those ridings, membership is static, or falling between elections. Lists of ID’d voters get lost, and they have to start all over again with every election.
In the coming council election, I will be supporting candidates who are prepared to focus GPC resources on building capacity for future ground wars. In practice, that means effective field organizing, with measurable objectives like EDA formation, membership recruiting targets, fundraising goals, local earned media impressions, candidate recruitment, etc.
pick for Ontario Rep. He has extensive experience as a Field organizer for the Obama campaign, and can speak from experience about building local campaign organizations. I like Camille well enough. She is competent, and has plenty of experience with Air War type issues. She is handicapped by the fact that her mother, Sharon Labchuk is the director of organizing, and I would expect that she will support a continuation of current practices. That doesn’t cut it for me.
There are a whopping 16 candidates for Councilor at Large. There were enough good candidates that I had genuine difficulty deciding on who to vote for.
and Sonny Day. Dan Murray, and Paul Maillet get honourable mentions, and both would make good councilors, but I only have 5 votes, so I had to bump somebody! I was quite surprised to see that my picks exactly mirrored Kersten’s Kolumn picks. This was NOT co-ordinated, so I guess it’s a case of great minds thinking alike.
The two candidates for Manitoba Rep. are Michael Moreau, and Ed Driedger. Michael has helped me with some number crunching for my past blog on the impact of spending on vote outcomes, and he is very much a data driven decision maker. I think he is pretty new to the Party, and provided he doesn’t become disillusioned ‘roadkill’ from council infighting, he will bring some valuable skills to the council table. I do not know Ed, and so I’ll have to say that Michael would get my vote, were I in Manitoba.
The two candidates for Nova Scotia Rep. are Sheila Richardson, and Aaron Victor Podolsky. I will have to leave the pick for the NS membership to make for themselves. I have to confess that I have been pretty embarrassed by the recent performance of the Provincial NS Greens. They got totally shellacked in the Provincial election, and are at the edge of being decertified Provincially, according to media reports. Nova Scotia needs to be grabbed by the ears, and shaken, so please don’t elect an ‘insider’ to be your rep. Vote for somebody who will actually try to build the Party profile, not just a ‘loyal’ vote on council.
For the Territories, the two candidates are Mike Ivens, and Kim Melton. I don’t know either, despite the fact that Mike has been on council for awhile. I’ll reiterate what I said about the Nova Scotia candidates. Make sure it’s not another placeholder you elect!
As for the uncontested positions, I don’t want to go making any negative ‘None of the above’ picks, so I’ll leave it to my readers to qualify, and/or disqualify candidates. In general, if your’ candidate has no history of local organizing, then please do NOT pick them. We don’t need fly-by-night place fillers, or ‘loyal’ councilors, in place to vote as instructed. We need people who can think for themselves, and who will be an asset in our quest to organise the hell out of Canada!
You can cast your e-ballot any time now. I encourage you to do so promptly. With any luck, we’ll have a strong council, prepared to make some tough staffing and budget decisions, that will lead to many more members, EDA’s, and strong local candidates to complement a data driven National Campaign, and Air War.