Hochelaga, in Montreal, with the Olympic Stadium on it’s West boundary.
New Westminster – Coquitlam, In Vancouver, where NDP Incumbent Dawn Black quit to run Provincially.
Cumberland – Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley, Right next door to Central Nova.
Montmagny – L’Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup, East of Quebec city, on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence.
It’s no big surprise, but it will have some interesting consequences. First off, Elizabeth May once promised to run in the first available by-election. Well, I doubt very much that will happen now. She has made a major commitment to running in SGI by picking up and moving to the West coast. It appears that $62,000 has been commited to pre-writ spending, and the canvas is already in full swing. The die is pretty well cast, and I’d be surprised if Elizabeth’s next few months were spent anywhere outside SGI, meeting her prospective constituents.
So if Elizabeth May isn’t going to be the Green Party’s focus in these by-elections, what’s the plan? We have
seen in the past how important By-elections can be for building up a strong EDA. There are two by-elections that spring to mind. Toronto Centre, where Chris Tindal’s campaign ID’d thousands of new supporters, and Guelph, where Mike Nagy and his team went all out, and posted one of the most competetive finishes ever for the Green Party. Then, of course, there’s London North Centre, where Elizabeth May surprised her sceptics, and pulled off a strong second place finish. Thousands of Green Party supporters were identified in London. It seems clear to me that every by-election is an opportunity to mobilise and target resources. We should always be ready to take advantage of the electoral opportunity to build another strong EDA to go forward with.
By-Elections are utterly predictable. You don’t know exactly where they’ll be, and you’re not exactly sure when they’ll be, but sure as rain, there will be a couple of By-elections every year or so. For the leadership, there will be a number of media opportunities, where they will have a few opportunities to speak before the national media. For the National Campaign team, there is an opportunity to ‘test drive’ parts of the national platform, and campaign theme. There is an opportunity to build the infrastructure for the central party to lend direct support to target ridings. For the local Electoral District, there is the growth in membership numbers, and profile of the Green Party of Canada. Local capacity to fight future elections will be dramatically higher after a by-election supported by an active Party apparatus.
I know the Election Readiness Commitee has been pretty pre-occupied lately. Small wonder, it’s always a daunting task to prepare for a General Election, and that was properly their focus in the past several months. I’m sure the search for a riding for Elizabeth May to run in took up a lot of attention, and ‘bandwidth’ at head office too. We can also remember though when the last by-election / general election tangle occurred, it confounded the national Party. They were seriously wrong footed by the general election call. I’m afraid that this has been the case for every election since 2004. There is a persistent problem with election readiness.
I find it hard to credit that out of all 23 staff listed on the website, only Catherine Johannson is tasked to election readiness. The Election commitee is Catherine’s election team, but they are all volunteers, not a permanent staff with resources dedicated to the job. We need to have a much more robust campaign infrastructure, and the mechanisms to effectively direct staff and volunteers to acheive strategic and tactical objectives. I mean things like phone banks, volunteer co-ordinators, and field workers to send to hot spots. Trained and experienced campaign managers to plan and execute deployment of resources. Obviously, they should all be prepared to re-focus quickly, as priorities change.
In the past, a relatively ‘green’ (pun intended), leadership made the assumption that elections were all about the Air War waged on the National stage. I think though that Elizabeth May’s experience should by now have taught her that the local election campaign cannot be won by the air war alone. The way she was constrained to choose between such a small number of viable EDA’s to run in for this election should drive home the need for many more well organised EDA’s, with lots of volunteers, money, and experienced campaigners. It would be natural to conclude the central Party needs to be supporting EDA development, and doing all in it’s power to augment local teams. This isn’t a small thing, as it would require a shift away from the current focus on communications. There are only so many salaries to go around, and putting real resources into election readiness, and EDA support will require re-thinking the current payroll. It’s not enough to have an effective public relations organisation. You have to have people on phones, and pounding the pavement if you want to realise your potential. The central party is in a unique position to put in place the infrastructure to augment local efforts, but it will take administrative skill, and some tough decisions.
Filed under: 2009 Election, election readiness, Internal Green Politics, Ridings to Watch | Tagged: election readiness, Elizabeth May, green party canada, Green Party of Canada, green party organizing |