Some Good news for the Green Party of Canada!

At last I can put aside my griping and complaints, and tell you all that there is some very good news around the corner. This August, here in Toronto, the Green Party will be voting on a motion to honour our constitution, and hold a leadership race to finally clear the air for the Green Party of Canada. I know, I know, it seems very strange that we have to hold a vote to agree to follow the rules. For those of you who could bear to watch it, the last year has been like a slow motion Constitutional train wreck. Turn back the clock 12 months, and across the country, hundreds of activists were quietly preparing the ground for the mandated Leadership contest. Ambitous and thoughtful politicians were quietly buying memberships, and groups were forming to prepare the grounds for a contest of ideas. You see, the Green Party of Canada has long held the belief that we do politics differently. Leadership races were constitutionally mandated to happen every two years, so that there would be an opportunity to engage the party membership, and to decide on the future direction of the Party through the medium of a hotly contested leadership race. There has never been any fear that the contest would lack for contestants! Oh, no…Not in the Green Party. Like any other Party, there are many competing people, ideas, and visions within our ranks. The sometimes messy process of resolving our differences is guaranteed to bring contestants, and the ideas that they champion out into full and open view for the membership to pass judgement on. Frankly, in the absence of a mandated race, the Green Party of Canada would probably be captured by a governing clique that writes the rules in their favour, and could never be budged from their positions by any legitimate process. There would be no other mechanisms within the Party to channel disaffection into, and the Party would fracture and melt away, one isolated and vilified member at a time….

Some History for you to contemplate:

In the same year that Elizabeth may was elected leader, the Party membership decided to adapt the two year term to match the new elections law that mandated a general election every 4 years. and we revised our Constitution to hold a madatory Leadership contest every 4 years instead of every two. This was a delightful windfall for Elizabeth May, as it enabled her to write an employment contract with a full salary for 4 years, ending this August, instead of the two years she had campaigned for, and won. Was this a mistake? Did we really intend that a ruling clique should be formed, dispensing employment contracts, and spending 4 years cementing their position in charge of the purse strings? I don’t think so, but with the guarantee that the members would have the ultimate authority, we would have the opportunity to correct any mistakes made on this score.

The Context of the current leadership race:

Our constitution is very clear and concise. There shall be a leadership contest in 2010. Period. Council is entrusted with setting the terms and conditions under which the contest shall be held. For this reason, a Leadership Election committee was struck last year by Federal Council, and tasked with drafting the rules of a contest to be presented to, and endorsed by the council in general session. Problem is, that this committee was made up from the ranks of sitting council members. Remember that over a 4 year period, there have been a number of council members (including ex-officio members), with full time salaries dependant upon maintaining the status quo. I cannot say if there was any undue influence exerted, after all, who can say what was said between these 5 or 6 councillors in the convoluted world of Green Party council politics? What I CAN say, is that the committee never held a substantive meeting, and has not put forward a plan of action, should the constitutionally mandated race actually come to pass. With the passage of time, and for subsequent council meetings, varying arguments were put forward that a leadership race would be problematic. After all, a general election was always imminent, and practical considerations trumped any legal niceties like observing the history, and traditional governing mechanisms of our Party. The governing clique decided to channel all of the resources of the party into an effort to get the leader elected, through the medium of our new, unelected governing body, the ‘Campaign Committee’. A plan was hatched to eliminate the Leadership race, by changing it into a review mechanism, and all efforts were turned towards eliminating any formal contest for the forseeable future. For this purpose, council drafted a motion to be presented at the upcoming BGM in Toronto in August that mandated a periodic Leadership Review, instead of an actual contest. The Leadership clique has done their homework well. The

Frank De Jong

lessons of the Green Party of Ontario were there for all to see. There are two reasons why Frank De Jong of the Green Party of Ontario was the longest serving leader of any Green Party in the World. Reason one is that he did not face a Leadership challenge, he faced a periodic review, with miniscule turnouts, which allowed him the comfort of choosing his own fate. Reason two is that Frank is personable, and genial. He just never did anything nasty enough to motivate large numbers of people to organise a massive campaign twice. Once to mobilise the GPO membership for a review vote, and the second time to organise an actual leadership campaign to replace Frank. It was only when Frank decided, under enormous pressure in the backrooms of the GPO to resign and seek the Leadership of the Green Party of Canada that an actual, well a one man contest for a new leader took place in the GPO. If the review motion passes at the BGM, then this is to be the future of the GPC. No more vigorous debate, and open contests. No more airing of our differences, and a decision rendered by the membership. Instead we shall face secretive committees, and very parochial interests setting the terms and conditions of their continued employment, well out of public view.

The Leadership race is publicly ON.

On June 29, an email publicly launching Elizabeth May’s bid to retain the leadership, without an actual contest was sent on Green party letterhead to the mailing list of the Green Party of Canada. A Note from Elizabeth May, and I quote Elizabeth May from the letter:

” This time there is no misunderstanding how fundamental the issues are. Some resolutions would cause an immediate leadership race, forcing me to
resign — even before the next election.”

Wow! Sounds like a coup d’Etat doesn’t it? The resolution which she claims will force her to resign, is quite simply a resolution to enforce the current, and legally binding constitution of the Green Party of Canada. She knew when she was elected leader that she had 2 years at the helm. By a fortuitous turn of events, she was granted an additionlal 2 years employment by the extension the leadership term. She has had not one, but TWO elections, including the London North Centre by-election fiasco. And now malcontents, and trouble makers dare to put resolutions forward that would limit her freedom of action? I agree with Elizabeth May, this time there IS NO MISUNDERSTANDING how fundamental the issues are. Either we are governed by our Constitution, or at the convenience of the entrenched leadership clique. And kindly tell me why the Green party of Canada is handing over the membership lists, and sending emails on behalf of a presumed candidate for the Leadership? Am I the only one to take umbrage with this misuse of party resources? Yes, we are definitely in the throes of, and I guess I will have to coin the phrase, a PRE-leadership race, and this email is misleading, and inappropriately dirty politics. Enough on that, I had the firm intention of focussing on the positive in this post, and just look where my temper is taking me.

On the other hand, there is in fact a resolution to enforce the current constitution on the table at the BGM. It is sponsored by Sylvie Lemieux, and as an aside, I would say that she will make an excellent manager, and leader

Sylvie Lemieux: The next Leader?

of the Green Party of Canada, provided we can ensure an actual race happens. Hey don’t take my word for it, check out this youtube video, and be sure to visit her site and volunteer! So you can understand more fully why a positive re-affirmation is needed to enforce our constitution, you need only consider what I have written above. Every effort has been expended by the current leadership to avoid a race. Council has refused to execute their constitutionally mandated duties, and prepare the Party for a race. There can be no argument that a race was impossible, and impractical if there is a positive re-affirmatiion by the membership. You see what our party is reduced to? Having to play at politics to ensure that there is no escape hatch for an embattled leadership, should they actually have to do the unthinkable, and surrender their positions in a fair and open contest. Yes, exactly, LET THERE BE NO MISUNDERSTANDINGS! Federal council is now forced to plan for the contingency that the constitution may be enforced. They will face legal sanctions if they fail to plan now, and no sympathy for the argument that a leadership race was impossible.

Why YOU should vote for a Leadership race:

For all of us old Party hands, the reasons why a Leadership race is an incredible boon for the Green Party of Canada are blatantly obvious.  For those of my readers who have never been involved in a political Party, I will re-iterate them here.

1) A leadership race draws a plethora of Party activists out of the woodwork. It is a rare opportunity for real honest to goodness contact between the wider membership. The membership lists are thrown open to the candidates teams, and these people are actually willing and able to reach out to the members, and engage them in political work and debate. If you are a member, ask yourself when was the last time that somebody from head office called you to actually ask you what you thought of the issues of the day, and actively encourage your input and energy? How often do you make contact with Greens outside your own narrow circles, and actually discuss what direction YOU would like to see the party moving in? A leadership race engages, and motivates the membership to participate, and to remember that it isn’t for some faction or other to decide behind closed doors, it is for YOU the members to decide the question: Where are we going?

2) A Leadership race creates a big surge in memberships. And to put it bluntly, the Party needs that more than ever right now.  The number of active members is significantly lower today than at any time since the last leadership race. We are in a financial tailspin, and the root cause is that membership is losing its appeal. I will not get into pointing fingers, or laying the blame for it. The time is long past for criticism like that. What we really need is a choice of strong positive visions for where we should be going. We need to reach out to ALL Canadians who share our ideas, ask them to join our Party, and help us to make our shared visions a reality! We need to generate the excitement, and interest that comes with vigorous debate, grow our membership lists, and get about the business of preparing on the ground for the next election.

3) The media loves nothing like a leadership race. For years now, the Green party of Canada has been synonomous with Elizabeth May in the broadcast medias eyes. It is time to remind the electorate, through the media that there is far more to the Green party than a leadership cult. Assuming all the teams that have been organising for a year or more actually field their candidates, there will be a gratifying choice of competing visions to tempt the electorate with.  Men and Women, Francophone, and Anglophones. Representing Eastern, Western, and Central canada. Surely a great opportunity to spread our positive mesages to all Canadians, irrespective of their gender, or regional bias.

On July 13, all paid up members received an email with online voting instructions. Please go dig up the email right now, and go and vote on this resolution (note: You must be a member to access the members zone) to hold a leadership race, and go to this resolution and vote AGAINST a leadership review. Please do not be deceived that you are throwing Elizabeth May out. She will have exactly the same opportunities that all the other candidates will have. To face the membership, and convince you that she is the best choice for the Green Party. If you want to vote for her, by all means! Just do not give up your chance to make that choice in the first place. It may be a very long time before you get another chance to make your opinions, and ideas known.

I guess I should come clean here too, I am not disinterested in the outcome of this race. (Surprise surprise!) A year ago I even expected to play an important part in the upcoming contest, but now I have found my personal commitments, and the pressures of a new business enterprise will not leave me with sufficient time to play the role I had envisioned. It won’t stop me from cheering from the sidelines though, and while I have a favoured Candidate, there are at last count three very engaging candidates in the wings, and I will happily pledge my loyalty to whichever of them emerges as the winner.

And in conclusion, I have a plea to make to our Leader. Set aside your fear of facing a contest, and do the right thing for the Party. It will not be the end of the world if you have to face the membership, and really start organising for a national campaign. You have complained of having to give up your salary for the 6 or 8 week duration of a race, but you weren’t promised a job for life. The Party does not owe you a living, it owes you a fair chance, and an open contest. Why can you not simply bite the bullet and put your best foot forward?

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32 Responses

  1. […] post: Some Good news for the Green Party of Canada! « Not an Official … var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Some Good news for the Green Party of […]

  2. Does it really matter? Has the window not slammed shut? This apex of liberalism has missed its opportunity. The pendulum of history is frozen, about to begin its swing back in the opposite direction. It is over.

  3. Why would anyone paid by the party be on executive council, as anything other than a non-voting member? I get expenses being covered, or even being paid for meetings, but part of having a mature party means if you are being employed, you’re off the board.

    Not that it shouldn’t be that hard to get a board that agrees with a leader elected, or a board largely under control of the party staff, but still, at least have the illusion of independence.

    • You are right Liberal Member. Elizabeth May is the only voting member of council with a full time salary. The others are sitting in ex-officio capacities. Read the minutes though, and they steamroller all the other voting members. That paragraph in the post was poorly written, i did put in brackets that they were ex-officio, but shoul dhav ebeen clearer that they did not actually vote. Ex officio or not, They do wield all power, and make all decisions through their committees , so it is moot.

  4. I agree with your robust defense of the constitutionality of any political party. After all, it was underhanded politics that eliminated the Progressive Conservative party from the Canadian political-economy.

    As a support of Elizabeth May, I wonder how you hold a leadership race in the second-half of 2010 without under-cutting her chances (which are quite good) to unseat Gary Lunn in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Local media in BC, such as The Tyee, is identifying May as Lunn’s main competition and she has been hard at work building a reputation in that area.

    Yes, she had her chance in London North-Centre. Yes, she was in Central Nova. No, this isn’t about doing everything in the party’s power to put HER in the House of Commons. Yet, the resources put into her campaign are going to look foolish if she resigns as leader and runs in 2010-11 as just another candidate. And for an electorate that follows candidates and the national campaign, what good can you imagine her bid being in Saanich-Gulf Islands without the leadership title?

    At this point, you’re right, the GPC is closely associated with the personality of Elizabeth May. But this is what the Canadian population is used to. They are used to getting to know one leader for a number of years and elections. I don’t think that a critical leadership review would be a bad thing – if she does not score above a certain threshold at the 4 year mark, then she ought to face a leadership contest. But shifting from 1st gear from 4th will take some time, and it might not be so wise when politics in a minority parliament (and the possibility for a fall election is probably better than we think) is going at 100km an hour.

  5. The decision for Elizabeth May to run in Saanich Gulf Islands was a very bad one. Firstly, she is running against an amazing green Liberal candidate in Renee Hetherington. She has lived in the riding for several generations, has a PHD in environmental related disciplines and a recently published {Cambridge University Press} book on Climate Change. She is everything Elizabeth is not, soft spoken, {not shrill} ever present in the community, well informed politically and highly respected. Has Elizabeth forgotten the courageous move of Stephan Dion by not running a candidate against her in the last election? Renee can unseat Gary Lunn which is what really matters here and Elizabeth can not. Her being there only insures Lunn’s success. Elizabeth should resign!!

  6. Elizabeth May is a shrill, annoying and one-issue populist whose time is up. She’s also not above the party constitution and bylaws despite veiled threats to step down. I have a feeling, though, that should a leadership contest actually happen in 2010, if Liz is going down, she’s going to take the party with her and that would be a shame for green supporters in Canada.

  7. Re “…if Liz is going down, she’s going to take the party with her.”

    Indeed. One can only wish her the best of luck.

  8. Hate to tell you this folks, but Elizabeth May is the best political leader this country has right now. Every party would love to have her on their side. She is a force to reckon with. I’m a Tory and I’m telling you this straight. You replace her and she’ll move to another party, perhaps the Liberals, or even the Tories. Then you have the onerous task of running against her in the next election. Good luck with that!

  9. Wow that’s funny I didn’t realize managing Sylvie’s campaign was equivalent to “having a favored candidate”. I guess “coming clean” is matter of degrees.

    Some quick questions:
    Have you worked on any of Sylvie’s campaigns?
    Have you worked with the Ottawa Gang of 4?
    Would Sylvie by pushing Go4 policies?
    Have you been to any regional events in Ottawa to see what attitudes are like here?
    If Sylvie was elected do we really except for her to make a Green breakthrough in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell?

  10. @Dave:
    Managing Sylvies Campaign?! I assume you are implying that I am Sylvie’s campaign manager? Sorry to disappoint you, but that is not, and never was in the cards. I have had offers for similar posts at the Municipal, and Leadership levels, and not from the Sylvie team alone.
    The answer is really simple though, I started a new Construction Services, and building design business in the early months of this year. I have known that it would be impossible to balance the jobs of making ends meet with a Mortgage, and two kids, and putting 80 hours a week into any political campaign. Remember, I paid the price in spades when I sacrificed 4 months of my life to the Elizabeth May leadership campaign as Ontario organizer in 2006. It was horrendously expensive, and cost me more than I care to speak about in a blogs comments section.

    If there is an actual Leadership campaign, and if the membership decides that Sylvie is the leader the Greens need, why should she, A Francophone, with extremely impressive credentials as the First woman to reach the Rank of Lt. Colonel in a combat branch of the Canadian Armed forces; A distinguished, and one of the first Woman graduates of the prestigous Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal; An experienced public sector manager with top shelf experience DND, DFAIT, PWSGC, etc. etc. not be a breakthrough candidate? I would imagine that great efforts would be made to find the riding that would best fit her profile, and with a fraction of the resources being spent on poorly targetted ridings the current leadership is tilting at, why wouldn’t she be elected?
    Do you have any idea just how many pre-conceived notions of the Green Party of Canada would be exploded by a leader with the rank of Lt. Colonel Rtd.? The Forces have such a strong tradition of distancing themselves from political discourse, it will be a vital service to Canada to have a career officer, respected within the service in a position to open a public discourse about the way, shape, and form of our rapidly transforming Armed Forces. Do you have any conception of just how moribund the Quebec, and Francophone wing of our Party has become under the current leadership? What an incredible boost for us if we actually propel a credible, articulate, native daughter of Quebec on the National stage.
    Do you know what currency a retired Combat officer would hold in the region with one of the strongest support levels in the country, Alberta? If your comment was intended to downplay the electability, and electoral assets of Sylvie, as one would expect from a noted Elizabeth May supporter like yourself, then perhaps you should actually consider these assets with an unjaundiced eye.

  11. Those are some impressive professional accomplishments you listed there, however you haven’t actually answered my questions.

    I didn’t ask you if Sylvie was an impressive person. I asked you about your actual experience working with her as your complaints about Elizabeth (also impressive and accomplished) often fall into that category.

    I also asked you about your knowledge about the Green Party in the Ottawa region about the Gang of 4, but I guess you could address those later.

  12. Well her military experience to me is irrelevant and more of a hindrance than a plus
    I would not vote for her

    In fact as a military veteran I know its only her academic schooling that brought her to that rank and no indication of any leadership skill set at all
    The canadian forces are not what you seem to perceive it to be.

    A life long public servant is not what we need here.

    Some one with no real clue about day to day life in the trenches

    Sorry but I can not see this gal enthusing any more support than the lame duck we have now

    Listening to her video put me to sleep

    And if she is connected to paul mailett she for sure will never get the leadership if I can help it.

    An open all inclusive contest with real people who have actually accomplished things not just proved they could memorize book knowledge is what we need

  13. @shavluk
    An open and inclusive contest is all that we can possibly ask for, and that is WHAT IS BEING ASKED FOR, but the only person with the courage to stand up and publicly ask for it is Sylvie. I am sure that there are many opinions, and questions throughout the Party. let’s have a Leadership contest so that they can be asked. You will get your say, along with everybody else. Elizabeth will make her points, and there will be others given courage by Sylvies example will will step forward. I wouldn’t make the mistake of judging Sylvie by a snippet or two that speak to or against your prejudices, that is why it takes an actual contest to see the candidates under fire, the parry and thrust, the calbre of their teams… Weigh the organising skills, and if it is Charisma you are after,decide who is the more charismatic, and all in all make an INFORMED decison.

  14. Excuse me

    but even you know ….I was the first to say I would run against elley may !!!!

    and it resulted in two police cars here the next day in case you forget

    Yes elley may lied to police and said I threatened her life !!!

    She is now my number one target and I am going to expose her if its the last thing I do

    One way or another though I will repay her for all her continued kindness

    Just wait and watch

    How many new members your gal bring in so far?

    More than 1400?

    I say again I wont vote for her obviously based on what I have seen or read so far and will just run myself as I already said months ago !!

    Mind you apparently I am now a member “not in good standing” what ever that really means
    So my chances are slim I suspect…no biggy

    Lets get a contest before we start our war of words shall we?


  15. You guys should be careful you just don’t end up just re-electing elley may back for 4 more years here sonny

    or it will be the death of the greens as may probably hopes

    a contest after the convention will probably just give may 4 more years if not done right and not done with exposing her lies as I will do

    why do you think they have done all they can to keep me out of things?

    I should stand outside the convention handing out copies of betty mays lies in court

    Some thing I am truly considering

    My supporters are fighting a battle to just stay out of jail and to get medicine
    Its a noble battle that makes them seasoned fighters
    They rose up to get betty may in to the debates and know how to be political

    you will see a big drop in green votes with betty still in charge as we are done supporting her joke candidacy

    good luck to your pick though and thank her for standing up

  16. As it sits to-day via the Globe:

    Quote: “But Ms. May said Monday the Green Party council decided seven months ago that the rules around leadership needed to be changed and it made no sense to set four-year terms with no consideration given to election timing.

    “Ms. May, who has abstained from any council vote on leadership issues, said the party decided that the constitutional requirement for a fixed term should be amended to say that the leader’s performance will be examined after every federal election and that the leader must obtain the support of 60 per cent of the party’s members at that time.”

    So when Ms. May refers to “the party” she is really identifying the stacked Council. Call me crazy, but like most other political parties, does the GPC Constitution not stipulate that any constitutional change can only be implemented with, at the very least, a 75% approval from the membership-as-a-whole?

    GPC crash, burn, fail. Ms. May will take it down in conjunction with her political career. With adversaries like Ms. May, who needs friends?

  17. Most partis require 2/3 majority for constitutional change.

    In the GPC its the same simplemajority.

    Majorities can generally be achieved by any leadershipin any party. So that means that in the GPC you can do, re-do, undo, more or less at will.

  18. First of all, the 2010 convention has to vote for a leadership race – all this debate could be all for not if the GPC membership decides not to hold a race with election speculation constantly percolating. I think Green members are more pragmatic than they are constitutional stalwarts.

    While a change of leadership prior to an election could spark some new attention to the Green party on the national level, Canadians will tune out third parties – the next bout will be between the Liberals and Conservatives with the NDP and GPC candidates, and subsequent votes, may become casualties to strategic voting.

    The most reasonable outcome, for any party, would be to schedule a leadership race 6 weeks after the next election. If May does not win her seat, then its obvious she won’t be back. If she wins, it’ll be tough to unseat her as leader (that said, if multiple Green candidates win, the race will be basically between those who sit in the house – no one wants a leader outside of parliament).

    Sylvie Lemieux does have an impressive resume. Yet, I wonder to what extent her background in the military will hurt her chances to lead a party that makes nonviolence a pillar in their values? For myself, the Greens are the only peace party on the ballot and voting for them allows me to make a principled choice on the ballot. I am skeptical that Lemieux would be able to sufficiently embrace the Green commitment to nonviolence that would keep the “peacenik” membership.

    Moreover, Lemieux’s vision on her website is pretty bare bones. She calls the current party as being a one-trick pony (the environment) and then uses all the popular enviro buzzwords: “equity,” “sustainability,” “care for the earth,” and “healthy environments.”

    Her attempt at winning a seat in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell was pretty average for most Green candidates – last, grabbing 5.4% of the vote. There are much bigger candidates that could stay in their home ridings and use the title of “leader” to maybe push themselves into parliament – like Cathy McLellan of Kitchener-Waterloo. Somehow, I don’t think that Lemieux have a real shot at winning the leadership, over people like Carr, rather, she’ll be an new voice to the debate: the post-election debate.

    The question remains: are Green members so mad at May that they’ll call for her head before an imminent election and while her popularity is pushing the GPC into the high teens (16-17) in BC according to some polls? The woman who put the Greens on the federal political map? Giving her two kicks at a seat in a general election wouldn’t be a terrible idea if a contingency was in place to put hold a leadership race right after the next election.

    Cooler heads will prevail at the GPC convention. I’m sure of it.

  19. Two comments on Ken Summers’ post above:

    1. How about that?: the general amending rule is 50% (see Article 10.1.3). But you still have to go through the motions of a membership vote. Here the council just presumed how the members would vote as the four years deadline has now effectively passed.

    2. I agree with Ken Summers’ last paragraph. The ‘grassroot’ party doesn’t seem so grassroot if it is even easier for the leadership to do as it pleases than in other parties with a 2/3s or 3/4s rule. It easier for the GPC tail to wag the dog.

    Markus Buchart
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    (Not a Green Party member)

  20. Yes, Rene Hetherington is a great candidate. Her only obstacle is Iggy and his supporters.
    The NDP, Edith Loring has a lot going for her too.Before Edith was chosen, Michael Byers was a possible candidate.
    I found it absurd for Elizabeth to butt in here in the Gulf Islands because it will be a 3 way choice for people and another sure seat for Lunn.
    We didn’t need another “green” candidate.
    The Tyee is mistaken.
    NDPers won’t support the Greens, nor will long time Liberals .
    Conservatives will vote Conservative.

  21. @Dylan
    ” First of all, the 2010 convention has to vote for a leadership race – all this debate could be all for not if the GPC membership decides not to hold a race with election speculation constantly percolating. I think Green members are more pragmatic than they are constitutional stalwarts. ”

    Actually, it is not a minor point that first of all the 2010 convention has to vote to ABANDON the Leadership race. Elizabeth May was quoted repeatedly today implying that this is an attempt to unseat her. That is not the truth. As I pointed out in the blog, she was elected Leader with the full expectation of facing a leadership race this year. The email that she sent to the membership claimed that there was an attempt to force her out, again untrue. She is not legally the Leader of the Party come September unless she convinces the membership to extend her term indefinitely, despite all her spin and hyperbole.

  22. My mistake, the membership has to vote against a leadership race.

    Being mistaken, however, does not change my opinion that cooler heads will prevail and pragmatism will trump legalism.

  23. oemissions – to your point about The Tyee being mistaken, to what extent to you believe the GPC is of any value to the Canadian political economy if we already have “three-horse” races in anglophone ridings?

    Moreover, you already put the LPC and NDP into the category of “green” parties, but I think you’re making a fatal mistake to think of the GPC as only an environmental party that is competing against the environmental platforms of the CPC/LPC/NDP/Bloc.

  24. @dylan
    I did have to pause and chuckle for a moment. I would characterise myself as a ‘bluegreen’, because I consider myself a pragmatist, with the objective of working within our existing electoral system to effect change. I would normally characterise Elizabeth May, and those whom she surrounds herself with as radicals, utilising and gaming the electoral system as activists to raise publicity for non-electorally based public opinion shaping. It really is at the core of my differences with the Leadership that I believe we as a Party must learn how to excell at electoral politics, while the Leadership has previously shown little interest in the mundane tasks of building EDA’s, growing membership base, identifying and getting out the vote etc.
    Now here we are, with the leadership putatively championing an electoral victory in SGI over all other considerations, while I find myself counselling patience and a broader based grass roots approach. On the face of it, our roles have reversed, until you consider that the desired victory in SGI sought by the Leadership has everything to do with raising the profile of the Leader, while the ends sought by myself are broad based excellence in effective campaigning.
    I hope that thoughtful readers will realise that this comment represents the crux and heart of the conflict within the party. Either we are contesting elections, in order to ultimately directly influence Parliament, or we are seeking a platform to bypass Parliament, and talk policy at the population.
    I continue to believe that hundreds, or even better thousands of local one-on-one conversations, which capture and retain the personal support of individual electors, activists, and politicians are a surer, and more certain route to effect policy changes.
    I must also say that the personal attacks and slurs directed at me by the leadership are not worthy, and should be understood as a natural consequence of the certainty, and sense of moral superiority that is present in far too many activists of all political stripes. But there we are, our Leadership is convinced of it’s infallability, and so pragmatic courses of action are suspect if they entail any hint of compromise.

  25. Dylan wrote, “…cooler heads will prevail and pragmatism will trump legalism.”

    The basis of the rule of law is that you make laws democratically, and then you follow them. If the rule is bad or outdated, you change it democratically.

    Pragmatism is ignoring a previously democratically made rule because it is inconvenient and it is expedient to ignore the rule.

    I’ll take democratic legalism over elitist pragmatism any day.

    Markus Buchart
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    (Not a Green Party member)

  26. bluegreenblogger,

    At what point should the GPC put forward a leader worth having a legitimate shot at gaining a seat in parliament and not fielding hundreds of 3rd and fourth place candidates? It is that first seat, I believe, that will be the breakthrough the GPC needs in the media that will boost the party’s profile – not just that of the leader – even more.

    It’s the Deborah Grey syndrome. The first seat is the hardest to grab, and if you think that a new leader won’t put his or her personality at the forefront of an election campaign and work hard to earn their seat FIRST, then I don’t know what to say.

    At some point, members of a political party want their candidates to get elected and their leaders to have a presence in parliament. The values of a party that does not have representation in the House are only so good for so long.

    I challenge the May nay-sayers: what will yield the best results in terms of growing the membership?

    1. Having your leader win their EDA and sit in the House of Commons?
    2. A leadership race?

    Where should the party’s energies go in the short term? This is a question we could debate day and night. In the end, it’ll come down to the fruits of the convention.

  27. Dylan:

    I think you have an all-too-common view of politics. That is, that it involves acting like a dancing monkey for the media and using them to build a party. That isn’t how any of the other parties have built their membership or elected people to office.

    A political party is build riding by riding through the hard work of people who build relationships between individuals and weave them together into a community. I know, I’ve been doing it in Guelph for twenty years and have a fair degree of success—very successful Green Candidates, two GPC members on City Council, plus a very strong small-“g” green presence (e.g. most of the City Council plus the mayor.)

    The problem with Elizabeth May and the people who support her is that they have no real experience in politics. Their only template is the NGO sector. In that group everything boils down to marketting: how much money you can raise from donours; and; how effectively you shill in front of the media. These tactics simply will not get out hundreds of volunteers to knock on doors during election campaigns.

    I’m really depressed at the tremendously low level of knowledge and experience I see everytime I look at these Green Party discussion groups—.

  28. I really enjoyed reading your article, and it passed some time at the end of my shift :)

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  29. […] through a bit of the history behind the current power play by Elizabeth May, and her coterie in previous posts. To encapsulate it, Federal council has been in a constantly renewed state of impending election […]

  30. “You see, the Green Party of Canada has long held the belief that we do politics differently. Leadership races were constitutionally mandated to happen every two years, so that there would be an opportunity to engage the party membership, and to decide on the future direction of the Party through the medium of a hotly contested leadership race.”

    Differently, I do not see it, neither internally nor externally. Leader-focus is the opposite of different, esp. re “future direction” stuff.

    “A leadership race draws a plethora”
    “A Leadership race creates a big ”
    “The media loves nothing like”

    How on earth is that “differently”??

    “the only voting member of council with a full time salary” — do you not see then how the enthusiasm about leadership stuff is rather misplaced?

    Why does bluegreen’ not put his energy if he is really into this party into ridding it of leadercentricity and adjusting the participatory framework so policy — which is what differentiates now — can go farther ahead still of the others while populist voices can be made to engagingly continually count? Obsession with party constitution, this is another major fault. Coupled with trying to squeeze into a crowded mainstream media…how is that “differently”. It’s just silly compared to what Greens could really be & do, just silly.

  31. That’s the double-edged sword that is Elizabeth May. Her Machiavellian ways of organizing can achieve great results, but the debris left in the wake of her and Adrienne et al is unhealthy for so many — huge collateral damage.

    My hubby and I found this out years ago, after prostrating some two years of our lives to the EMay cause. We learned the importance of process (by NOT having it with Elizabeth).

    Now that she has won her riding, E and her ways are entrenched, validated, and won’t be going away soon. Good luck Greens. Use this national spotlight to help keep E in check. Be kind, emphasize process, and (forgive me) use some of her own tactics. Problem is, she will always have minions around (like us) willing to do anything and EVERYTHING to help her achieve her ends.

    Keeping her honest and ethical will be the challenge of the GPC — everyone must KNOW their process.

    This foot in the door of Parliament is a great thing. Here’s hoping you can successfully build on that. I am afraid she’s ‘leader for life’ now.

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