Green Party Canada: Week 1 of the 2011 Election Campaign

Demand democratic debates!

Today marks the end of the first week of the 2011 Election Campaign, and I must say it has gone pretty well as expected for the Green Party. The national campaign has been lowering expectations for the GPC nationally by publicising the focus on getting Elizabeth May elected in SGI. If  the level of GPC popular support drops across the country, then we will be thankful that we have this fig leaf to hide behind. A future leader will be able to argue that the Green Party’s drop in the polls was attributable to this policy. It will be a pretty thin fig leaf, but hey, better than saying, ‘The people have spoken, we will do a better job…’As far as the actual campaign in SGI goes, who knows how it is doing?

I blogged some time ago on the choice of SGI as Elizabeth May’s target riding. The post is not rigourously supported with data, but it is directionally sound, and outlines the type of campaign needed and the consequences for the other 307 campaigns. What it boils down to is that there is a significant block of senior citizens, who have reliably voted for Gary Lunn in the past. They are dominant in SGI, and have to be seperated from the CPC by fair means or foul. The only possibility for Elizabeth to eke out a win in SGI is to convert a significant chunk of these votes to GPC votes, or to get twice as many of them to stay at home on Eday. This week, the first nationally visible attemp to suppress Lunns support was executed, with the joint press conference featuring Elizabeth May, and Linda Keen, the former Nuclear watchdog clumsily fired by Lunn. Given the topicality of nuclear safety, highlighting Lunns bungling of the Chalk River shutdown is a job well done. It will have some legs locally, as it resulted in the demotion of Lunn from the Natural Resources portfolio to Minister for Sport. Granted, it doesn’t give anybody a reason to vote Green, but it does speak to an issue on which the GPC has some credibility. There was a fair bit of local, and national press coverage, so I can guarantee you that it was discussed this weekend at many a dining table in SGI. Doubt has been planted, and a smidgin of Lunn support has been killed off. We can expect that there will be something similar every week until Eday. True to form, the press conference had nothing of value for the other 307 campaigns, but hey, our sole objective is to win in SGI, so who can complain?

As expected, the Green Party was excluded from the Nationally Televised leaders debate. If this were an election issue, I would be 95% satisfied with the Green Party’s performance. Problem is it is not an election issue. Let me clarify, it is an issue, and we are in an election, but it has not been framed in any way shape or form to win actual votes for the GPC. On the plus side, the GPC was at least somewhat prepared for it. It was easy enough to dust off the petitions, webpages, and do what worked two short years ago. The GPC got more publicity from it than could possibly be earned from our election platform, or any number of policy announcements. There have been literally thousands of articles, panels, blogs, and elder statesmen weighing in on it. The Green Party base has been mobilised, and a lot of Greens sent emails, publicised the issue on Facebook, etc. The petition site has harvested well over 100,000 contact names, and that number can be relied on to grow until the minute the televised debate starts. I have read a few journalists arguing that taking the issue to court on Monday is a waste of money, cause we won’t win. Well duh! The purpose of the legal challenge is to keep the issue alive and well in the press. The GPC has made a series of emailed fundraising asks, to pay for a newspaper advertising campaign supporting the Green Party’s inclusion in the debate. They weren’t badly couched either, and as a result, we are going to be treated to  some full page newspaper ads shortly. The asks were obviously influenced a teensy bit by Trippi, although there was zero interactive element at the other end of the links. I think that the GPC is on track to see some solid publicity from this issue until the day after the dabates, when all the pundits are saying too bad Elizabeth May wasn’t there.

So this brings me to the negatives. This issue does nothing but generate publicity, and name recognition. The GPC is frothing with outrage, and they are frothing very nicely indeed, but the calls to action do not do anything much to support the broader campaign objective of winning votes for the GPC, and building the Party. Make no mistake, it will be a major victory if the campaign succeeds in it’s stated objective of getting the GPC into the debate again, but the potential payoff from hundreds of thousands of people volunteering their contact information on the petition forms, and actually clicking a link to come and see us is more valuable in the long run than debate participation. Firstly, the landing page should be far more vibrant, and should be followed by a LOT more content than just the form and this issue in isolation. Once the data is harvested, the thanks and share page should have forums visible, and a democratic values election plank visible. Actually, I don’t much care WHAT election plank is promoted there, so long as it is topical, and relevant to all those relative strangers visting a GPC site for the first time, and gives them reasons to VOTE Green, Join the Party etc. The GPC has had two years to analyse the signatories of the last campaigns petitions, and should have shelled out some money to profile, and find out more about what will motivate petition signatories to do more, like volunteer, donate, and vote Green. Inviting people to share their opinions and participate in an open forum discussion would engage far more people than a static form. Don’t take my word for it, go back to e-electioneering kindergarten, and re-read Trippi’s The Revolution will not be Televised’ if you are not sure how it is supposed to work.

So tomorrow morning, the issue will recieve another breath of life when the application is made to the courts to hear a challenge. Tomorrow, a number, ( about $40,000 worth) of full page newspaper ads will start appearing promoting the issue, and inviting petition signatories to come forward. Certainly, by the end of the week, there will be a much bigger media splash when the court accepts/rejects the application. Sometime before the actual debate, there will be a court ruling, and that is the moment to be prepared for. If by some strange twist the GPC gains admittance, well David slaying Goliath is absolutely great coverage, and the free publicity from the debate will be  huge bonus. If, as seems more likely Goliath slays David, then David needs to be ready to win big time anyway. Have the outrage canned and ready to hit the airwaves. Relate it to Green Party policy, and start campainging for VOTES, instead of soft support. Guaranteed, there will be a much larger number of petition respondents coming forward this week, so there is not a whole lot of time to get something more effective and compelling together to start winning these visitors over in a substantive way. Play it right, and the GPC can fund those full page newspaper ad buys for the rest of the campaign, build an email list of 1,000,000 Candians interested in democratic values, and ‘fair play’, and have an extremely potent tool for future Party building. Not to mention the fact that sending out 1,000,000 GOTV email messages for the ADVANCE POLLS could have a strong impact on our electoral showing in this, the 41’st general election. I know that there is nothing much in the way of resources for a National Campaign. It is very likely that the GPC staffers are going nuts trying to keep up with the demands of the Campaign, but it is time to take a few smart people out of the fray, and task them with raising a million dollars, 100,000 votes, and 10,000 new members from the petition drive campaign.

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8 Responses

  1. Any party that receives tax payer money should be in the debates
    Lets hope if in again this time may talks about what the greens offer and not be a attack dog
    Although I am against may and running independent I am still mobilizing the cannabis vote nationally

    Unfortunately I am unable to get the party to repeat its cannabis policy from Vision so many are being pulled back ndp and liberal

    I will still help the greens because of that policy

    The bottom line is not getting into the Debates has given them a boost anyway

    Good luck out there
    And get the Harpys out !!
    Cheers

  2. Re “…task them with raising a million dollars, 100,000 votes, and 10,000 new members from the petition drive campaign.”

    You crack me up! I didn’t know that you have had a prior career as a comedy writer.

    Re “Doubt has been planted, and a smidgin of Lunn support has been killed off. We can expect that there will be something similar every week until Eday.”

    All it would take to neutralize any gain for the Liberal parachutist (whatever there might be) is a letter to The Saanich News from a Nova Scotian informing readers of conduct befitting an electoral carpetbagger and rapist.

  3. Maybe Cem Ozdemir can put in a good word for Ms. May with his Bilderberg buddies and she can also receive an invitation for the next meeting. She can drop names herself, e.g. Maurice Strong, the Rockefeller pooch. Globalists love to hang together. I hear that Switzerland is lovely in the early summer.

  4. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the Obama types who voted “for hope & change”. How are they making out?

    Chris Hedges has been on TVO a couple of times. His story is the liberal class, i.e., liberal institutions such as the church, the press, the university, the Democratic Party, the arts and labor unions, has betrayed the unwashed workers. The growing far right is the backlash.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/10/25-7

    The Tea Party is also taking the “soft” elected Republicans to task. People here in Canaduhhhhhhh are oblivious to the great debate going on in the US. How does Ontario’s debt compare with Arizona where they are cutting medicare?

    In my opinion, the GPC has become the party of Guicci & Prada wearing Prius drivers….la creme de la classe neo-liberal. Its branded itself Liberal-green (hugging Liberals rubs off).

    May at one time did work for the Cons. She even thought Mulroney should get an environmental award, not that NAFTA contains and provisions about the environment. Anyone who has read the “Cloak of Green” is aware to what extent strings are being pulled from behind the curtain.

    From the point of view of the unwashed, Con, Lib, DIP or today’s GPC makes no difference. The reality is the status quo is not sustainable but the charade goes on (another favorite theme of Hedges).

    Given the above, where are these new GPC votes to from come from?

  5. @rem

    May at one time was a civil servant, and so worked for the Canadian Gvt. That doesn’t make her a Con, and even if it did, that was a looong time ago. Mulroney negotiated a pollution abatement treaty witrh the States, NAFTA had nothing much to do with it, and that treaty was groundbreaking. Certainly had a huge impact on Acid rain. The Tea Party thing, and assault on neo-liberalism, while it raises some interesting points doesn’t really fit in with any of this post. How this relates to your question is unclear to me.

    I called for an analysis of who is responding to the debate almost-an- issue, because those are the people with whom a dialogue could potentially be opened. That is who the new votes are going to come from.

  6. […] somebody at the national campaign is listening to me, or they came to the same conclusion that I posted on yesterday. The kerfuffle about excluding the Green Party of Canada from the debates has led to a ton of […]

  7. […] was not a remarkable week for the Green Party. First off, there is the Debate on the Debate. As I mentioned last week, the issue generates some great positive publicity for the Green Party of Canada, but it does not […]

  8. […] Not an Official Green Party Canada Site .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 !important;} […]

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