Green Party’s Frank DeJong the news hit today.

Extra! DeJong's in the News.

Extra! DeJong's in the News.

Every couple of days, I hit the google news search with Green Party Canada, just to see if anything interesting crops up. I am sad to report that for the past few months, very little of interest has surfaced. Today I was pretty amused at the outcome.

Frank DeJong, leader of the Green Party of Ontario is taking a swing through Northern Ontario, and he came up at the top of the relevant news. I’ve known Frank for 4 years now, and he has a very pleasant demeanour. He’s a gifted Politician, in the sense that he doesn’t love the sound of his own voice. He listens before he speaks, and he’s very much a consensus builder. What was truly refreshing about his news coverage was the balanced way he criticises the Liberal Government. In the first news link, he actually applauds the positive initiatives of the Ontario Liberals, criticizes what he considers their shortcomings, and then proposes some innovative policy proscriptions. What a breath of fresh air!

Frank DeJong

Frank DeJong

In the second news link, He criticizes the Liberal Government briefly, follows it by proposing the Green Party’s alternate policy prescription, and then reaches out to fiscally conservative disaffected Tories. Now that’s how you grow your’ Party. By explicitly reaching out, and asking people to join. In the third news link, he focuses exclusively on positive policy, without breathing a word about the other Party’s.

Frank is obviously paying attention to the growth in membership, and electoral strength of the Green Party’s North Ontario Constituency Associations. He is touring the North in support of them, and he is presenting a positive message with sincerity and conviction. This is entirely relevant to my Green Party of Canada focus. There was a recent Angus Reid Poll released where, yet again, Ontarians supported the Green Party of Canada at nearly twice the rate of the rest of Canada.

The Green Party of Ontario is chock a block with talented organizers, and strong Riding

Nagy and Jolley. The A-Team

Nagy and Jolley. The A-Team

Association builders. Shane Jolley in Bruce Grey Owen Sound with his team, and Mike Nagy in the company of his heavy hitting Guelph Team have both benefited greatly from the synergy between Provincial and Federal organizations. The fact is that they work hard identifying supporters, and building their organizations at both levels, so the energy, skills, membership, and volunteer base grows with every election, whether Provincial or Federal. These two CA’s are far from alone. The majority of the Province is organized in tandem now, and the lessons of the top performers are being learned across the Province. It seems that when David Chernushenko’s supporters left the Green Party of Canada to Elizabeth May, they didn’t completely disappear. They simply withdrew their talent from the top table at the GPC, and transferred their efforts to their provincial organization.

By the way, the fourth news article was entitled: Green Party Mired in Silence?

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Elizabeth May to tilt at Central Nova windmill again.

Oh No! It’s deja vu all over again.

Running in Central Nova again?!

Running in Central Nova again?!

I just read back to back posts at Report on Greens, where yesterday Elizabeth May had seemed to back down on her insistence on running in Central Nova, and thenflip flopped in a CTV interview. Yesterday I was quite pleased. I assumed that Elizabeth had seen the light, and realized that it was simple necessity  that she win a seat fair and square. Even casual observers of the GPC could see that her future, and even the Green Party’s future depends upon meeting the raised expectations of the electorate and the Party. After all, if the Greens were content to make marginal, and incremental improvements in their vote, then they would have elected David Chernushenko leader, and been guaranteed solid organisation and management. Instead, the GPC elected Elizabeth May because her high profile. Her undoubted media savvy seemed to offer the best chance of a strong Air War, and maybe a couple of seats in the next general election.

We all know that things somehow went wrong when Elizabeth rejected the professional advice of Dan Baril, and decided to run against Peter Mackay in Central Nova. I won’t rake it all over the coals again. Suffice it to say that Central Nova would vote for Peters dog if Peter was unavailable, just so long as the dog went by the name Mackay. It could be that Elizabeth thought that her pact with Dion not to run a Liberal candidate against her would suffice to unseat the favourite. There’s no question that Elizabeth’s desire to represent the riding where she and her family have lived for several decades weighed heavily on her. I have little doubt that more than a dash of wishful thinking was involved.

What actually happened is history now. The Green Party of Canada injected $80,000 into the campaign, out of which an astonishing $31,000 was spent on mostly print advertising. The bulk of the balance of their spending was on office rent, heat, and phones. A total of $55,000 was expended, (about $25k less than the spending limit), and Elizabeth May came in 6,000 votes behind Peter Mackay. Mind you, this was without any Liberal candidate in the race.

Now I’m sure that the Central Nova campaign identified all of the local GPC supporters. (NOT). I’m sure that they learned all about running an effective campaign in Central Nova, (NOT). Does Elizabeth imagine that with Ignatieff’s commitment to run a Liberal candidate against her, this will split the Conservative vote? Will the Lib/Con split to a greater extent than it splits her own vote? Not gonna happen. I don’t have any local opinion research to back me up, but I sincerely doubt that Elizabeth does either. I will eat my hat if any serious polls of the local electorate would support her in her decision. What the devil is she thinking then? The only thing I am left with is to suppose that she knows something that I don’t know.

Is Peter Mackay going to run in the next election or not? If he goes, and decides not to run his dog against her, then May suddenly becomes my favourite to win there. That could explain it. I will profusely apologise if that is the case. If it isn’t, then I am very disappointed indeed.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Bill Casey, the Independent, and formerly Progressive Conservative incumbent in the next door riding of Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley, has announced his intention not to run again. The Liberals will nominate Tracy Parsons again, which is not the best news for a run by Elizabeth, but this riding is a much better choice. It will be up for grabs, and there is enough time to do the fieldwork needed to elect Elizabeth there. This will meet Elizabeth’s need to be close to home, and will meet her Party’s need to bloody well put the puck in the net. If Elizabeth wants a slam dunk, then perhaps she could, for just a teensy weensie second, consider a guaranteed seat in Ontario? It’s called Guelph, and Mike Nagy has done a bang up job, and I mean really excellent, of preparing the ground for another heavy hitting candidate.

If not Elizabeth, then perhaps an invitation to David Chernushenko to stay in Guelph for 6 months or so is in order? The press would really eat up a ‘Leader in Waiting’ story, and I guarantee David would have an enormous volunteer presence if he took this bold step. It could be that he will be running municipally in 2010, but David, consider well how a high national profile could affect your future. The leadership of the GPC would be yours on a platter were you the first elected Green.

I think that the Green Party of Canada has to start examining it’s devolution into a leaders cult. We need more breadth, more high profile candidates to move forward with. I think that we need to start actively seeking out, and recruiting ambitious souls who are Green at heart. There is no question that there are many hundreds of Canadians with high profiles, who might leap at the chance to be the first Green Party Member of Parliament. There is no question that there is a plethora of high profile local ‘talent’ that could make a go of it in one, or all of our stronger riding’s. I don’t expect that our Ottawa office will look all that kindly on any major figures who stand forward, so it’s going to be up to the local EDA’s. Have a look at my previous post about recruiting municipal politicians as candidates. Hook up with your local councillor, mayor, and the second and third place candidates in the last election. Check out the candidates from the losing Party’s in the last few elections. You never can tell, but I bet if every EDA in Canada were to approach all of the above, we would recruit quite a few strong contenders, and win a seat or two in the next election.

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Green Party of Canada So Long Jim Harris – For Now.

Jim Harris  -  Leading Light of the GPC

Jim Harris - Leading Light of the GPC

The recent announcement by Jim Harris, longtime leader of the Green Party of Canada, that he is taking a ‘sabbatical’ from the GPC has garnered little attention in the media, and Green Party circles. I will try not to make this post sound like an obituary, because I am convinced that we haven’t seen the last of Jim.

Jim Harris served as Leader of the Green Party of Canada, after years of activism with the Green Party that started many years ago when he was employed as a staffer with the Green Party in the UK. I first met Jim at a garden party at his house in East York, in the days after the 2004 election. He was always a bit of an odd bird, and his strength was derived from superior organizing, and fundraising ability, less than from a magnetic personality. All Greens acknowledge the hard work, and his, (at the time), extraordinary ability to induce supporters to part with their money. Fewer Greens, (and I am amongst them), credit Jim with a fundamental breakthrough. He single handedly changed the image of the Green Party of Canada from that of a looney left wing Party, to a party was ‘neither left, nor right, BUT forward’. By espousing fiscal conservatism, social progressivism, and environmental sustainability, he broadened the appeal of the GPC to welcome in throngs of disaffected Red Tories, and Liberals.

Having known Jim for 5 years, I can tell you there is more to his departure than can be read in his gentlemanly ‘sabbatical’ announcement. He has served recently as the chair of the 18 member Federal Campaign Committee. It is interesting to note that in the wake of the recent election this committee has suffered a rash of resignations, that some have characterized as a coup. The resignation of 7 members left a clear majority of 100% Elizabeth May loyalists. It seems that responsibility for the organizational problems in the last election is not to be laid at the Leaders

Sharon Labchuk. Is she up to the job?

Sharon Labchuk. Is she up to the job?

door, but on the small number of experienced Campaigners on the committee. I will not point fingers, but some of the people on the committee are, frankly, not competent to plan a campaign, while some of those resigning are amongst the best campaigners who stuck around after David Chernushenko’s defeat, and subsequent retreat from GPC politics.

This development is not a good sign for the future of the GPC. I will suspend judgement until we see if the new and improved committee is able to start marshaling the resources of the GPC. I frankly do not care what they want to blame the failures in the last election on. I will reserve judgement for a few months. Until I start seeing them recruiting quality candidates, reaching out and teaching the EDA’s how to campaign, and driving membership numbers back up, I will assume that this housecleaning had nothing to do with Election readiness, and everything to do with???

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Elizabeth scores some slavish press

Have a look at this article.

Happy Smiling Elizabeth

Happy Smiling Elizabeth

I have known Elizabeth for a couple of years now, and I still get a kick out of how she garners such uncritical press. This is almost 100% selected quotes. Hey, I’m not knocking it, that’s why she was elected leader after all. There was one extremely significant quote though. “We haven’t had the best political machine to get us elected,” said May. May thinks the short campaign time of Stephen Harper’s “snap-election” and the financial crisis worked against the Greens.”

Elizabeth should have kissed and made up with David Chernushenko after the leadership

David Chernushenko, might have been, and may yet be...

David Chernushenko, might have been, and may yet be...

race. Had she reached out to the only people in the party who know how to organise, communicate, canvas, and get down and dirty in the electoral trenches, then she wouldn’t be relying strictly on the Media to make her campaign happen. The fact is, that she caught the competent people in the GPC by surprise with her candidacy. They had already coalesced around David before she came on the scene, and what would have been a Chernushenko coronation, became a May surprise. When she subsequently turned her back on Chernushenko, she lost what there was of a political machine.

As far as the short election, her people had 2 years to prepare. In 2006 we saw training, organising, campaign schools, lots of passionate people concentrating on the hard lesson learnt in 2004, and 2006-7. Now that Elizabeth has re-learned those lessons, I hope she’ll realise that the Air war needs to be married to the ground war when the writ is dropped.

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