Justin over Joyce, by a nose: But how they are BOTH winners.

The conventional wisdom has it that Justin Trudeau has the leadership of the Liberals all but in the bag. Well, all I can say is that the conventional wisdom is ill-informed, and I believe that the contest is a whole lot closer than it appears.

First off, Joyce Murray has a lot more supporters than was publicly suspected. According to her campaign, they actually managed to register 45,000 supporters through their third-party recruiting drive. Yes, I said register to vote, not sign up as supporters. As I posted some weeks ago, Joyce Murray was pretty smart when she targeted a massive, well organised, and highly motivated online community in her supporter drive. It did not require a massive labour intensive process to succeed, because the communications tool utilised, (electronic) is basically free, and the motivation of her erstwhile target group is STRONG. That ease of communications, and strong motivation has manifested itself again by the very high rate of conversion of Murray Supporters to registered voters. That does not surprise me in the least, as I blogged here. As a former Green, I know that the Democratic reform advocates are more deeply motivated than most Canadians, and since the means of recruiting them, via email made it very easy to register, it was inevitable that their numbers would be strong. So based upon the raw numbers, Joyce probably has more registered supporters than Trudeau, while Trudeau probably has a big edge in paid up members.

The Trudeau Campaign is in a very different place. Despite all the hoopla about 170,000 Supporters, the Trudeau campaign recruited a large number of them through their phone banks, NOT through email or online campaigns. The down-side of this is that there was a built-in bias AGAINST Trudeau rooted in the means of acquiring those supporters. They reached them, one at a time by telephone, so a great many of them had no email address on file. This meant that given the very short time frame to register to vote, only a fraction of the Trudeau supporters will have ended up being eligible to vote. Trudeau has got to be chewing his fingernails by now, if the conversion rate for supporters to registered voters was so very lame, are his registered supporters sufficiently motivated to actually cast their ballot after all? I have zero information to share on that score, except the general observation that Joyce’s supporters are going to turn out in very large numbers, and Trudeau’s supporter turnout will definitely be lower. On raw vote counts, it will be extremely close, but that does not mean that Trudeau will lose.

You see, there is something to be said for clunky, old-fashioned, slow and expensive phone banks. Every contact can be targeted. While Joyce was racking up big numbers of supporters, she could not control WHERE THEY CAME FROM. Boy, is she gonna ROCK BC! Actually, she is going to just sweep aside everybody else in BC, and there will be a titanic battle in Urban centres across Canada. But superior organisation, and the highly targeted phone campaign by the Trudeau team will still likely tip the balance. The reason is that despite the very low registration rates ‘enjoyed’ by team Trudeau, their conversions are going to yield a very efficient vote. By efficient, I mean that they are going to win maybe 100, maybe more ridings by just a handful of votes. So there it is, I predict that Joyce will be in a dead heat with Trudeau in terms of ballots cast, but unless Trudeau’s turnout is really really pitiful, he shall win it in rural Nova Scotia, and across the Province of Quebec. It is going to be close though, so nobody should loaf around figuring it is in the bag.

So what to do with Joyce once the dust settles? Well, she has proven something very specific and relevant to the Liberals fortunes. Look at this very interesting article on election results based upon polled intentions of the electorate under a preferential ballot system, ( Actually, that is official Liberal Policy for democratic reform). The outcomes are extremely favourable for every party except the Conservative Party. That makes intuitive sense because the Conservatives have pursued a deliberate policy of solidifying support from their issue sensitive base by contrasting it against, and vilifying those who disagree with them. Hmm, not very conducive for being liked by at least some of your opponents. So preferential ballots are good for the Liberal Party. Joyce has proven something else. Democratic reform is a very strong motivator. It is capable of drawing tens of thousands of supporters in from different party’s, and those supporters mean business. While Joyce pulled in maybe 50,000 names, the sheer size of the Leadnow, Fair Vote, etc memberships suggests that there are as many as a million motivated Canadians standing behind electoral reform. So here is some food for thought, Joyce should be offered the job of building up a strongly motivated community of Liberals, dedicated to bringing Preferential ballots, or a Royal Commission on electoral reform to Canadians, just as soon as the Liberals form the next Government. There is plenty of time to turn this issue into a Liberal issue before the next election. Put half a million democratic reform supporters into Liberalist, and there will be an amazing number of pony tailed-activists canvassing in YOUR riding for YOUR candidate in 2015. And the money, Oh La La! Joyce will have plenty of funds to carry the electoral reform message to the electorate. People who really care will respond well to asks for time and money to support their cause. And guess what? If it succeeds, the Liberal Party will have a permanent advantage with the introduction of preferential ballots, because there they are, with a brand that has very broad appeal indeed! And if it doesn’t succeed? Well, the democratic reform advocates have been patient and are used to not succeeding. They will dig in their heels, and organise an even stronger community for the next election.

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It’s Official, the Green Party of Canada Membership will decide on Leadership.

Before I start, I just checked my visitor stats, and it’s at 30,008! That’s 10,000 visitors in 3 months and 3 days. Wow, there were a LOT of people very interested in what’s happening with the GPC leadership contest!

It didn’t make sense to have a post with a shelf life of 1 day hanging around on the front page, so I’m bumping it with a post on the outcome of Sunday’s Green Party council debate on the leadership race. I am happy to say that my plea for reason, and my desperate last ditch attempt to ensure that no illegal motions were passed was successful. Council has voted to draft a motion to amend the Part by-laws regarding a leadership race to submit to the membership at the August BGM in Toronto. In the interim, the Leadership race fairness committee has been tasked to prepare the terms and conditions of the race. These terms and conditions will be predicated on the terms and conditions of the last race. For those interested, Steve Kisby chairs that committee, and I’ll publish the names and email addresses of all the members in an upcoming post.

The reason that the race terms and conditions have to be updated is because the council motion acknowledges that if the By-Law amendment fails, nominations for the leadership race will commence immediately, and a new leader will be elected before the year end. So now, the die is cast, and the leadership contenders have a sense of the rulebook, and a timeline to plan for.

I have recieved a number of emails with condolences about the outcome of Sundays vote. As I read them, I realised that there is something I simply haven’t made clear, and I’d like to clarify it now. I have NOT advocated an immediate race because I hate Elizabeth May, and want her out at any cost. What I have been argueing for is a consistent application of the rules, and for the clearly expressed intention of the membership, as is written into our By-Laws and constitution, to be respected. It was intolerable to me that the rules should be tinkered with, and disrespected by our governing council. This would be severely unhealthy for our Party, and would store up trouble for the future. The very fact that the membership will be consulted at the BGM, and that their intentions and will are NOT being pre-supposed and manipulated contents me completely. The practical needs of the competing leadership contenders have been partly addressed, and the commitment to flesh out the rulebook allows for the small tweaks that will deliver a great contest. The next Leader of the GPC will be decided by an open, and vigorous contest, that will allow for an airing of our differences, a contest for the hearts and minds of the membership, and a reconciliation of our differences at the conclusion of the race.  Provided the manipulation is over, win or lose, I AM CONTENT.

The paragraph above does not go far enough though. The characterisation that I increasingly see that I am  hater of Elizabeth is not true whatsoever. Elizabeth May has brought a great many benefits to the Green Party. She is an extraordinarily articulate, and intelligent woman. She is a quick thinker, and has a grasp of the effects and impacts of environmental policy second to NO-ONE in Canada, or even anywhere in the world! She IS our star candidate, and has more electoral potential in her pinky than 90% of our candidates in a general election. After this leadership race is over, I will move heaven and earth to help her get elected to Parliament.

Huh! That surprised everybody didn’t it? Well let me make clear the rational basis of my criticisms of the Leadership of the GPC, and WHY I believe it could only be rectified by a leadership race. Unlike any other Party in Canada, the Green Party has no formally elected Chief Administrative, or Chief Executive officer. (Often called the Party President) In theory, the Party machinery is managed by a hired Executive Director, while some various functions are handled by appointed sub committees of council, and the council elected Chair. Well, this really sucks, because the impact is that informal mechanisms actually trump the formal structure. The Leader, whom we all pretend is being elected as the chief communicator, in fact has great moral suasion, and by default, ends up shall we say, strongly influencing hiring, organising principles and structure, budget processes, campaign planning, and who has to clean the teacups after an in-person council meeting. She is not really accountable for failures in this area, because those failures aren’t officially her fault. As for an accountable council, well in practice it isn’t. Council members come and go through a revolving door. When accountability means you may lose a council election, and be spared feeling guilty for not reading all the memorada, and motions before the meetings, and not have to attend a monthly bun-fight, it’s hardly a meaningful sanction for mis-behaviour now, is it? So in effect, there is no accountability for councillors. These are also the reasons for the revolving door to the top staff positions. THEY are accountable for what they don’t control.

While Elizabeth has universally acknowledged skills, and attributes, I do not believe that these skills stretch to all places, and all things. She simply does not have the professional experience in managing processes, budgets, and multi-layered objectives that are essential to the operations of a successful political Party. No one person contains the full skill set, so that’s not a nasty attack. It’s a recitation of facts. When she found herself elected leader of a political party 4 years ago, she didn’t know anybody there very well. She saw levers of power, and she saw staff positions which needed filling. She looked amongst her closest trusted advisors, and allies from the Sierra Club, and from her personal life, and she filled those positions, and she pulled those levers of power. I know full well how many people were jockeying for influence with her at that time, because I was at the heart of her campaign team. Can I blame her for taking the steps she did? Not really, because she didn’t KNOW in her bones that political Party’s are pluralistic, that campaigns happen on multiple levels, and good politics requires good accomodation, and conciliation skills. So in a nutshell, that’s how the bunker mentality started. Our leader had the campaign team needed, but she didn’t have the management team to ‘close the deal’.

So now we’re going to have a leadership race, and the roots of our governance problems will be right out there on the table. I am working on behalf of a process oriented candidate who is a truly superior manager, trainer, and facilitator. She has a successful career, to which she will return after the job is done of facilitating the renewal of our Party’s governance and operations is completed, or at least well started. She will work to raise the profile of shadow cabinet, and put the media relations tools of the Party at the disposal of our up and coming personalities. She will work to ensure the National Party co-ordinates growth, message, and both strategic and tactical objectives with the EDA’s, and regional organising teams. She will work to ensure that we research effective messages, and systematically grow our support in a TARGETED and deliberate manner. Then she will retire from the position, and happily be our much beloved elder stateswoman, at the side of Elizabeth, and Jim Harris. Elizabeth has made a great contribution, and I really hope she will stay on to continue her career in the Green Party, but we must use the existing processes, and the moral suasion of the leaders position to recraft the operating and management structure of the Green Party.

So I sincerely hope this post will put to bed the silly comments, and half baked characterisations of myself, BGB as a hater of Elizabeth. It’s simply not a worthy criticism, especially now that we have a really serious contest in place for the hearts and MINDS of the Green Party of Canada’s membership. Now have at it with your’ comments! (6 weeks to meet the next 10,00 site visitors?)

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Green Party of Canada and the Youth Vote.

'Too busy' to vote?

'Too busy' to vote?

The Green Party of Canada has for many years enjoyed exceptional levels of support amongst younger voters. In fact, it could be successfully argued that the growth in Green Party support has roughly tracked the graduation of our youth into the ranks of voters at the age of 18. The most recent series of EKOS polls has simply re-stated something that pollsters have been telling us for the last 5 years. Green Party support comes disproportionately from young (under 25 years old) voters.

This is, of course a very positive signal for the future prospects of our Party. It comes with a built in problem though. The fact is that young people simply do not bother to get out and vote. I know that sounds harsh. I know that there are other factors to point to in every election, like exam schedules coinciding with the vote, or poor voter registration mitigating against the youth vote. These might be contributing factors, but the underlying reality is that turn-out amongst the youth is dramatically worse than any other population segment, and that has held true for many many electoral cycles. I would even go so far as to argue that a large chunk of the polled support, that always seems to evaporate on election day is due to the fact that the youth vote picked up in the opinion polls doesn’t get converted into ballots on E-day.

I just read Dave Baglers poston this issue. Dave has proposed that the solution is to mimic the other Party’s, and establish a full time Campus club organizer to improve the GPC’s presence on Campus across the country. Dave is right that this can have a huge impact in those few riding’s where a large Campus exists, like in London North Centre. I remember L.N.C. by-election pretty well. While the Campaign was overall a badly managed affair, the work that Ben West did to shake up the Western campus was extraordinary. I cannot stress enough though that this was a tactical effort, that was executed very well. Strategicallyspeaking, it simply doesn’t address the opportunity we are discussing. The resources required to duplicate this success in all the major University riding’s are not available. Even if they were, and everything went perfectly on every major campus, it would still only translate into 50,000 extra votes at best. The fact is that only a small fraction of young voters are accessible to us on campus, and at the very best this would be a small part of an effective strategy to mobilise the youth vote.

 There hasn’t been much in the way of serious tactical, or strategic discussion about what to do about it. In a sense, Jim Harris’s focus on Trippi’s social networking campaigns was driving towards a solution, but the Green Party has ultimately failed to work out a systematic approach  to boosting turnout amongst youth. In all fairness to the GPC, the NDP spent decades wrestling with the same issue, with the same result. (no change, or even a further decline).

IMHO, in order to achieve a big boost in turnout, we need to go back  to first principles, and define the problem, and proximate causes. Then we need to determine a strategy, and tactics required  to acheive the required result. This is a very ambitious project I’m talking about. In order to succeed, we will need to work it out pretty carefully, and focus a chunk of our election budget, and communications strategy towards achieving a concrete advantage.

I cannot speak for anybody but myself, but I haven’t let that stop me in the past! First off, we need to be able to target communications on this demographic. Since young people do not watch much TV anymore, the best way to reach youth is probably the ‘internet’. I would tend to agree that boring static sites are not going to help much, and interactive, and networking sites will pack the best bang for the buck. The real trick will be to focus on attracting, and retaining an audience. That includes using traditional media, ( TV and Newspaper), to promote, and highlight the online campaign. Every trick in the book should be utilised to identify, and collect contact information for Green Party supporters on-line. Self-identification, newsletter subscriptions, petition signers, ‘invite a friend’, and as many more great ideas as yet un-thought of as can, and will be forthcoming.

By itself, the exercise of identifying throngs of youthful GPC supporters will NOT solve the turnout problem. What will be needed is, (to paraphrase Monty Python), ‘something completely different’. Like what? Well, lets start by making the act of voting something interesting, and above all FUN. What I would like to propose is to turn the advance polls into a big push for the Green Party. If we build this into the communications strategy for the next National election, then I believe that we can get an enormous amount of very positive ‘old media’ coverage by running a positive campaign to boost voter turnout. If we pop a serious budget at promoting the advance polls, with a ‘non-partisan’ theme of getting out to vote at the advance polls, then we will be the biggest beneficiary of whatever success the campaign enjoys.

 It will be a message that self-inoculates against any contrary message that the other Party’s may want to respond with. Like Mother, and Apple pie, the media, pundits, and other political actors can do nothing but make positive noises about increasing voter turnout, no matter how much they might gnash their teeth at the prospect of the GPC scoring a big win. It also goes a long way towards countering the strategic voting message that the Liberal Party will be counting on to steal our vote on E-Day. In the past, the Liberals have really poured it on in the closing days of the Campaign. We really, really have to forestall this tactic in the next election. What better way could there be than to take the GPC vote out of play a week before the Liberal strategic voting campaign message starts to saturate the electorate?

Green Party Party!

Green Party Party!

In order to really capture the imagination, and motivate youth’s to vote, then we could co-ordinate a network of advance poll parties across the country. If we can promise people a great party to go to after the advance polls close, with large venues in major cities, and small and large parties alike in smaller population centres, but really push it from coast to coast, then people will have a perfectly good reason to get out and vote. It will be associated with lot’s of fun. Who knows, maybe we can fill the coffers with some ready cash if we can work it right.

The possibilities are exciting to contemplate. The GPC frankly has no hope of commanding the attention of the electorate in the last week of the election, youth or otherwise. Even if we saved every penny we could, and spent it all in a rush just before E-Day, we would still be completely swamped by the spending power of the other Party’s. The Advance polls are another story though. If we only have enough resources to dominate the news for a couple of early campaign days, then rather than dribbling out our pennies to minimal effect, why not capture the airwaves for a few days before and during the advance polls? There is absolutely no reason why we should hang around waiting for E-Day to be clobbered by the firepower of the other Party’s. A ballot cast at the advance poll is just as precious and valid as a ballot on E-Day. It serves our purposes so well, in so many different ways, that I truly believe we should think ‘outside the box’, and re-write the book on getting out the vote. Besides, the timing is perfect for every campaign to take a break after the polls close, and have a great party to charge up the Party for the last lap of the National Campaign.

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Trippi Review; And the winner WAS.. Old school dirty tricks

Joe Trippi

Joe Trippi

In this continuing review of Joe Trippi’s “The Revolution will Not be Televised” , I have to report some pretty mixed feelings. In his book, as the ‘Dean for America’ online campaign takes flight, it massively exceeds the political establishments expectations. At the same time, the organizational weakness of the Dean for America campaign starts to exert a negative influence.

I guess I’ll break it into two competing themes. The first is so exciting to read about! Born out of need, the web based networking campaign starts to virally spread it’s wings, and permeates every crack of every region in America. The integration of Meetup.com, and later the GetLocal tools into the campaign really empower decentralized campaigning. People are easily enabled to act on their own initiative. Instead of passively waiting to be organized, the ‘membership’ seizes these tools, and starts to organize hundreds, and then thousands of events without reference to the Campaign team in Vermont. According to Trippi, it is this very act of empowerment that breathes life and vigour into the campaign. Dean himself becomes the vessel into which thousands upon thousands of people pour their hopes and dreams. In practical terms, meetup actively engages people, and pulls them from their musty basements into the real world as political activists. It is the tool which translates thought, debate, and sense of community into action.

As the campaign progresses, and the wider world of old school media, and machine politics of the democratic Party starts to notice something happening, things are taking a somewhat different turn. Trippi the long time operative, fieldwork guru, and master of message is watching both the wild new world unfolding, and the ‘real world’ big bad wolf knocking at the door. The opposition research of the competing campaigns is building their files, and starting to release damaging attacks on Dean in the old world of Televised politics. The Campaign is suffering from the usual divided camps within the campaign office. There are few communications professionals to massage the media and message. This is aggravated by Dean’s unscripted, and off message public communications. Without a team to help craft the message, and spin the opposition press releases, more and more damaging hits are being landed on the campaign. Is the fieldwork solid in Idaho? The answer is no. On the ground, there is tons of action, and the new world is having an astounding impact, but the solid, methodical, machine like groundwork is not quite happening.

The demise of the Dean for America campaign was, according to Trippi, an out of context, but embarrasing video clip palyed over, and over, and over again by the mainstream media. The ultimate victory of the ‘big guns’, was determined despite all the thousands of faithful grassroots supporters. An indifferent public was bombarded with inconsequential fluff, and the Campaign was thus decided.

There is so much of interest in this story overall, and I would enthusiastically endorse it as a good read. As a template for the new world of politics, my expectations were upset. By repute, Trippi had revolutionised politics, and the old ways of TV politics were doomed. After a cereful reading, what I take away is the opposite. Yes, there exists an exciting ‘new’ tool that Trippi released on the world. Yes, it HAS changed the way that politics is done in North America. No, the old world of TV politics is nowhere near doomed. These campaign tools are the subtext, while the Campaign writ large is still about message, organization, Identifying, then getting out the vote.

Just look at Obama. His team wrote the most recent chapter in this saga, and they won by feeding their machine with the juices squeezed from Trippi’s creation. Their grassroots organization was inspired by the Dean campaign. Their air war, and ground war were inspired by hundreds of years of electoral political history.

Lessons for the Green Party: Joe Trippi review, Chapters 1 & 2.

Joe Trippi's Book

Joe Trippi's Book

There are a number of different ways that a fledgling party like the Green Party of Canada can learn how to ‘do’ politics. They can bloody their noses in election after election, learning the ABC’s. They can recruit political hacks from the old line Party’s to teach them. They can also take their opportunity to blend the old, and new by studying the published works of the hacks, and applying their brains to solving the old problems in new ways.
In a sense, that what the now famous Joe Trippi, past Campaign Manager for the Howard Dean campaign did. He took two decades of experience as a democratic Party hack, and tried some new stuff in a sort of a ‘hail mary’ pass, on behalf of a total no-hoper.

I just got back from my 7 year old daughters Tae Kwon Do practice, where I read the first two chapters from Joe Trippi’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. Now that I think about it, the matial arts background to my reading was much like traditional politics with blow and counterblow, defence then attack. Perhaps Judo would be a more appropriate background to studying a new way of ‘doing’ politics?

There are lessons to be learned from Trippi, but I caution my readers that US Presidential politics is a very different beast from Canadian Parliamentary politics. I have heard about, read about, and seen Greens trying to ‘do Trippi’ before. I think that the basic problem is that they have tried to duplicate a message and model that simply doesn’t translate. We don’t have anything comparable to the primary campaign, with thousands of local meetings on the schedule, and a ready made structure to hang a grassroots campaign on. If we try to rote learn Trippi, then once again, we’ll find out that it somehow doesn’t seem to work for us.

There is enormous potential in viral networking, but it is not the whole campaign. What many Greens have failed to grasp is that there needs to be a superstructure to graft that network onto. The Campaign team has to be there, doing what campaign teams do. They craft their message. They put organizations in place on the ground. They plan events to an externally dictated schedule, county by county, state by state, with the primary as the ultimate goal. What Trippi, and Obama have done is to harness the enormous potential of mass, unfiltered communications to recruit many hands and brains to help out. Trippi comes from a background of solid political fieldwork. Door to door canvassing. Organizing at the grassroots level. Fighting campaigns tooth and claw. He knows what he’s doing, but he IS a product of his political environment.

From tonights reading, I drew two useful things. The first thing is encapsulated by the following quotation from Trippi’s book: “Political organizing is all about finding people who think like you and drawing them into your organization any way that gets them involved — everything from canvassing to donating money to simply voting for your candidate — while at the same time trying to get your message out to people who haven’t decided yet.” There it is, in a nutshell. Everything that an organizer does is to serve these ends. GET like minded people INVOLVED! (Remember my posts about the pub nights? Easy, hassle free involvement in politics that’s actually FUN!)

The second was the simple observation that the Internet is a place where an unfiltered message can be communicated. There is no media to distort the intentions, or words presented to the community. A second ‘eworld’ observation is that the Internet enables people with common interests to assemble, and communicate in a community of sorts. The conclusion I draw is that: The mass presentation of an undistorted message enables assembling a community, and empowering this community for political action. Sounds too simple? The most powerful things are, So I’ll leave execution to my next posts.

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The Green Party threat to the Liberal Party of Canada


The Foe: Iggy

In my previous post, I discussed the probable direction of the Ignatieff Liberal Party’s play for Green Party voters in the next election. The Liberals will be busily organizing, and refurbishing their electoral machine over the coming months. They are now preparing for a Federal election at the time of their choosing. I am convinced that they will dustbin the Green tax shift, and put in place a pablum environmental policy, with a couple of popular giveaways to use as talking points. Therein lies the opportunity for the Green Party of Canada.

As the Liberals will fashion their assault on the Green Party, so should the GPC be sharpening an attack of our own. It is a given that the GPC itself, and their core vote and membership are supportive of a revenue neutral carbon tax. That is because it is good policy. There will be a great many Canadians who were engaged enough in the last election to actually look into Stephan Dion’s tax proposals, and many of them will not want to see the policy strangled, and buried behind the woodshed. Personally I am most comfortable with campaigning from a position of policy strength. Furthermore, the type of educated, and affluent voter that will be attracted by this type of campaign, once committed to the Green Party of Canada, will be motivated to get out and vote on E-Day.

Therefore, we need to refashion our Green Party Tax shift, and go at it in a big way. No more negative campaigning. Focus on our tax policy, and hammer at the theme. It’s obvious to all that Dion failed to sell the program, and in a big way. The Conservatives successfully labelled it a tax grab, and that really squeezed an inarticulate Dion into an awkward place. That leaves me of two minds about how we package our plan. Do we lead in with a big income tax break, with large rebates for farmers and truckers? In that event, we should leave the carbon taxes as a footnote on how we will pay for it. The other option is to simply re-possess the Green Tax Shift, and thank the Liberals for spending millions promoting our plan in the 2008 election? There are risks, and benefits of both approaches, and that is what professional opinion polling is for.

There seems to be some very strange ideas in the Green Party as to why political party’s commission polls. The simple answer to that question is NOT to find out what current voting

Not what we really need to know

Not what we really need to know

intentions are, other than to guage the efficacy of the campaign. The purpose of polling is to obtain unbiased data on what message, and what policy presentation resonates best with which segment of the population. If the Green Party of Canada wants to clobber the Conservatives, Liberals, Bloc, or NDP, then they should be commissioning large surveys of the electorate. The opinion survey presents different policy statements to the respondents, and measures their reactions. With this information in hand, the Campaign theme, and message, (which are distinct) are crafted to win over the targeted electorate.

I do not have the resources, ($50k?) to commission such a survey, but the Green party does, and should, prior to crafting their Campaign plan for the next election. We can cheap out a little, and assume that the Tax shift is one of our major planks. That will allow us to shorten the survey, and figure out the best presentation to clobber our foes. I think that splitting off a small portion of the Liberal, and Conservative vote in the next election is going to prove the tipping point, and propel a handful of Green candidates into Parliament.

Forsooth 'tis to the Death!

Forsooth 'tis to the Death!

Just remember folks. Electoral politics isn’t a game. It’s civil society’s substitute for warfare, and the stakes are the same as those our medieval forbears saddled up, and hacked their neighbours to bits over. If we do not get serious about it, we can expect to be the sweet/shrill Party, sitting on the sidelines, and getting nowhere with our brilliant policy prescriptions forever more. Conversely, we can focus sharply on organizing, and preparing for the next election, and by pushing our platform forward onto the National stage, start making real changes to improve the lives of all Canadians.

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Green Party Canada: Municipal Elections and the Opportunity to grow the EDA

Tip O'Neill   "All Politics are Local"

Tip O'Neill "All Politics are Local"

A great many people who join the GPC have a limited involvement in municipal politics, and don’t see the relevance of the municipal election to the Federal scene. If this attitude holds sway in your’ EDA, then I’m afraid that you are missing a great opportunity to organize at the grass roots level. Municipal politics is almost always the poor sister of the Federal and Provincial scene. Municipal campaigns are typically poorly funded, have very few volunteers, and are often characterized by poor organization. This represents a great opportunity for the EDA.

In my opinion, the EDA should be researching the candidates, getting involved in local organizations like the residents associations, and Business groups well prior to the local election. If the EDA is in a position to offer a valuable endorsement, and some volunteers to a good clean local campaign, it will fulfil a number of useful functions.

First off, the local candidate ought to be grateful for the help, win or lose. Most serious local candidates have roots in one or more local grassroots organizations. Whether it be a ratepayers association, or environmental group, there will be some kind of an organization which will be in a position to return the favour when the next Federal election comes around. That should translate to volunteers, endorsements, and donations come the time.

Second payoff is when the time comes to be recruiting a candidate for the Federal election. Many great candidates get their start in municipal politics. It pays to have a candidate with name recognition, and the network of local contacts that get things done in an election. Whether your candidate(s) wins locally, or fails to win their municipal race, it will be useful for them to establish themselves further as environmentalists, and real political activists by standing Federally for the GPC.

Third payoff is from sharing the political data that accrues to a municipal campaign. Provided the municipal campaign issues have been very GPC friendly, then the identified voter base from the

Get 'em out quick

Get 'em out quick

municipal campaign are likely to be very good prospects to vote GPC federally. When the federal canvas rolls out, the endorsement of the candidate will be very useful when canvassing his/her ID’d supporters to vote GPC. The sign takers from the municipal campaign are obviously the first, (well, second anyways), place to hit with your sign canvas when the Federal writ is dropped. Very quick placement of arterial signs is useful in establishing momentum for your campaign. The more potential sign takers you have for a lightning fast sign canvas, the quicker you can establish your federal campaign as a ‘contender’ in the eyes of the local electorate.

For those GPC campaigners who are a little foggy about the why’s and how’s of a canvas with endorsement in hand, it goes like this; ‘Hi I’m canvassing for the Green Party of Canada. Your local alderman/councillor candidate Judy X has endorsed our campaign, and she suggested I get in touch with you for permission to put up a sign. Can we drop by and put one up tonight?’. 30 seconds on the phone, get the sign placed, and move to the next phone number/front door.

A word of advice, be honest about your motives when offering an endorsement to a candidate. Offer your’ EDA’s help, but ask for the explicit quid pro quo that the candidate will endorse your candidate back again, and will provide the canvas results, volunteer lists etc. Your EDA cannot lose, and if the Candidate is a good one, then you could win with real home run, like a local politician with paid staffers and volunteers plugging hard to return the favour.

If you are interested in politics, whether local, provincial, or federal, why not join the most exciting Political Party in Canada Today?

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How the Green Party of Canada can really hurt the Conservatives

Better luck next time

Better luck next time

Based upon Elizabeth May’s rhetoric, and the earned media coverage in the 2008 election, the Green Party of Canada really has it in for the Conservatives. Well I have news for them, instead of hurting the Conservatives, they came close to gifting them with a majority, while damaging themselves, and their supposed ‘allies’, the Liberals.

Here’s a little kindergaten lesson in electoral politics. When five political Party’s are appealing to the electorate, the Party that you hurt the most is the one whose electorate you appeal to the most. It’s not complicated. If you say that all Conservatives are scum, and that the Liberals are really, really cool, then some Liberals will agree, and vote for you, and most Conservatives will shy away from you.

Now here’s a grade 5 lesson in arithmetic. If the Conservatives are tied with the Liberals in Riding

Attention Class!

Attention Class!

A, and along comes the GPC and takes two cool Liberal votes, and one scummy Conservative vote, guess what? The Conservatives win the seat. Now, class, let’s take a hypothetical situation where the Green Party campaigns on it’s true strength, which is using market mechanisms to help reduce expensive, and nasty pollution. The kind of campaign that stresses that Payroll Taxes, and Income Taxes are really nasty and ineffective taxes that kill jobs rather than reducing pollution.

In this hypothetical campaign, a strong media presence is leveraged by presenting simple, positive policies that appeal to Conservatives and Liberals alike. Perhaps a tad more emphasis is placed on fiscally sound policies that appeal to Progressive Conservative voters. In this hypothetical campaign, 2 Conservatives vote for the Green Party of Canada, for every 1 Liberal that does so. The Green Party wins many more votes because they are conveying a positive message, which of course sets them above the fray, and the Liberals pull of a minority government by a slim margin.

Now class, for your’ homework assignment, I want you to go home and prepare a positive message, based on sound policy, that appeals to a broad section of the electorate. Your’ assigment is due by the end of January, and you will be presenting it in front of the whole electorate, possibly in March 2009.

Class dismissed.

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Election Post Mortem 2: Green Party Canada

In my previous post, I critiqued communications. The campaign theme was flawed, the execution was acceptable. Now I’ll set my teeth into Organization.

Candidate selection: There was a certain amount of criticism when Sharon Labchuks letter

Candidate Recruits

Candidate Recruits

about candidate recruiting was leaked. Basically the criticism is not misplaced. Many candidates were recruited as a warm body to receive votes for the GPC. A warm body is better than nothing, (usually), but good candidates in 308 ridings should be a key objective. The job needs to start now because simply put, finding good candidates is a lot of work. Look at the key ridings, which I have short listed to about 20 ‘winnable’ ridings. These are the key ridings, with evenly distributed three or four way splits in the share of the popular vote. These ridings have to have quality candidates, able to bring something to the table.

Candidates must have ambition, and want to serve the electorate. If you want to find people who fit the bill, there’s one obvious place to look. Past political candidates. Look at municipal incumbents, and candidates from recent elections. Look at the candidates from recent Provincial,

Valuable Association

Valuable Association

and Federal elections. Party affiliation needn’t be a stumbling block. Peoples life circumstances change, and the GPC is, after all, made up largely of former members of other party’s. The name recognition, and the association with the GPC is valuable for ambitious would be municipal candidates, so win or lose, we certainly have something to offer. Past candidates have experience, local affiliations and associations, and a core volunteer group loyal to them. After that, look for local community groups, and community activists that have a strong following. The GPC organizer should seek the advice of the local EDA, but needs to get on the job NOW. Call the prospective candidates, point out the benefits that name recognition, and Green Party affiliation will have for them, and recruit them!

Training: The vast majority of EDA’s are made up of people who have heart, but no political

GPC Growth Chart

GPC Growth Chart

experience or skills. They need to be taught how important methodical canvassing, and preservation of data are. Keep it simple, keep it fun, but teach people how to run a campaign on a small budget. The first basic skill that every camapaign must master are how to motivate and retain volunteers. (Mostly putting them to productive work immediately, recognize their contribution, and liberally sprinkle the work with fun). The next is to systematically target, and implement their canvas. (Database templates, sample scripts, forms, etc.) The most important thing for organizers to teach is how to collect, and preserve data. The supporters canvassed are the source of future donations, members, and votes at the Federal, Provincial, and municipal level. Preserve this data to hand on to future EDA executives, like it was gold, which, of course, it is.

There’s so much more that could be said, but if these few things are done very well, then the GPC will start electing people. I do not know what all those GPC ‘oganizers’ on the payroll are up to, but from what I saw in the 2008 election, it wasn’t recruiting candidates, growing membership, of training the EDA’s.

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Parliamentary Democracy in Action.

It's not really like this

I just read a partisan Tory blog, with a difference. It didn’t rant at the undemocratic nature of the proposed coalition government, it addressed the potential weaknesses of the coalition. This is the kind of Tory that doesn’t eat babies, and should be wooed by the Green Party, as we did so well in 2004. I would enjoy debating these points with the author in a Pub, over a pint or two.

Here’s my non-partisan take on the current controversy:

We are governed by a Westminster Parliamentary Democracy. That means a Representative democracy, as any

He would agree

He would agree

true political conservative, like myself, or the members of the now defunct Progressive Conservatives, we seek to preserve our political traditions, because they are well establish by custom, law, and convention, and they work very well indeed.

I realise that in many respects this is contrary to official Green Party policy, especially with respect to proportional representation, but despite it’s imperfections, and blemishes, I am content to live under this ploitical system. In fact, this weeks events demonstrate that it IS robust, and it works well.
In order to form a government, a prospective Prime Minister must seek, and acquire the confidence of the house. Our current Prime Minister has a minority in the house, and an even weaker mandate from the country, with less than a third of the popular vote. There is no doubt that Stephen Harper sought to sow discord, and exercise power beyond the limits imposed by his parties minority position.

Hundreds of years of Parliamentary tradition support the Liberals and NDP in their intention to seek the confidence of the house, and form a coalition government. If the Bloc supports them, then it will be right and proper that they govern. If you seek to rule this country, and you pretend to be Conservative, then you are doubly bound by Parliamentary convention. There’s a pretty good discussion of this in todays Globe and Mail.
The Green Party has absolutely nothing to do with it, as they have no sitting members. The GPC will continue to build organisational strength, and continue to attract progressive conservatives, making it increasingly unlikely that the neo-conservatives will ever earn the confidence of the house. I am happy to say that Parliament is working, and that a Government that best represents the views of the majority of Canadian electors is about to take power. This is the my position, as a Green, and a Canadian.

Now don’t forget, the Green Party has room for many competing views of Canada. If you want to be part of a real political movement, that is sweeping away the cobwebs, JOIN THE GREENPARTY NOW!

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