If I were the next Green Party of Canada Leader, Part 2

Part one includes an introduction to this series, an explanation of the “lost years,” and the apologies the next Green Party of Canada leader should make.

Today, I’m sharing what I believe should be the GPC’s priorities for the next election. It may seem counterintuitive to jump so far ahead, but the preparation in the intervening years should support these priorities.

Quick Clarification

I also meant municipal Green parties when I wrote about apologizing to provincial parties. (I see you Burnaby Green Party and Green Party of Vancouver.)

One More Apology

I missed something in my last post that I feel is important. The GPC has become a less welcoming place (not that it ever was all that welcoming) for BIPOC, 2SLGBTQQIA+, Jewish and female Greens.

Regardless of how you feel about Annamie Paul’s job performance as GPC leader, some of the abuse Annamie received was over the top, inappropriate, and often included direct and indirect racist, sexist and antisemitic appeals.

Additionally, some official and unofficial GPC spaces became unsafe for 2SLGBTQQIA+ Greens. Some Greens were not supported for calling out homophobia, transphobia and queerphobia but rather attacked for pushing back on bigoted statements. Calling out a bully is not bullying.

The reality is that a small group of Greens co-opted the GPC’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts and weaponized EDI against equity-seeking groups. From what I saw, heard and read, the comfort of older, white, heterosexual, cis-gender Greens was prioritized over the safety and sense of belonging of equity-seeking groups. Superficial “niceness” supplanted acceptance, tolerance and celebration of diversity.

Perhaps this is best illustrated by a former Federal Councillor defending herself from accusations that Annamie Paul experienced racist treatment in the GPC by pointing out she drives an electric car and has solar panels.

I would apologize to these groups of Greens and individuals and ask them to help craft EDI training, goals and safe-space policies to make the GPC more welcoming. I realize that’s not their responsibility. I’m not asking the bullied to educate their bullies but ensuring they have a seat at the table. For the GPC to grow, we must celebrate diversity and ensure members of equity-seeking groups feel a sense of belonging and ownership.

Priorities For The Next Campaign

I only have three priorities for the next election, but one implies a strategic shift from the strategy we’ve used to some degree since the 2008 election.

Priority One – Re-electing Mike Morrice

The number one priority of the next GPC election campaign must be to re-elect Mike Morrice in Kitchener Centre. Mike will almost certainly have a Liberal opponent looking to reclaim the seat in the next election, but he will also have an incumbency advantage. No longer can folks ask if he can win. He did.

Mike’s team won’t need the full-court press required by SGI in 2011. They have proved capable of building a solid team and deep pockets in 2019 and 2021. However, the party must not leave them in a silo and assume all is well. Therefore, we must incorporate Mike’s campaign leaders into national campaign planning and schedule sufficient time in the campaign schedule for the next GPC leader to spend time in Kitchener boosting Mike’s campaign.

Priority Two – Elizabeth’s Successor

Elizabeth May has achieved many firsts for the GPC. She was first elected GPC leader in 2006 and to the House of Commons in 2011. She was the GPC leader for 13 years and has continued to have a party leadership role since stepping down. She is currently serving her fourth term as the MP for SGI.

The next leader should thank Elizabeth for her years of service during a Canadian Green boom period. The party should create something to honour what she’s accomplished. For example, the GPO has a volunteer award named after its first Leader, Frank de Jong. However, the next leader should also insist that the party run a new candidate in SGI and work with Elizabeth and the local EDA to identify a suitable successor. The GPC must balance the two motivations of moving forward and holding the seat.

Priority Three – A National Campaign

Since 2008, the national campaign strategy of the GPC was to build on strength by focusing resources on areas where breakthroughs were most likely. The 2011 and 2019 elections best exemplify the benefits of this strategy. In 2011, the GPC one its first seat. In 2019, the GPC elected three MPs.

I believe that for at least the next election, the GPC needs to shift strategies. If we compare today’s GPC to the past, I think the party matches more closely to the beginning of Jim Harris’ leadership than the end. With the obvious benefits of more money and two elected MPs.

Under Jim’s leadership, the GPC professionalized and built up the party to reach the point where an Elizabeth May could take the reigns and have electoral success. The next GPC leader should model their efforts more on Jim than Elizabeth. It means focusing on rebuilding organizational strength and a national team of active EDAs.

This change is a significant and controversial shift in strategy. However, I believe the “focus” model has a low ceiling. It works well for breakthroughs (Canada, BC, Vancouver, Ontario, New Brunswick, PEI ), but it has not worked to achieve larger goals like official party status.

Ensuring two already-strong ridings (SGI and KC) have the support they need requires far fewer resources than trying to create a strong riding from scratch. Additionally, KC was not considered a top-tier riding until Mike, and his fantastic (I can’t stress this enough, they are the best.) team forced their way into that conversation.

Let's focus on building nationally and allow ridings to self-identify as target locations if the strategy shifts back to “focus” in future elections.

A Glaring Omission

You may have noticed that I didn’t include getting myself elected as a priority for the next election. That isn’t a massive oversight; it’s intentional. I don’t think electing the next leader of the GPC should be a priority for the party, with two exceptions.

If Mike Morrice is the next GPC leader, priority one and electing the leader are the same.

Likewise, if the next GPC leader is running to succeed Elizabeth May in SGI, priority two and electing the leader are the same. So what I say next obviously doesn’t apply to either of these cases.

I believe the next GPC leader should support the three priorities as best as possible and not focus on their riding. They should do as much media and as much touring as possible. The goal should be to lift as many boats as they can. Of course, they will need to focus more on KC and SGI, but many ridings should see a visit from the leader during the writ.

Oh, I suppose there is a third exception. Let’s say Mike Morrice is both the GPC leader and for some reason he runs in SGI. In that case, Priority 1, and 2 and electing the leader are all the same thing.

Okay, But How?

I’ll get to that soon. I wanted to give you the election priorities first to see how pre-election preparations work towards those priorities.

What’s Next?

Part three, "what's wrong with GPC policy," is up now.