Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some advice for Elizabeth May

Regular readers may have been able to suss-out over time that I’m a Liberal supporter, but I like Green Party leader Elizabeth May – she’s good people – so with the news that she has apparently settled on Saanich-Gulf Islands as her riding of choice in the next election, I’m going to set aside my partisanship for a few minutes and offer her some advice.

First, she should pick a riding and stick with it. This hopping from riding to riding is madness. That was supposed to be the idea with Central Nova, but apparently she has concluded that’s a long(er) shot, so she’s trying another.

Frankly, I don’t think SGI is winnable for her either. If Conservative minister Gary Lunn wasn’t unseated last time, I think he’s pretty darned secure, barring calamity or major scandal. Look at the perfect storm the Liberals had in the riding last time – an unpopular minister, a popular Liberal candidate with strong green credentials in a very green-friendly riding (Briony Penn won't run again but is supporting Liberal nomination candidate Renee Hetherington), and no NDPer on the ballot after their candidate was forced to resign due to scandal. And still, despite lots of alleged shenanigans (phantom demon calling, questionable third-party advertising) Lunn got back in with a four per cent cushion, and 43 per cent of the vote.

None of the other parties are going to give an inch to May (I know the Liberals will be running hard), so she’s going to have a helluva road to climb to build on the 10.45 per cent the Greens got in the riding. More likely, she’ll contribute to vote-splitting, ensuring Lunn’s re-election by a more comfortable margin.

Still, May has to run somewhere. And SGI is probably as good a riding as any for her as any, being traditionally one of the strongest Green ridings in the country. It’s all relative, of course, but you need to start somewhere.

And, frankly, the last thing she should care about is vote-splitting. It really shouldn't give her pause. This brings me to my next, and most important piece of advice: May needs to decide is she wants to lead a serious political party or not.

If her goal is just to advance green issues whatever way she can and to get the Conservatives out of power, she should just join the Liberals. I hear Liberal Party president Alf Apps invited her to do just that, and she declined. That’s fine, she’s made her choice: now she needs to own it.

That means making clear that her mission is to elect Green Party of Canada candidates in all 308 ridings across the country, period. While she turned down Apps, she also reportedly said she’d like to be environment minister in a Liberal government. No, Ms. May. If that’s her goal, she should have run for the Liberals. These kind of mixed signals are demoralizing to her activists across the country, and don’t contribute to the Greens being seen as a serious party.

She needs to completely divorce herself from the idea of strategic voting. If she's running candidates everywhere she needs to support all of them, period. To do otherwise is unfair to them. In the last election, her mixed signals on this weren’t helpful. And the fact is, there is absolutely no scenario in which you can make a coherent strategic voting argument that ends with someone voting Green. The math just doesn’t work. So why go there? It doesn’t make sense.

So, my advice in a nutshell: pick a riding to put down roots in, avoid talk of strategic voting, who she’d like to be PM (unless its her) and what cabinet posts she’d like (except PM), and make clear she stands behind every Green candidate on the ballot and wants them all elected. If she's serious about building the Green Party, it’s the only way to go.

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8 comments:

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Well, JeffFeller, I think you've got some good advice fer teh gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May. I don't agree with teh SGI choice, though. When Lizzie ran in London, she was able to get all sortsa help from Trawna and other parts of densely populated southern Ontariariario in teh door-to-door canvassin' department. If she was to run in Gwelp, like she's also considering', she'd be able to get lotsa that same sorta help. I don't reckon too many Vancouverites are gonna take a boat ride to help out electioneerin'. There ain't nearly as many Vancouver Greenies as Trawna Greenies, anyways. She also considered runnin' up in Bruce but that'd be suicide, too, on accounta Bruce Power'd wage nuclear war against the no-nukes GPC leader.

Gwelp's her best bet. Mike Nagy came in second in 2008 and she'd have a lotta help from London, Hamilton, Cambridge and Trawna Greenies. Heck, I'd even come up from Nanticoke an' knock on a few doors for her.

Seems like her big problem with Gwelp is she don't wanna run against a Lib incumbent. Too bad, sez I. I've mentioned to her that her disdain fer the Con's might be cloudin' her vision. Knockin' MacKay or Lunn offa their high horses might be a noble goal but it's a pretty lofty one, too. She oughta run where she can win, even if it means runnin' against a Grit.

JB

greencanada said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. Elizabeth is surely entitled to hold tender thoughts towards the Liberals, but they should never pass her lips. She made a lot of key decisions against the will of the GPC Council, hired consultants, and the Campaign commitee. Like running in Central Nova despite strong (and expensive) advice to the contrary, and then blamed her own Party for the loss, claiming publicly in the media that the Party failed to support her. What chutzpah! She essentially endorsed strategic voting, then blamed her own Party for failing to support her enough!
It's time for the GPC to get back to the grassroots EDA organising and growth track that was going so well before this failed experiment with a media celebrity leader.

Patrick Ross said...

I've got some better advice for Elizabeth May:

Give it up. You are unelectable, because Canadians can recognize someone who's trying to talk out of both sides of his or her mouth.

The sooner the Green party turfs May, the better off they'll be.

Jon Pertwee said...

"You are unelectable, because Canadians can recognize someone who's trying to talk out of both sides of his or her mouth."

Man, you would have thought Conservative supporters would have learned the lesson of using "trying to talk out of both sides of his or her mouth" way back in 93.

Patrick said...

Well, I don't think the Conservative party has ever endorsed other parties to govern the country while claiming to be an independent party, then tried to insist they didn't.

Nor has the Conservative party leader ever volunteered to be a Minister in another party's government.

The point I'm making is that Elizabeth May's sending some mixed messages regarding her party's independent status.

"My party isn't a junior partner to the Liberal party. But if it advances my own personal career, we very well could be."

Demosthenes said...

If her goal is just to advance green issues whatever way she can and to get the Conservatives out of power, she should just join the Liberals.

You must be joking. However you feel about Ignatieff's foreign policy credentials, he and his have made it perfectly clear that the environment is absolutely last-place among their priorities. They're running very, very hard from the Green Shift, and anything that might be associated with it.

(Just look at his overtures to the tar sands miners, one of the dirtiest industries on the planet.)

If she wishes to join one of the "big three", it should logically be the NDP. There's no Green in the Big Red Machine.

Oemissions said...

I live in the SGI. I have emailed her to say this is a mistake.
Briony Penn is supporting nominee Renee Heatherington, who is "Awesome"
People who are not leaning "Green "will be impressed with her credentials.Read up on them. Briony pulled support from NDP and Greens and we blame the Greens for Briony not getting elected. The Greens got just over 3000 votes and Briony lost by about 2500 votes. NDP votes too, for a noncandidate were about 2500. So we can also point a finger or 2 at the NDP except that Rote phone call before the eve of the election may have influenced that vote. Briony has a BIG following. They will take her suggestion . If Elizabeth runs, my bet is she will get no more than 4700 votes.
We all have loved and appreciated Ms May but go somewhere else Elizabeth where your chances are a whole lot better.
It ain't gonna happen here. Besides,we are saturated with enlightened enviros.
Someone else who perked much interest in this riding was the CAP candidate. Young people were very impressed with him and invited him back to Saltspring for further discussion.
I know what I'm talking about. I go to all the not Green meetings!
If Elizabeth choses another riding where there is not so much opposition to her running from former fans, we will support her.
To repeat, here it would be a wasted effort.

Oemissions said...

Howsupporters of Briony and hence Renee will deal with Ignatieff, I'm not sure. I am not on his bandwagon but I suppose the belief that grassroots will eventually rule over the old boys in Ottawa is leading people on.
Now, if the NDP becomes up with a firecracker of a candidate in this issue, everybody wil be trying to figure out what to do, but I am convinced the conclusion will NOT be to vote in Elizabeth to save us all from....