Tag Archives: Green Party

Election 2015: Saskatoon

Hey, I am pretty much sitting out this campaign.  I’ll wait to see how the campaign platforms come together to decide if I will write a local endorsement but until then, it won’t be that political around here.  I have friends who are candidates for different parties and I respect them for making the effort of going to Ottawa to do what the PMO tells them what to do and when to do it.

I did great a quick election guide for all candidates in Saskatoon.  You can find it here.  It lists all of the campaign contact information for all of the campaigns, except for Kevin Waugh (and I can’t find his yet).  So if you want to check out a campaign in Saskatoon, it’s all there for you.

Brian Topp

Last week I got an invitation from Pat Atkinson to meet NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp at Amigo’s Cantina last night.  I have always been fascinated by NDP leadership races, partly because they make absolutely no sense to me and I never know what is going to happen on the convention floor.  (yeah I just admitted that I watch leadership conventions for a hobby)

Brian ToppSince Topp was speaking to a partisan NDP crowd (I was on the only non-New Democrat there) I won’t go into the details but here are some observations.

  • Topp can give a good speech to a small group of people.  I don’t know if he will be electrifying in a convention hall or if he can do it in the House of Commons but I was impressed by his speech last night.  He was humble while articulated why he wants to become both NDP leader and Prime Minister of Canada.
  • I expected him to know his policy but I was impressed by how quickly and clearly he articulated it.  He was sharp in the Q & A.  I didn’t ask him any questions as I am not a card carrying NDP and the questions I would have asked him would have probably upset some people there and would have put him in an awkward position.  It wasn’t the place or time.
  • Topp classily distances himself from Layton and was open in giving permission to look at other leadership candidates.  He pointed out that he was not Jack’s heir apparent and that Jack wanted others to run for leadership as well. 
  • Topp reminded me a lot of both Ed Broadbent and Roy Romanow.  If you are an NDP leadership candidate, this is a good thing.
  • I know it’s early but there wasn’t any campaign material left by him and I find that his website is quite devoid of content and compelling reasons to vote for him.  While I found him last night to have a compelling story and a pretty good vision of the country, his website doesn’t communicate any of that. 
  • I wonder if he ever wakes up and looks at a selection of orange-ish ties and realizes, “I’ll be wearing a tie with orange in it for the rest of my life.”  For me, that would be enough to discourage me from ever running for NDP leader.
  • In light of this post by Wendy, I will point out that it was not a Sunday, I don’t think Topp is a Baptist, and there was not a single inappropriate joke told which means my grandfather could vote for him.
  • Unlike my previous attempts to chill out with a party leader, this one went really well.  Pat Atkinson had a nice crowd out and it was nice to chat with Nettie Wiebe for a couple of minutes.

In the end he has a really, really tough job ahead of him.  He spoke of forming government but even holding on to the seats the NDP have in Quebec is going to be tough without functioning constituency organizations and has less then 1700 members in Quebec.  While the road ahead is tough in Quebec, the NDP has stalled in it’s traditional heartland of the prairies.  Many blame electoral boundaries but the NDP message does not resonate in rural Saskatchewan, Alberta, or Manitoba like it used to.  Topp will have to change that if he hopes on growing the federal party out west.

Will he become Prime Minister?  Too early to tell and a lot can change over the next three years but more than any other NDP candidate on the horizon, I think he gives them their best shot.  It will be interesting to watch.

Elizabeth May: Nothing better to do?

Warren Kinsella has an excellent article on Elizabeth May’s use of time lately.  The Green Party leader missed her first question period in the House of Commons and then logged onto Warren Kinsella’s website to defend her decision to miss her first chance to appear in the House.

To be fair, I prominently posted May’s response on my website. My commenters, of all stripes, didn’t buy it. One regular Tory commenter, Gord Tulk, wrote: “Your party’s very first chance to rise in the House and ask a question as its very first elected member, and you go into a lock-up? You are a poster child for poor political judgment.”

Others felt likewise.

May, turns out, had been lurking the Internet ether, and had decided to respond. “I am leader of a grassroots party,” she wrote. “I attended lock-up with the Green Party finance critic and two staff. We needed consensus in response and I needed to read the whole budget to handle media.”

Weird.

Here’s why: May, like every other member of Parliament, gets about $300,000 a year to hire staff and run their offices.

In May’s case, she would also be able to draw upon her party’s budget since she leads it. For years, the Green Party has raked in millions from individual donors as well as the Elections Canada vote stipend. May could have easily afforded to hire a staffer or two to attend that budget lock-up and crunch the numbers. That way, she could have attended both question period and been available to chime in on the budget.

On Parliament Hill — as Michael Ignatieff learned during the leaders’ debates when Jack Layton went after him on his attendance record — it’s the little stuff that will kill you. Political graves are dug with small shovels.

Liz, here’s a free tip: You complained for years that you belonged in the House of Commons. The good people of Saanich-Gulf Islands agreed. They — and we — now expect you to show up for work. Not lurk in Internet chat rooms.

I am not a big fan of the Green Party leader.  Actually I think she has terrible political instincts but even the most tone deaf of politicians should have known that leaving a comment on Warren Kinsella’s (or any other political) blog would come back and haunt her.  These missteps seem to define her (remember the train tour across Canada which no one paid any attention to).  Under Elizabeth May, the Green Party has moved from an environmental protest party to a party focused on getting her elected.  Her political judgement seems to undermine both efforts and many of her decisions are, as Kinsella said, weird.

As someone who is concerned about climate change and the environment, having an engaged Green Party being part of the debate on those issues is important but since Ms. May has become leader, I have heard a less about those issues and more about May herself.  Since many of those involve missteps, that’s not a good thing.

The Campaigns in Saskatoon

I was looking for a list of nominated Saskatoon candidates for the federal election and I realized that none listed, even the Liberals don’t have a complete list of nominated candidates on their site (same thing happened under Stephane Dion) and while the NDP don’t have a list of their candidates anywhere.  So after spending some quality time with Google and Wikipedia, here is a list of what’s happening in Saskatoon, past vote totals, and my thoughts of what is going to happen in 2011.

Saskatoon Rosetown Biggar

  • Incumbent: Kelly Block (won with 45.4% of the vote)
  • Challenger: Nettie Wiebe (lost with 44.5% of the vote – only 153 votes separated them last election)
  • Taking it for the Team:  Lee Reaney (Liberals took only 4.4% of the vote last time) and Vicki Strelioff (Greens took 4.6% of the votes in 2008)

What to Expect: It will come down to under 1000 votes and in the end will be determined by which candidate can correctly identify and get out the vote.  The urban vote will go to Nettie Wiebe while the rural vote will come out for Kelly Block.  It’s going to come down to campaign organization, a ground campaign, and who has the motivated voters.  Of the three factors, the first two will be determined locally and as for motivated voters, that will come down to the leaders.  In other words this is one of the few ridings in Saskatchewan that could be in play and my gut feeling is that Nettie Wiebe will win it by a couple of hundred votes.  NDP voters seem more motivated than Conservative ones who are starting to doubt Harper a little bit, the Green campaign doesn’t seem as strong and the Liberals aren’t running seriously in the riding.  With that close of an election last time, that is all it could take.

Saskatoon Humboldt

What to Expect: The wildcard in this riding is Darren Hill, a popular city councillor for Ward 1.  He is running very aggressively for the Liberals and has been for some time.  That being said the Liberals have run former mayor Henry Dayday, former NDP MP and provincial cabinet minister Chris Axworthy (who had won that riding in the past), and city councillor Tiffany Paulsen and they all lost soundly.  His campaign isn’t helped by the disappearance of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party which seems to be running to the right when it is running.   In the end I expect that Darren Hill and Denise Kouri will split enough votes that Trost will win again.  The vote swing is just too great.

Saskatoon Waneskewin

  • Incumbent: Maurice Vellacott (2008 campaign website) won with 56.50% of the vote and spent very little money in the process.
  • Taking it for the team: Everyone else. Patricia Zipchen (Liberal had 12.39% in 2008), John Parry (NDP had 24.36% of the vote in 2008), Mark Bigland-Pritchard (Green took 6.73% of the vote in 2008).  No one else has a chance of winning this seat.  The Liberals have twice run Chris Axworthy while the NDP tried former mayor Jim Madden.  Both increased the vote total but neither made a serious challenge at Vellacott.  While Vellacott’s big vote totals suprise many, his social conservatism appeal to the very motivated rural voters in the riding and the party’s positions appeal to the largely upper middle class suburban voters.

What to Expect: While this riding has switched to the NDP in the past (Ray Hnatyshyn lost in 1988 to Chris Axworthy), it has been redistributed to the point where the traditional NDP areas have moved to Saskatoon Rosetown Biggar and the traditionally Conservative polls were left in Saskatoon Waneskewin.  This means that Vellacott will win big, continue to add to his MP pension, say a couple of controversial things, and rest comfortably on the backbenches of Canada’s Parliament.

Blackstrap

What to Expect: Lynne Yelich will win without breaking a sweat.   She is well liked both in the city and in rural areas and is a dark horse candidate for cabinet if the Tories win again.

Agree? Disagree?  Let me know in the comments.

My political worldview

CBC's Political Compass

Economically (apparently I prefer deficits) and on defence spending I agree with the Conservatives but on Senate Reform, Quebec, and Moral Values, I am with the Liberals.

It’s kind of a fun survey but I realized that locally I find myself politically at odds with four of the city councillors at the left end of the political spectrum and yet I would vote for each of them if I lived in their wards.  I explain that in that all four of them do a really good job of communicating their positions, do their jobs with integrity, and have the best interests of the city at heart so there is more to voting than 30 questions that determine my political ideology.  It’s the same reason I voted for Eric Cline and now for Cam Broten.  It’s also why local campaigns matter.  It’s a fun tool though and I agree with Warren Kinsella that it shouldn’t be taken that seriously.

As for local campaigns, Kelly Block and Nettie Wiebe are running in Saskatoon Rosetown Biggar.  As always, the race will be too close to call.  The Liberals are running Lee Reaney and the Green’s are running Vicki Strelioff.  Neither will make an impact in the campaign and as far as I could find, neither have a campaign headquarters.

The Trainwreck that is the Green Party of Canada

A brief listing of the accomplishments of the Green Party since the last election

(1) the Executive Director quit and was replaced by the Tech guy; yup, the coax cable guy (his expression) now runs the Greens.
(2) one Deputy Leader was replaced by another guy, who proceeded to quit within months, join the Bloc Quebecois, and now won’t return the Leader’s calls.
(3) more layoffs and employee resignations too numerous to list (including most the organizers).
(4) more high-profile candidates resigning (amazingly the top 3 Green candidates from 2008 are now gone, not including the leadership of course).
(5) the leader’s campaign manager in Saanich-Gulf Islands quit, and was replaced by an underling from Nova Scotia.
(6) a 20% decline in average party support from this time 2 yrs ago (i.e. 4 months before the last election).
(7) more EDAs de-registered by Elections Canada (bringing the total to 44 over the last few yrs — 3 times more than all other major parties combined).
(8) …that means still no local organization in 1/4 of the country.
(9) most Federal Council positions being acclaimed because of lack of interested candidates…
(10) a precipitous 20% decline in the party’s membership in the last year — yes, you read that right, down 20% in one year!
(11) a near 50%(!) decline in the # of donors from 2008, which is especially bad since…
(12) it’s the only party in the red – $1.2 million in outstanding liabilities and negative working capital.

image001 So in response, Elizabeth May is trying to hold off a leadership review vote of her performance

Given the party’s documented decline, it’s no wonder the leader’s posse is desperately trying to change the rules, so she doesn’t have to face any kind of leadership vote or leadership review until what could be mid-2013, which could mean going 7 years(!) without any kind of performance review (i.e. within 6 months after the next election, which need not happen until fall 2012). Most expected a leadership race to culminate in a convention next month, but they postponed it so they can get the members to rubber-stamp changing the 4-year mandate to an indefinite one. With the leader using the party’s email list to advocate for her preferred motion (needless to say, advocates of competing motions have not been given the same courtesy), it appears to be a foregone conclusion that the change will be pushed through since the motions are so confusing, people will look for guidance.

In other words, there is less and less to distinguish The Green Party of Canada from any other political party when it comes to ambition and leadership.  Nor is there much to distinguish Green Party members from any other party when it comes to ruthlessness when it is time to ditch a leader.