Sunday, September 27, 2020

Paths to Glory: Green Party Leadership Contestants' Paths to Ranked Ballot Victory

With 9 opitions on the Green Party of Canada's leadership ballot, what's it going to take for one of the 8 leadership contestants to emerge victorious on Saturday, October 3 2020?


For some, there just is no path to victory.  For just about everyone else, the Ranked Ballot is going to get a serious workout before anyone will emerge victorious on Saturday.  While it could be that a single individual will reach the 50% threshold within the first 3 rounds of counting, that scenario seems incredibly unlikely to me, and it has everything to do with the apparent strengths of each of the campaigns of the more serious contenders.




By way of background, the Green Party of Canada uses a one-voter one-vote model, so every member's vote carries the same weight - as long as their ballots remain in play.  The Ranked ballot allows you to rank all 9 options - or as many or as few as you want to.  There are 9 options on the ballot because the Green Party of Canada always includes a "None of the Above" (NOTA) option on all ballots in every vote that it holds (not just for leadership).


Barriers for Pundits


There has been no polling released to the public that could help voters figure out who the frontrunners are.  That leaves pundits like me with a lack of viable information to form our opinions.  As you are reading this blogpost, please keep in mind that my opinions are just that - opinions.  I have used some metrics to help inform those opinions, including fundraising data, which has been published by the Party monthly since July. Fundraising data published by Elections Canada at the end of Q2 also includes the names of donors who contributed, so there is an opportunity there to figure out how many people are contributing to each of the campaigns at that point in time.  So even knowing how much each contestant raised at the end of August, and the number of contributors to each campaign at the end of July - well, you can see that fundraising data is a limited metric.  Limited, yes - but not useless.


Some have suggested that social media posts are a good bellwether of voter intention.  I mostly disagree, because of the limited number of social media engagements that are available, as well as their overlap.  Posts on social media represent a small fraction of voters - but they do say a little something about the intentions of engaged Greens, and for me, that says something about which contestants might have momentum, and those that don't.


Unfortunately, due to the high caliber of each of the campaigns, it has been seriously hard to determine momentum.  I can say with a degree of certainty only this: there are two sets of contestants - those that can win, and those that can't.  And the former group is more than twice the size of the latter group.


Going forward, you need to know that this post is going to be seriously informed by my own hunches - hunches that I've developed after over a decade of membership in the Green Party, sure.  But they're still hunches.  I'll try to explain myself as best I can where some additional explanation might help shed light on my opinion.  But I have to say, predicting an outcome for this leadership contest has been one of the more difficult political tasks that I've set for myself.


Membership - Who Votes


Membership in the Party was estimated at around 23,000 at the end of the 2019 election.  This leadership contest has apparently seen a striking 12,000 new members sign up.  Let's break this down a little bit.


23,000 members at the end of the 2019 election likely include a fair number of single-purpose members.  Those who signed up to support a certain election candidate, for example.  Many of these members are not engaged members, and many will not be voting in the leadership contest.


In contrast, those members who have recently signed up are far more likely to be motivated to vote in the contest - likely that was the reason they've signed up in the first place - because they want to vote for a particular candidate. 


What membership numbers can't tell us, though, is which candidates are more likely to be supported by which group of members. There may be a few factors that shed a little light on this - for example, Elections Canada Q2 fundraising numbers showed that Annamie Paul had the highest fundraising total, and that it was distributed among the most individuals, making her funds raised per person amount the lowest out of any contestant's. That suggests to me that she received a lot of small donations - sometimes just $10 - enough to cover the Party's membership fee.


That's one thing.  Another is the reported surge in new members - many disgruntled former New Democrats (or even existing New Democrats, if you believe what you read on Twitter and Facebook - and I do - there's nothing really preventing someone to have membership in another party vote in the Green Party's leadership contest, even though it is against the rules, other than maybe one's personal ethics) are apparently joining the party to support one of several leadership contestants (more on that below).  


Long story short: new member are likely to vote, but there are likely fewer of them (12,000) than existing members (23,000).  But if only half the existing members vote, it's likely that the decision will be made almost equally by new and existing members. This becomes important when we examine a few of the campaigns in more detail - for the path to victory for some of the candidates lies through existing members, while others will be heavily counting on new members to push them above 50%.


Let's now look at the ballot options.


None of the Above


None of the Above ran a truly lackluster campaign. That said, after 8 long months of robocalls, Zoom meetings, flyers, "debates" where nothing is actually debated, and did I mention endless Zoom meetings - I think None of the Above's chances have improved somewhat.  That said, only a cynical contrarian like me would ever think of ranking None of the Above first on their ballots.  But keep in mind - the Green Party is filled with cynical contrarians like me (and for the record, while I might have thought about doing it, I didn't actually do it).


Still, None of the Above is likely to be the first casualty of the ranked ballot.  And I don't expect to see any preferences being redistributed to the other contestants (because...None of the Above!).


The Party can anticipate fairly static results for the first two rounds of voting.  Really, it's the relative placement of each contestant towards one another (or at least for the top 6 who might have a chance at winning) that will matter most in these first two rounds.


But before we get into that, let's discuss the two no-hope contestants, and why even their preferences aren't likely going to have much of an impact on the race when they drop off the ballot.


Andrew West


Andrew West will be the first leadership contestant to be eliminated from the race.  His campaign never caught on, and those that might have considered ranking him high probably realize that there are other candidates out there like Glen Murray, Courtney Howard and Paul who would have a better chance of reaching 50%.  I'm not knocking West here (I think he's a great guy and an asset to the Party), but his campaign was never big enough or ambitious enough to challenge his rivals. West will be eliminated after Round 2, and his elimination will have little impact on standings, as less than 5% of voters will have ranked him as their first choice.


Meryam Haddad

One of the other few things that I am relatively certain of in this leadership contest is that Meryam Haddad will be the second contestant to be eliminated from the ballot.  Haddad's campaign suffered from two significant problems, one of which was out of her control, the other which was of her making. Throughout the contest, and especially in the week leading up to voting, Haddad found herself in hot water with voters and the Party over several public comments she made - about wanting to make the Green Party more hostile; about endorsing the provincial B.C. Ecosocialist Party (although she denies she endorsed that party); and about making accusations against former Green Party leader Elizabeth May being part of a "pattern of harassment".


While some have clearly been energized by Haddad - especially her attacks on the Party and Elizabeth May - I think it's fair to say that most Greens, including those new to the Party, have pretty serious affection and respect for May.  Attacking the Party for what amounts to doing its job (the Party ejected Haddad from the leadership contest over what it refers to as Haddad's bringing disrepute on the Party for endorsing the BC Ecosocialists over our provincial cousins, the BC Greens; Haddad appealed, and was reinstated), and May for agreeing with many Greens that her support for the Ecoscialists was entirely unbecoming for a Green Party of Canada leadership contestant will have cost her support up and down the ballot.


Note that these weren't rookie errors on Haddad's part - at least I don't think they were.  Haddad's actions, looked at her from point of view, might even be considered principled.  Haddad, a member of Quebec Solidaire, is a self-described socialist.  She is running for leadership of the Green Party so that she can lead the Green Party into becoming a socialist party - something that is no longer recognizably a Green Party.  Haddad is part of an insurgency being waged against the Green Party by outside forces who would transform the Green Party.


And that's the other reason why Haddad never really had a chance.  Although her actions might resonate with this insurgent group - whom many of the new members and a few of our original members clearly belong to - she was never their figurehead, their chosen one.  She may garner some top rank support from the socialists, safe with the knowledge that they can then rank Dimitri Lascaris No. 2 and still keep him in the game. This might count for as much as 5% of top ranked support, but likely little more.


Glen Murray


And now we get into that part of the ballot where I am seriously going on hunches, as just about anybody from here on in can win the leadership.


Glen Murray should have been able to leverage his serious past advantages as Mayor of Winnipeg and a cabinet Minister in Ontario's government led by former Premier Kathleen Wynne.  He's the only leadership contestant in the race to ever have been elected to, well, pretty much anything.  His resume is deep, and his understanding of the issues are second to none. 


But his campaign has just never really caught on.  Greens outside of Manitoba and Ontario don't know him very well - and Greens in Ontario might be more used to voicing their opposition to him, rather than their support.  Murray's first tactical mistake of the campaign happened before the campaign got under way: he should have run for the Green Party in the 2019 federal election.  He didn't, and that has really hurt his chances, as he now looks like a bit of an opportunist, sweeping in on a leaderless party to take it over. That several other candidates are doing the exact same as Murray, it's likely Murray's past Liberal credentials that make Murray's actions a little more egregious in the eyes of Greens.


And Murray has had a few mis-steps along the way. To me, it's pretty clear that Murray doesn't have a lot of respect for our marquee carbon fee and dividend policy to fight climate change.  And lately he has gone on record saying that there may be times a Green caucus uses a whip on certain votes.  And that's pretty much anathema for Greens.


Does Murray have a path to victory?  If there is one, it's a very dimly lit path.  Murray is going to have to outperform one of the following: Howard, Paul or David Merner, with 1st rank support and the preferences of Andrew West (which won't amount to much, but which still could see a plurality flow to Murray). If he accomplishes this, it'll be Howard, Paul or Merner ejected from the ballot before him, and he might be able to keep building on the basis of preferences from the other two.  He's not going to pick up any support from Lascaris, and he'll get only minimal support from Amita Kuttner.  Murray needs to stay ahead of Howard, Paul and Merner.  If he can pull that off, he just might win this thing.


But I still think that's a longshot, given how the campaigns of Merner, Howard and Paul appear to have had a lot more resonance with Green voters. And with Murray having done himself few favours to dispel the notion that he is an outsider, that's going to cost him support up and down the ballot - and it's why I'm selecting Murray to be eliminated in Round 4.


Amita Kuttner


If there is one leadership contestant for whom I feel unprepared to make an informed guess about, it's Amita Kuttner.  Their campaign has appeared to be a serious enigma for me.  It's generally been a positive campaign, but at the same time, I has been only moderately successful in attracting voters. 


So I've got to judge Kuttner's campaigns relative to that of the other campaigns.  Kuttner's path to victory is, I think, extremely difficult.  It requires Kuttner to stay ahead of one of Merner, Paul, Howard or Murray AND to be ahead of Lascaris on that round that he's eliminated.  I expect that Kuttner can pick up enough of Lascaris' preferences to propel them over the 50% margin, if it comes down to a straight fight between Kuttner and one of Merner/Pau/Howard/Murray.


And if it comes down to a straight fight between Lascaris and Kuttner, I also think Kuttner can likely win, as long as they and Lascaris are fairly close in vote percentage heading into that last round - and especially if it were Paul or Murray who had just been knocked out (because I believe Paul's and Murray's preferences are the least likely to go to Lascaris, while a greater percentage - but not a plurality - of Howard's and Merner's might end up with Lascaris).


Watch for Kuttner's position on the first ballot, relative to Merner/Paul/Howard/Murray.  If Kuttner is ahead of 3 of these, they may have what it takes to make it to the end.  If Kuttner is behind 3 of these, I think they're out.  And I think they will be - behind Merner, Howard and Paul - that's why I'm selecting Amita Kuttner to be eliminated after the 5th round.


Courtney Howard


Howard has run an extremely effective, very positive, if limited campaign.  Greens who are taking the time to check her out are liking what they're seeing.  She hasn't upset any applecarts, and you'd be hard pressed to find any Green who has an axe to grind with her. 


All of this is why just about every voter is going to rank Howard somewhere near the middle or the top of their ballots.  And if a few things in the count break her way, she could win this. Like Murray, though, Howard needs to stay ahead of one of Paul, Merner and Murray on ever round of counting, as we can expect a good deal of their preferences to break to Howard should they be eliminated.  Unlike Murray, Howard is probably well-positioned to pick up a fair number of Kuttner's preferences too.  


But Howard's sure path to victory is the following: if she remains on the ballot after both Kuttner and Lascaris are eliminated, I believe she'll be the next leader of the Green Party of Canada.  Lascaris' preferences - if they don't go to Kuttner - will probably mostly end up with Howard.  


This is a longshot though, as I don't foresee Howard having the staying power to outlast both Kuttner and Lascaris - and that's because I think that as long as one of Kuttner or Lascaris remains in the race, a plurality of their preferences could be expected to go to the other (although I remain very uncertain about whether that's true in the case of Kuttner.


Howard's campaign could have benefited from a little more exposure, a little more money, and a little more familiarity with the Green Party.  Although she has never run for the Party before and has opted to take the plunge in our leadership contest, unlike Murray, Greens just seem to consider her more "one of us".  Which is not to suggest that some aren't troubled by her desire to seek the leadership as her first political action in the Party.

  

I just don't think that Howard will be able to overcome this feeling that I have that Greens still don't really know her.  And it is just a feeling - although it's informed by a number of factors as I've indicated. Yes, I think her campaign has experienced a little momentum in September, and that might be enough to push her above Murray.  But I just don't think she's going to be able to outflank Merner or Paul - and, along with bumping Murray off the ballot, that's where her path to victory has to lead.


I believe Howard will bow out in Round 7.


Annamie Paul


Look, let me be clear about something.  If Paul has signed up a majority of those new members, she could potentially win this thing on the first ballot.  Her campaign was the first to really take off in the spring / early summer, and she's raised a tonne of cash for the party.  She's received the most mainstream media attention of any candidate, and now she's running for the Party in the Toronto Centre by-election.  Without question, Paul has been the "candidate to beat" in this leadership contest.


Some have suggested that she has benefited unfairly from Elizabeth May, who has appeared at events, and helped her fundraise. I don't think there's any question that appearing at May's side has left an impression with voters that Paul is the real deal - if not the "annointed one". Whether one interprets that impression as a positive or a negative is informed by one's feelings for Elizabeth May.


Therefore, Paul's path to victory seems pretty straightforward: claim the top position on the ballot and pick up enough preferences from Murray/Merner/Howard to propel her above 50%.


What prevents Paul from winning it all are two contestants: Amita Kuttner and Dimitri Lascaris.  If Lascaris is close to her after the first ballot, we're going to be in for a long night.  Lascaris can count on more of Kuttner's preferences that Paul can.  If Kuttner outperforms Murray/Howard/Merner, than Lascaris will probably win it.  If Kuttner drops off before two of Murray/Howard/Merner, Paul may have a much clearer path to victory - as long as she is ahead of Merner at this point.


And here I am back to Kuttner again, and just being uncertain of where their campaign fits in with this contest.  I have a sense that a good number of Kuttner's preferences will break to Lascaris, and to a lesser degree, Merner/Howard.  If Merner and Howard are still in the race when Kuttner drops off, if Kuttner has an unexpectedly high amount of support, that could be the end of Paul.


And that's why I'm selecting Paul for elimination in Round 7.  I do think Kuttner will perform more strongly than suspected, out-performing Murray - and even if they drop off before Howard and Merner, ultimately a good number, if not a majority, of Kuttner's preferences will work their way to Merner - enough to boost him above Paul. 


Dimitri Lascaris


Lascaris is the leadership contestant that everybody seems to love or loathe - at least among engaged members of the party.  Lascaris' path to victory is a simple one on paper: sign up a hell of a lot of new members, and convince enough existing members the he won't be toxic for the Party, as some (like me) have claimed.


Without question, Lascaris has ran a masterful campaign as leader of the insurgency. A good number of those approximately 12,000 new members are likely here for his campaign. He's used his time in the campaign to steer away from the divisive issue of Israel/Palestine and BDS (although his supporters appear to want to talk about nothing but).  He's done a very good job of pretending to be a moderate radical - and it might be enough to convince Greens who aren't paying attention to what's going on to cast their ballot for him, or to rank him high so that he gets their preferences when other contestants like Howard or Merner drop off.


Those paying attention have been sounding the alarm, though.  We realize that Lascaris is here to transform the Green Party into a socialist party, taking us backward, and pretty much killing any hope we have of being electable. Lascaris, a former New Democrat who worked on Niki Ashton's losing leadership campaign (to take the NDP further to the left), has surrounded himself with disgruntled New Democrats and others who refer to themselves as "ecosocialists".  Their objective is to create a confrontational party that champions nationalization and the elimination of capitalism as preconditions for fighting climate change. They sincerely believe that any effort to reduce emissions is doomed to fail under a capitalist economic system.


Thing is, I'm not so sure I disagree with all of that (although nationalization of the fossil fuel industry, just at a time where we can expect it to seriously start losing shrinking due to disappearing demand).  Capitalism is a serious barrier to climate action.


But so is not being at the table - and that's what Lascaris and his followers seem to want to gloss over.  Canadians aren't going to elect a socialist party to power - not now, not for a long while. The NDP has been around for, what? 60 years? And they've never formed government federally. And the NDP isn't socialist enough for these socialists.


Alarms have been sounding about the socialist insurgency, and about Dimitri Lascaris himself. Lascaris was one of the key players in the 2016 Green Party BDS episode, at that time being a member of Elizabeth May's shadow cabinet. Lascaris was later booted from Shadow Cabinet for a critical open letter he wrote to then BC Green leader, Andrew Weaver.  He ultimately left the Party, joined the NDP, and when they rebuffed his candidate, came back to the Green Party just as May announced that she was stepping down. 

 

Without question, a Lascaris victory will lead to an existential crisis for the Green Party.  It's no secret that May is no fan of Lascaris', and others believe that the direction he will take the party in will mean a decade of being lost in the wilderness. I just don't see May staying the in the Party should Lascaris become the next leader.  Greens on social media are already pledging to join May in leaving the Party, not wanting to waste valuable time and energy on a cause that has no hope for a Party whose fundamental values will have shifted with a new leader.


All of that said, Lascaris appears to have a pretty good chance of winning. But a ballot count that goes 8 rounds is probably going to be a problem for him, as his best chances of picking up support will be after the elimination of Haddad and Kuttner (and to a lesser degree, Howard and Merner). He's going to have to be very close to 50% when Howard or Merner come off of the ballot.


A strong showing in first ranked ballots are what Lascaris needs to win (and you might just as well add his first ballot percentage to Haddad's, because her preferences are going to overwhelmingly flow to him).


David Merner


I keep seeing David Merner being referred to as "everybody's second choice", and there appears to be something to that.  Merner has run a solid campaign that has seen him play friendly with just about all of the other candidates.  There is certainly no doubt that Merner would make an excellent leader for our Party.  And he's also the one most likely to find himself being sent to Ottawa after the next election, having finished a close second in the 2019 race to take his home seat of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.  Merner also benefits from being the Vancouver Island candidate, where Greens are thick on the ground.


And I think he's going to have the staying power to take the whole thing.  If it comes down to Merner, Lascaris and Paul, as I am predicting, if it's Paul that ends up existing the ballot, Merner is very likely to win it.  If it's Merner that leaves, depending on how close Paul and Lascaris are to one another, a Paul victory might be a little less certain, as some of Merner's preferences will go to Lascaris. If it's Lascaris that drops off, Merner should be able to take it.


What to Watch For After the Initial Results are Announced


Round 1 will be the most important round for the ballot. We should be able to see some of the trends start to develop at that time, but we probably won't be able to rely on those trends to extrapolate a winner, unless either Lascaris or Paul have captured a serious amount of the vote.  If either are up above 40%, it's probably game over.  If Paul is above 35%, I don't see how anybody is going to catch her.


And frankly, yes, it's only Paul and Lascaris out of the serious contestants (Howard/Kuttner/Lascaris/Merner/Murray/Paul) that I believe could find themselves with such a large percentage of the vote.  But even I don't think that's going to happen.  


If Paul, Merner, Murray, Kuttner or Howard get over 25% in the first round, that's likely going to be enough for them to cruise to victory.  The same is not necessarily so for Lascaris. 


To read Lascaris' chances for success based on first round placement, do the following: add his percentage to Haddad's, and then take 2/3's of Kuttners. If he's at 50% with that, he'll probably win. If he's close, there's a good chance he'll win. If he's at 40-42%, I don't think he's going to do it.

  

If Kuttner/Murray/Merner/Howard are bunched up in the middle, the way that they exit the ballot will matter.  In my scenario above, I have Murray exiting first, followed by Kuttner.  But if the order of exit changes, that might be to to Paul's benefit or detriment, depending on whether Lascaris is in the race on the final ballot. 


Scenario


Scenario Methodology - where "100 Votes" are a stand-in for Actual Votes Cast


(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Higgs the Big Winner in New Brunswick Leader's Debate

 Last night's New Brunswick leader's debate was rather interesting - for several reasons.

First, Premier Higgs was under attack from all sides for calling an unnecessary election. Higgs nevertheless handled himself well, although his anger was quite apparent and a little unbecoming.
People's Alliance Party leader Kris Austin appeared to be the most polished, and probably the best versed on the issues. He oozed charm and credibility - although I found some of his statements (like being proud about unilingual emergency services) a little off-putting. But there is no denying that Austin shone on this stage, making a strong pitch to voters to elect his MLA's to parliament.
NDP leader Mackenzie Thomason, just 23 years old (and played up his youth with a sharp Jimmy Olsen bow-tie), was the other stand-out of the debate. He knew his stuff, spoke off-the-cuff very well, hitting all of the high notes on issues from the economy and health care to regional development. Watch this guy - he is going to be a rising star in his party. If anybody was wondering whether a vote for the NDP in New Brunswick would be a "wasted" vote, Thomason firmly answered that question last night with a loud "No Way!"
Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers was probably the most underwhelming. I expected a lot more from Vickers - but largely he stuck to his talking points, and looked very uncomfortable with his wooden delivery. Higgs essentially manhandled him every time there was a confrontation between the two. It didn't help that in certain camera angles, Vickers make-up turned his face the colour of his tie - beet-red. Going on about untested technology (small modular nuclear reactors) made him look scary and fringe. And essentially calling the Moderator a liar at one point really sunk Vickers.
Green Party leader David Coon gave a bit of an unremarkable performance, providing few specifics about what Greens would do to influence the next government. Coon was most at home speaking about environmental issues, like Maritime Iron and the Paris Agreement. Coon's relaxed performance was remarkable (how could he be so cool in such a high pressure situation?) - but he came across as being a indifferent and lacking passion - except during a strange exchange between himself and Vickers where Vickers accused the Greens of walking away from some vote or the other (rich coming from Vickers who actually walked away from the all-Party committee that led to this election, and whose party abstained from voting on the budget). Vickers even made a pitch to Green voters, claiming in defiance of evidence, that the Liberals are "greener than the Greens". But even then, Coon failed to capitalize on this opening.
And finally, what on earth was the "Keep It Simple Solutions" Party leader doing in this debate? They're not even registering in the polls, they don't have any sitting MLAs. And their bewildered leader was completely out of place on that stage. The only thing I learned about KISS is that their leader has an allergy to cattle, and embraces homeopathy (of all things).
I suspect the media will spin this in the following way: Higgs winning the debate, despite being under fire, with Vickers wooden, shakey, and angry - especially when taking on the Moderator. Vickers really doesn't appear ready to be Premier. Possibly the media will also remark on the strong performances for Austin and Thomason.
But whatever the spin is likely to be, last night's debate was not very helpful to David Coon and the Green Party. At this point in the election, it might be too much to expect the NDP to start climbing in the polls. But Thomason's strong performance means that their polling numbers aren't likely to collapse further.
Coon needed to make the case that the Green Party was the only party that could hold the Progressive Conservatives accountable. Kevin Vickers opened the door for that to happen. But Coon just didn't walk through it.
One final note: Who else here is getting sick and tired of political debates where zero questions are asked about the biggest issue of our times - the climate emergency? I am just so fucking fed up that debate organizers at all levels are ignoring this. It's an injustice to the voting public, in my opinion.
(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Here's Why a Letter to the Editor from Ward 2 Councillor's Adviser Published Today in the Sudbury Star is Misleading - and Unhelpful

I just read this letter to the Editor of the Sudbury Star from Tom Price, who is an adviser to Ward 2 Councillor Michael Vagnini. I have serious concerns about this letter due to a number of things in it that are simply not true.
As some here know, I am an appellant to the Kingsway Entertainment District matter presently before the LPAT. I am also a blogger and Star columnist who writes about the environment. I believe it's important to get one's facts right when calling for measures to be taken to address important issues. I'd say that's important for any member of the public.
It's doubly so when one has some kind of official capacity in government. I understand that people who have political agendas don't always tell the whole truth, in order to further their agendas. But this letter from Tom Price goes much further than that. He is simply not telling the truth on a few significant matters here.
Water Quality - An Important Municipal Issue
Water quality - especially for drinking water sources - is a serious issue in our City. In my opinion, it's one that isn't being addressed adequately by our elected officials and city managers who rely on dated minimum standards. I have called for freezing development around Ramsey Lake until the completion of the Ramsey Lake Watershed Study, and until its recommendations can be worked into municipal policy documents like the official plan. That would be one way for the city to demonstrate a more serious commitment to protecting at risk lakes from the impacts of development.
What is not helpful in these sorts of discussions is to make claims that are not supported by facts and evidence. Price does this in a number of locations in his letter. It's almost as if he wants to present a distorted picture to the public to further his own (or if not his own, than someone's) narrative.
Source Water Protection and the KED
In this letter, Price concludes that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) "deemed source water protection not important to decisions regarding" the KED and "taxpayers need an explanation of why source water protection is not part of considerations by LPAT" for the KED. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is true that the LPAT dismissed the Minnow Lake Restoration Group's appeal of the parking lot zoning by-law, but it was not because LPAT believed source water protection was unimportant. It was actually the complete opposite. LPAT sided with the developer (not the City) who initiated the motion to dismiss Minnow Lake's appeal BECAUSE the proponent had undertaken studies to demonstrate that impacts of salt migration on Ramsey Lake (a drinking water source) could be mitigated, and that Minnow Lake - not coming to the table with its own technical studies to back up its opinion those mitigation methods called for in the developer's Plan wouldn't be enough, was raising apprehension instead of addressing an issue on which the LPAT could adjudicate. In other words, the LPAT decided it wasn't good enough to just say "we don't believe the technical studies are good enough" without presenting actual evidence to the contrary.
That said, there are some serious flaws to the Source Water Protection process, in my opinion. But rather than identify that the KED developer undertook technical studies, developed a Plan to identify potential harmful substances (including road salt) and measures to mitigate impacts from those substances, and that the City reviewed and approved this plan n compliance with our Source Water Protection Plan, Price simply provides a throw-away statement the LPAT didn't care about protecting water quality.
Valley East Twin Pad
Similarly, Price claims that Council isn't doing its due diligence with regards to the Valley East Twin Pad. Here he goes so far as to claim that the Valley East Twin Pad will "present a major risk to the municipal water supply" - a drinking water source that Price says "already exceeds Public Health recommendations" and that Council was "not following the advice of" municipal technical experts.
None of this is actually true in any meaningful way. While it is true that there is a drinking water source (a municipal well) in proximity to the proposed Twin Pad arena in the Valley, and that drinking water source - along with other municipal wells in the Valley - is under stress due to the presence of contamination - the well is still being used to provide safe, clean drinking water to Valley residents. Public Health has not recommended that use be discontinued.
It is also true that the well is expected to be impacted by the Twin Pad. And that's why the City followed its Source Water Protection Plan and developed a strategy to mitigate those potential impacts. As with the KED, no strategy is going to mitigate every single expected impact. But mitigation here was deemed possible and appropriate by City staff - those technical experts whose advice Price insists Council did not follow. Again, the opposite is actually true.
Lake Nepahwin
And finally, Price raises the matter of Lake Nepahwin and a recent study that shows that lake as being in serious trouble. What Price doesn't do, however, is identify Lake Nepahwin as not being a drinking water source. Instead he lumps it in with Ramsey Lake and a municipal well in the Valley. This is an important omission, because the level of protection for water quality for drinking water sources is much higher than for surface water features that are not the sources of potable water.
Price also fails to identify that the Lake Nepahwin report concluded that the majority of the damage that we can expect to see in the Lake has already been done, and little further opportunity exists to do more damage, due to the fact that there are few available places on the lake for more development, and due to the fact that the City has been paying closer attention to things like road salt and phosphorous run-off into all urban lakes.
The Sudbury Star
I often call the Sudbury Star out for publishing letters that offer opinions that are clearly based on nonsense or that are unsupported by facts and evidence. I can't do so here for two reasons. First, a lot of this is very technical and easily misrepresented by those who either don't care about the nuances of how policy, regulation and reports interact to better protect our natural environment. It's a lot easier to claim that something lakes aren't being protected than to explain how they're not being protected. And let's face it, I agree with Price's thesis that the City should be doing more to protect vulnerable lakes. But it's unhelpful when conclusions are distorted and facts are invented to support that thesis.
Second, Price is a political animal. He advises a municipal Councillor - one whom many believe has ambitions beyond Ward 2. By publishing this letter, the Star is contributing to the political discussion in our community - if not helpfully advancing concerns of citizens who have long been involved with trying to push the City towards more protection for vulnerable lakes. Those people (and I am not one of them) have experienced considerable success over the years - and have made our City a better place for everyone to live.
(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Quick Impressions of the TVO Green Party of Canada Leadership Contestant Debates

Two really great, if quick, leadership contestant debates were held today.  Hosted by Steve Paikin of TVO's The Agenda (who runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to debates), leadership contestants, in two groups, were put on the spot to discuss timely issues of the day, like defunding the police, as well as existential matters like the Green Party's relevance and position in Canada's political climate.

The first debate was held between Annamie Paul, David Merner, Judy Green, Glen Murray and Amita Kuttner.  The second involved Dimitry Lascaris, Meryam Haddad, Dylan Perceval-Maxwell and Courtney Howard and Adam West - the latter two of which were both absent from this past Sunday's Fair Vote Canada debate (Howard did submit videos to Fair Vote in advance of that debate).

Winners and Losers

Look, it's still so early in the campaign that being a "winner" or "loser" in a particular debate really doesn't matter that much.  It's June - is anybody really paying attention yet?

Cross all of that out - of course this TVO debate matters.  It's not so much that people will be looking at at this at the end of June and thinking, "Hmmm...I really liked so-and-so, maybe I'll try to remember who they are and in September, I'll vote for them". The fact is these TVO debates are going to be up online for the remainder of the leadership contest. They will be go-to sources for Greens - including many in the Green base who want to be a little more informed about the candidates.  The fact that Paikin and TVO are involved automatically bump up the importance of these debates.  So make no mistake, these debates were important.

And you know what?  All of the candidates impressed today.  I don't have a lot to say that's particularly negative.  The debate itself was mostly civil, and the candidates were generally well spoken.  There was only one real exchange that stood out for me, where Meryam Haddad called out Dylan Perceval-Maxwell's "$20 solution" to the police issues as "completely racist" right at the end of the second debate - just as time ran out for any rebuttal - was probably the one moment where I felt a bit of a knock-out punch - and let me be honest here about this: from what I've seen of Haddad, I'm not a fan - I won't be voting for her - but with regards to this moment, she was 100% right to call out her fellow leadership contestant in the way that she did. And if it had been anybody but Perceval-Maxwell, it might have meant something.

Dylan Perceval-Maxwell

So let's start with Perceval-Maxwell.  He clearly doesn't belong in this contest. He may be all right to listen to, and perhaps it's true that every leadership contest needs someone on the fringe who can say things about political opponents that legit contestants can't, but all of that is offset by his meandering answers to questions. And that top hat just screams "I'm not a serious candidate".  And he's not.  

It's also been twice now that he's brought up endorsing strategic voting as a way of helping the Green Party.  Yes, if you can believe that, we have a leadership contestant who actively wants to tell Green members and supporters in certain parts of the country NOT to vote for the Green Party.  I don't know how many times it needs to be hammered home: strategic voting doesn't work.  Greens should not be supporting Liberals and New Democrats. And the Green Party will *never* get the NDP to not run candidates against us somewhere - anywhere.

I think I'm pretty much done with Perceval-Maxwell.

Andrew West

Today was West's first debate with some of the candidates, as he had missed the Fair Vote Debate for some reason (I'd still like to know why, Andrew....).  West came across as affable, if a little off his game.  He was the only contestant who dared admit that he was a centrist and viewed the Party in the same way. West's whole thing is that the Party should be promoting the fact that it is fiscally responsible - but it was pretty clear from an exchange he had with Dimitri Lascaris that his version of "responsible" differs significantly from Lascaris' - and frankly from mine, too.  Although I'll give West the benefit of the doubt that his half-hearted and quick rebuttal to Lascaris could have been more substantive had their been time, so I don't want to suggest that West and I are completely out of line with another on this.

But about "time" - if West is going to be taken as a serious contestant, he's going to really need to up his game to compress MORE into the time he's been given.  If Perceval-Maxwell's responses were wandering, West's were needlessly pedantic.  And since one of the things I've stated time and again that I'm looking for in a leader is someone who can be a good spokesperson for the Party - well, West just isn't there yet. 

Meryam Haddad

Haddad had a good debate.  She came across as being far less radical that she was at the Fair Vote debate. That doesn't mean that I believe something has changed in her heart since Sunday - but rather that she was able to present herself a little more seriously for a broader audience while still staying true to herself.  For example, she appeared to throw moderator Paikin for a bit of a loop when she brought up abolishing the police - but she continued to carry on as if the idea was simply one that perhaps others hadn't arrived at yet, but through the force of history, would get there some day, while being very personable.  It's difficult to walk that tightrope - especially in a Party where many members would NEVER consider themselves to be left-wingers, much less socialists like Haddad.  

I'm not going to vote for Haddad because I still believe she wants the Green Party to be something that it's not. But if all you knew about Haddad was what you saw on TVO today, you certainly might want to rank her high on your ballot (even if fools like me are whispering in your ear, 'don't be fooled').

Annamie Paul

Perhaps my biggest disappointment today was Annamie Paul.  In contrast to some of the other contestants that Paul was debating, her answers to questions generally lacked specifics. The vagueness, though, wasn't a particular problem (how much detail can you really get into with just 60 seconds? Ok, maybe Judy Green could pull it off - and did, but not everyone can).  What turned me off more than anything was that Paul just seemed less than genuine.

Clearly, Paul had been well-coached: don't ever yield the floor, just keep on talking (because when you're talking, your opponents aren't talking).  Speak over others if you can (because then no one hears your opponent). Interrupt. Try to take the floor back.  All of these are classic techniques for winning debates.  And she did a very good job of employing those tactics.  Thing is, though, none of the other contestants were going to play those games, so the fact that she was employing these tactics really stood out for me. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one with whom she's left a negative impression.

The Fair Vote Canada debate didn't really allow any of the candidates to do what Paul did today. But even in that debate, Paul's answers to questions were a little vague and lacklustre.  After watching her in two debates now, it's becoming clear to me that she's just a little underwhelming in circumstances like this.  Now I know that we should never judge leadership on "debates" - but I also know that being the Leader of the Green Party means that you're going to have to explain yourself (very quickly, because the media isn't going to give the 5th party much time to get into the weeds). And from what I've seen, there are better contestants to do this than Paul.

Amita Kuttner

I don't know what to say about Kuttner.  They had a better debate this time than the Fair Vote debate for sure.  They answered questions directly and succinctly - which was really great and in contrast to Perceval-Maxwell, West and Paul.  I like that (again, I think there's a reason Elizabeth May speaks so quickly, because you're not going to have much time to - oh, just re-read what I wrote above!).  Kuttner is clearly in touch with issues that have suddenly been thrust to the forefront of political discussion.  But there is clearly something of a hard edge to Kuttner that I find off-putting and unfriendly.  They may know the issues very well, but I think they've got to work on that whole "spokesperson" thing a lot more.  And again, maybe in a few years, who knows?

Courtney Howard

This was Howard's first leadership debate - and as far as I know, it might also have been her political debate. I don't think Howard's ever run for anything before.  And yes, I do find it kind of odd that not having run for anything before, she'd want to throw her hat into the ring to lead the Green Party of Canada - a party that she seems to have no history with.  That lack of history came through a little today.  Howard seemed a flummoxed and vague when discussing the Green Party in today's political climate - in a way that Haddad, Kuttner, Lascaris, Green and Murray weren't.  

Howard came across as being very intelligent, and fairly engaging.  She does speak well, and it's clear that she knows how to integrate data and evidence into the conversation.  She struggled a little with some of the issues of the day that most of the other candidates really nailed.  Generally speaking, though, I wasn't particularly impressed - but nor was I unimpressed.  I'll have to keep watching, I suppose.

Judy Green

I have to say, Green really impressed me.  In this format, she was a bit of a stand-out - even among some of the more formidable leadership candidates.  Green clearly knew her stuff, understands what the Green Party is, where it's come from, and where the Members seem to want to take it.  She was charming, engaging and trying to cram as much as she could into the little time that she had.  She was able to express her varied life experiences and relate to others while answering questions.  

I think we all need to keep our eye on Green. She's got a little touch of Elizabeth May about her, mingled with a folksy Maritime charm.  Could Green be the populist in this leadership contest?  But a populist in the true sense of the word - someone with their finger on the pulse of the times.  In a field riddled with laywers and policy wonks, Green is offering up something a little different.

Three Stand Outs

Dimitri Lascaris

I always feel the need to put this disclaimer in front of anything that I write about Dimitri Lascaris.  I do not believe that Lascaris should be running for leader of the Green Party of Canada due to a number of serious matters in his past that really ought to have disqualified him.  That the Party has greenlighted his leadership bid is a real problem, I believe, one that the Party is going to have to wrestle with at some point in the future.  I'm not going to get into specifics here, as Lascaris' toxic backstory is easily found with a quick Google search.

All of that said, even I have to say that Lascaris was one of the stand-outs of the day.  That he found himself in a debate with some of the less-tested candidates (Howard, Perceval-Maxwell and West) may have helped him a little, but really Lascaris is a great speaker - and he himself has had a lot of practice at this sort of thing.  If you didn't know much about Lascaris and just tuned into the TVO debate, no doubt you'd be wondering now about whether this is someone to be supporting.

Lascaris clearly has charisma and charm, and he knows how to engage with everyone - the moderator, other candidates, and with his audience (correct me if I'm wrong, but he was also the only contestant to do a land acknowledgement - something that there's really no excuse for any leadership contestant not to be doing first thing when they're given the floor to speak).  Lascaris also really seemed to think quickly on his feet, and his rebuttal of West on the matter of what it means to be 'fiscally responsible' was probably the highlight of the day - and a serious showcase for Lascaris' talents. 

David Merner

What can I say about David Merner? This is twice now that Merner has proved to be the complete package: knowledgeable, empathetic, charming, engaging, considerate.  There is really something about him that I am growing to like.  It's clear that Merner has spent a lot of time connecting the dots, and thinking on his feet.  He shows all of the qualities that a national party leader ought to show.  It was all on display today.  And although today's discussion was not particularly combative, I'm sure that Merner could mix it up with the best of them if push came to shove.

I'm just going to leave it at that, after saying one last thing: I'm still not convinced I will vote for him, because I continue to feel that the Party would be best led by someone who is not an older straight white man.  

Glen Murray

Equally engaging as Merner, and so clearly able to discuss politics and everything political, Murray has a depth of understanding based on his years of experience in the political realm.  It is so clear to me that Murray possesses all of the leadership qualities one could ever hope for in a leader. And I am sure that if the Green Party elected Murray, our future would be in really good hands.  I can already picture Murray on stage with Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh and Peter McKay - not just holding his own, but seriously dishing it out to all of those leaders.  

There's something very genuine and engaging about Murray too.  It's not so much charm as it is, I don't know, gravitas.  But that's not to suggest that he can't connect with people, because clearly he was able to do that in today's debate.  Some of the candidates like Merner and Lascaris might approach him in this area, but it's clear to me that Murray is just on another level.

But...today he completely lost my vote.

Look I know that I've said time and again that PR matters more than policy.  But sometimes policy matters - and when it does, it really does.  Today, Murray made it very clear that he would try to get the Party to abandon our long-standing Carbon Fee & Dividend policy in favour of something like his Ontario Cap & Trade program - which he continues to believe is more "efficient" with money and will lead to a larger reduction in emissions.  Annamie Paul was right to point out to Murray that economists don't agree with him on this (like Sudbury's own Dr. David Robinson, Professor of Economics at Laurentian University, who wrote, "What Glen Might Be Saying if He Understood," Dr. David Robinson, Economics for Northern Ontario, December 3 2016). 

But Murray sure as hell didn't listen to those economists when the Ontario Liberals had their dog and pony show, er, province-wide public consultation sessions on carbon pricing back in 2016.  At that time, the Liberals were overwhelmingly told to go with carbon fee & dividend.  I don't know if it was through Murray's force of will or because of something else, but the Wynne Liberals opted instead to go with Cap & Trade - better than what Ontario had before (which was nothing), but absolutely not the program that is ever going to price carbon at a level that can be both economically sustainable and meaningful for emissions reduction.  I wrote about the problems with Ontario's Cap and Trade program back in 2017 (see: "Cap and trade doomed to fail," Steve May, the Sudbury Star, April 8 2017).  

And that Murray wants to push this now on the Green Party - a party that had this very conversation over a decade ago - sorry, that's just unacceptable.  And frankly more than a little disrespectful.  

Well, I guess by disqualifying himself from my list of "those whom I might support for leader", he's at least done me a favour today.

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the Green Parties of Ontario and/or Canada)


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Quick Impressions of the Fair Vote Canada - Green Party of Canada Leadership Debate

I just wanted to take a moment to provide my first impressions of the Fair Vote Canada - Green Party of Canada Leadership Contestant "debate".  I can't help but put the word "debate" in quotations, because really, it was anything but a debate.  But that doesn't mean it wasn't useful as Greens get ready to case their ballots at the end of September for our next leadership candidate.



National Indigenous Peoples Day

First, let me address the elephant in the room: Fair Vote Canada scheduled this debate on June 21st - which is National Indigenous Peoples Day.  Without question, this was a completely tone-deaf move on Fair Vote Canada's part.  Frankly, it should have never happened.  While Fair Vote, the moderators, and especially the leadership contestants, all tried to address this situation, it still fell flat in my opinion.  This was the wrong day to be having a discussion about democracy in Canada.  In the future, if things like this happen again, it is my hope that the leadership contestants themselves have the courage to stand up to organizers and say, "Thanks, but No - we have to consider the greater good here". 

Look, I know that's not an easy thing for any leadership contestant to do. I'm reminded of a situation that happened here in Sudbury in 2008 at an all-candidates debate that was organized by a student group at a local highschool. During that debate, one of the candidates, and Independent, remarked that gay people should be rounded up and shot.  The other candidates didn't quite know what to do. I'm sure that none of them supported this position, but rather than call out a fringe opponent - or do the right thing and walk off the stage so as not to be sharing a podium with the homophobe - they did nothing (including our Green Party candidate).  But the people watching the debate did the right thing - they called out the candidate, they decided to leave the debate.  Clearly, they didn't have any 'skin in the game' that might have left them questioning what was the smart thing to do - continue to engage in the debate because of the potential of securing a few votes?  No, they left because it was the right thing to do.  

And that's why I have to fault all of the candidates who participated in tonight's debate - while also acknowledging that not participating would also have been a problem. But from where I sit, those that participated tonight all made a blunder - siding with doing what was expedient for their campaigns, versus doing what was right, moral and just.

All of the 10 leadership contestants participate tonight except for Andrew West.  It was not mentioned why West wasn't there - perhaps we will find out the explanation from West's campaign at some point.  Also, Courtney Howard was not able to participate in person, and debate organizers indicated that it was because she was working.  Howard did pre-record responses to a few questions, as well as opening and closing remarks.  So 9 out of 10 opted to participate in this debate, held on National Indigenous Peoples Day.  Shame.

My Personal Winner

There were several candidates that did quite well, which didn't surprise me. For example, I've been following Glen Murray's career for some time now.  The fact that he was able to provide meaty, cogent responses that differentiated himself from the other contestants in a thoughtful and deliberate way was absolutely no surprise to me.  I believe that all Greens need to take a serious look at Murray - and even though he's an outsider to the Party, there's no question in my mind that he really should have been a Green a long time ago.  As Minister of Environment and Climate Change in what was unquestionably the "greenest" government in Canada's history (under the leadership of former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne), and as former head of the Pembina Institute, Murray knows very well what Canada needs to do to get its act together to combat the challenges of climate change.  So his performance in tonight's debate was no surprise to me.  Frankly, there was really no one else who was able to step up onto the same plain as Murray - with one exception.

And that exception was David Merner - and I'm going to pick David as my personal winner in tonight's debate.  Holy cow, where did this guy come from (I ask knowing full well that Merner has been a political force for years now - first in the Liberal Party and most recently as a Green candidate in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, where he nearly won a seat in parliament in 2019).  Merner came across as professional, responsible and completely in touch with the issues that are top-of-mind for so many today.  His presentation was genuine, engaging and ready for prime-time in a way that frankly only former cabinet Minister Murray was able to compare to.  

I can't say that Merner "won" the debate.  Really, there weren't any winners (although there were a few losers - see below), but Merner, who has never been elected to anything, was a stand out for me, so I'm going to name him my personal winner.

Tonight's Losers

There were a few losers tonight - some bigger than others.  Here are my top three:

Dylan Perceval-Maxwell

If anyone was seriously thinking of ranking Perceval-Maxwell as their first pick in the leadership contest (and frankly, other than his friends and family, I have my doubts anybody was considering this anyway), tonight he put on a display that was sure to convince Greens just not to bother.  Entering the debate wearing a 19th Century-style top hat already made him look so far from the type of professional leader that the party needs now, it wasn't even funny. And his responses to questions were clearly not very well thought out or rehearsed.  In short, if Dylan hasn't already raised the $20k needed to stay in the race, I sincerely hope he does not bother and saves himself some grief and heartache, because it was quite clear to anybody watching that he did not belong on this virtual stage with any of the other candidates.

Meryam Haddad

I don't think that I was the only one that found Haddad to be a little offensive.  She clearly has her own vision of what it means to be the leader of the Green Party of Canada - and frankly, about what the Green Party of Canada should be, in order to conform itself to her vision.  Haddad is a proud socialist, and her responses to questions were clearly influenced by that.  But unlike Dimitri Lascaris, who also self-identifies as being on the left-wing of the Party, Haddad just came across as too radical for the Green Party in a way that Lascaris didn't.  It wasn't clear to me at all that Haddad had a decent understanding of what it meant to be a Green.  What did come across is that Haddad, if she ever found herself to be a leader of the Party, would try to impose her will on the party over that of the membership.

Beyond that, Haddad proved to be a pretty ineffective communicator.  There was a bitterness to her responses that was missing from all of the other candidates (save one).  She seemed angry and oppositional - rather than someone who appeared willing to work with others.  If you were considering Haddad because you support the ecosocialist side of the party, I think that it's pretty clear that Lascaris made a far better impression tonight. Although I will never suggest to any Green that they should ever cast a ballot for Lascaris, given some of the public statements he has made over the years that are just so deeply problematic.

I think Greens just need to give Meryam Haddad a pass.

Amita Kuttner

Tonight's biggest disappointment for me was Amita Kuttner.  This is a candidate that I really want to like.  I've been following them for some time now, and I really like what they have to say. They've clearly positioned themselves to be on the progressive side of politics, and have a pretty good understanding of what it means to be Green.  So this "quick impression" isn't based on their approach to policy or anything like that. It's completely about personality and their ability to represent the Party as leader - which the Constitution defines as being a "spokesperson for the Party".

Kuttner just seemed angry and pissed off throughout the night.  There was barely a smile. There was no engagement with anybody - moderators, fellow contestants - that let the real Kuttner shine through. Instead, we ended up with a scowling leadership contestant who appeared more than mildly irritated with the state of the world.  And this is exactly not the sort of "leader" aka "salesperson" that the Party needs right now.  Kuttner was clearly out of place on tonight's stage, doing little better than Perceval-Maxwell to convince voters to give them a try.  

And this isn't unusual for Kuttner.  Recently, they released a video about how they would not be accepting the Party's equity-seeking special provisions for the leadership race.  The message was a good one, I suppose - but the messenger was problematic for the same reasons: Kuttner just appeared to be pissed off, carrying around a giant chip on their shoulder.  And that's not at all what the Green Party needs right now if we're going to attract new voters and win new seats.

Dr. Courtney Howard

This isn't a knock on Howard's pre-recorded responses (although they were quite unmemorable), but rather on Howard's absence.  Frankly, I don't care whether one has to work or not, if you're going to bail on leadership debate, at least do it for the right reasons (like, "National Aboriginal Day - you can't be serious!").  I get that Howard probably has a pretty important job - but you know what? I took the time tonight, as did many other Greens, to tune in to see the leadership debate. And Howard couldn't be bothered. Sorry, being the leader of the Green Party is also a very important job.  So Howard is my biggest loser of tonight's debate.

Strong Second Tier Performances

Without question, going into tonight's debate, Merner, Murray and Paul have to be the odds-on favorites to win the contest.  Each of these candidates have a strong team in place, and are raising a lot of money - doing the sorts of things that you have to do if you want to win the race.

But tonight's debate left me with the impression that there is a strong second tier of candidates that perhaps Greens should not overlook when it comes.  

Judy Green

Green had a solid performance. She was able to remind Greens that she is coming from a different place, having served in the armed forces, and being from the Maritimes.  Greens ought not to count Green out of the race, as she is the only candidate from Atlantic Canada, and if she plays her cards right, she could yet end up as a bit of a force in the contest.  She certainly has a great grasp of party policy, and she's fairly personable. I'd likt to see more of her personality shine through in the same way that those who have attended one of her virtual "Kitchen Parties" have seen.  

Dimitri Lascaris

Those who follow me on social media know very well that I am no fan at all of Dimitri Lascaris, and I sincerely wish he was not in the leadership contest.  That said, there is little to fault Lascaris for in tonight's leadership debate, so I'll have to give him well-deserved kudos.  Lascaris came across as a personable and knowledgeable - while offering a viewpoint that was slightly different than the status quo candidates.  Say what you want about Lascaris, he is clearly in touch with the zeitgeist of today.  And given that he has his own little power group in the Party - well, no, it probably doesn't matter, because most still aren't going to give Lascaris their preferences, no matter how well he comes across in debates like tonight's.

Ranking

Here is my ranking of the leadership contestants' performance in tonight's debate.  This is not representative of my own personal feelings towards the candidates, or what I feel their electoral chances are in general. This was just about tonight:

1) David Merner
2) Glen Murray
3) Annamie Paul
4) Judy Green
5) Dimitri Lascaris
6) Meryam Haddad
7) Amita Kuttner
8) Dylan Perceval-Maxwell
9) Courtney Howard

One Last Thing...

Who out there watching tonight's debate wasn't thinking this very thought: it's too bad that Elizabeth May stepped down as leader.  She exudes charisma, charm, knowledge and political acumen with everything she says and does.  And tonight was no exception.  May absolutely shone in her role of co-moderator with former Party leader Jim Harris (who was also very good).  I tell you this - if I had my druthers, I would surely like to see May lead the Party into the next election. I know that's not going to happen - but it was pretty clear to me tonight that even with the excellent tier-one candidates that we have in this party, no one - and I mean NO ONE - can hold a candle to Elizabeth May.

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the Green Parties of Ontario and/or Canada)