Monday, October 21, 2019

May 27 2019: The Day the Green Party of Canada Lost the Election

Dateline - May 27, 2019.  The seeds for the Green Party's eventual poor showing in tonight's election were sown on the day that the Green Party of Canada found itself at  the height of their power and influence.  On that day, Paul Manly was sworn in as the newly-elected Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith - only the second Green MP ever be elected by Canadians.  Manly had invested time energy into a campaign, which (for many) led to a surprising upset win on May 6 2019.

Greens had been racking up victories: just before Manly, the PEI Greens had returned 9 MLA's to Charlottetown, and formed the first-ever Green Official Opposition.  In New Brunswick, a provincial election saw three Greens elected.  And in Ontario in 2018, Green Party leader Mike Schreiner was sent to Queens Park by the good people of Guelph. 

Expectations for a serious breakthrough in the October federal election were high, as the NDP sagged in the polls and even the Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were looking more than a little run-down.  With, what at the time appeared to be a growing threat to the Conservative Party on the political right in the form of Maxime Bernier's People's Party, Greens were buying in to the Green Surge big-time.  Including me! (see: "Greens to be Ignored No More," Sudbury Steve May, May 7 2019).

Elizabeth May
But things started to go off the rails - and much of it was, in my opinion, completely avoidable.  We Greens like to brag that 'we do politics differently' but after more than 10 years in the Green Party, I'm far too often left shaking my head in exasperation and lamenting that Greens don't really "do" politics at all.  

Mission: Possible Problems

"Mission: Possible" - the Green Party's climate change action plan, was released on May 16th (see: "Elizabeth May unveils Mission: Possible – the Green Climate Action Plan," Green Party of Canada, May 16 2019).  Although concerns about Point 13 had been percolating on social media for days, the story about the Green's wanting to ban foreign oil imports and build refineries in Alberta broke on the 27th (see: "Green party calls for ban on foreign oil imports, using Alberta bitumen instead," the Calgary Herald, May 27 2019, and "Elizabeth May's 'Canadian oil' idea would be the end of Canadian oil," Don Braid, the Calgary Herald, May 27 2019 and "Greens call for ban on foreign oil imports, using Alberta oil instead," CBC News, May 27 2019).  

Once the cat was out of the bag, it didn't take much public head-scratching for environmentalists to wonder just where the Green Party was coming from on Point 13 - especially since Greens had gone to some lengths to tell others that we were the party who would unequivocally say 'No' to new fossil fuel infrastructure like bitumen pipelines and LNG.  But apparently new refineries didn't quite make the cut.
Alex Tyrrell

Quebec's eco-socialist Green Party leader, Alex Tyrrell - no friend to Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada (see: "Elizabeth May ordered deputies not to associate with leader of Quebec Greens," Ethan Cox, Riccochet, September 15 2016) couldn't quite wrap his head around the Greens new-found love of building refining capacity in Alberta as part of an exercise to end foreign oil imports - and more importantly, decided to be very public with his condemnation (see: "Elizabeth May wants to only use Canadian oil — a plan Quebec's Green Party leader can't support," CBC As It Happens, May 30 2019).  The media loves a good fight between partisans of the same colour, and this was no exception.  The pitched battles continue to take place throughout the summer (see: "Green rift opens over federal party’s stance on Alberta’s oilsands," Alex Ballingall, the Toronto Star, July 17 2019) leading to a moderation of the Green Party's position that included something like using oil from Newfoundland's Hibernia oil for Quebec (see: "Mission: Possible - Clarification of Green Party's Energy Transition Plan," Green Party of Canada, May 30 2019) to the point that no one could really figure out where the Green Party was at on this issue.  Including many Greens and Green Party candidates.

Of course, Greens have no one to blame but themselves for this.  Back in 2014, grassroots Greens at the General Meeting in Sidney, B.C., adopted a policy that was promoted by the Party during the 2015 election (see: "May says Green Party would support refineries, not pipelines," the Globe and Mail, October 10 2015).  That the party hasn't taken the time to modify this policy - or eliminate it altogether - says either something about the merits of the policy (and there are some) or the reality dysfunction of the party's policy process (props to one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Peter F. Hamilton - I've been trying to work that term into a blog now for years...).

Critics (both inside and outside of the Party) were, in my opinion, right to point out that the difference between now and 2014/15 is that the world's scientific community have given us just 12 years (are we down to 11 yet?) to get our collective acts together on seriously reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the point that any mention of new fossil fuel infrastructure is going to come under scrutiny.  The fact of the matter is - grassroots approved policy or not - the refinery/upgrader initiative didn't need to end up in the Green Party's platform (and it point of fact, it didn't) or occupying the position of one of just 20 points in Mission: Possible - the Party's climate plan (whereas something like funding municipal transit systems was given a pass in that plan).
Jody Wilson-Raybould


But perhaps the biggest problem for Greens on May 27th was about something that didn't happen: when Independent MP's Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott announced that they would continue to sit as Independents in the House.  For the better part of the month of May, Elizabeth May appeared to be dropping hints that Wilson-Raybould and Philpott might be getting ready to join the Green Party (see: "Door open for Wilson-Raybould, Philpott to join the Greens: May," News 1130, April 4 2019, and "Wilson-Raybould and Philpott will soon decide whether to join the Greens, May says," CBC News, May 8 2019).  Riccochet reporter Ethan Cox even cited 'inside sources' in the Green Party suggesting that the two Independent MP's were ready to sign on with the Greens - just two days before they didn't (see: "Are Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott going Green?" Ethan Cox, Riccochet, May 25 2019).  

There was no good reason for Elizabeth May to be engaging in public speculation about the future of the two Independent MP's unless the game was fixed.  Keeping this story in front of the media for over a month only made sense in the context of the story ending with the positive decisions of Raybould-Wilson and Philpott (or maybe even just Raybould-Wilson) joining the Green Party of Canada.  

Although CBC broke the story late on Sunday, May 26th (see: "Wilson-Raybould, Philpott won't run as Greens in fall election," CBC News, May 26 2019), Wilson-Raybould and Philpott both announced on Monday, May 27th their intention to remain independents.  What ought to have been a massive coup for the Green Party turned into yet another missed opportunity.  

And then it turned into something worse.

Fire in the Belly

Completely mishandling the situation, it was reported that Elizabeth May was prepared to step down as leader of the Green Party should newly-Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould want to wear that mantle for herself (see: "Elizabeth May offered to quit Green leadership if Wilson-Raybould wanted it," Canadian Press, May 27, 2019).  Voters - and Greens - were left to wonder just whether May's heart was in the upcoming campaign, and whether she was secretly hoping that she could sit this one out as leader.  That May had apparently approached Wilson-Raybould during 'her very first conversation' - presumably back in April - was a bit of a slap in the face to Greens (see: "'A mistake': Elizabeth May disappointed Wilson-Raybould, Philpott rejected Greens," CTV News, May 27 2019) - who have a pretty vigorous, grassroots process in place for electing new leaders.  May's phrasing also left her open to criticism from the left that the Green Party really was the "Elizabeth May Party" complete with transferable leadership powers, kind of like North Korea.

The damage, though, was serious.  The Green Party would go on to fight the 2019 election without the benefit of two highly-regarded former cabinet Ministers.  There would be more mis-steps, mistakes and misunderstandings that would lead to the Party's polling high of 13% dissipate in the final days of the October campaign, back to their more 'normal' 6% pre-Election night count (and I predict it will likely fall even further once all of the ballots are added up this evening).

Momentum Lost

Imagine the election campaign that might have been - with left-wing environmental groups lining up behind a surging Green Party as the 'best option' to advance their interests.  The summer surge could have continued to build with the mounting excitement brought to the Party with Wilson-Raybould and Philpott.  Perhaps additional star candidates could have been recruited - especially in key ridings.  And rather than heading into the campaign polling around 10%, the Party might have had instead been capturing between 15% and 20% - firmly above the NDP.

But instead, our momentum shifted - and we lost the initiative.  Rather than being in a place where our leader and candidates were calling the shots, we quickly found ourselves on the defensive - and we'd pretty much spend the summer and the campaign trying to explain ourselves to voters - rather than talking about the good things we wanted to do.  There's only so much media oxygen set aside for a fourth party - and most of that is focused on the sort of game-playing that politicians like May hate - but that media consumers seem to love.  

Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell
Policy - as I've said many times before - and as noted by others - just does not matter during an election.  Image, sound-bites, and most importantly - the perception of momentum conferred upon parties by the polls - that's the stuff that really matters.  Greens, do you hear me?  

Things would have been completely different for the Green Party had we understood that there were no votes to be gained in Alberta or elsewhere by promoting refineries - and had JWR and Philpott convinced themselves that they could actually have been re-elected under our Party's banner. 

May 27, 2019 appears to have been the zenith for the Party. We might not have known it at the time, but it was all down hill from there.  I'll explore this a little bit more in my next blog post - reminding readers about First Nations water systems, Warren Kinsella, conscious-voting, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory in New Brunswick, lacklustre debate performances, and the Party's inability to get our message out - or its act together.

And I'll ask whether maybe it's time we Greens think about packing it in.

(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)

Crystal Ball Gazing: #Elxn43 Predictions

At the outset of the election campaign, I made a prediction – that Canadians would be electing a Conservative majority government on October 21.  There were several things which informed this assessment, but largely it ultimately boiled down to the following:

-That this election would be fought on one primary issue: how much the electorate hates Justin Trudeau.

-That the Conservative Party and it’s 3rd Party advertising allies have a whole bunch of money to spend to convince voters to hate Justin Trudeau

-A lacklustre NDP campaign that would lead to closer results in ridings, electing a few more Conservatives, and ultimately returning fewer New Democrats to the House. They would be almost completely wiped out in Quebec – but the NDP would still do better than pre-campaign polling suggested.

-A stronger Green Party that would lead to closer results in ridings, electing a few more Conservatives – but the Greens would still fail to do nearly as well as pre-campaign polling suggested.

The Party Leaders
After reflecting on what’s really transpired, I’m not sure that enough of these predictions bore fruit – Yes, the Conservatives and allies threw a lot of money around at biggest issue of the campaign: the integrity of Justin Trudeau. But whether it’s as determinative as I had initially thought, I’m far less certain, given that the integrity of Andrew Scheer has also been a big campaign issue (one that I did not predict).

As far as the NDP and the Green Party goes, I think I mostly nailed it.  I am not at all surprised that the NDP has done better than pre-campaign polling, given the strength of their leader (whom I’ve been following for years).  And I am not at all surprised that people have, once again, turned their backs on the Greens as a party with whom votes just can’t be parked with (a serious issue for any Fourth/Fifth party, like the Greens).

What I did not predict was that the Bloc Quebecois would experience a resurgence.  I had thought that the Conservatives would pick up more seats in Quebec than they appear poised to do.  And to an extent, this has been the largest factor in my shift from a prediction of a Conservative majority to a hung parliament wherein the Conservatives end up with the most seats and the largest share of the popular vote.

In part what also informs my prediction are the polls – which have consistently shown the Conservatives and Liberals neck-and-neck.  What I think we’re going to see is which parties get our their vote tonight – and which don’t.  The Conservatives are set to over-perform, while the Liberals and the Greens will underperform.  I actually think the NDP will receive a little bit of a bump as voters make their final decisions at the ballot box.

Watch for the Conservatives to pick up seats in the Atlantic Provinces and in the Greater Toronto Area. And the odd pick-up in other regions will give the Conservatives a slight edge on the Liberals in terms of seats once all the votes are counted.

Further prediction: If Trudeau concedes defeat tonight, the Conservatives will govern – with the support of the Liberal Party, at least for the Throne Speech and budget.  If he does not concede tonight, whether he concedes later or goes to the GG with a plan to govern, the Conservatives will not form government.  So I will be watching very carefully what Trudeau says – or does not say – tonight.

Here are my predictions for the popular vote count. I am not predicting seats – except for the Green Party, because I’m sure Greens who read my blog might have a little more interest in my thoughts on that.

CON – 37%
LIB – 30%
NDP – 19%
BQ – 7%
GRN – 5%
Other – 2%

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott will both be returned to parliament as Independents.  Maxime Bernier will not be returned to parliament. 

And the Greens, after waiting for the final ballots to be counted in Victoria and Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, which will both be lost in squeakers, will see only two Greens elected – Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands, and Paul Manly in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

If the Liberals or Conservatives win a majority, look for Elizabeth May to signal that she will be stepping down from her position as leader of the Green Party at some point (it will be vague).  If it’s a minority situation, I would not expect May to say anything about the Green Party’s leadership.

That’s likely to be the only potential leader-resignation tonight. I get that some are suggesting that if the Liberals win a majority, Scheer may resign – or if the Conservatives win a majority, Trudeau might resign.  I don’t think either is likely to happen tonight.  And no matter what happens, I can’t see NDP leader Jagmeet Singh resign tonight – even if he loses his own seat (which I really can’t see happening).  And Max Bernier will not resign even when he does lose his own seat.

Some final predictions: After a close race in Nickel Belt, Liberal incumbent Marc Serre will defeat New Democrat Stef Paquette.  The race will not be as close in Sudbury, and Liberal incumbent Paul Lefebvre will be returned to Ottawa.  In both ridings, Liberals take top spot, followed by the NDP, followed by the Greens, followed by a (somewhat surprisingly) PPC nipping at the heels of the Green Party.

Now, bring on the results – and let me see how poorly I’ve assessed the situation.

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own and should not be considered consistent with the policies and/or positions of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Nickel Belt West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce Debate Highlights

I attended a really interesting debate last night that, unfortunately, meant almost nothing to anyone.  Hosted by the West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce, Nickel Belt party candidates gathered in Sturgeon Falls to face off against one another in front of an overwhelmingly partisan crowd, including a large contingent of "Team Serre" Liberals clad in soccer shirts.  If there was an undecided voter anywhere in the group of about 60 people, they must have been very confused.

Thank goodness for the media, though - the West Nipissing Tribune was there to report back to the wider Sturgeon Falls community.  What the Tribune reports will have a far more significant impact on how Nickel Belt voters in the eastern part of the massive district felt about the winners and losers of the debate than the actual debate itself.  

(from left to right: Aino Laamenen, CPC; Casey Lalonde, GPC; Mikko Paavola, PPC; Stef Paquette, NDP; Marc Serre, LPC)

West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce

Kudos to the West Nipissing Chamber of Commerce, though.  They hosted this important community function, and it was by far one of the smoothly run all-candidates meetings that I've attended.  Starting and ending largely on time, the questions asked by the Chamber and those selected from the audience were about important, local issues to West Nipissing - an often-overlooked part of the Sudbury-centric Nickel Belt.  

The Chamber also went out of its way to make sure that the debate didn't descend into the sort of free-for-all anarchy that the televised leaders debate did.  Strict moderation on time limits, while affording everyone an opportunity for a second shot at the question (including a rebuttal, if needed) created a really good opportunity for the candidates to get the word out about their platforms.

People's Party Candidate Mikko Paavola

This field of Nickel Belt election candidates is one of the strongest I've seen - even though all struggled a little bit last night with making the "local" connection in the context of Sturgeon Falls/West Nipissing in their answers (meaning their Sudbury bias was showing) and at least one last night was visibly not on her A-game.  But even the addition of the PPC candidate last night didn't hurt, I dislike reporting given the threat their party is to Canada's values.  But I can't deny that Mikko Paavola did his party credit last night by answering most questions by relating them back to his party's platform - in other words, providing voters with the sort of information that might help them decide whom to vote for based on where their party stands on particular issues.

Liberal Party Candidate Marc Serre

You'd think that would be a given for most candidates in a debate - but it isn't. And last night was no exception.  Sometimes candidates believe that they are able to skate through debates by moving things in a different direction. And that's exactly what the two perceived front-runners did.  We certainly learned a thing or two about Liberal MP Marc Serre's past four years in Ottawa - and what he believes he has personally done for West Nipissing and Nickel Belt.  But I don't think voters have much of an idea what his future plans are - or what the Liberals are proposing to do.  Serre spent most of the night coasting on his record.  But he also appeared to be the most knowledgeable person in the room about the ins and outs of how to get things done in Ottawa.  Four years on the government side's back benches will do that.

In fairness, Serre wasn't exactly the strongest candidate for the Liberals in 2014, but he nevertheless took down a bit an NDP titan in Nickel Belt's former MP, Claude Gravelle (NDP) - a serious scrapper if there ever was one.  Serre is far more polished this time out, and it's actually a bit of a joy to listen to him talk about his record in both official languages.  And he's not afraid to mix it up either with his political opponents when there's cause. And last night provided a little bit of that.

New Democratic Party Candidate Stef Paquette

In contrast to Serre, the NDP's Stef Paquette seemed more than a little lost when it comes to the ins and outs of how governments work, or what programs and polices can do.  Or even his own party's platform.  Paquette instead chose to rely on what seemed to me to be a smarmy style-over-substance but without much style, which he used repeatedly to attack the other candidates with, most particularly Serre.  This tactic might pay off to those who value and are motivated by political theatre in election season - and let's face it, there are a lot of people that fit into that category.  Certainly the New Democratic partisans in the room were impressed with Paquette, but I am certainly very interested in how his non-policy approach played out with the media.  

Green Party Candidate Casey Lalonde

While Serre and Paquette provided the biggest contrasts of the evening, I think that if anyone present was able to put their partisan interests aside, the only candidate of the beside Paavola who provided detailed information at times on her party's platform while giving voters ample reasons to select her for MP was the Green Party's Casey Lalonde.  And even Casey was a little off of her game last night.

I know, I'm biased.  I'm trying really hard to park my bias when I write about these debates, but it's not as if it's something that I can stow in the closet completely.  Still, I know Lalonde's performance came as a complete surprise to just about everybody in the room last night, except for me (and maybe for Casey herself).  When the moderators told the candidates before the debate that there was a last minute rule change that gave candidates half the originally-planned amount of time to answer questions (from a minute and a half to just fourty-five seconds), I knew that only one candidate was going to benefit - and she did.

Lalonde has a rare gift in politics - but an important one.  She's got the gift of precision and synthesis. Without the use of notes which every other candidate relied on, Lalonde last night offered up a clinic to all in the room on how to think and speak on the fly, condensing elements of the Green Party's platform with her own personal experiences and knowledge of the issues, providing juicy-gel packed responses to all of the questions asked. That she speaks rather fast (all the time!) certainly didn't hurt either (if politics doesn't work out for Casey, she might want to consider a career as an auctioneer).

Conservative Party Candidate Aino Laamenen

Finally, the Conservative Party's Aino Laamenen appeared to be more than a little off last night.  After a decent and no doubt surprising-to-some performance at the 100 Debates on the Environment, Laamenen relied heavily on Conservative Party talking points and relating personal stories to the crowd which failed to connect or resonate, as they were only tangentially relevant to the questions asked. 

Now for some details.

Land Acknowledgement

It fell to Paquette to provide last night's land acknowledgement - and he was the fourth candidate to speak on a panel of 5 - and they all spoke after the introduction by the Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber's oversight on this was unfortunate - and kudos to Paquette for rectifying the matter.  It's 2019.  There's no reason to get this kind of thing wrong any longer.  That said, I don't want this observation to detract from the well-ordered debate that the Chamber hosted.  And I'm sure they'll get it right the next time - right?

Climate Change

Although the focus of the Chamber's debate was on the local, small businesses that the Chamber champions, climate change certainly came up throughout the evening.  Since it's an issue that is near and dear to me, I'm going to take some time to focus on it.

I was extremely pleased to see Liberal MP Marc Serre engage in some on-the-spot fact checking on this topic, as Conservative Lamamenen kicked off the climate change discussion reading her party's talking point about what a terrible thing the carbon tax is and how it takes money away from people.  Serre was quick to jump in and remind everyone present that the government's plan includes a tax rebate which the PBO has said will leave most Canadians better off.  I suspect Laamenen claimed the rebate on her taxes, so it's interesting that she would have omitted acknowledging its existence - again.  Good for Serre - whom I've heard was instrumental in his Liberal caucus for ensuring the rebate portion of the federal carbon backstop would be primarily rebated to individuals and families. 

Paquette, however, proved to be a significant disappointment on climate change - again.  And this surprises me, because Paquette seems to be personally in tune with a number of other environmental issues of the day, and perhaps for the first time, the NDP has a credible plan to tackle the climate emergency (albeit still less than what Canada needs right now).  Paquette used his time on the topic of climate change to bash Green candidate Lalonde (for being critical of the Conservative's plan) and bash Serre and Justin Trudeau for providing Loblaws with a subsidy to purchase fridges.  

Let me comment a little about this.  I get where the NDP is coming from with regards to their opposition to 'corporate welfare' (although it seems to me that lately that opposition has been strictly targeted to businesses whose leaders have contributed to Liberal campaigns), but when I hear a New Democrat go after the Liberals for funding a project that will have a serious impact on reducing green house gas emissions by promoting a greater degree of energy efficiency - well that's why it continues to be clear to me that the NDP just doesn't understand the climate emergency.  Paquette invoked those Loblaws fridges twice last night in an attempt to smear the Liberals.  The format of the debate gave Serre little chance to respond, so Paquette's 'corporate welfare' point appeared to resonate - but for anyone paying attention, all it did was further muddy the waters on whether the NDP - despite a decent platform - really understands what the climate emergency is all about.

The PPC's Paavola, though, left no doubt in anyone's mind that he didn't believe that climate change was a thing.  Citing 'natural occurrences' and saying "Canada is only a small percentage of climate change," he tried to shame the others as 'climate alarmists'.  You could hear the eyes rolling.  But as I wrote earlier, he was at least able to coherently convey his Party's stance on the issues.

Lalonde and Serre provided the most credible responses on this topic - although Serre did go on to make one of the most wild and untrue claims of the evening when he said that all of the emissions from the Trans Mountain pipeline were factored into the Liberals plan, and that the Liberals have no intention of expanding oil production in Alberta.

Sorry, Marc - you're either misinformed, mistaken or deliberately repeating a completely misleading Liberal talking point.  First, about those emissions: while it is true that the National Energy Board looked at the total greenhouse gas emissions that are expected to be generated from constructing the twinned pipeline, it only took a basic look at upstream impacts and failed to look at downstream emissions impacts at all.  Critics have cited this as a deficiency in the review process for years and years - so long, in fact, that when Serre ran as a Liberal candidate for the first time in 2014, his party was promising to change the review process so that all greenhouse gas emissions would be factored into a review.  It's one of the failings of his party that while in government the Liberals failed to keep their promise.  And now Serre was caught last night trying to pretend that his party did keep it.

Second, about expanding oil production in Alberta.  While it is true that the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline by the Government of Canada will not in and of itself lead to expanded production of the tar sands, remember that the only reason the Liberals bought the pipeline in the first place was to see the twinning job completed.  Not only will the twinning project cost between $10 and $13 billion (of taxpayer's money), it will lead to an almost doubling of production in the tar sands.  The only reason the pipeline needs to be twinned at all is because Alberta and Canada are planning on expanding production. So claiming that the pipeline won't lead to further production was completely disingenuous.

That no one called Serre out on what had to be the biggest lie of the evening did not reflect particularly well on any of the candidates, in my opinion.  I suspect a different outcome tonight if he Serre tries to pull this same fast one again.

More Fact Checking

At one point in the evening, the NDP's Stef Paquette tried to credit his party with bringing in a national medicare plan.  Liberal Serre was having none of that - he gave a mini-clinic of his own on the history of medicare in Canada, while making a strong point about federal-provincial issues.  Serre quite correctly pointed out that it was a Liberal government that brought in medicare.  

At another point in the debate, on a question pertaining to Veterans, People's Party candidate Mikko Paavola did a little fact-checking of his own - using his cell phone to look up his party's position on veteran's issues.  Good for Paavola to use his ability (and the extra time he had as the last candidate to answer this question) to look up the answer, and good for him to praise the free WiFi available at the Marcel Noelle Centre (and good of him to let everyone else in the room know about it), but I'll be honest here - I'm not sure this is what candidates ought to be doing in the midst of an all-candidate's debate.  That said, I am rethinking just how I actually do feel about it after Paavola's mid-debate 'fact checking' last night.

On the matter of indigenous relations, the NDP's Paquette, after effectively railing at the Trudeau government for not having an indigenous Minister of Indigenous Services, took a swipe at the present Minister's Irish ancestry.  Paquette had been in the process of making a cogent point - that the NDP would ensure that an indigenous person filled the role of Minister - but ended up sounding off-putting by insinuating that the current Minister, Liberal Seamus O'Regan, who Paquette characterized as an "Irishman" somehow impacted his ability to be an effective Minister.

Fact check here.  O'Regan was born in Canada, not Ireland. His father, also named Seamus O'Regan, was Irish - but his mother was not.  So I get that maybe characterizing Seamus as being "half Irish" would have been technically correct. But what would actually be most appropriate would be to identify O'Regan by what he really is - a Canadian and a proud Newfoundlander - rather than trying to denigrate him and his Liberal government via his Irish heritage.  I'm surprised Paquette went there, because he had been effectively making his point before turning off many in the crowd, like myself, who have an Irish or Newfoundland heritage.

Up Next

I'll link to the West Nipissing Tribune article when it appears, as I believe that the way that last night's debate is discussed in the media will have more of an impact than the debate itself.  I find it interesting that today, Abacus Data is declaring Jagmeet Singh the winner of Monday's nationally televised leader's debate based on polling of people who watched the debate (or part of it) AND on those who didn't watch but heard about it from others.  Think about that for a moment.  From whom did they hear about the debate?  From family and friends who might be partisan?  Maybe. But more likely from the media - which, love it or hate it, still matters.

(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)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Humanity is Beginning to Face Up to Global Environmental Breakdown

Earlier this week, I walked with my kids down to the main beach at Bell Park, so that they could splash around in the water.  Although the sun was sinking below the horizon, the evening remained hot, and the lake was pleasantly cool.  It was just about as perfect a summer night in Sudbury as anyone could have dreamed of.

I looked up at the moon, just beginning to glow in the darkening sky, and was reminded of the fact that it was 50 years ago this summer that the Apollo 11 astronauts first touched down on its surface.  For me, that’s just history.  But at the time, through innovation and tenacity, the Apollo program was truly a giant leap forward for human-kind. 

As my kids hunted around for interesting rocks buried in the sand, I began to wonder how many people alive 50 years before Apollo would have believed that humans would walk on the surface of the moon in just 5 decades.  I suspect there might have been some, but not many.  Looking ahead in time to where we might end up can seem like an exercise in futility.  But sometimes it seems that too many of us don’t spare a lot of thought about what the future might hold.  And when that happens, contrary to the evidence of human history, the future unimaginatively ends up looking a lot like the world we live in today.

Perhaps it was the sunset that roused my soul that night – or maybe the cheerful sounds of my children horsing around in the water.  Whatever it was, as I watched the dragon boats glide across Ramsey Lake, I was filled with a sense of hope about the future, rather than the dread that I have often felt. 

I confess that it has been hard for me to remain hopeful about the future in the face of wholesale environmental destabilization, manifested by topsoil loss, the degradation of our oceans, the obliteration of plant and animal species, and the growing scarcity of fresh water.  With more extreme weather events fuelled by global heating, future political and economic upheaval seem inevitable (see: “'We Have Entered the Age of Environmental Breakdown': Report Details World on Edge of Runaway Collapse,” Common Dreams, February 12 2019).  That’s why the advice given by the world’s leading climate scientists, who have laid out why we have only 12 years to take meaningful action to avert catastrophe, has really resonated with me and so many others (see: We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN,” The Guardian, October 8, 2018).

And therein lies my own hope. There is still time to turn things around, if only a small amount. Although I am often confronted by family and friends who, for example, can’t contemplate a world without the internal combustion engine, I am lifted by my own confidence in the capacity of humans for innovation and our ability to come together to overcome a crisis. More and more, people are starting to realize the true extent of the multiple crises which are upon us.

Wading in the cool water of Ramsey Lake as the night crept in, listening to the gleeful sounds of my children playing, thinking about how the world has changed since humans first walked on the moon 50 years ago, I felt optimistic about the future for the first time in a long while. I can sense that humankind is on the verge of making another leap.

Standing still isn’t a choice. We humans are not a suicidal species. History teaches us that we have within ourselves the capacity to change.  We have never been limited by the dreams of the least among us. At this time of global crisis, I take comfort – for the sake of my children – knowing that the tide of history will not be held back.

(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)

Originally published online and in print as, "May: Humanity starting to face up to environmental breakdown," at the Sudbury Star, Saturday July 13, 2019 - without hyperlinks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Liberal Hubris + The Rising Tide Calling for Action on the Climate Crisis = #ClimateScam

"If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging," - Will Rogers

Perhaps Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party was bouyed this week by the headlines like "Liberal bleeding after SNC-Lavalin affair seems to have stopped: Leger poll," (CTV News, June 14 2019), "POLL: Trudeau Liberals Appear To Have Stopped Bleeding Support But Can The Conservatives Be Bloodied?" (LINK, June 18 2019), and "Poll shows sunny days continue for Justin Trudeau in Quebec" (the Montreal Gazette, June 19 2019).  

Or perhaps it was headlines about how the other parties are failing to connect with Canadians that might have put a little bounce in their step: "Conservatives feel the heat on climate change" (the Toronto Star, June 16 2019), and "NDP offers a New Deal for fans of interventionism, protectionism and fiscal insanity" (the National Post, June 17 2019). 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - the National Post
I mean - other than to point to Liberal optimism regarding their re-election chances - how else to explain what has to be one of the most significant displays of cognitive dissonance shown by any political party anywhere in the world - one that assumes that the voting public is primarily comprised of suckers?

Seriously.  How else can one explain how it came to be that the Liberal Party voted to declare a climate emergency and recommitting the the nation to meeting our Paris treaty climate targets on the evening of Monday, June 17th - and less than 24 hours later, that same Liberal Party approved building a new bitumen pipeline which will see production in the tar sands almost double by 2030, and lead to annual downstream emissions greater than those produced by the entire province of British Columbia.

Again - who do the Liberals think voters are?  Suckers?  There's really no other way to interpret this.

Things Fall Apart. The Status Quo Cannot Hold

Look, I understand completely that those wedded to the status quo think that Trudeau and the Liberals simply did what had to be done in order to maintain the facade of a climate consensus - even though Alberta, under new Premier Jason Kenney has rejected the carbon pricing aspect of that so-called consensus.  Status quo pundit Aaron Wherry, writing for status quo-supporting CBC, probably explained it best: 
Aaron Wherry - Youtube

"That neither Scheer nor Elizabeth May would end up very happy was inevitable. The hope, from the outset, was that somewhere between the loudest proponents of a pipeline and the loudest opponents, there could exist a significant number of voters willing to accept Trudeau's bargain.(see: "Like it or not, Trans Mountain is what a pipeline 'compromise' looks like," CBC, June 18 2019).

Of course Wherry writes as if this decision was a political decision - somehow devoid of any connection to the physical world.  Yes, I suppose that there does exist such a thing as political compromise (although I would argue that a decision that makes no one happy probably doesn't fit that bill - but Wherry and the CBC have the status quo to maintain, so go nuts).  But what appears to be lost on pundits like Wherry (and sorry if it seems that I'm picking on him here - because he is far from the worst) is that you can't compromise with chemistry.

You can't compromise with the reality that pumping more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere isn't going to "help" reduce the impacts of the climate crisis in this time of climate emergency.

But that's the fantasy the Liberals want us suckers to subscribe to.  It's that fantasy - that we can continue to burn, baby, burn, while simultaneously reducing emissions - that the Liberals are already campaigning for re-election on.  You and I know it's complete crap. And we also know that there are many other Canadians who reject taking meaningful action on the climate crisis.  But they're not likely to vote for the Liberals anyway.

People They Come Together.  People They Fall Apart.

The Liberals have really put themselves in a pickle here.  They are, on the one hand, trying to accuse the Conservatives of having zero credibility on the climate crisis (which is true), but on the other hand completely lacking in credibility themselves. The want voters to buy into the former, while ignoring the latter.  I'm sorry, but I think voters in increasing numbers are going to see through that.
Chantal Hebert - the Toronto Star

Chantal Hebert, however, doesn't see it that way.  She believes that the damage to the Liberal brand over Trans Mountain has already happened - and that this decision won't have much of an impact on the electorate.

"When it comes to this file the ruling Liberals paid the political cost up front, when they salvaged the project by taking the pipeline off the hands of its private sector owner. As of that point, many of the climate change activists who had high hopes that the prime minister was serious about addressing the issue decided he was all talk and no walk." (see: "Trudeau’s pipeline support may not be the political problem some think it will be," the Toronto Star, June 18 2019).

From where I'm sitting, I respectfully disagree.  I think a lot of the "activists" had already walked away from the Liberals shortly after Paris when it became obvious to anyone paying attention that Trudeau, having embraced Stephen Harper's inadequate emissions reductions targets, and allowed the National Energy Board to continue doing its thing - I think those actions spoke to climate change-concerned voters who gave the Liberals an assist in 2015.  The final nail in the coffin was likely Trudeau's 180 on electoral reform.  Most of those "activists" were never true Liberal supporters anyway (why would they be?) - and if they supported Trudeau in 2015, it probably had more to do with stopping Harper than it did with any optimism that Trudeau would do much to tackle the climate crisis.

But let's not quibble about specifics.  Hebert believes the "coalition" or whatever one might call it - was already broken, so this week's moves by the Liberals won't rattle loose many more supporters.  

Here's why I think she's likely to be wrong.  

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

Timing matters.  Trudeau handed a gift to the Greens and New Democrats by foolishly declaring a climate emergency on Monday, and then approving a pipeline on Tuesday.  If anyone thinks that Greens and New Democrats are going to stop talking about this hubris on the part of Trudeau and the Liberals - guess again.

And it really is hubris - a demon that the Liberal Party of Canada has some wrestling history with.  I know that the Liberals are entitled to their entitlements, but you do this enough and voters can't help but notice.  The bleeding from the LavScam scab might have finally stopped, but this week the Liberals picked open a fresh wound - call it #ClimateScam or whatever - it's going to bleed throughout the summer.  

Thing is, it's already been bleeding. In an earlier post of mine from last week, "Is the Green Party Ready to Capitalize on the Liberal Party's Collapse?" I took a close look at some of the trends that we've been seeing emerge in the lead-up to the October election.  My main thesis was that the Green Party needs to figure out how we're going to prepare ourselves for the level of support that we are likely to have in the days before the writ drops.  I remain concerned about this issue - and a recent poll from EKOS does not ease my anxiety no matter how much it might provoke me to jump and scream with delight.
EKOS Polling - from Burnaby News Now, June 18 2019
Earlier this week, EKOS pegged the Green Party's national support level at 13.2% - statistically ahead of the NDP, which had fallen to 12%.  That's a huge story - one that Greens on social media have been quick to promote.  And why wouldn't we?  It really is a huge story - although one that needs to be taken with a grain of salt, given that EKOS always tends to over-estimate the level of Green support.  That, however, might be in part due to voters changing their mind at the ballot box.  Anyway, whether EKOS is optimistic here or not - this is just one poll, and we ought never get too excited about a single poll.

But it does reinforce a trend. There is no denying the polls show the level of Green Party support rising.  And Green parties at the provincial level here in Canada, and elsewhwere in the world, are all generally seeing an increase in support.  The trend isn't just national - it's global.  And I think Hebert neglects to consider that it's not activists who are driving this trend - but instead a population that is becoming increasingly woke to the climate crisis.  

And once woke, there's a good chance that the electorate is going to stay woke - thanks to demographic changes that now show that in 2019 millennials are the largest cohort of (potential) voters.  

The 100th (Climate) Monkey

Could we possibly be witnessing the emergence of the 100th climate crisis monkey?  Ya, I think we are - the tide is so high right now, there's no turning it back.  I think that Justin Trudeau is going to find himself playing the role of King Canute now.  I suspect that globally, he's going to have some company.
Already progressive voters are seeing through Liberal hubris.  The real story of this week's EKOS poll isn't how the Greens and NDP have switched places nationally.  The real story is buried in the provincial voter intention breakdown.  It starts in British Columbia, where the Green Party, now polling at 24%, has displaced both the New Democrats (13%) and the Liberals (22%).  Watch what the polls say about battleground B.C. over the next month.  I expect the story to be a collapse in Liberal support there.

But take a look at what's going on in Quebec, too - where the Greens have inexplicably risen to 15%.  And I say "inexplicably" for good reason.  The Party has almost zero history in Quebec.  We don't exactly offer a Quebec-friendly array of policies - it's not that we're anti-Quebec or anything like that - it's just that we've never really given thought to Quebec, specifically. Our leader doesn't speak french all that well.  And the provincial Parti-Vert has found itself almost at war with the federal party in the recent past.  There is no good reason why Greens should be at 15% in Quebec - especially when the NDP is down to 9% there.

And in Atlantic Canada, the Green Party is consolidating it's position as the 3rd place party.  Maybe a New Democrat or two can get themselves elected in Newfoundland and Labrador - but the Maritimes have closed their doors to the NDP.
Greg Malone - courtesy

And even in Newfoundland and Labrador, Greens are making a play.  It was announced yesterday that comedian and social activist Greg Malone - one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most well-known citizens - will be representing the Green Party in Avalon (see: "Codco star Greg Malone to run for federal Green party in Newfoundland this fall," the Canadian Press, June 18 2019).  I still think Malone has his work cut out for him - but his public support of the Green Party just upped our profile on the Rock in a huge way.

#GreenSurge and #ClimateScam

Again, this is all just one poll - but if these trends hold, the Liberals are going to be in deep trouble when the writ finally drops.  The #GreenSurge is undeniably real - as is the current collapse of the New Democratic Party.  The Liberals themselves may only lose a few points over the summer months, but if Trudeau finds his party at 25% in the polls, facing off against a Green Party that is consistently polling between 15% and 18% nationally (and, say, 30% in BC), the Liberals are done. Done done done.

I caution that this is not to say that I expect the Greens to pull off some sort of huge victory in October - because I don't.  What I do expect is that the narrative that the Liberals will try to use on voters again - the old "vote for us because the Conservatives are scary and a vote for the NDP and Greens is wasted" - well, that's not going to work.

This week's dissonance matters.  And the worst part for the Liberals is that it didn't have to go down this way.  Why on earth did no one in the Liberal brain trust tweak to the fact that the optics of declaring a climate emergency one day and approving a pipeline the next might not be in the Liberal Party's best interests?

Hubris.  There's no other explanation.

And hubris will be the Liberal Party's undoing.  Welcome to #ClimateScam.

(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)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Changing Climate Conversation

Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” -Greta Thunberg, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee (see: “‘I want you to panic’: Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, lays it on the line for world leaders,” Women in the World, January 29, 2019)

Our house – or more specifically, our planetary human civilization – is facing an existential threat.  For the last couple of decades, we have benignly referred to this threat as “anthropogenic climate change” or just “climate change” – terms that fail to conjure up much of an emotional reaction or convey the true extent of the threat.

It’s hard to get too excited about “change” in the 21st Century, when change itself is the one thing – maybe the only thing – we expect to be a constant in our lives.  And maybe that’s why we haven’t been all that worked up about “climate change”, generally speaking.  

Up until quite recently, anyway.

Have you noticed the change in conversations about climate change? More often now we aren’t talking about “climate change” at all – but rather about a “climate crisis”, or “climate breakdown”. Instead of the passive idea of a changing climate, we now talk about a “climate emergency”. And we’re talking about it in our newspapers, in our municipal council chambers – and in our legislatures. We’re talking about it on social media and at family gatherings. The idea that we are in the midst of a climate emergency has suddenly become ubiquitous.

This change in the discussion around climate change has left some on the right side of the political spectrum a little upset.  The political right has been reluctant to engage in discussions about climate change, and continues to provide cover for some who deny the science. It’s no wonder some on the right are having a hard time keeping up with a  public that is demanding climate action.  It’s no wonder they are being left behind by a millennial cohort that understands the existential threat of the climate crisis – and has no time for those who don’t want to do anything about it.

Change is inevitable – and it’s really no surprise that we have moved towards a more precise and accurate description of the existential threat posed by the addition of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere.  The conversation has been seriously shifting since the latter part of 2018, thanks largely to two notable events.  One was the publication of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s Special Report (see: “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN,” The Guardian, October 8, 2018). It laid out in stark terms that the world has just 12 years to take meaningful action to reduce emissions in order to keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. This report interjected a significant degree of urgency into climate discussions. 

And of course, there’s Greta Thunberg, who burst onto the world scene as a 15-year old dynamo who has inspired a global youth movement of climate strikers (see: “Greta Thunberg,” Wikipedia).  Thunberg has made it her mission to speak truth to power – and although those in power may not want to hear her message demanding urgent and meaningful action, it’s a message that has clearly resonated with common people.

The climate emergency is already leading to global political upheaval. For too long, our political leaders have focused on doing as little as they could, implementing only the politically possible as a cover for business as usual. That’s inevitably changing now, and as the discussion shifts from the doing the possible to doing what’s necessary, our political and economic status quo will be further upended. 

(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)

Originally published online and in print as, "May: The evolving climate change conversation," at the Sudbury Star, Saturday June 15, 2019 - without hyperlinks.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Is the Green Party Ready to Capitalize on the Liberal Party's Collapse?

Are Greens ready to capitalize on the imminent collapse of the Liberal Party?

Say what?  "The imminent collapse of the Liberal Party"?  How is that a thing?  Didn't the Liberals just "survive" LavScam?  Isn't Justin Trudeau's Party currently polling in a statistical tie with Andrew Scheer's Conservatives?  Why on earth would any rationally-minded person be predicting that the Liberal Party is about to collapse - much less wonder aloud if the Green Party is ready for it (because clearly Greens aren't even thinking about the Liberals right now).

And yet here I am.  And here's where Canada is at right now, according to 338Canada - the national opinion poll aggregator.
338Canada - National Political Party Polling - May 31 2019
The Liberals are starting to pull even with the Conservatives, but clearly they've lost some ground since the (arbitrary beginning date of) November 25th date on the left hand side of the graphic (Libs were at 37% in November 2018; they're down to 32% now).

The Conservatives, though, seem to have fallen off a little - but that could be a blip.  Nevertheless, the Cons were at 32% in November 2018, and now they're up at 33.8.  An increase of just 1.8%.  Nothing to write home about, right?

And the NDP?  Well they've flatlined.  Started at 15.7% and they're now at 16.2%.  Nothing to see there.

But the Greens - we've really been surging, right?  I mean we were at a paltry 7% in November 2018 - and we've risen to an paltry 11% at the end of May.  We're up a total of 4% - which is actually less than the Liberals have fallen by.  So tell me again about that "Green Surge"?

The Green Surge

OK, since I asked myself about it, I will.  The numbers don't lie.  4% is not a lot of movement for national political parties - but it's also nothing to sneeze at.  Polls that show a variation of 4% between polling periods might be just blips (outliers) - but when poll after poll after poll shows that there is a trend - well, 4% isn't huge.  No one is going to panic.  But in the case of the Liberals and Conservatives, 5% saw the Libs move from a healthy lead and majority government territory in November, 2018 to potentially confronting a Conservative minority on the day after E-day.

A slight shift for sure - but one that can markedly change outcomes.

But even that assessment doesn't do justice to what's happening with the Green Party.  And here are two reasons why:

First, a 4% increase in popular support actually represents a 63% increase in Party support.  If we get to 14%, that will be double the level of support we had in November, 2018.  

But why use that arbitrary date as the starting point?  Surely the 2015 election results would be a better place to start, no?  Given that the election itself was a strong measure of support for our Party via people actually voting for Green candidates.  

Well, in the 2015 election, Greens received only 3.4% of the national vote.  Which means that a support level of 11% is actually over 300% what we received on E-day 2015.  And that's a big number.  Is that even a real number?  Nevermind - because 11% likely isn't a real number yet either - given that there is an observed trend of about 1/4 of Green Supporters abandoning the Party on E-days and casting ballots for someone else.  Don't be fooled into thinking 11% is for real - it's probably closer to 8%.  But even 8% is over twice the level of support we had on E-Day 2015.

And here's the second thing: while our supporters might be spread out across the country - something which has typically worked to our disadvantage - that's not entirely the case this time around.  We now likely have pockets of Green supporters in key, winnable ridings like Saanich-Gulf Islands, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Victoria, Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, Fredericton, Guelph and Malpeque.  Maybe a few more.  Maybe.

We're on the move throughout the country, too - and we've actually overtaken the NDP in Atlantic Canada as the third Party there (but even that's deceiving - we've only got 4% of the support in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we're up to 19% in New Brunswick and 22% in Prince Edward Island - see: "Federal Liberals and Conservatives in statistical tie in Atlantic Canada ahead of 2019 election, while Green Party support rises," Corporate Research Associates, June 5 2019).

The point is, these national and regional levels of support are the highest the Green Party has ever seen - but there is a high likelihood that at the riding level, the Green vote might be more concentrated in a few ridings than this level of support suggests - and that can (and will) lead to more Greens being elected.

That's the good news.  The bad news is the ridings that I've identified above probably represents the complete list of ridings where we've got a decent shot at winning today.  And how many was that? Just 7.

So what are Greens to do?

Well, let's assess some of the other trends that we're seeing - and will likely see - first.

The People's Party

Remember when Greens were saying, "Don't worry - you can vote Green in good conscience this time, because the Conservatives aren't going to win - thanks to the presence of the People's Party, which will surely eat into Conservative support."  Well, that hasn't happened, and it's not going to happen.  Maybe it will happen in the odd riding where a popular local candidate runs, which could change the dynamics on the ground there.  But the People's Party has proven to be a flop - and will likely continue to poll very low throughout the summer and into the fall.  So all else being equal, their presence will have little to no effect on the outcome of the general election.

The New Democrats

The NDP has some serious issues that it needs to face.  First, a number of prominent NDP MP's won't be running gain in 209 - which means that voters will be confronted with new names and faces in NDP-held ridings.  Second, the NDP has completely flat-lined under leader Jagmeet Singh - and the media narrative around that Party has been all about how Singh and the New Democrats don't have their act together.  Whether that's true or not doesn't matter - the media has raised serious doubts about the viability of the NDP - and we Greens have probably been the biggest beneficiaries.

Third: Quebec.  The NDP is probably toast in Quebec.  Maybe Boulerice will hold on, but other than his riding, they are done. Toast.  And if anyone thinks that this isn't going to play into the media narrative about the New Democrats, they need to think again.  The loss of Quebec - the province that Jack took - is huge.

Can we legitimately expect the NDP to start polling better than they are now?  I believe the answer is Yes - but I don't think they've hit rock bottom yet.  But when the writ drops and the campaign really gets going, don't count on the NDP to finish up on e-day with just 15% of the vote.  Here's why:

The Liberals

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have resigned during that first week of the SNC-Lavalin crisis.  A fresh face at the Liberal helm would have been much better positioned to weather than crisis - and to weather the on-coming ad blitz that will be directed at dragging the Liberal leader through the mud in a way that no Liberal leader ever has been before (ok - Kathleen Wynne excepted).

Here's the thing: People already hate Trudeau.  It's not just a matter of disliking him. They hate him.  And that hatred will continue to grow.  It will be fueled by the massive Conservative Party ad buy and the spending of their Ontario Proud-like surrogates.  Every little thing he does will be put under the microscope, dissected, killed off, bandaged back up like some sick Frankenstein's monster, and unleashed on unsuspecting consumers of social media.  

When the attacks really get going, ask yourself this: Would the Cons have been able to hit as hard against Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland?

I fully expect Liberal Party support to plummet - maybe to go as low as 20%.  That's a huge shift.  But Trudeau is under siege - and not just from the right. We Greens are doing our part to sink "Canada's Natural Governing Party" (in part due to their own arrogance).  And New Democrats are a part of the pile-on too.  As Liberal support slips, expect both the NDP and the Greens to be the primary beneficiaries.  

Note, however, that this probably will not happen until mid-way through the actual campaign.  We're talking about late-September here.  And that's the reason I think the NDP is going to be able to make more hay than we Greens will.  The NDP will be running a full national campaign - just as they always have done.  Singh will be in the public eye in a way that May just won't be able to be, once the writ drops.  That's the time for the NDP to start making up ground on the Greens - and they will.  And they will benefit from Trudeau's collapse.

Or do you think a Liberal collapse is unlikely?  I understand that not everyone is going to be on board with that prediction.  I get that one should never count the Liberals out.  But I also lived through what happened here in Ontario and all of the hatred and invective that was directed towards the embodiment of the Liberal government here in the person of Kathleen Wynne.  And let's face it: Trudeau is no Wynne, and his government is hardly doing the same sorts of things that Wynne's did in the lead-up to the election.  Wynne at least knew that she was in trouble.  Trudeau and the federal Liberals appear intent on continuing to believe that they're going to sail to victory.  

It's not going to happen.

Wither the Green Party?

So where does this leave the Green Party?  Some are suggesting that Greens should roll the dice - go all in on replacing the NDP as Canada's third party (hey!  those are seriously high stakes for the Green Party!) - maybe by electing a couple of dozen MP's.  It sounds like a great idea - but it also sounds like a fantasy.  Frankly, the Green Party is in no position to capitalize on our new-found success to any degree beyond what I've already identified here.  We've got 7 winnable ridings - maybe 3 or 4 more that we could be competitive in.  Those should be the limit to our ambition this time out.

Now I know that the climate crisis demands action, and we've only got 11 years left to take it in a meaningful way.  The bigger the contingent of Greens we send to Ottawa, the more likely they'll have an impact on Canada's ability to shift gears and get serious.  Look, I'd love to see 24 Green MP's - but it just isn't going to happen.

First off, our Party does not have the resources to mount a national campaign.  Lucky for us, about half of these winnable ridings are clustered together in B.C., so that is where Elizabeth May is going to be spending a lot of time.  May's presence in B.C. works against out ability to mount an effective national campaign, because: 1) she's going to be spending a lot of time in just one region, and; 2) that region finds itself at the tail-end of the mainstream media news cycle.  Meaning that just as newsworthy announcements are being made in Nanaimo, they're shutting off the lights in Moncton and heading to bed.  With a 24-hour news cycle, that might not seem like much - but trust me, this kind of stuff still matters.

And here are a few other things about resources.  Our Party just doesn't have the cash to mount an effective national campaign, even if we wanted to.  Also, since our Party has never run a national campaign, we don't have much in the way of experience doing so - and we certainly don't have the infrastructure in place to support a national campaign (we haven't planned for it, so it's not there).  National campaigns rely on candidate discipline at the local level - staying on and repeating messaging so that the word of the day constantly gets out.

Have you ever been to a Green Party meeting?  Can you really imagine a hand-full of Green candidates submitting to the diktat of a national campaign chair?  Have you ever tried herding sheep?

The NDP, though, have this whole national campaign thing down pat.  And that's why when push comes to shove, and Justin Trudeau is being buried in mud by his opponents on the right and buried in facts and evidence from his opponents on the left, it's going to be Jagmeet Singh's NDP who will be strategically positioned to pick up the lion's share of support.

Moderate Those Growing Expectations

Look, I love the idea of a Green Surge - and surge we must keep doing throughout the summer. But once the writ drops and it's game on, Greens won't be the "story" any longer.  Andrew Scheer will be the story, and to an extent so will be the collapse of the Liberal Party and the NDP's rebound.  We will be lucky to hold on to the support that we have come e-day.  If we are polling at 15% support in early September, I personally will be very happy with 8% of the vote come election day - as long as we elect those 7 MPs.

Is there anything the Green Party can do between now and September that will give us a legitimate option to roll the dice?  Can we maybe take out a huge loan and advertise, Advertise, ADVERTISE?  We could - but we will still be deficient with people in the right places, ready to connect, to undertake a national campaign.  Advertising is important - but the game on the ground is important too.  And we just don't have the volunteers, or know how to put them to use effectively if they do start showing up.  We don't know how to run effective campaigns outside of a small number of ridings.

So no, I wouldn't suggest going into debt on an advertising blitz.  Let's stick to the game plan that's been in place all along - with a focus on winnable ridings. Let's continue to build support at the local and national level, but let's not let the support that we've accumulated already go to our heads.  

And maybe then in the next election - after 4 long years of Conservative majority government in a time of climate crisis - we Greens will be ready to replace the ineffective and much-reviled Liberal Party.

(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)