|Elizabeth May with my daughter Veronica May - March 2010|
But the timing is interesting. Federal Council had to call the contest within 6 months of the leadership becoming vacant. It took less than 6 minutes for Council to call this contest. The Party's Constitution says that a leadership contest must be held within 24 months of it being called. This contest will be held in approximately 11 months. One might wonder what the rush is, as it would probably be better for the Party at this point to prolong a leadership contest so that the members have an opportunity to get to know the candidates.
But since we're in the midst of an untested minority government situation, I suppose haste won the day. And that could be a problem going forward.
Let's face it: 11 months is not very much time to throw a leadership campaign together. This short time-frame benefits those potential candidates who have greater access to resources and whom already have a bit of a national profile. And this group is small. And it's not entirely composed of existing members of the Green Party of Canada in my opinion.
Let's take a look at a rather lengthy list of whom I consider potential leadership contestants. Not everyone I've identified here is likely to run - especially since the compressed timeframe is going to be an obstacle for some. And it's also quite likely that one or two not on this list will crop up - although I expect that they will not prove to be candidates with a lot of hope of winning - especially with these compressed timeframes.
Who is Not Going to Run
But before we get going, let's take a look at who is not likely to run.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner and Green Party of PEI leader Peter Bevan-Baker are likely to take a pass at the federal leadership. Both were just recently elected to important roles in provincial legislatures. Schreiner has been hard at work building his party for an upcoming provincial election in 2023, and Bevan-Baker, the first Green Party leader of the Official Opposition anywhere in the world, is settling into his new and historic role.
That said, the entry of any of these individuals into the leadership race will be a game-changer. Their presence will shape the race itself - as others who might be jockeying for position will decide, instead, to sit the contest out.
Now let's look at who will and who might.
This past May, Manly pulled off what, too many, was a surprise upset in the federal by-election in the Vancouver Island riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith. It was no surprise to those paying attention, as Manly invested years of his time to build a local profile and volunteer base to put him over the top. The Party also invested in him, and it paid off. Manly was returned as MP this past October. Although he's not been in the House long, Manly has a history with the Party, and has proven that he is not afraid of sticking his neck out - especially on issues that resonate with his values - which is why he's a Green today, and not a New Democrat.
Manly is also probably the most well-known Green Party of Canada member after Elizabeth May - but that's not really saying much. The vast majority of the public doesn't know who he is - and of those who do, most probably don't know his story - or how his convictions led him to the Party.
Manly's got a decent team in place in his riding, but it's not clear how well he might do in the rest of the country. And some who worked hard to elect Manly might opt instead to support another B.C.-based candidate, as it's very unlikely that only a single British Columbian is going to throw their hat into the ring for this leadership contest.
Manly will certainly be pressured to run in the leadership contest, but I hope he opts instead to sit it out, and focus on building his profile in parliament. With a leadership contest consuming so much of the party's oxygen over the next 11 months, the Party really needs Manly and Atwin in parliament, keeping the minority government and opposition honest.
Odds of Running: 4:1
Green Party of New Brunswick leader David Coon finds himself in an interesting situation. He's led his party through two provincial elections now, so he could be looking for a new challenge - even though there's still a lot of growth potential for the Green Party of New Brunswick. The NDP has completely disappeared from the provincial scene, and they're not coming back any time soon. If Coon plays his cards rights, it's quite within the realm of possibility that he could be Premier in an election or two.
And the next election might be coming sooner than anyone thinks, with a precarious minority government under Progressive Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs.
Ironically, a federal run by Coon could end up being hampered by the presence of newly-elected Green MP Jenica Atwin. Atwin's Fredericton riding completely encompasses Coon's riding - so if Coon were to become leader, he'd have to ask her to stand aside (and he won't) or look for another riding to run in if he were to take a seat in parliament - something he might not want to do right away, but with a minority government in place, the riding that they'll run in is something that every leadership contestant needs to think about.
Coon will probably give this contest a pass, and instead choose to focus on continuing building his New Brunswick Green Party. That would actually be too bad for the federal party, because clearly there is some opportunity for growth in New Brunswick due to the absence of the NDP, and David Coon leading the federal party would be a serious asset in stimulating that growth.
Odds of Running: 5:1
Deputy Party leader Daniel Green had a decent showing in the Saint-Laurent by-election in 2017 - gaining almost 8% of the popular vote in a riding in a province where the Green Party of Canada has had, shall we say, not much of a presence. This past federal election saw Green pull in less than 5% of the vote in the neighbouring riding of Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs.
Still, Green is a party deputy leader. He's bilingual. I understand that he has a good public profile in Montreal. And he's made it clear that he's not willing to accept a do-nothing approach over Quebec's racist Bill 21 (see: "Green Party deputy leader calls for federal intervention in Quebec's religious symbols law," CBC News, August 23 2019).
Green could also play foil to the Green Party of Quebec's Alex Tyrrell, who has already announced that he wants the Green Party of Canada's top job. That Federal Council appointed Jo-Ann Roberts as interim leader over the longer-serving Green suggests to me that Daniel Green will throw his hat in the ring.
Odds of Running: 3:1
Tyrrell, the controversial, self-proclaimed eco-socialist leader of the Green Party of Quebec, has been extremely critical of Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada for quite some now. Things came to a head in 2016 with the whole BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) controversy that almost saw May resign as leader. Tyrrell was back in the news again this summer, attacking Elizabeth May and the Green Party over Point 13 of Mission: Possible, the Green Party of Canada's climate plan.
While I personally think Tyrrell's politics will be toxic for the Green Party of Canada's success (Tyrrell spent almost a decade in fairly high roles with the federal New Democratic Party between 2006 and 2012, before taking over a Green Party of Quebec that was on its death-bed), no doubt his anti-capitalist politics will appeal to a certain segment of the Party.
Tyrrell, though, has singularly failed to grow the Quebec provincial party - perhaps because there is already another somewhat more successful anti-capitalist party on the ground in that province in the form of Quebec Solidaire. The Party apparatus will undoubtedly do what they can to thwart Tyrrell, as he represents a position that would take the party back into irrelevancy in the minds of voters. It's not even clear whether Tyrrell holds a membership in the federal party at this time. Tyrrell, of course, is not opposed to creating a stink in the media about whatever's on his mind. So this could all get rather interesting.
Odds of Running: 1:1
Interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts was, apparently, named to this position on condition that she herself not seek the Party's leadership. That's rather too bad, as by all accounts, Roberts would have been a formidable candidate. She's also from a Halifax riding where having a national profile as party leader might just be enough to see a first Green breakthrough in that province. Roberts will, however, prove to be a competent and compelling interim leader (that's probably why the Party turned to her in the first place). Might it be, though, that the Party would bend its own rules if Roberts suddenly finds herself a media darling with the chops to lead the party on a permanent basis?
All it might take is for a few pundits - a Chantal Hebert or an Andrew Coyne - to suggest that the Greens are missing out on a big opportunity by not allowing Roberts to run - to influence our Federal Council to make a change mid-way through the leadership contest. No offence here to our Federal Council, but they don't exactly have the best track record of sticking to their guns on things. And in Roberts, it might really benefit the Party to change its mind about the restrictions that came with her new role. It's not like the there's a strong Executive Director in place now to reign them in, as long-serving ED Emily McMillan has been let go.
I'm not counting Roberts out of the race yet. Heck, I might even start a 'draft Roberts' movement myself!
Odds of Running: 20:1
|Me and Adriane Carr - January 2008|
But Carr might have her sights on other things right now. Maybe Mayor of Vancouver. Maybe she's content to influence Council by her presence and that of other Greens without challenging directly for the Mayor's chair. Certainly she's been instrumental in building the Green Party's profile at the municipal level - she might just decide to stay on and carry out those functions, which would be important to Vancouver, B.C. and ultimately Canada.
I hope she runs, though. Not sure she will.
Odds of Running: 15:1
B.C. MLA Sonia Fursteneau was elected to the B.C. minority parliament in 2016 in the riding of Cowichan Valley. She's the BC Green Party's House Leader, and she's been all over the BC NDP government of John Horgan over Site C and other issues. She is proving to be an effective MLA and an asset to the Green Party of B.C.
It's possible that she might opt to run for the B.C. Green Party's leadership - although I think what we're more likely to see is the BC Greens race turn into more of a coronation for BC Green MLA Adam Olsen. Fursteneau probably won't throw her hat in the ring to run nationally, either, given that the BC Greens are likely going to have to fight a rear-guard action to hold onto what they have, now that Weaver is stepping down as leader. I expect Fursteneau to reserve her energy for an upcoming provincial election. But if she decides to test the winds to see which way they might be blowing provincially in her riding - and if she doesn't like the way they're blowing, Fursteneau would make a formidable national candidate.
Odds of Running: 25:1
I honestly don't think that BC Green MLA Adam Olsen will be seeking the leadership of the Green Party of Canada - which is too bad, because Olsen would be a wonderful addition to the up-coming leadership contest. He is far more likely to seek - and win - the provincial party leadership. But don't count him out yet, even if I'm going to give him long odds of running nationally.
Odds of Running: 50:1
David Merner probably should be heading to Ottawa right now, but a disastrous final two weeks of the national campaign probably confounded those plans. Things were looking so good for so long for Merner in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, but some NDP dirty tricks combined with a lacklustre national campaign means that Merner has to go back to his day job.
By all accounts, Merner is dynamic and motivated. He's also demonstrated that he's a very political animal, having run for the Liberal Party in 2015 before changing his red stripes to Green for the 2019 election. Merner is ambitious. I expect that he'll at the very least mount an exploratory campaign. But he's also at a huge disadvantage given the 11 month time frame, because Greens don't really know who he is - and without a bit of a national profile already - or political accomplishments that he can point to - it's not likely that he's going to be able to generate a lot of attention or interest outside of the left coast bubble.
But a leadership run now could be used to build his profile locally so that the next time voters in ESS go to the polls, Merner may be more on their minds. With a minority government in power, that could be sooner rather than later. And of course a leadership run right now might better position him for the next leadership contest - something Greens will probably not waiting 13 years to have again.
Odds of Running: 5:1
Well, someone from PEI is going to have to throw their hat in the ring for the leadership contest, right? Lanthier has to be the logical choice for Islanders to coalesce around - if Bevan-Baker doesn't want the job. Lanthier has been involved with both the provincial and federal parties for some time now, and she's presently PEI's representative on our Federal Council. She ran in the Charlottetown riding in 2019 and finished second with over 23% of the popular vote.
Lanthier could inherent a good chuck of the Atlantic province's organizational capabilities if no one else from the region steps up. This won't be enough to win, with Ontario and BC having the lion's share of Green members. But it might be enough to put forward a convincing case - especially to Ontario Greens, who may not have many or any local champions to support in this contest.
Odds of Running: 7:1
The Mayor of Victoria, British Columbia, is not a Green. But she sure as hell looks and acts like one. Helps is presently serving her second term as Mayor, having been elected in 2014. She's been through the political wringer at the municipal level (which can be almost as bad as at the federal level - or maybe even worse, depending on the controversy). Helps may need some assistance getting to know voters on the other side of the Rockies, but if she has any federal ambitions, the Green Party's leadership contest would be a great opportunity for her.
Helps would be wise to wait, though, to see if any "big name Greens" throw their hat in the ring first. If it's looking like Bevan-Baker, Schreiner, Weaver, Atwin and Coon really are going to sit this one out, Lisa Helps might just have what it takes to mount an effective campaign.
Odds of Running: 25:1
Like David Merner, Kooy might be on her way to Ottawa right now had things broke just a little bit differently in her Victoria riding in this past election. Perhaps next time, with the title of leadership appended to her resume, she'll experience a different outcome.
Kooy definitely hails from a winnable riding. By all accounts, she and May are very close - and some have suspected that Kooy was being groomed by May to a position of leadership. And why not? Someone should have been (and a long time ago), and given that (can I say this) the Party was expecting a Green victory in Victoria, Kooy made a lot of sense to be the chosen one.
Kooy will have a strong team backing her, but with a lack of name recognition on this side of the Rockies, she'll have to figure out a way to make a strong case to Greens as to why she should lead. A short campaign period works against her - but she still might opt to throw her hat in the ring if some of the bigger names stay away.
Odds of Running: 20:1
Kate Storey has been around the Green Party of Canada forever - the constant bearer of our Party's flag in the Manitoba riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa. She's been a member of our Federal Council. She's been the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Manitoba. A farmer, she's a Green through-and-through from a part of the country where Greens are a little light on the ground.
Storey's presence in a leadership contest would be valuable to the Party - although I'm not sure what Kate might personally get out of it. Storey, for all of her involvement in the Party, is no political animal. It's her values that drive her - and that's one of the other reasons her presence in a leadership contest would be so very important to the Party. Frankly, we need leadership contestants like Storey to run - those who are clearly just wanting to do good, to make the planet a better place to live. That's what Storey does every day of her life. Politics is just secondary.
I hope she decides to run - even if it's just to remind other contestants that our values are pan-Canadian values - and that regions like hers can't be left behind.
Odds of Running: 25:1
I have to admit, I don't know Thomas Teuwen. But a lot of Greens do. He's spent far more time in the Party's backroom (I don't think we're big enough a party to have multiple 'rooms' are we?), and not as much in the media spotlight. And that could potentially be to Teuwen's advantage - if leader is a job that he wants.
Teuwen has been affiliated with the Green Party of Canada in various capacities over the past decade, including as something called a 'synergist' which I take to mean a communications person that is actively attempting to bring Greens together. He's been behind a number of moderately successful initiatives in that field, including the development of something called "EDA 2.0", which brings a number of motivated and connected Greens together via internet bulletin boards (sorry, my age is showing - what do you call stuff like Slack, though, if not a BBS?) and face-to-face meetings. Most of those that know him really like him. I don't really know him, but what I know of him suggests to me that he would be the wrong person to lead this party in any capacity at this time.
Teuwen wants the Party to foment a Bernie Sanders-style revolution with voters, rather than relying on tried and true campaigning methods. He forgets that Sanders, although an insurgent, was still running for the leadership of one of the two largest parties in the United States, and was able to bankroll a so-called 'revolution' in a way that a 5th place national party with little presence on the ground outside of a handfull or ridings ever would be able to. Nevertheless, it's a compelling vision, especially given the fact that whatever it is we've been trying to do as a party for the past 10 years has led to somewhat limited success.
Teuwen fired off an election-night salvo to EDA 2.0 members with a massive missive on all that's wrong with the Party. When I read it, I figured he had to be gunning for the leadership for himself - and not just to bring down Elizabeth May and the Party's Executive Director, Emily McMillan. Interestingly, since sending that missive, both May and McMillan are out of their leadership positions. Was this Thomas Teuwen's doing? Probably not completely, but Teuwen has the ability to bend a lot of ears.
Thing is, he might decide to stay behind the scenes and pursue the position of Executive Director. That might actually be a harder position for him to apply for than that of leader - as he has his detractors on Federal Council for sure. A better use of his silver tongue might be to see him step out of the shadows with a strong and committed team in place to start building him a national profile.
This is one to watch, because if he wants to grasp the golden ring, he'll be a force to be reckoned with.
Odds of Running: 5:1
He's probably too sensible to run for the federal party leadership, but Green Party of Ontario Deputy Leader Abhijeet Manay would make a fantastic candidate for the Party. He's young. He's bright. He's political. And he's a nice guy in the Mike Schreiner mold. And I have to think that he is also politically ambitious - which is why he really ought to think about running, even if it's just to build his profile in the provincial and federal parties and gain some important experience. Manay has a seriously bright future with the Greens - and I'd love to see him start to flex his wings.
And really, who else from Ontario might be expected to step up - and tap into that massive Ontario support base? Abhi - if you're reading this (and I know you are), this is something that you should seriously consider - if you can afford the time and heartache - and not necessarily of losing, but of winning.
Odds of Running: 15:1
Greens like me who have been around for a while now will likely remember John Streicker from his role as General Meeting moderator - the one who kept us on track every couple of years at our in-person meetings. And Greens know that's not an easy task - we are a rather independent bunch, after all.
We may also remember that Streiker ran for the party in the Yukon at one point - and ultimately he was elected to municipal Council in Whitehorse. And that may be where many of us lost track of John. And we may have been surprised to find out that he's since been elected to the Yukon territorial legislature - as a Liberal!
OK, maybe that's all just me. But Streicker - Liberal or not - has a serious history with the Party, and if he wanted to seek the leadership, he could no doubt build a bit of a base for himself, probably out of older members like myself. But he's clearly got the ability and the political acumen to lead our party. He may be the consensus candidate that we didn't know that we needed - and a ranked ballot could seriously work to his advantage.
But Streicker is probably happy to stay put and stick it out with his new Party. Still, his name needs to be on this list.
Odds of Running: 50:1
I've already seen the online efforts to draft Severn Cullis-Suzuki to lead our Party, so don't rule this one out. Cullis-Suzuki doesn't have any partisan political chops, but she's certainly been around politics all of her life. She burst onto the international stage at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro with the "Speech that Silenced the World for 5 Minutes".
She's got the environmental credibility that will appeal to many members of our Party. And if partisan politics is something that she's interested in, this might be the perfect opportunity for her to get involved in an out-sized role on the national stage.
Odds of Running: 60:1
She rejected joining the Green Party of Canada once - and that was just earlier this year. But she does have a bit of a reputation of being politically ambitious (which likely fed into her decision to give the Party a pass - perhaps after polling suggested she could not win in Vancouver-Granville as a Green - but could as an Independent).
JWR has the kind of national profile that I think the Green Party needs right now if it's going to have an impact in the next election. She and Elizabeth May are apparently friends. And a quick, 11-month campaign works to her advantage given that she is a household name across the entire nation. If Wilson-Raybould bought a membership in the Party tomorrow and started to organize, she would be the front-runner no matter who else threw their hats in the ring after.
But would she want the hassle of trying to put a fairly dysfunctional federal party back together? Many would think now - but I'll answer the question with another question. As an MP in the House, what else has she go to do? Is she going to sit as an Independent for 2 or 3 years, doing - well not a heck of a lot - or would she instead opt to try to lead a federal party in need of leadership, and mostly in keeping with her own personal values?
I'm sure JWR will think long and hard about this opportunity. Ultimately, though, it might be some timely polling - or a review of the Party's Constitution that reveals the seriously diminished powers of the Green Party's leader that eventually sways her to give us a pass - again.
Odds of Running: 30:1
WHAT?!?! WHO?!?! HAVE I LOST MY MIND!?!?!
Maybe I have. But consider the following:
The Green Party of Canada seriously needs a leader who can hit the ground running, once elected. She needs to be able to win a by-election or a seat in the upcoming general election. Preferably, she's have a strong team in place who can help her - and who can help her promote others in the party. Experience helps - but even more important than experience is a public profile. Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has all of these.
And sure, she's presently sitting in the Ontario provincial legislature. But how long is that going to last? The Ontario Liberal Party is poised to select a new leader in early March, 2020. Wynne's continuing presence at Queen's Park will not be helpful for the new leader or the Party. Wynne must be thinking about her own exit - and about what she might do after her provincial political career completely winds down.
Other things to consider: Let's face it, Kathleen Wynne led one of the greenest provincial governments in Canada's history. She brought in Cap and Trade. She oversaw the development of the Province's 2016 Climate Action Plan with former Environment Minister Glen Murray - a singularly ambitious plan that Canada has not seen since. If Wynne is looking to continue to influence decision-makers, she could do far worse than to seize the reigns of the Green Party of Canada.
Elizabeth May can't be replaced - but if there is any one person on Canada's political scene who could potentially rival May for her wit, acumen, and deep understanding of the issues, it's Kathleen Wynne - the finest Premier Ontario has ever had, in my opinion.
A strategically timed phone call from May, or a casual coffee with Mike Schreiner - to, if nothing else, plant this seed of an idea with Wynne - I can't help but wonder what sort of fruit it might bear.
Wynne, though, might just be too committed to her Party to switch at this point. I'll continue to hold out hope that she might come to her own Glenn Thibeault moment and decide to cross the floor to our Federal Party in order to seek its leadership.
Now wouldn't that be something?
Odds of Running: 100:1
(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)