Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Greens Need to be Realistic About Upcoming Federal Election - and Beyond

I realize CBC's Eric Grenier is focused on the NDP in this piece - but behind the words we see some serious issues for the Green Party of Canada (see: "Singh's NDP could gain a little — and lose a lot — in a spring election," CBC, March 3 2021). While the polls have been mostly stagnate over the past year and a bit, the NDP did see a bit of a drop, and now appear to have regained most of what they lost and are back to numbers that they saw in the 2019 election - 19%, with some polls putting them a little ahead.

The Green Party continues to poll a little better than our 2019 record (5-6% in polls right now; but we were at around 8% pre-eday 2019 vs. 6.5% actual in 2019), but Greens need to keep in mind this rule of thumb with the polls: Greens always poll higher than our vote share. Always. So when I see 5%, I think 3%.

Given that the coming election is going to be fought on the basis of Trudeau, COVID and the economy - not exactly in our Party's sweet spot - and given that our Party leaders seem keen to want to go head-to-head with the NDP, the latest polls that show that same NDP on the rise - with our party mired in 5th place - maybe it's time for this sobering reality to start having an impact on our electoral strategy.
I'm not saying that we should think about pressing the 'panic button' (not sure what we could do at this point to change things around), but I am suggesting that maybe this election is one where we should focus on keeping our powder dry. Let's introduce our leader to the country, try to get our current MP's elected, and maybe add two or three more, somewhere, somehow. And let the chips fall where they may. If that means the NDP pick up a few seats, so be it.

But it also means that whatever the electoral outcome, our Party needs to stick with our current leader. That's the bargain we've got to make in an election where holding on to what we've got is the measure of success.

I look around the internet and I know that the knives are out for Annamie Paul. Her critics within the party and on its fringes are tearing her down. After some initial media successes, she's largely disappeared - and when she does pop up (as she did recently with the Olympics), she's hardly motivating the base (and indeed, she's turning some off - and giving ammunition to her opponents). She's been good on LTC, and if that helps her win in Toronto Centre, that alone would be awesome. But it's an issue which the NDP will always be perceived to be better than us on - which makes it a loser issue for Greens.

If you don't believe me, that's fine. I'm just some guy shouting from the wilderness. But look no further than what the other former leadership candidates will be up to in the next election. Howard, Kuttner and Murray have publicly said they'll be sitting it out. Rumours are out there that Merner might not run again. Lascaris? I'm not fan of his, but I know he's a smart guy - there's not much benefit to him right now if he has leadership ambitions to run somewhere and lose. West will probably run, because that's what West does. Haddad? Is she even still a Green?

Trouble is on our horizon. Let's hope that the campaign team understands this and decides to be realistic with its expectations. So far, I haven't seen a lot of that realism emerge, given the desire to compete with the NDP and the selection of Toronto Centre as the riding for Paul to run in. But I do hope they're getting the message that this is an important election for us - and getting wiped out across the country will not help further the Green Party or our movement.

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