Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This little light of mine...

While the real newsmen are as happy as pigs in shit that Dion’s party totally fucked up the Quebec by-elections (so they can just change a few sentences in their mound of reprinted “Dion is totally screwed” articles), I feel it is my job as a so-fake-I-don’t-even-pretend-to-be-a-newsman to shine my flashlight into the oft-ignored underbelly of the by-elections. Of course I mean how the Green Party really is falling into obscurity. Sure they got a new leader, got rid of most of their troublesome staff and tend to be asking for a lot more money these days (apparently to get shudders that go with the new house in New Glasgow aka their election “hope chest”) but they have momentum right?

I mean they finally have all the ingredients to actually become the political force they remind us they are/want to be. They have a leader that people: actually know, listen to, and gets press. They have federal funding and a big upsurge in members (at least they should) as well as success in the last round of by-elections (except that they forgot to register that candidate in Quebec – oops). This should be something they eat up and manage to use to their advantage, especially when there is such a major shift in the political landscape. By-elections are where small parties make their breakthrough, so why didn’t it happen here with the Greens?

In fact they’ve reversed their trend as of the last election. All ridings went down in vote percentage except Saint Hyacinth-Bagot. Sure it slipped 0.1% but that’s pretty negligible. Outremont had the Greens at 2.2% from 4.8% and Roberval-Lac Saint-Jean had the Greens at 1.7% from 4.3%. Alarming trends, if I was involved in planning on having a Green Party around after the next federal election.

This doesn’t seem like a party building on its momentum. It should be able to use the base federal funding to drive in enough new members and contributions to send the party out of a consistent last place. I’m sure up until this point the party has just been coming up with many horrifically complex systems to make sure the associations get some of the federal funding rather than go out into the community to fundraise, raise awareness, and attract members and ever better candidates – you know, politics? I know most outsiders looking in are wondering why the party can’t seem to capitalize on its apparent growth and momentum and I guess maybe I know too much and not enough at the same time. Although I’m pretty sure anything I guess and exaggerate isn’t too far from the truth because I’ve seen them operate and tried to fix it for a few years. It’s like trying to teach a cat to play to banjo. After a certain point you just have to admit it was stupid to even try because it simply won’t happen, no matter how stubborn you are.

The candidates will blame the party, the party will blame the associations, they’ll all complain about lack of money, nobody will actually do anything worthy of getting a vote or improving their situation and we’ll see how things turn out in the next election. I think these by-elections are a good litmus test for where the party will end up. I mean things certainly can’t be going well when you’ve got all the ingredients for more success and you’re doing worse.

There was a lot of optimism, in some cases renewed optimism, in the Greens when their leader finished second in the London by-election. Where was she for these by-elections? It makes me wonder how committed she is to the party’s success compared to her own? Why hasn’t the party been able to simply get its shit together and be able to challenge for seats, when people are tuned into the message? It makes me wonder how utterly incompetent you have to be to not be able to come up with an appealing platform to voters who want environmental change?

I guess it is just easier to blame first-past the post for your own failings than actually work hard at becoming appealing to the voters.

It will be interesting to see if the Green Party survives after the next federal election.


Jan Triska said...

The Greens sucked the hind teat in this one. The results in federal by-elections might not be terribly meanigful in the long run, but these numbers are so low that it just re-states the obvious point: E. May might have a high profile personally but her party is on a nosedive right now...

joncormier said...

I think for small parties, by-elections are where they get their foot in the door. If you can't do that, there is no possible way to do it during a general election when everyone is competing for the whole bag of marbles.