Wheels Falling Off Green Party Wagon

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KenS
Wheels Falling Off Green Party Wagon

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KenS

I had begun to think that Teflon May could keep dodging this all forever.
Guess not.
Upheaval in Green party over May leadership
Includes the resignation of the loyal circle around May that has been running the show.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Is the Green Party wagon a litte, red one?

KenS

Well, it was always and increasingly more so the Elizabeth May wagon.

But now that she or whoever has turfed her most loyal protectors. I guess that makes it an even littler and redder wagon.

Debater

What life gives with one hand it takes away with the other.

After a good weekend for Elizabeth May where she got a positive response at Parliament Hill at the rally, this news comes out.

KenS

Well, it didn't 'just' come out.

I didn't think the pot was going to boil over, now at least; but it has been on high heat the whole month at least.

conrad yablonski

Quote:
Elizabeth is a weak political leader, but she is strong enough to dominate the $2-million-a-year, 9,000-member Green Party

The quote from the article as linked says it all.

Two of my old associates were in the GP but both have left because it's such a clown show.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

The Green Party HAS a wagon?

 

 

ottawaobserver

It's about to be repossessed if they do.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Repossessed?  Did they forget to pay the exorcist?

ottawaobserver

They're still over a million in debt, and their fundraising so far this year hasn't been nearly enough to pay it down.

Debater

conrad yablonski wrote:

Quote:
Elizabeth is a weak political leader, but she is strong enough to dominate the $2-million-a-year, 9,000-member Green Party

The quote from the article as linked says it all.

Two of my old associates were in the GP but both have left because it's such a clown show.

What is the main problem in the Green Party?  Is it that the party is now too closely associated with the leader rather than with the ideology of the party itself?

NorthReport

Too closely associated with the Liberals is perhaps a better reflection of the GP.

And let's face it, May's a flake.

But regardless of the leader there is no chance for the Green Party because there is no more room at the table. This is North America, not Europe, and coalition governments don't do that well here. If Canadians were polled about it they would say that we already have too many political parties represented in Parliament.

 

 

Debater wrote:

conrad yablonski wrote:

Quote:
Elizabeth is a weak political leader, but she is strong enough to dominate the $2-million-a-year, 9,000-member Green Party

The quote from the article as linked says it all.

Two of my old associates were in the GP but both have left because it's such a clown show.

What is the main problem in the Green Party?  Is it that the party is now too closely associated with the leader rather than with the ideology of the party itself?

conrad yablonski

Debater wrote:

conrad yablonski wrote:

The quote from the article as linked says it all.

Two of my old associates were in the GP but both have left because it's such a clown show.

What is the main problem in the Green Party?  Is it that the party is now too closely associated with the leader rather than with the ideology of the party itself?

As I understand it Yes

 

Quote:
And let's face it, May's a flake.

I don't know here personally but that's her public persona, or too much of it,  she may have other more positive attributes I'm unaware of.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

In the end, the biggest problem the Greens have is the stranglehold the "eco-capitalists" have over the party leadership and policies(even though they don't reflect majority opinion among Green voters and activists.  This will always have the effect of making it seem pointless for people from other parties(particularly the NDP, which is the main party they have a chance of taking votes from)to vote for them since they'll(apparently)just be another party of the "market values" status quo when it comes down to it.

The only chance the GPC to be anything beyond what it is now is to break with the "respectable" centrist consensus and run as a genuine party of alternative politics and economics.

KenS

That may well be operative Ken, but it has nothing at all to do with the pressure building within the GPC that resulted in this eruption.

And while the whole party may look like eco-capaitalists to you, as far as GPC factions go they are a decided minority, have little efffect on policy, and May and her crowd are completely opposed to them. The May crowd run the GPC as if it were an NGO in electoral politics. Which is not primarily an ideology based conflict.

KenS

Here are 3 analysese on the GPC financial crisis that I blogged in the last few days in that dissident Green blog mentioned by Akin in the article.

 

Shit Hits Fan if there is an election in March

Even cutting election campaign spending to half what it was in 2008, will require campaign borrowing of about $1.5million. That plus the existing unpaid bank loan will put the GPC with the same $2.5M total debt it had at the end of the 2008 campaign.

Except that this time around the rebate on campaign expenses would also be half what it was for the 2008 election: $0.75M instead of $1.4M.

In 2009 that $1.4M campaign rebate went to loan payments, and when it was gone at the end of the year, you had $1million in loan payments for 2010 that you could not and cannot make.

If there is an election in March you'll have essentially the same debt to repay, but only $0.75million in rebates, leaving at least $1.5million in loan payments that you even more cannot pay. And the cash flow on that will bite really hard almost immediately.

If there is no election, then the inevitable reckoning just moves off to sometime in 2011.

 

GPC Financial Crisis, Fundraising, and Leadership

I'm not sure what possessed your brain trust to plan for coming out of the 2008 election with a $1million dollar net debt.

Maybe they thought they could maintain something close to the fundraising pace of the second half of 2008. That would have allowed paying off the debt in about a year, which is what you should be able to do. But you don't PLAN for maintaining a pace you had during a predictable fundraising peak.

Paying off a million dollar debt in the requisite timely fashion is WAY more than twice as difficult as paying off a half million dollar debt. You are MUCH more than twice as likely to fail at doing it.

But that's water under the bridge now. The $1million hangover has to be 'digested'. So how is the Leader and brain trust dealing with this now?

Not well, to say the least. They didn't touch the debt for more than a year... and did nothing about it even when well before mid-year there was a systemic problem with paying ANY of the debt down, let alone the whole million.

They spent another 8-9 months making no changes, when getting paid down before the next election is absolutely critical.

Now they have belatedly come around to making deep spending cuts. 4 out of 7 organizers are gone [not to mention preoccupation with other tasks of 2 out of the 3 remaining].

As noted earlier in the discussion, even with more deep cuts, the bulk of that $1million hangover is going to get bumped to next year.

The consequence of that slowness is that even with an election campaign budget sliced in HALF, there will be even more debt after the next election than there was after 2008. Because of the debt load carried forward, drastically less money to spend in the election, AND debt growing anyway.

The only way to stop this visious cycle is to pay off virtually all debt before the next election.

There just aren't enough cuts available to achieve that- even laying off the ENTIRE staff [Leader included] and ending revenue sharing would not be enough cuts to pay off the debts in a year.

The only way that debt is going to be paid down in a reasonable period of time is to increase fundraising.

Fundraising 2008 -- 2009
Q1 end Mar 210,000 211,000
Q2 end Jun 214,000 192,000
Q3 end Sep 660,000 239,000
Q4 end Dec 546,000 ?

Paying off the debt over 5-6 quarters might keep the wolf at bay. But even with the deep spending cuts that are being made, that would require increasing fundraising by at least 50%.

For a small party with lots of untapped fundraising capacity that probably is doable. But not by this lot.

Look at the trend in the table above. GPC fundraising tracked up with the rise of May's visibility in 2008.

Conversely, fundraising has sunk with May's invisibility in 2009. The first quarter for 2009 was as high as the previous year, but a lot of those funds would be part of the usual post-election bump.

Fundraising since hasn't gone way down, but it has settled at a consistent lower plateau... while it needs to go UP at least 50% to put the $1million hangover to bed in something at least close to a reasonable time.

And what is the prospects of this outfit pulling off that 50% increase?

In 2008 they got the fundraising bump riding May's coat tails. No coat tails in 2009, and they seem incapable of changing that.

Fundraising doesnt have to be so reactive- going up only when you do. But its even less likely this outfit can boost fundraising- which means outreach to more people rather than hitting up the same people over and over. In fact they'll be lucky if donor fatigue doesn't start biting them harder.

Like organization building, fundraising does not have to ride an external wave. And you can't afford to wait for the next one of those.

But growing organization building from within requires leadership.

You have a Leader, but you don't have leadership.

 

Beggaring the National Campaign

National campaigns get a 50% rebate on their election expenses. So this is a crucial part of campaign budgeting.

To the degree that late in the 2008 campaign the Liberals cut $4million spending that really hurt, because they did not feel they could go that exta $2million in debt to get the $4million in planned advertsing buys.

All parties- even the obscenely rich Conservtaives- have to borrow for general elections. And the GPC debt load right now is going to place severe restrictions on how much can be borrowed for the national campaign.

The GPC is pouring money into the May's Saanich - Gulf Islads campaign [SGI], and will until the general election comes.

Even in the hypothetical case of shutting down the SGI campaign, the GPC is so limited that the national campaign would have to be drastically trimmed anyway.

So what goes into SGI- whether it is direct cash expenditures or paying for national staff who are there now- is that much less for the already much reduced national campaign.

Only you double that.

Because money spent campaigning before an election gets no rebate.

So $5,000 spent this month in SGI is $10,000 less for the national campaign.

And there's a number of those $5,000 that are $10,000 being spent every month in SGI, for many months to come if the election is not in March.

So, you already have an invisible Leader compared to what you had in the year plus before the 2008 election.

Plus, what will be a LOT less advertising in a chopped and continuously beggared national campaign.

And the likely impact of those two on the ultimate ballot box vote share is _______ ? With any reduction meaning the same reduction in the subisdy that is 2/3 of the GPC income.

That is quite the legacy under construction: indigestible debt load, fundraising that is flat or declining, and nothing being done to ensure that the vote share and subsidy do not head south.

KenS

from that article:

Quote:

Ms. May said Friday she's had to deal with sniping from within her own party since she became leader and that it is a natural result of a party organization that operates as transparently as the Greens do. For example, "observers" who are Green party members are allowed to listen in on the conference call meetings of the governing council. Some of her most vocal critics tend to be those observers, May said.

"It would be disingenuous to say it never bugged me, but does it bother me at any large level? No," Ms. May said. "It is what it is. Can you imagine any other federal party allowing any member to listen in on council calls?"

"Transparent operation" my ass.

All members of the NDP can attend any Council meeting... and are not excluded from discussions of financial details as were the "observers" [mere party members] who could not even listen to the Council discussion of the financial crisis.

And my hunch is that even the LPC is more open at Exec Council meetings than the GPC is. Certainly is more transparent. And thats with their constant internal battles.

Interesting irony that last sentence of hers: beginning a massively disengenuous deflection with "it would be disingenuous to say..."

ottawaobserver

Ken, could you boil down your lengthy blogposts to just the three main points (like REALLY short)?  thanks

KenS

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KenS

I think I can do even better- the lengthy series of posts can be boiled down to ONE point, highlighted below.

But that won't make sense without a prior brief summary of the context.

I heard rumours of financial difficulties in December, and probably as soon as others who got it 'word of mouth'. But the public info available was too old to indicate anything, and didn't engage in any guessing games given the lack of hard info.

Oddly enough, I got the key info from Elizabeth May herself. When she told Murray Dobbin that big fib about GPC finances, she chunked out some recent numbers that allowed me to indirectly get what I needed to have a snapshot of the GPC 2009 finances.

With all the info its clear that the GPC is in a very intractable place with its debt, and that even while May is acknowledging internally there is a problem, it is probably being massively minimized.

IE, given historical patterns, she and her crew were delivering it somethink like this "unfortunate we have to lay off the 4 of 6 organizers, but that will allow it to pay off the debt.

What those posts are about is

* no amount of cutting can free up enough to repay the debts as soon as required.

* that most of the debt will just be moved.

* and a description of some of the consequences that are now nearly inevitable.

When I wrote them there was no reason to think that May wasn't going to continue indefinitely bamboozling people. By running through the numbers it was hoped some people would take a look and ask their own questions.

Apparently, people didn't stop at asking a few questions. And it was underway without me knowing it.

mimeguy

 

Debater - "What is the main problem in the Green Party?  Is it that the party is now too closely associated with the leader rather than with the ideology of the party itself?"

 

That really depends on who you talk to. For some of us the association with a sole personality is a problem that needs to change. Elizabeth remains popular to many people who couldn't care less about internal politics. Similar people who like Ignatieff or Layton and don't care how he got to be leader or what the internal party process is.

This article won't do any damage whatsoever because it is largely founded on misinformation so it appeals to only those who are politically active enough to care about the internal squabbles of party politics. The federal council is elected to run the governance of the party and their decisions are their responsibility. If people want to change the way the party is governed then they have to change federal council. The fact remains that many of the problems discussed in the article are already being dealt with and the source of the article knows it. There was no great reveal of anything to anyone who cares.

Yes the party is in financial difficulty and federal council is dealing with that. They and they alone will wear the results of the financial decisions they make. Ken is right that the Greens are less transparent than we brag about. if it is true that any member can observe financial discussions in the NDP then that's something we can learn. Even I as a shadow cabinet member and already a signatory to a confidentiality agreement am asked to leave discussions when they go 'in camera'. That can be changed by member resolutions.

The controversy over the timing of the leadership contest is being dealt with as well and there is no conspiracy. Rules and procedures remain intact and there will be a resolution brought before the national convention in Toronto this August. That resolution will debte the nature of leadership races in future. If it succeeds the rules will be changed democratically by the members. If it fails there will be a leadership contest by the end of the year (depending on what happens with the election). The constitution is very clear on leadership term limits. There really isn't anything to this and it's up to federal council to do their job.

ottawaobserver

It is true that any member can attend NDP Federal Council, including money discussions.  However, while those money discussions might involve staffing levels, they never involve staffing specifics.  As a trade unionist, I've frankly been appalled at the dragging through the mud being done of all the personal, private employer-employee matters over at the Green Party this past week.

The woman who was apparently canned as campaign director for not putting resources into the 4 by-elections knowing they were not seats the party could ever do well in (a perfectly sensible, and strategically correct decision), was being villified by a bunch of macho yahoos, who think they know what they're talking about, but don't.

So, they're paid shit, then they get canned and their employment status and record is splayed all over the blogosphere for all and sundry to actively speculate about.  Disgusting.  And so not a "new way of doing politics".

KenS

Based on my observations, which isn't only the frequently hyperventilated stuff on the blogosphere, I agree with mimeguys general assessment. With one qualification- I wouldn't call the article "largely founded on misinformation" because its basis is in two facts, financial troubles and turmoil, lack of trasparency and obfuscation coming from the senior leadership. [Let alone that greatest amount of misinformation in that article coming from the mouth of Elizabeth May.]

The sudden departures of all the senior management is in many ways just an extreme manifestation of the revolving door since May has been leader... these being the fifth and sixth in 4 years of the two top staff positions.

And while I really have only guesses who is doing what to whom in those departures, the very fact they had to go means there is greatly broader dissatisfaction than heretofore.

ottawaobserver wrote:

The woman who was apparently canned as campaign director for not putting resources into the 4 by-elections knowing they were not seats the party could ever do well in (a perfectly sensible, and strategically correct decision), was being villified by a bunch of macho yahoos, who think they know what they're talking about, but don't.

I certainly can't tell for what exact reasons the campaign director was canned... nor even whether the ultimate initiator of that was the Council, May herself, May prodded by Council, whatever.

But I think you are attributing too much to one of those specific blogosphere hyperventilations, which happened to make it into the newspaper article. A lot of them are unpleasent and macho, and ignorant. Its the blogoshere. And it shouldnt come as any surprise that critics in an atmosphere where speaking up is villified, are not always going to be the most balanced people. It takes a thick skin to speak out when you know you will be attacked... and there are characteristics that tend to go with having that thick skin.

I know there are much broader reasons for dissatisfaction with the CDs performance, and/or her share of responsibility for what is pinned on the brain trust in general.

ottawaobserver wrote:

So, they're paid shit, then they get canned and their employment status and record is splayed all over the blogosphere for all and sundry to actively speculate about.  Disgusting.  And so not a "new way of doing politics".

While what happens to those individuals is ugly, these are people that play with sharp elbows. There is karma in getting it back from the people you dished it out to with impugnity when you were on top. But as to your overall comment on "new way of doing politics" ...definitely, farcical irony in that.

I did by the way make that distinction in the NDP about members observing discussions of staffing lavels [financial matter], versus personnel matters... which are not even discussed by the whole Council, let alone heard by members.

KenS

mimeguy wrote:
 

Debater - "What is the main problem in the Green Party?  Is it that the party is now too closely associated with the leader rather than with the ideology of the party itself?" 

That really depends on who you talk to. For some of us the association with a sole personality is a problem that needs to change. Elizabeth remains popular to many people who couldn't care less about internal politics.

You could say that the same highlighted attitude runs to much of the governing Council, or at least did until quite recently... that even they do not or did not really care about internal politics.

Elizabeth May's background is one of very much running her show- which brought around her a group of like minded people who just go out there and do it, and do it their way. That isn't ideal in any organization, but it will work well enough in an NGO. People who don't like it go elsewhere.

Political parties attract a more diverse group of people, and there are few if any 'elsewheres' for them to go to. But Elizabeth May did not and has not changed her leadership style one bit. Its the Green party that had to change, and its totally predictable that in this case not everyone who doesn't like the new rules is going to leave. 

It sure looks like the vast majority of people who get to the GPC Council, and stay, are in that category of "we like Elizabeth, and thats it." And they generally extend that same attitude to the senior staffers who are themselves more than just loyal.

In this atmosphere, criticism of any kind can go nowhere. Dissident Councilors can say anything they want. But they will be pounced on, and discussion is impossible. Most who might be inclined to criticise just back off. Some of that uncritical majority may not beleive everything dished out by May and the top staff; but a) at bottom they don't care enough, and b) "that guy saying all that stuff is so angry and divisive." Most even of the more open minded probably don't even notice that May and her henchpeople are deliberately divisive. Not to mention highly manipulative and outright deceptive when 'need be'.

Bottom line: in toxic environments like that you can't have a discussion. So its no wonder that critical voices move outside. And the walls go up.

Also no wonder that when left to their own devices, some of the stuff the critics come up with is pretty off the wall.

Also not a big surprise that in such an immature organizational climate the general opinion shifts, on a dime apparently, from Councilors nodding their heads to whatever the Elizabth May and the brain trust say, to a sweeping "off with their heads."

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

Yeesh - had to get my comment in so this thread goes into my list of topics I'm watching ( http://www.rabble.ca/users/hsfreethinkers ). Is there a way to do that without wasting your time with a Yeesh? I have to say, I almost didn't renew my GPC membership in December and at the moment I don't feel like helping them pay off their debt. I'm a little disillusioned with their performance.

KenS

One thing I'm wondering about:

It would seem that at a minimum that shift in the governing Council is a vote of no confidence in the senior management that just left and/or was disposed of. And further, that Council specifically does not like key financial management choices made.

I'm wondering who is percieved to be the primary authors of that management/direction: the now departed, or largely/wholy May herself?

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

KenS, I have no idea, and if I did I probably wouldn't disclose that information. That news article is the first and only thing I've heard about these resignations and lay-offs.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

--

KenS

Questions are sometimes interesting in their own right.

An answer here would be nice, but not expected.

KenS

Worth noting that even in an article that does not put the Green party in a good light, it is May and even the departed brain trust that get to give their version of events, while the existence of critics and criticism is just generally noted.

Not quiblling with whether this is to be expected, but May gets to give her selective and misleading account of the financial position. And the campaign director gets the featured quote with her straw person characterisation of what critics said about the GPC performance in the Fall by-elections. [Its not like the only two choices were to throw big resources into them or to just leave them to whatever the locals took the initiative to come up with. The NDP has always treated no-hope by-elections as opportunities for building. The GPC is smaller than the NDP even in its thinest regions, but members have every reason to expect it to at least do something propoertional.]

mimeguy

Okay let's stop and clarify some things.  First I won't talk about certain things in public because some clarifications will slide into confidentiality which I won't violate.  I'm doing this out of respect for Ken and many others on babble whose interest and discussion on the Green Party are not based in malice. 

The article is misinformed because it makes statements of simple fact which are then associated with issues out of context.  Intentionally so.  The campaign director was not let go based on performance.  Resignations are private matters to the person who resigns unless they and they alone choose to discuss such matters.  It's simply none of the membership's damn business.  There is a toxic myth among Greens that members are entitled to own the staff, their thoughts and and every action.  This is bullshit plain and simple.

OO - "  As a trade unionist, I've frankly been appalled at the dragging through the mud being done of all the personal, private employer-employee matters over at the Green Party this past week."  Yes this is true and many Green Party members and some councilors have a long way to go before we as Greens can truly boast about labour justice and professionalism and I'm not talking about water cooler gossip.

 

Federal council can be dysfunctional at many times but this is not an issue of personalities. Clash of personalities simply exacerbate a dysfunctional system. I can speak to this because the structure is public knowledge. Council elections are divided. Half of council is elected in odd number years for two years and the other half elected the next year for their own two year term. The trouble I have with this system is that you have a full working council for only a year. For new councilors your first few months are spent getting up to speed and taking a crash course in council history if you are to ever understand the history and foundation for the business you are encountering. How well briefed new councilors are is vital. Let's say this takes you a couple of months (and I'm being conservative considering council members are not in a paid position and working only part time.) Add to this the fact that some councilors are also candidates, CEOs of local ridings or members of shadow cabinet. I personally believe that council is a full time job that requires full time attention. Shadow cabinet is also a full time pursuit if you really want to conduct yourself professionally and learn your portfolio. So then we have two positions that require full time attention, even if one were paid, and only part time ability to accomplish this. What do people think? So in the end you have eight months to work as a cohesive group before half your colleagues are up for reelection. That means in some cases new councilors and the process starts all over again. I'm all for limited terms but not in this manner.

 

It really needs to be clarified that council makes ALL fincancial decisions in that it votes for and shapes the budget. The staff execute that plan within the parameters set by council. So Ms. May's style of leadership is not the issue because she is constitutionally prevented from being a one person show. Council is elected and not appointed so this isn't a case of Ms. May 'bringing' her own people and getting them elected. The active membership does this and the active membership gets what they vote for just like Canadians get the government they vote for. So Ken's observations that shifts in council direction and philosophy can appear to be quite radical is true but I personally link this to the nature of council's structure and the fact that all council members are not elected at the same time to serve the same length of term together. Add to this the fact that the party is experiencing its first major debt crunch and you have the pressure cooker environment that leads to harsh decisions being made because they need to be made.

 

This is not a "clown show" or gross incompetence. It's not an issue of whether anyone supports Ms. May's leadership. Thinking that a less involved leader will make these issues go away is simply an illusion (or delusion?)  

KenS

Well written and thought out.

And I dare say this is interesting and instructive for all of us who have an interest in how organizations in general, and parties specifically, conduct themselves.

I have some skepticism about your particular account here- and it is motivated mostly by understanding of organizations in general, rather than a disagreement about 'the details'.

I agree its not about the personalities, and the various dysfunctionalities would not simply go away if May and her leadership style did. On the other hand.... but I'll leave that until later.

"The campaign director was not let go based on performance." This doesn't surprise me at all. I noticed once before a former Green staffer referring to themselves as 'terminated'... and I knew they weren't 'fired' in the way most of us understand that. So I knew enough to wonder if the CD had really been canned as claimed. That said, my comments about use of sharp elbows stand, what goes around comes around, etc.

 

KenS

mimeguy wrote:

It really needs to be clarified that council makes ALL fincancial decisions in that it votes for and shapes the budget. The staff execute that plan within the parameters set by council. So Ms. May's style of leadership is not the issue because she is constitutionally prevented from being a one person show. Council is elected and not appointed so this isn't a case of Ms. May 'bringing' her own people and getting them elected.

 

Organizational chart formalism doesn't tell you the realities of how an organization is run in practice. The NORM is that the staff and/or Leader in practice set the largely determining parameters, from which Councils choose. This is true even in the healthiest organisations where there is a lot of awareness of this 'counter-formal' process, including a staff and Leader ethic of as much as possible not pre-determining outcomes. In my experience there are many more organizations where to some dgree or another the staff and Leader actively subvert and manipulate the process to get the formally democratic outcomes they want. This is very easy since they essentially control all the information and communication junctures.

We're not doomed to be dupes of the 'iron law of bureacracy', but we are all at a minimum subject to its influences. And there is a limited amount, at least over the sirt term, a few individuals can do about a toxic governance environmnet... and a major contributing factor is that dissenting voices are isolated, harrased and shunned if they don't zip it.

Of course its not as crude as May bringing 'her people' to be elected by Council- though she has edged astonishingly close to that and many don't even see it as a problem.

Boil it all down, and I would agree with everything else you said about systemic dysfunctionality in the GPC and it being not a product of the Elizabeth May show.

But agreeing with that is not mutually exclusive with saying that she manipulates and uses that dysfunctionality... no doubt at the same time that the dysfynctionality is railed against and used as a rationalization for pretty extreme manipulation.

 

mimeguy wrote:

the active membership gets what they vote for just like Canadians get the government they vote for.

 

I agree. And not just grudgingly. But that also is not mutually exclusive with complaining that the game was excessively rigged, and demanding that it not be in the future.

mimeguy

Ken - "But agreeing with that is not mutually exclusive with saying that she manipulates and uses that dysfunctionality... no doubt at the same time that the dysfynctionality is railed against and used as a rationalization for pretty extreme manipulation."

Yes. The qualification I would put on this still lies in the realm of federal council members. There are councilors of course who have been reelected several times and have been there for some time and they range from supporters of Ms. May's strategies and those who oppose those strategies. It is also important to note that even the more well known critics of Ms. May's style do not question her passion and qualifications. New councilors have to deal with, and adapt to, an intense environment immediately. This is no different than any other political party or organization so I make no attempt to present the GPC as unique.

This isn't an after school special and in politics you need a solid structure from which you can make the adaptations and decisions needed. Before running for council a potential candidate should know the constitution of the party. They should have taken the time to research elections canada and compared the financial information with what they were getting from the existing FC. They should have talked to individual FC members. Why would you not come to federal council with the same attitude as coming to the party to be a candidate? Why ask Canadians and other political parties to shift their thinking and act accordingly and not be prepared to do the same? Why would anyone think that running a small business sized organization, (the GPC size at present), could be done part time? Why would anyone ask Canadians to think 20 years down the road and not at least think of a five year plan? I don't know if the NDP or other parties pay their executive council or key positions but some solution has to be found within the GPC structure to foster full time focus on governance. Here I am not talking about micro-managing. The FC simply facilitate hiring the most professional and competent people within the budget restraints presented.

New councilors were elected only in August 2009 and walked into a financial situation that they obviously weren't briefed on and simply had trial by fire. I don't accept the contention that there was fully funded campaign capability in those four by-election ridings. Yes it was an opportunity to build and we can debate the nature of how that should take shape in ridings with overwhelming opposition. So to my overall point in this argument. When a dominant personality enters a room with either people working from weak positions (new councilors with no real knowledge of the situation or how it came to be) or people who intentionally look to you for leadership with the intention of following then I find it hard to accept that a strong willed leader who does know what he/she wants would not take control.  Now when the leader does walk into a room with new personalities that are prepared to disagree, push back and take control themselves then this naturally sets up a clash and not necessarily an unhealthy one.  Especially when that push back is against a built up momentum that has already been building in a set direction and possibly running out of resources. 

Let's also point out the fact that there will be a leadership contest in the GPC this year or at least a public review (reckoning).  So I'm not surprised by this article all of a sudden coming out now.  I also suspect it won't be the last but if it continues in this tone then it will back fire.  Why?  The GPC leadership drama is not the Chretien/Martin dramatics, animosities or even close to the size of that ground support or even behind the scenes support.  We're a small party which means we have a smaller active membership. (no political party gets 100% participation from members)  There is a very substantial difference in the number of GPC members who vote in federal council elections and the number who will turn out to vote for a leader.  Most of those members don't know the real deal behind the controversy or tensions within the governance of the party.  Most won't care because they'll look to a leader who has a vision of the party and Canada that can be captured in the minds of members and potential voters.  That's the whole point of being leader. When its argued reasonably and correctly that the problems and dysfunctions in the governance and leadership of the party can't be laid completely on the shoulders of Ms. May, they'll dump any rival who tried to make that blame the centre piece of their leadership campaign.  Is a new leadership contender really going to argue that Ms. May micro manages the party and that's anti-Green, wrong headed and led to worsening conditions and then claim that they'll micro manage the party but all their decisions will be correct so it's not really wrong headed or anti-Green for them to do it?     

So people can write all the May bashing nonsense they want but it won't succeed.  Is there real criticism to be made of Ms. May? Yes.  Are there sound arguments for her to stay on in the leadership because the positive potential outweighs these criticisms? Of course there are and that's the debate that needs to happen.          

Shane Dyson

I've watched much of this conversation and wonder, if this is the beginning of the dissolving of the Greens, where would their activist turn to? What about their members, donations, candidates, potential candidates? A move to the Liberals?  Do the New Democrats pick up some of the entrails? 

 

 

KenS

I think it goes without saying that if there is going to be a successful challenger to May, their campaign will not at all be built on May bashing. Thats what the critics do, not potential leadership rivals. On the other hand, you can bet the basic vision of a serious contender will build upon May's broadly perceived lackings [which for most members will translate as doubts, rather than full blown displeasure].

By the way, Iadmire your certainty that there will be a leadership race this year. It doesn't look certain to me at all. But I might see that different if I had a stake.

I'll just pick up one of your points for now.

mimeguy wrote:

I don't know if the NDP or other parties pay their executive council or key positions but some solution has to be found within the GPC structure to foster full time focus on governance. Here I am not talking about micro-managing. 

There is kind of no comparison between the two- and even if you compare the GPC to the smaller NSNDP. But the NDP actually has a higher proportion of the overall management load taken on by unpaid volunteers.

Financial discipline is deeply ingrained in the management of the NDP. Winging it like the GPC has done would be pretty inconceivable. So I really can't speak to what has to be done when you dont have that organizational culture to work from. We also get the benefit of elected officials and their staffs. They do little or none of the organizational governance lifting, but they provide a continuity and training ground, even when there are only a few of them as is true in some provincial sections.

KenS

mimeguy wrote:
 

So people can write all the May bashing nonsense they want but it won't succeed. 

I think the point would be not expecting to take May down- at least not directly.

The point would be to chip away at the overwhelming advantage she has. That it takes 'bashing' to break through her teflon coat.

We can skip the pointless discussion of whether the bashing is 'nonsense' or 'fact based'. Even fact based arguments will often be over the top. That doesn't render them all nonsense.

mimeguy

Shane wrote - "I've watched much of this conversation and wonder, if this is the beginning of the dissolving of the Greens, where would their activist turn to? What about their members, donations, candidates, potential candidates? A move to the Liberals?  Do the New Democrats pick up some of the entrails?" 
Hi Shane. The Green Party isn't going away. It's here to stay and none of this no matter how tense will cause the party to dissolve. It will only produce a stronger party as people who care become more active.
Ken - Fair enough on the 'nonsense' vs. 'fact based'. I draw the line at the amount of blame being placed on her. A new leader won't change federal council. We need to change federal council and the way it functions.

KenS

I agree that there is no reason to see the GPC as in some kind of death spiral.

Equally- I agree with mimeguy that this sort of thing was going on before May's leadership. While I do think her leadership has significantly ratcheted up the dysfunctionality and poisoned atmosphere... it certainly isn't all her. [I think the level headed among the critics, which are the ones who know how to organize, see her departure as a minimum condition for improvement, not a solution in itself.]

So even without death spiral, this basic foolishness might easily go on for years more.

.....

Going back to comparisons with NDP governance. I left out the fact that the NDP has both Council and Executive. And while Council makes the ultimate decisions, Exec meets monthly and in practice does most of the decision making process around management issues.

But I'm not sure that is a defining difference in practice. Because the GPC Council numbers are not any bigger or more unweildly than the NDP Exec[s]. I don't know if the GPC Council always meets monthly as it has of late [if not more often].

If it always or mostly meets monthly, I don't see any reason why the NDP split between Exec/Council would make dealing with management questions better.

KenS

mimeguy wrote:

A new leader won't change federal council.  We need to change federal council and the way it functions.

Having a new Leader will not in itself change Council.

But in practice, the only time that the kind of internal change you are talking about even has a chance is when leadership races put everything on the table. They don't solve problems, but theres a really strong case that leadership races are a pre-condition.

And if you follow the dotted lines from there, its unlikely change in governance would ever be more than a discussion on the margin as long as Elizabeth May is Leader. I doubt that she could or would even talk the talk except in the most general and meaningless way. But even if she did talk the talk, it would be extremely foolish to entrust her with the project. It would be akin to putting a thief in charge of the till after he makes an eloquent case that he is reformed.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

KenS wrote:

Organizational chart formalism doesn't tell you the realities of how an organization is run in practice. The NORM is that the staff and/or Leader in practice set the largely determining parameters, from which Councils choose. This is true even in the healthiest organisations where there is a lot of awareness of this 'counter-formal' process, including a staff and Leader ethic of as much as possible not pre-determining outcomes. In my experience there are many more organizations where to some dgree or another the staff and Leader actively subvert and manipulate the process to get the formally democratic outcomes they want. This is very easy since they essentially control all the information and communication junctures.

We're not doomed to be dupes of the 'iron law of bureacracy', but we are all at a minimum subject to its influences. And there is a limited amount, at least over the sirt term, a few individuals can do about a toxic governance environmnet... and a major contributing factor is that dissenting voices are isolated, harrased and shunned if they don't zip it.

I agree and would say it is endemic in all political parties in Canada.  The BC NDP is an even more classic example of this control freak phenomena.  Although as you say it is hard to look at an organizational chart to see who has the real power.  In some parties there is a control group that supersedes even the leader just ask Dion or James.

 

Augustus

Why are some posters here so fascinated by every intimate aspect of Green Party structure and politics?  I'm surprised at how detailed and painstaking the discussion of the Green Party is here.

Is it because the Green Party is considered a threat to the left of centre parties and people hope it destroys itself and are wishing for its collapse?  Is it competition over the same voters that causes this type of emotion?  I'm just curious as to why this is.

KenS

Speaking for myself: there's a partisan interest... but this hobby of mine goes WAY beyond that.

It isn't just about competition... and by the time we get down to this kind of detail, probably none of it is about competition. We put the hyper-partisan types to sleep long ago.

To a large degree Green and NDP activists, and to a lesser degree most people on this board, share common general expectations about issues like internal democracy. Understandable it would be a foreign language to you.

And the emotion is much higher when its just Greens talking to each other.

Ironic that at least in this case they can come here and probably have a better chance of a civil discussion with Dippers. :)

ottawaobserver

It's not just an NDP board, Augustus. Also a couple of big complainers within the NDP went over to the Greens, and we never heard the end of how democratic THEY all were, until of course they weren't.

Also the media were really in love with the story last year about how the Greens were on the rise and were going to eclipse the NDP, but many of us have a long history with Elizabeth May and knew that organizationally it was never going to happen.

So, it's two parts "I told you so" and one part KenS-is-like-a-dog-with-a-bone.

Stockholm

Besides, its kinda of fun to lie in my chaise longue eating popcorn watching Elizabeth May driving her jalopy called the Green Party - off a cliff.

I keep waiting for her to paraphrase Real Caouette and say "Ladies and gentlemen, Canada is now at the edge of a precipice - with the Green Party we can all take one giant step forward!"

ottawaobserver

It could happen, Stock. Heck she started reciting Hamlet in 130-S the other day!

remind remind's picture

OH MY GAWD>>>>> LMASO, OO!

mimeguy

Augustus - The Green Party does a lot of boasting about how it does politics differently.  This not only involves external workings but internal as well.  So it is no surprise that politically active people will look at that boast and challenge it.  Especially from a rival party that also boasts about being grassroots and dedicated to doing politics differently.  When push comes to shove the internal complaints within both parties are remarkably similar.  The Green Party isn't a threat to the NDP, never has been and never will be.  Political change and...well...just being human is what trips us up.  The greatest concern on the part of Canadian voters, preventing the necessary tip of the scales in favour of a stronger NDP presence in Ottawa and elected Greens finally entering Ottawa, is whether we really are different from the other two. 

The successive string of recent minority governments clearly indicates that it is the combined presence of the NDP and Green Parties that threaten the conservatives and liberals.  There will always be exchanges in the vote between each of our parties but overall this will not damage either party's respective pursuits.   

NorthReport
hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

Not quite sure what to make of that, but it doesn't sound good.  I didn't realise we had a campaign manager in SGI.  The inner workings (or not) of the GPC is a mystery to me...

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