Green Party in tatters after a poor electoral end

The Green Party faces a reckoning after a federal election that dashed hopes for growth after a year marred by internal strife, say green officials past and present.

Leader Annamie Paul finished fourth on her tour of the Toronto Center, and as of Wednesday the party had two elected candidates, one less than in 2019.

It also suffered a drop in its participation in the popular vote to 2.3 percent from 6.55 percent last time.

Paul’s supporters say resource shortages and layoffs hampered any attempts at a coordinated nationwide campaign, which lacked a national director for five weeks. Meanwhile, the leader barely let her ride as she tried to offset funds earmarked for her local campaign but rejected by party executives.

A bitter power struggle between Paul and members of the federal council, the Greens’ main governing body, raged for months before the election, culminating in attempts to oust Paul that featured snapshots of a party in disarray.

The upheaval resulted in only 252 candidates being nominated, rather than an entire list of 338, the first time the party has been significantly below that benchmark in more than two decades.

However, a ray of hope emerged Monday as Green candidate Mike Morrice sailed to victory at the Kitchener Center, a new beachhead for the 38-year-old party.

More than 7,000 mail-in ballots also continue to be counted in Nanaimo – Ladysmith, where the holder of Green Paul manly he is behind a new Democrat and a Conservative in a close three-way race.

The party now faces alternative visions of how to move forward, with former acting CEO Anik Lajoie saying he needs to rebrand and bolster power in the leader’s office, while others emphasize reconnecting with the grassroots in an over-revival effort. bottom up.

“They need to have a leader and not a spokesperson,” Lajoie said, referring to how many Greens view the role of leaders.

“Right now, all power is in the federal council. I understand that this party is based on members and membership, but at a time when you have a leader, you have to let him lead.”

#GreenParty in tatters, with glimpses of hope, after a disappointing election finale. #CdnPoli # Elxn44

Lajoie also calls for a more extensive running game and a professional approach to communications.

“They don’t even know how to host a press conference, have the right flags, have the right angle,” he said, recalling an event in Quebec in 2019.

“Where’s Facebook Live? Where’s the camera? Where’s that? ‘I don’t know. We don’t have that. Oh, we need it?'” He recalled. “It was ridiculous … It’s like they don’t want to play.”

Other green stalwarts say the problem lies in harnessing the energy of the rank and file, not the decentralized party structure or unadorned brand.

“This Green Party can rebuild and become relevant again by becoming a coast-to-coast movement. This will require reconnecting with our grassroots and unleashing it effectively,” former federal councilor Samuel Moisan-Domm said in a text, adding that the leader should be sensitive to libertarian and eco-socialist streaks in party culture.

“Think and act like a movement!”

However, he and Lajoie agree that the party’s narrative and platform must evolve and that greater unity is essential. “The party needs a spokesperson (or two) who can unify different factions,” he said.

For now, many Greens remain discouraged after a crushing defeat.

“We were all still thinking last night,” said Corey Shefman, Paul’s campaign manager at the Toronto Center.

“It’s an absolute shame,” said Phil Desrosiers, who served as deputy campaign manager. “It breaks my heart.”

Nevertheless, he sees reason for hope.

“There is definitely a path to rebuilding thanks to Mike Morrice,” he said, adding that the federal party’s first Ontario beachhead also bodes well for the provincial Greens, who have a close seat in Guelph under leader Mike. Schreiner.

“I think that’s where a lot of people will put their efforts … It’s a real opportunity. And if this is done right, I think it can generate a lot more seats in Ontario.”

The Greens lost their foothold in Atlantic Canada after Jenica Atwin, who hooked up with Fredericton in 2019, defected to the Liberals in June and held on to driving in a nail bite this week.

Besides morale, money is still a problem. The Green Party spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal battles with Paul over the summer, worsening an already difficult financial situation.

Douglas Tingey, then chairman of the Green Party Fund of Canada, stated in a July report that “the current financial situation is not sustainable.”

The party secured a $ 1.3 million loan for its national campaign, according to three sources who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 22, 2021.

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