|Judy N Green
26 May 2021
It is with deep regret that I must announce that I will not be the Green Party of Canada (GPC) candidate for West Nova in the next election. I am very grateful for all of the support I’ve received from across Canada, and especially for my team of amazingly talented and passionate volunteers, who have made significant personal sacrifices during months of intensive preparation and fundraising for the 2021 election. I could not have accomplished what I have without them by my side.
I have been working in the grassroots, member-driven Green Movement since 2018 and I’ve been proud of the work I have done to strengthen the Party and to build a Green team. In 2019 I had the honour of representing the GPC in West Nova. We started with no active EDA and only $36 in the bank. Against all expectations, we tripled the vote, from 4.17% to 12.69%, and came in third, while raising over $13,000, a record for Greens in West Nova and a source of great pride for our team.
After the election, I reached out to other candidates and leaders to learn what worked and what hadn’t. Their experiences mirrored my own, as I learned that there were serious known systemic internal problems. I discovered that there was tension between those committed to the grassroots nature of Green politics, and those who were convinced that, to succeed, we needed to follow the practices of the leading parties. It was essentially a rift between those who wanted leadership to remain member-driven, bottom-up versus those committed to operating as a top-down hierarchical leader-led political model.
A Core Green value, that I had championed on doorsteps, was a lie; We were not “doing politics differently.”
I felt an urgent need to fix what I saw as a major problem, one that undercut our most important differentiator versus the other parties and something that is continually highlighted as a reason for our past electoral failures:
|“Our success in 2019 will, in large part, be determined by how effectively we support and grow our base of grassroots activists. This means we have to continue to provide exciting and worthwhile opportunities for our supporters to get involved, and ensure that volunteering with the Green Party of Canada continues to be a fulfilling experience. “ “To attract and retain our high calibre volunteers, they need to have a strong sense that their engagement matters and is worthwhile – both to them and the country. The feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves is part of our inspiration. To grow volunteer engagement in ridings across the country, we must embrace our bold vision of a new democracy that values the citizens of this earth and the ecosystems on which they depend.” “In our post election survey, we asked members what activities they would like to see us prioritize, and “invest in local teams to build our volunteer base” was the clear winner.”
|Post 2019 Consultant’s Report
|“Without many feet on the pavement and donations in the bank, it is next to impossible to win a seat in a plurality system. Nurturing the Party’s base must be a top concern for the national organization…Our investigation revealed a disturbing level of disconnect between local and national levels of the party during the 2019 campaign.” “We found a lack of appreciation at the national level for the importance of having a strategy for broad-based meaningful connection with the membership” “While some conflicts arise from differences of opinions over priorities or strategies, issues of access and transparency, as well as a shortage of meaningful relationships on which campaigns can be built, are barriers to fully engaging the Green base in election campaigns. An authentic communication strategy between elections should ameliorate this tension.”
In both recent elections, we took a hierarchical top-down controlled approach and then had to hire consultants to tell us that it didn’t work because a top-down approach alienated the base. There were no signs that we had learned anything from past failures, nor that we would change anything for the next election, despite explicit warnings that it would happen again.
So I co-led a group of concerned Green leaders, to develop a cultural transformation proposal for our elected governing body, the Federal Council (FC). We knew an intervention was required. In the proposal, we outlined the structural issues and recommended hiring a Transition Director, to help resolve the lack of transparency and poor communication with members, as well as problems with some of our critical internal processes. Despite not being acted upon, our conclusions, and proposal, were subsequently validated by the post 2019 Consultants’ Report commissioned by the Federal Council.
When the solutions in our proposal were ignored, I chose to run for Leader of the GPC in the hope of influencing the change in culture necessary for us to succeed.
I consistently voiced my concerns to FC, when decisions were made contrary to my principles. Decisions such as setting the leadership contest entrance fee so high that it was a barrier to any who were not financially independent. Also, particularly, the hiring of an Executive Director with a long history of founded allegations of bullying, intimidation, hostile and sexually inappropriate behaviour, while the leadership at the time congratulated him and participated in calling his victims liars.
I have worked collaboratively with Greens across Canada to attempt to fix the internal challenges that are holding the Party back. I have been heartened to see grassroots Greens mobilizing and collaborating across Canada. I am most grateful to have met so many amazing people in the process. Including our three Green MPs, who I continue to support and admire greatly.
However, I have watched our Party tear itself apart through the unchallenged weaponization of diversity for political gain. Unlike the ongoing chaos in the GPC, Quebec solidaire showed how a strong values-driven grassroots organization managed a similar situation:
QUEBEC CITY — Members of Quebec solidaire voted on Saturday to censure a faction of the party over creating a toxic climate.
The vote to rebuke the anti-racist collective known as CAD came a long virtual debate that was held behind closed doors.
“The members voted with a very clear majority. Activism must be done in accordance with our statutes, principles and values,” said QS co-spokesperson Manon Masse. “It allows us to turn the page.” – CTV News
In the GPC and all colonial systems, the goal of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) must be a top priority. We have watched the GPC actively harm EDI goals through toxic allyship, blaming & shaming, character assassination and targeted attacks on elected volunteers who have stood steadfast on the side of adhering to our member-approved constitution and bylaws. These tactics are being used by the same people who were largely responsible for the internal issues I discovered in 2019, who are willing to tear the Party apart to serve their ambition. Sadly, this is not a new conflict and it does a huge disservice to those championing EDI and fighting systemic racism by co-opting and exploiting their critical work.
But, as we saw with our previous Executive Director, we are still the Party that is unable to prioritize safety, evidence and ethics over internal political ambition. We have lost touch with the empathy and love that is supposed to make us Greens.
The Green Movement has never been more important to Nova Scotia, Canada and the planet. We are at a crossroads. We must collectively address both the deeply-felt economic impacts of a Global Pandemic and the growing threat of the Climate Crisis, through collaboration and cooperation. Political incrementalism has wasted precious time. We need bold, evidence-informed decisive action and we need it now. There is much work to do to transition off of fossil fuels, protecting the Oil & Gas workers while building a Green, Just & Equitable future for all Canadians.
Nonetheless, I can no longer support the current direction of the GPC, which has been silently continuing a years-long evolution to the character-destroying backroom power politics of the other national parties. Politics which has created an unsafe environment rife with misogyny, ageism, bigotry, racism, and devoid of the hallmarks of a grassroots movement. Most pointedly: accountability, transparency and restorative practices.
I will also be resigning as CEO of the West Nova EDA. I must focus my energies on actions that have the best chances of creating positive life-saving change for our people and the planet. It has become clear that that cannot happen within the GPC, at this time.
It is my deepest most sincere hope that the Party can resolve these issues and get back to focusing on the needs of Canadians.
Out of decisive action comes hope.
Judy N Green
Former CEO West Nova GPC Electoral District Association (2020-2021)
Former GPC Leadership Contestant (2020)
Former Candidate for GPC, West Nova (2019)
Cultural Adjustment and Course Correction Proposal for the Green Party of Canada
January 7, 2020