Strategic Thoughts

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September 25, 2006

Green Party Leadership Race

Adriane Carr deserves credit for announcing that she is stepping down as leader of BC's Green Party. While her position is a far cry from Premier of Alberta or Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, those are two recent examples of how to drag out an exit. Carr faced the camera and said that she didn't want to be a leader that didn't know when to leave.

Under her leadership the Green party participated in the 2005 televised debates, although the Green Party leader is unlikely to participate in the 2009 debates unless the television networks change their 10% rule; the Greens won only 9.17% of the vote in 2005. Carr chose to run in the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election in October 2005 and won only 8.37% of the vote while the NDP's Jagrup Brar won 53.59%. It was down hill for the Greens after the record 12.39% of the vote they won in the 2001 general election.

Carr is giving her party ample time to allow a new leader to make a mark before the May 12, 2009 general election. There is no obvious successor since the party has been unsuccessful at the polls and no one other than Carr has achieved any media profile. The party may turn to its allies in some of the environmental organizations to look for leadership material, as did its federal wing, but activists need to consider whether they have more influence heading a non-partisan organization or heading a protest party that is unlikely to win a seat in 2009.

Electoral reform is the wildcard for the Green Party. The way BC STV works, it is unlikely the Greens could win seats in ridings with fewer than 6 or 7 MLAs. While the vote on STV was a squeaker in 2005, voters may have more negative reactions when they see constituencies proposed with 200,000 or more eligible voters. The leaders of all parties, but especially the new leader of the Green Party, will be challenged to state their position on STV before the next referendum. While Carr ultimately backed BC-STV, her initial reaction was disappointment that the New Zealand model was not proposed.

According to documents filed with Elections BC, the BC Green Party raised just $189,204 in 2005. It is hard to maintain a central office and support staff with less than 4% of what the other parties raise. Carr's own constituency of Powell River-Sunshine Coast raised $67,000 in 2005, but it spent $86,000. The new leader of the BC Green party will need to be a fund raiser or have deep pockets to afford the luxury of leading the party. Understanding those challenges should make members and supporters of the Green Party appreciate the sacrifice Carr made during her term at the helm, and it might make potential successors think twice.


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2006 David D. Schreck. All Rights Reserved.