There are many things that go into successful election campaigns, much more than most people typically see from the outside. Yes there’s the policy, the money to run the campaign, the advertising, the signs and the leaflets. And there are the leaders, the candidates and the thousands of volunteers. It takes a lot to make our elections tick, that’s for sure.
But one part of campaigns that has gotten more and more attention over time has become the make-up of a campaign team, the staff and important advisors helping to guide the ship that is a thirty-six day Federal Election campaign. Some feel that the importance of these highly-trusted staff is over-rated, but I’m not among them. They play a big role and with those big responsibilities comes big pressure. So getting the right people around a leader can be a big advantage, especially for smaller parties. It was with that in mind when I came across this Tweet this morning from the Globe and Mail’s Bob Fife, one that was sure to make a splash on a lazy Friday in July:
Wow everyone, that’s some news for sure. It’s not totally shocking news, as Kinsella has not been shy in voicing his displeasure with the current Liberals and he’s publicly stated that he had already donated to the Greens. So to take that step a bit further to support them through the work that he’s well known for, that just seems logical. And it’s not the first time that he’s stepped out of his usual party lane, as he did help Olivia Chow’s mayoral campaign in Toronto. So no one should be “blown off their chairs” surprised by all of this.
But that being said, this is a very notable turn of events for a few reasons. Firstly is the man himself; Warren Kinsella is someone that brings out strong emotions in many people, cutting both ways. I feel safe in saying that he’d say that himself. That can be good or bad for the party he’s helping, but I’m sure that would have all been taken into consideration when it was decided to accept him onboard.
While many online are calling this a mistake by the Greens (to the point where “Kinsella” was trending on Twitter), I disagree with that assessment. The personality and notoriety of backroom staff does not lose votes for a party, at least not in this country. This may rub some people who were considering the Greens the wrong way, but I doubt this would be the determining factor for any of them when it comes to how they vote. I can’t picture those voters saying “Wow, I was thinking of voting Green but now that Kinsella is in their war room, I totally forget why I was mad with the Trudeau Liberals.” That just won’t happen, no way.
So having someone like Kinsella in your backroom doesn’t lose you votes. But what bringing someone like Kinsella onto your team can help you win them by bringing a wealth of campaign experience and knowledge, experience that the Greens are seriously lacking. The Greens are very “green” in many ways, and when it comes to high-end campaign strategy and experience, that is a serious void for this party. Bringing in Kinsella helps them take a big jump up in that area, but also helps all the other members of that campaign team, getting to learn from someone of such experience. Regardless of the end result of this campaign, that will help make the Greens stronger in the future.
Finally, for all of those who say that Kinsella is a man of the past, that Chrétien is so far in the past and that time has passed him by, I just warn caution. If there are a few things that I have learned in my time working on campaigns for over a decade, they are that the basics of campaigns don’t change, what’s old becomes new again and there is no substitute for actual campaign experience, no matter how far back it goes. Warren’s experience in politics is something that needs to be respected, and those that don’t do so at their own peril.
Will this news make a massive change in the fall election? I don’t believe so. But this is a development of note, one that bodes well for the Greens and should put others on notice. When a party starts to rise, seeing experienced people like Kinsella jump on board can give an affirmation to others. It shows growth in strength and ability and gives the party more credibility. It’s just one step in the rise of a party, but this is the first time we’ve seen the Greens reach this one. Will there be more to come after it? Time will tell, but love him or hate him, Warren Kinsella is notable, knowledgeable and someone to be reckoned with in Canadian politics. That’s not something to be ignored.