At the start of 2020 a big focus of Canadian political observers has been leadership politics and the races that come from it. Naturally, most of that focus has been on the Conservatives, as not only at they the Official Opposition, they have had the most news and notable scuttlebutt out there to talk about. And the news there just keeps coming, which keeps generating more and more stories and speculation.
But as we’ve mentioned at this site before, the Conservatives leadership campaign isn’t the only game in town. The Greens are starting to go through the leadership campaign process, as they start to chart their course forward after the resignation of Elizabeth May as Leader. May led the party for 13 years or so, and really the party has been more the “Elizabeth May Party” than the Green Party, so this race will have a lot to say about the future of the Greens in Canada. With that in mind many have wondered who might get into this race and as the New Year is now here, news about that has started to filter out, news that’s left people with a simple question: Who?
While the Conservative race has brought out big names, bigger speculation and “Guess Who?”, the Greens seem to be squarely in the column of the “Who’s that?” For the record, three names have stepped forward to date: former candidate and former Liberal David Merner of BC, current Green Party of Quebec Leader Alex Tyrrell and former candidate Julie Tremblay-Cloutier. No big names to be found here, that’s for sure, but if that wasn’t bad enough, this actually gets worse.
Merner is the only candidate of these three who has ever come close to getting elected, with the highlight of his political career to date being a second-place finish in the Vancouver Island riding of Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. His seat was supposed to be the next big win for the Greens in BC and was supposed to be swept to Ottawa in the Green wave that was supposed to hit the country. He’s a nice person according to folks I know who know him, so he has that going for him. But he’s also a reminder of the failures of the 2019 campaign for the Green team; the fact that he’s not an MP today is a reminder of how the Greens missed their shot and may never get it again.
Tremblay-Cloutier was a Green candidate in the Quebec riding of Mirabel, where she finished an extremely distant 5th place. She is the head of a pool-and spa-inspection business in Oka, QC and from what little she has said so far, she seems to be the closest candidate to being the “status quo” candidate so far in this race. She has rejected Merner’s suggestion to open up party memberships like the Liberals have and she’s praises the existing party platform. She seems to suggest that tinkering with communications practices and around the edges of the organization, that they will be alright. Nothing to write home about here.
And folks then there’s Mr. Tyrrell, the current Leader of the Quebec Greens, a party he’s lead since 2013. After a short stint supporting the federal NDP, he became a provincial Green and has gone on to run for them a grand total of 8 times. In those 8 races, he’s never finished any better than 3rd (which was in his first campaign in 2012) and never earning more than 4.57% of the vote. He is probably better known for having been a pain in Elizabeth May’s rear end in 2019, denouncing everything from the party’s slogan, to their response to Bill 21 and May’s platform on the oil sands. Also before Elizabeth May resigned in November, Tyrrell actually put out an online petition calling on her to step aside. But that’s not the petition involving Tyrrell in the past few months, as City News in Montreal told us in November:
Yep, Tyrrell himself was subject of a petition by Quebec Green Party members, demanding that he step aside, something that Tyrrell seems unwilling to do while he seeks the leadership of the Federal Greens. His leadership of the Quebec Greens has been under attack for a few reasons, including the fact that he draws an annual salary of $47,000 from the party. A leader whose party has never come close to being competitive in any campaign they’ve ever run in Quebec, that has never run a full slate of candidates in any election in Quebec, is getting a salary? Yeah, there is something wrong about that to me.
The irony is not lost on me that the provincial leader who started an online petition demanding the Federal Green leader resign, that guy, he suspended the membership of a provincial member who started an online petition demanding the resignation of the provincial leader for daring to start said petition. Something tells me that if the Federal Greens suspended Mr. Tyrrell’s membership like that, he would instantly be in high dudgeon and would rant above how authoritarian and undemocratic such a move would be. But I doubt that Mr. Tyrrell himself would see the comparison as far.
On the policy front Tyrrell is trying to paint himself as an “eco-socialist”, a moniker that slaps together two of the worst-performing labels in political history and tries to make it sound like a virtue. He’s also putting out platform ideas that he would implement if he actually won the leadership. Those platform piece include:
- Close Alberta’s oilsands within the first four years of a Green mandate.
- Increase taxation on the wealthy, big businesses and polluters.
- Link major cities in Canada by high-speed electric rail.
- Generate new revenues and, where necessary, incur deficits to accommodate his green transition and abandon “fiscal conservatism.”
- Amend the Constitution to guarantee Canadians access to clean air, water, housing and healthy food.
Yeah, basically Tyrrell wants to take a party that’s composed of a membership that’s been described as “Conservatives with Composters” that’s at best centrist, and take a wild swing to the left that proposes ideas that will frankly never win a campaign and will inflame tensions across the country. But hey, he’ll feel pure and happy while doing it, right?
So far for the Greens, those are their choices; three people with no profile, no political recognition, with a long list of political losses to their names and one of them who wants to turn them into a green-tinted party of Jeremy Corbyn, but with far fewer members and less vote. And the best part of this folks, you can easily see either of those three actually winning the race and driving the Green Party of Elizabeth May into complete obscurity. This is what the post-May Green Party looks like folks, and unless some big name or someone with actual heft steps forward to throw their name into this three ring circus to stop it from happening, that is where the Green Party of Canada is heading. The Greens don’t vote until the Fall and there is still time for someone serious to actually step forward, but as it stands today, they are heading to oblivion and heading there in a hurry.