There is no Green revolt

07 Mar 2016

In April, Elizabeth May will be facing a leadership review that will assess whether she has enough support to continue serving as leader of the Green Party. This is a mandatory process that is initiated after a Federal election regardless of the results much like what is going on with the Tom Mulcair and the New Democrats. Unlike the NDP, there is almost no indication that the Greens have any interest in ousting their leader.

Green supporters have long had a complicated relationship with electoral results and so it is not altogether clear how they will respond to May’s performance last October. The Greens invested a great deal of effort in trying to elect strong candidates in both BC and Ontario, only to see a drop in their overall share of the popular vote. While it would be convenient to blame the Liberal wave, that hardly explains why Jo-Ann Roberts lost to Murray Rankin in Victoria or why seemingly strong candidate Gord Miller’s support in Guelph was so soft. These are precisely the kinds of questions that the Green Party will be asking themselves over the coming months and years as they plan for the next federal election. But before that, 20,000 party members will have to decide if Elizabeth May should be involved in that process at all.

May’s popularity is undeniable. Her debate performances were widely praised and she increased her share of the vote in her home riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands. Regardless of the party’s failings it seems unlikely that the membership will oust her, especially without any reasonable successor. This is a similar position that the New Democrats have put themselves, but, while there have been quiet murmurs of dissent regarding Mulcair, May has largely remained unopposed.

The only notable exception seems to be Colin Griffiths who resigned when a proposal of his was rejected by the very Green Party committee that he chaired. His plan was advocating for “a mechanism of wider discussion”. In itself, that sounds laudable enough, but what he is really asking for is an on the fly change to the Green leadership process to accomodate a perspective that appears to be overwhelmingly without support. It is popular to make vague appeals to the Internet as a magical forum for discourse and discussion. Especially in the wake of Trudeau’s leadership campaign. But the Green Party’s future is not going to be determined through ad hoc changes to a party constitution nor by hastily tossing a wide digital net. And this is a good thing.

Why? Because it is the approach that the Green Party itself decided on long prior to the recent federal election. Regardless of how one feels about the Greens or even Elizabeth May herself, it is hard to argue with allowing the membership to make its own decisions. Particularly in the case of the Greens who champion free votes and open debates in almost all of their affairs.

Perhaps there truly is a mutiny occurring in the Green Party, but if so it entirely soft-spoken and in the shadows because there is nothing to suggest that there is a widespread and growing opposition to the way that May and the Green leadership are handling the upcoming review. One might point to that very silence as troubling because it might be hiding all manners of discontent.

That, of course, would be absurd.