Dear Ottawa Centre Green Campaign Team, Volunteers and Supporters:
I want to thank you, each and every one of you, for all the many, many contributions that you have made. What a ride it has been. Most of us did not have a great deal of experience in running a political campaign and look what an amazing effort we pulled together! The commitment, energy, skills and ideas you brought to this campaign were impressive. And so many of you did more than one job! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. So many people coming together and working together was truly incredible. And a special shout out to our financial donors – your generosity is truly appreciated and allowed us to achieve what we did.
I think that by running such a full-scale and lively campaign
- we engaged thousands of Ottawans into conversations about climate action, about the kind of community and country we want to live in, what kind of social, economic and environmental investments we would like to see;
- we raised awareness about the climate emergency;
- we pushed ALL the other parties running in Ottawa Centre to raise their game on both climate action and the social contract;
- we raised the profile of the Green Party in Ottawa Centre to be a clearly visible and credible alternative.
I think due to our campaign, thousands of voters in Ottawa for the first time actually looked at the Green Party platform and learned much more about the Greens. They learned that we are not a single issue party. They learned that we are a socially very progressive party.
First of all the big picture: I think that the electoral outcome of a minority Liberal government and a strengthened Green caucus is the absolutely BEST outcome that we could have hoped for given the starting blocks. This is huge and what matters the most. A conservative government would have been a disaster (especially for climate where the difference between Liberals and Conservatives was stark). And a Liberal majority would have meant less cooperation, more arrogance. So with the best overall outcome for the country, we should all be doing a victory dance. Those of us who watched Brexit unfold, those of us who watched Trump get elected: we know that the desired outcome does not always come through. So: we landed in a good place.
Regarding the local results in Ottawa Centre, I must admit to you that I am very disappointed. Based on thousands of conversations at the door I was sure that we had so much more support. Our support broke in the last few days. I now really understand what is meant when people say, ‘the Green vote collapsed because of strategic voting’. It means that people do not vote for what they told us they want, they vote against what they do not want. I think that we faced a ‘double’ strategic vote against us:
a) The voters fearing a Conservative national electoral outcome thought that more Liberals in Parliament would put a bulwark to that
b) The voters not wanting a Liberal McKenna win in Ottawa Centre thought that Emilie Taman had the best chance of defeating McKenna
Nonetheless, even with all this stacked against us, we got the support of 5,498 voters amounting to 7.3% of the vote. This is more than doubling the 2015 Ottawa Centre Greens electoral outcome (2,246 votes, 2.97%). Last time Ottawa Centre received below the national average for the Greens, this time we beat the national average (6.8%). So these are some indicators that all our hard work did make a difference.
And – I don’t have quite the words for this: I think that we have built up some voter Green goodwill and credit on the side of what people want to vote for.
We can be super-proud of the full-on campaign that we ran in Ottawa Centre: communications & social media, strategy & policy, foot & phone canvass, finance & fundraising, office & admin, events and volunteer mobilization, seniors & youth, sign crew & data, candidate support & get-out-the-vote— we did it all! You are amazing Ottawa Centre Greens!
Where am I at?
I spent most of the immediate aftermath following election day riding in the rain, dismantling and collecting signs. A bit of a wet poodle fighting gloom with physical action. Quite a few people approached me and offered sincere congratulations for a good campaign and thanked me for running. Many messages are also arriving electronically, appreciating our campaign, especially the positive tone that we set.
I have to admit to you that emotionally I AM tired. I have worked fairly ceaselessly for half a year and just lost. So there is a sense of exhaustion and grief for the loss. However, this is pretty normal and I am not worried that I will recover my spirits soon. Physically I am fine – bolstered by my regime of full night sleeps that has served me so well over the campaign. I am also very grateful that Catherine, Emily and Carol all ran clean campaigns. There were no dirty tricks or unfair character-attacks, so I don’t have the anxiety that that awful side of politics can bring.
Many people have asked me if I am willing to run again. People are pointing out that with such a strong campaign, we now have something to build on. My answer is in two parts:
(a) If the Liberal government falls in a short time and an election is called with little notice, then yes, I will likely be ready to run for the Greens (barring some dire health or family life circumstance). We are saving all the signs and putting them into storage for re-use. Hopefully, many of you would similarly be ready to pop up again for what would be a 4-6 week-long campaign.
(b) If the Liberal government lasts for the duration of the term and we are looking 4 years down the road, then I am naturally less sure of where I will be, what ventures I will be involved in and whether I am ready to make the months long commitment for a campaign towards the regular election date in October 2023. I am sure though that I want to stay involved with the Green Party, support our Ottawa Centre Electoral District Association, be part of the greater Outaouais Green regional family.
Learning from the Ottawa Centre Green Campaign 2019
The reason that I ran was to step up for real climate action – in the riding of the Liberal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change who is a defender of pipelines and ever-increasing fossil fuel subsidies. Challenging the Liberal double-talk, testing the NDP’s wavering new-found environmentalism, shooting down the Conservatives’ irresponsibility and raising the Green Party flag of ecological realism and investing in a healthy planet – that is why I ran. What I did not anticipate was that being a campaign organizer and then candidate would be an experience that would strengthen me personally. I have now realized that putting yourself forward as a candidate teaches many lessons, leadership and skills.
What I also did not anticipate was that it would be like a coming-of-age experience for the team as a campaign organization And I think that the Ottawa Centre Greens have made the transition to full-scale campaigning – including a ground-game to get out the vote in the final stage of the campaign. We started with quite small base of experience. Remember when we were all reading the “Bernie book”? I think that opened our minds and ambition to go far beyond the campaign that Ottawa Centre had seen from the Greens heretofore. We definitely did that!
So now comes the time to take stock of the lessons learned. We will be convening a lessons learned workshop with the core team and will look to organize a regional Green candidates and campaign managers’ lessons learned session. But we also want to find out from all of our volunteers and contributors what you think went well, what could have been done better and ideas for the future from you. Please contribute to Ottawa Centre Greens lessons learned from the federal 2019 campaign by completing the survey here.
Next Steps to Complete the Campaign
There are some tasks left for closing the 2019 campaign. We are just about done with collecting (and drying) the signs and it speaks well to our team morale that collection was done in good cheer and by a good-size crew. Surprise supporters pitched in from their neighbourhoods too. One progressive friend was picking up both green and orange signs! We will have to figure out where to store these signs and other campaign assets for future use.
Expense claims need to be filled and final accounting of campaign balances completed and sent to the auditors for our Elections Canada reporting. We are expecting a deficit of approximately $5,000.00. It was a huge financial hit that we did not make the 10% vote mark at which point we would have been eligible for a massive Elections Canada rebate worth over $25,000. In the short term, we will cover our debt with a set of loans (thank you loan guarantors!) and will undertake a December fundraising drive in concert with a Greens Holiday Party. The idea is to have donors pledge for January 2020 donations when the 75% tax credit room on the first $400.00 will be available again. Donate today if you’re able.
The Way Forward
It is clear that with a minority government there is more room than usually to find areas for collaboration in the age of climate emergency: better buildings and investments in the retrofit and renewables economy; phasing out fossil fuel subsidies (and divesting); treeing up our urban canopy; investments in transit and active transportation; getting rid of single use plastics — these are all agendas that we can join in. Both across the progressive political parties, in the local municipal advocacy space, joining like-minded action groups and in the scope of our community and neighbourhood leaderships. See you there! Let us – the Greens – be the local leadership cadre for constructive local climate action.
Perhaps equally important locally: let’s act in solidarity with equity- and justice-seeking groups. From fighting racism to poverty to homelessness to sexism to colonialism, let’s stand up together for the better world we want to see. Let’s keep thinking about systems change. What does it look like?
For those of you whose appetite has been whetted by the excitement of political campaigning, I am told that there are provincial by-elections to be expected in Vanier and Orleans. Winter campaigning anybody? It would be truly great to add our Ottawa-Centre team mettle to these upcoming campaigns. Just a little side-sport.
And let’s all join up with the Ottawa Centre Electoral District Association (EDA) and come out for the Greens’ Pub night every third Thursday of the month. Soon we’ll be US-2020 election watching together.
So much Green, progressive fun ahead.
Thank you again for all that you have given for the just-past Ottawa Centre Green campaign. I truly appreciate it and hope to work with and for all of you again. And again.