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It can’t happen here? Green Party sabotages ecosocialist challenge

John Bell

February 5, 2020

When in early January Quebec Green Party leader and avowed ecosocialist Alex Tyrell declared his intent to run for national GPC leadership, I wrote on my facebook page: “The result of his campaign will tell you all you need to know about the Greens.”

Just weeks later the national party hierarchy is changing the financial rules governing leadership candidates. Now all candidates must post a non-refundable $10,000 fee up front, plus an additional $40,000 by July.

When Elizabeth May became leader in 2006, the entrance deposit for candidates was $1,000. That’s some inflation!

And a three member “vetting” committee has been set up to examine all candidates, with the power to simply reject anyone without public explanation.

“They are saying they are putting the party for sale,” Tyrell told the press. “It’s like they’re looking for candidates who hang out in country clubs.”

He’s right; $50,000 is a huge barrier to lead a party with only 20,000 members. 

Then there is the new spending limit, which allows acceptable candidates to shell out $500,000 on their campaigns.

As Tyrell argues, “The leadership race should be about ideas and merit, not how many wealthy donors a candidate knows.”

Party functionaries like Deputy Leader Daniel Green respond by saying their fees are still less than those charged by the Tories, as if that were a great benchmark. “We’re only asking for half a million dollars for the whole race,” he blithely told CBC news.

Decent activists like Tyrell are drawn to the Green Party in the first place because it is purported to be more devoted to grass-roots participatory democracy. A serious ecosocialist campaign could eschew the corporate fundraising model, and instead aim to harness the amazing energy that brought a million Canadians–mostly young people–out into the streets last September 27th, demanding climate action. Such a campaign might transform the Greens into an ecosocialist lightning rod for the next election. At the very least it would be a corrective to the rightward drift of the party under May.

That is what Alex Tyrell wants to do.

That is what the Green Party establishment is going all out to stop.

Once again, the outcome of this struggle will tell you everything you need to know about the Greens. 



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