A recent newsletter from Green Party Leader Annamie Paul to members attempted to reset perceptions the party is in a tailspin after months of infighting, but a close look at the figures reveals a party on life support.
The newsletter sent on July 9 claims the party’s “momentum is growing,” and says “donations, memberships, donors, and polling numbers all tell the story of a party on the rise.” The Green Party of Canada (GPC) leader's newsletter also reveals a snapshot of the party’s finances not yet publicly available with Elections Canada, characterized as “Great News!”
According to the newsletter, from April to June 30, the party raised more than $670,000, up $50,000 from the same period last year. But 2020 was not an election year, making the value of the comparison limited.
Compared to 2019, the most recent election year, $670,000 is actually a drop of over $750,000 from the more than $1.4 million received in the same quarter. As the GPC marched closer to 2019’s October election, its fundraising grew. Elections Canada reports the GPC received nearly $2.6 million for the quarter running July to September 2019.
The GPC’s fundraising ahead of the 2019 election delivered the party three seats, and its first off Vancouver Island. Its pull this quarter suggests if an election is held this fall, the GPC will need to dramatically step up fundraising efforts to be competitive.
“They're going to put as best a spin on this as they can, of course,” said University of Prince Edward Island political science professor Don Desserud. “I'd be more worried about the members than I would be the donations. That's a stronger indication of a problem.
“Their members are more committed, so if they do leave, that's a heck of a statement,” he said.
Paul’s newsletter says the Green Party of Canada “has over 33,000 members, up from about 24,000 prior to July 2020.”
However, in September 2020 — before Paul was elected leader — the party boasted having nearly 35,000 members, owing to thousands of people signing up ahead of the leadership convention.
Paul’s office did not return multiple requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Green Party executives kicked off a process this past week that could have resulted in suspending Paul’s leadership. Sources told The Canadian Press the party’s interim director Dana Taylor began a membership review that would have suspended Paul’s status as leader while it’s underway, for the stated reason she launched legal proceedings against the party, an accusation disputed by officials close to her.
A newsletter from Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is claiming party momentum is growing and it's on the upswing, but a peek at its finances reveals a steep road ahead if an election is called. #cdnpoli
The party’s code of conduct says the executive director “will automatically initiate a membership review” if a member “initiates legal proceedings against the party.”
Sources have told Canada’s National Observer that cease and desist letters were issued to some members of the Federal Council during the recent infighting, but it is unclear whether such a letter amounts to a legal proceeding under party guidelines.
Despite the infighting, Desserud says not to count the Greens out just yet.
“Depending on how they focus their support, you can revamp and get back in the game pretty quickly. Most of the parties at one time or another have suffered a catastrophic defeat,” he said. “So parties do collapse, the thing is the Green Party has never been a party that's up there to collapse.”
Desserud added he doesn’t want to see the Green Party lose its national voice, but that if there is a silver lining to the party’s fighting it’s that they have less to lose.
“If they go back to ground zero where they have no MPs, that means they're down two seats. It looks big, but from their standpoint, they're still at the low end trying to build up,” he said.
“They know they’re a struggling party, they know they've got a long way to go, and they can probably afford to start over again, and I'm kind of wondering if that's not exactly what they're doing.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer