Open Letter: Governance of Green Party Leadership Contest

Open Letter: Governance of Green Party Leadership Contest
Posted on July 1, 2020 | Mark MacKenzie | Written on July 1, 2020
Letter type:

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

The Green Party leadership contest rules are attached as a .pdf to this post. 

The recent fundraising letter from former Green Party leader has raised some governance issues in the Party. As former Presidents of the GPC, we would like to ask for clarification. Please note that this is a series of process questions only.

We have reviewed the Federal Council minutes since the 2019 election and have read over the Election Contest rules. It is not apparent on what basis the following reference is made to Federal Council direction in a fundraising letter widely distributed:

“As a former Leader, the party has asked me to remain neutral. I will not endorse anyone running to be the next Leader….the party gave me permission to help fundraise for candidates who improve the party’s track record for diversity and inclusivity.”

When the party is referred to, we assume that means Federal Council as it is Federal Council’s Constitutional role to run the party in-between Biannual Conventions.

Where was the process for these decisions recorded and transparent to the members in this Leadership contest, a defining activity for the Green Party of Canada? There is a tremendous amount of Constitutional power accorded to the Leader of the GPC including appointment of two Deputy Leaders and the Shadow Cabinet, voting member on Federal Council and many other implied and overt influences.

 Can you kindly clarify what process was used when;

  1. Federal Council asked the Former Leader to refrain from endorsing any candidate
  2. Federal Council approved fundraising activities for the Former Leader for any candidate of their choice that meet a specific criteria
  3. Was this decision by Council in a meeting or made via email? As a reminder, all email decisions in the Federal Council email group are to be brought up in a formal motion for the next Federal Council meeting for openness and transparency to the membership.

Because Federal Council has allowed themselves to campaign for or against individual candidates, it is vitally important that members, candidates and their teams understand clearly how these decisions were made and how similar decisions will be made as there are still 100 days left in the contest.

Also of serious concern is the lack of transparency in the governance of the party as a whole during this Leadership election.

  • Lists of Committee members and Committee minutes

Minutes often include appointments of various persons to Federal Council Committees. Nowhere in the member’s section is there a full list of the actual Federal Council Committees, and along with that, there is no listing of what persons currently comprise the various committees.  There are no Committee reports included in the Minutes and they are not to be found in the members’ section either

  • Leadership Contest Committees

All that most members know about who comprises the Leadership Contest Committee and the Leadership Contest Authority is that Jo-Ann Roberts is Chair of the Contest Committee. There is no information posted about the other members of these Committees or available in any minutes, not even their names. Who are the other members?

  • Federal Council Minutes are extremely thin and really provide little information of value to members

  • There are a surprising number of in camera sessions

  • There is no 2019 Election Analysis Report on the Party website

Not even a preliminary one. Traditionally, the Green Party shares their internal election analysis report a few months after the previous election. We realize COVID-19 pushed things back, but given there is a leadership contest going on, it is important that a report be made available to Green Party members. Many members would like to make their leadership choices based on improving future election results and therefore are in the dark about what decisions were made, even in a general sense.

  • Party Finance Reports missing

There are no reports available in the Member’s section on anything to do with Party finances. Members are forced to dig into the Elections Canada website to find official filings but they only display information in the most general of terms, and are not broken down into the detail generally provided in the party’s budget.

The Green Party of Canada can be a significant political force in Canada. We claim to be member-driven and open, but the members are being kept in the dark on the inner workings of the Party and how it is governing this leadership contest, and the Federal Council is not fulfilling their mandate.

Leadership contests are the time when members should have full access to party information so they can ask candidates pertinent critical questions with respect to the state of democracy within the party and how they propose to improve it.  We feel that this potential is being squandered with the apparent vacuum at the center.

Federal Council needs to make updating the member’s section with the above referenced information an urgent priority as time is marching on towards the leadership vote in October.

Best regards,

Mark MacKenzie, Former President

Green Party of Canada

Don Scott, Former VP English and Interim President

Green Party of Canada

About The Author

MarkMacKenzie's picture

Small businessman, father. Activist on issues of sustainability and health. Three time Green Party candidate and President of the Green Party of Canada 2012-13