Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Organization

It seems that Barton and I have some clear differences in our vision for the Green Party of Nova Scotia. This campaign is bringing out those differences, which is good news for the party. The decision of who will lead the GPNS into its next phase is an important one, and in this election Green Party members will choose the path that we want for our party.

As a political party, our purpose is to field candidates and contest elections. As the Green Party, our purpose is to represent the Green Movement and empower it by achieving electoral success with a platform that represents the movement. To do that, we must focus intently on that goal. There is so much work to do.

Barton has shared with us what some of his priorities would be as leader of the Green Party of Nova Scotia. These include organizing rallies against uranium mining, giving pointers on how to save energy, and showing people how to access fresh and healthy food. These are certainly worthy projects, but are they the right projects for a political party?

I believe that we must remain focused on achieving electoral success on behalf of the Green Movement, and not become sidetracked into micro-managing every worthy cause that we encounter. Projects like giving energy audits and strengthening farmers' markets are crucial, but working directly on these projects should not be the focus of our organization or the priority of our leadership. The most valuable contribution we can make to the Green Movement is as a political party, and that contribution is desperately needed. There is no time to waste.

Our purpose is to provide political legitimacy and support to the kind of projects that Barton mentions, as well as other worthy efforts. As a party seeking to be part of the government of our province, our focus should be on government policy. We need to frame our ideas as policies, and concentrate our efforts on getting these policies implemented.

If I am elected leader, I intend to earn a seat as an MLA in the next provincial election. I'm well aware of the magnitude of this task. But with a leader who can organize, motivate, and clearly represent the Green vision, I believe that we can do this. In my previous post I outlined some of the policy priorities that I believe we should be focused on. However, in politics it is not just the strength of the idea that matters, it is also the strength of the organization.

To build the kind of strong political organization that it will take to win seats in the Legislature will be a tremendous amount of work. Below are some of the things that we need to get in place in short order.

Budgeting


The GPNS is in a fortunate position for a new party. Recent election legislation has given us a significant amount of government funding in 2007 and 2008. We need to leverage this funding to build a strong and stable organization. But just having the money does not guarantee success. We need to make wise budget decisions and strategic investments.

For the past year I have developed budgets and financial reporting procedures for a non-profit organization with an approximately $1 million annual budget. I have hands-on experience with making these kinds of decisions, and assessing the pros and cons of various scenarios. I am very pleased that Kathryn Herbert, who also has a strong background in financial work will be taking on the role of party Treasurer.

Fundraising


To ensure the long term stability of our party, we must leverage our current government funding to build our fundraising capacity and make our organization financially sustainable. We have a worthy cause, the political moment is right, and we have some base money to get us started. All we need is to pull these pieces together and make it happen.

Contact Management Database


It is absolutely crucial to have a high quality contact management database. Politics is about connecting with people, and if we are not able to keep track of our connections, our efforts will be scattered and our challenges will multiply. There is a lot of work needed in this area.

I have a background in database programming, and for the last 2.5 years I have worked with a contact management database at a non-profit organization. I have a real understanding of the kind of data management systems we will need, and the ability to help direct the work of building an these systems for our party.

Brad Toms also has a background in managing databases, and this experience will be of great benefit in his role as Membership Secretary.

Events


Fundraising events, citizen engagement events, conventions, nomination meetings... so many party activities revolve around an ability to design, invite, and host events that people want to be part of. My work coordinating leadership training workshops such as this one has given me a lot of experience in this area.

52 Ridings


Much of our energy needs to go towards building Electoral District Associations and finding candidates in all 52 ridings. This means engaging with citizens and inviting them to become involved. Recruiting qualified, high profile candidates in every riding is also a significant task for the leadership to undertake in partnership with local riding associations.

Canvassing


Door-to-door canvassing has proven to be the single most important way to connect with people and win votes on election day. A province wide campaign to engage people on their doorsteps will be an essential element of electoral success. Leadership in this area will include knocking on a lot of doors, and motivating and training volunteers in all ridings to continue this work.

Member and contact communications


All contacts of the party need to be kept in the loop with the activities of our organization. A monthly email newsletter is one effective way to keep in touch. This needs to be written and published every month. Members can be be kept more informed of the party's day-to-day activities with slightly more frequent email updates and invitations to take part in activities.

Shadow Cabinet and Platform


All of the above activities are needed, and in addition the leader must also build a Shadow Cabinet of Nova Scotians with a background in their respective areas, and develop an election platform.

Clearly, there is a tremendous work ahead of us, and the new leadership team will be responsible for anchoring and directing much of this work, with the help of the Executive and Shadow Cabinet. I truly believe that one or more seats are within our reach in the next provincial election. And I will work tirelessly to make this happen. I ask for your support in my leadership campaign, which is the first step towards this success.