Using Green Party values to guide our decisions and actions

During the listening part of my leadership campaign, I have heard a number of great ideas and interesting stories from Green Party members all across the country. One of those stories comes from the 2007 Ontario provincial election. I’ll let James O’Grady, the Director of Campaign Communications for the Green Party of Ontario in 2007, explain how their campaign team used Green Party values to guide their actions.

I will be committed to ethical and just leadership when elected leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Guest blog by James O’Grady

In our 2007 provincial campaign, the Green Party of Ontario achieved a record result: 8.3 percent of the popular vote. At the core of our campaign was our commitment to follow Green Party values at all times, in everything we did. We decided that we would not emphasize one value over another, and we wouldn’t make compromises on our six core values – ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, diversity, and sustainability -- no matter how enticing.

Applying the principles of logical reasoning (all premises must be true in order for the conclusion to be true), we created two decision making filters to ensure that what emerged: 1) Met Campaign Objectives; and

2) Aligned with Green Party values. Using these tools allowed us to deal efficiently and effectively with whatever challenges arose. While one can never predict what will happen in the future, we created a decision-making process that allowed us to come up with the right decisions, no matter how difficult.

Every day we faced issues that challenged our new decision-making process. And, of course, as seems to always happen in life, we found ourselves facing an existential situation halfway through the campaign. Our leader, Frank de Jong had been courting the Landowners group in Ontario. The Landowners are a special interest group representing landowners in rural Ontario. They normally oppose everything Green, but in this election, they were very unhappy with Conservative leader John Tory.

Unbeknownst to the campaign team, a Green Party candidate arranged for a press conference that demonstrated the challenges farmers face every day when deciding whether or not to destroy the natural environment. He planned to do this by destroying the habitat of an endangered species. If you’re shocked to read this now, imagine how we felt. Our stomachs sank. The campaign had been in cruise control up until that point, and so we all screamed “NOOOOOOO” at the same time!

The decision to nix the event was an easy one, but because we had already established a decision-making process based on Green Party values, we were able to make the decision immediately, receiving little pushback once we explained why destroying the habitat of an endangered species was not the right way, not a Green way, to go about making the point that farmers need better options.

In doing so, we saved our campaign by preventing a huge mistake. We went on to set a record result in Ontario of 8.3% support, on a tiny budget of just $180,000 (we spent just over .50 cents per vote. I challenge all Green Parties to do better!). And, the landowners voted for us anyway.

Remaining true to ourselves—to Green Party values, is what I believe is the key to the Green Party achieving the electoral success that has so far eluded us. When we do, Canadians will recognize it and finally trust us to do what we say we will do in a way that respects all life.  Justice and non-violence is at the very core of Green values.  We must act in a way that is ecologically sound, engages Canadians in the decision-making process, and which is sustainable.

At the end of the day, isn’t this what we’re all about?

James O’Grady, Former Director of Campaign Communications
Green Party of Ontario, 2007

David Merner

Green Party of Canada Leadership Candidate

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