Decade of Decline is my report on the deep and long-running decline in local support for the Green Party of Canada. The decline began in 2008 (with some early warning signs in 2006-2007), and has continued relentlessly since then. As of 2017-18, the party’s local support is at its lowest level in 15 years.
- Introduction (this post)
- Part 1: Identifying trends
Additional parts will be added to this list as they are published.
I intend to publish one to two sections of the report each week, as they are completed. To be informed when future parts are published, please follow this blog, or contact me and I will notify you personally.
Why report on this topic?
The focus of my writing is democracy and human rights. So why write about the decline of local support in the Green Party? There are several reasons.
First, the Greens are the only major party in Canada that explicitly include Participatory Democracy in their statement of values, and the only party that has made grassroots involvement a core part of their identity. This makes a collapse of grassroots support more notable in the Green Party than in other parties, since it goes against the party’s stated identity and values, rather than being a mere electoral concern.
Second, the events taking place in the Green Party can provide useful insights to people who are trying to build or rebuild grassroots parties and movements (including people within the Green Party itself).
Third, as a result of my past (long-term) membership in the party, I have a network of contacts that allows me to report with more complete data than I would have access to when reporting on other parties.
Finally, the collapse of the Green Party’s grassroots support is tied as one of the two biggest declines in the past two decades of Canadian politics, matched only by the crisis in the Bloc Québécois. However, while decline of the Bloc Québécois has been covered extensively, especially within Québec, many people are completely unaware of the similar decline happening within the Green Party. In other words, this report fills a gap in the existing body of reporting and analysis on party politics in Canada.
I was a member of the Green Party of Canada from late 2003 to early 2017. I was also briefly a member of the NDP in 2017. Since 2017, I have not been a member or supporter of any federal party.
I was not paid or compensated in any way for writing this report.
Most of the source data for this report has been gathered from the Elections Canada political financing database, which contains a public record of political financing at the federal level from 2004 onward. The Canada Gazette, which announces de-registrations of EDAs, was also consulted.
Some additional statistics have been gathered from materials published by the Green Party of Canada, such as vote results and minutes of past general meetings which were made available to me.
When analyzing EDA fundraising in the Green Party, there are two important outliers that should be accounted for.
- The 2015 election. Due to a historically long campaign period, all major parties experienced a record spike in fundraising, in some cases more than doubling the results of their previous best year. A spike of this size interrupts long-term trends and can badly warp averages. To compensate, some calculations in this report exclude 2015 or treat it differently. In all such cases, I describe my methods precisely in the text.
- The riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands. Starting in 2008, this riding became a larger and larger outlier from the party’s overall performance. There are several years where this single riding accounts for more than one third of all donations to Green Party EDA’s. When the reality for 337 out of 338 ridings is drastically different from the one remaining riding, it would be misleading not to give separate statistics for the 337. Therefore, many statistics throughout the report are shown both ways, with SGI and without SGI. In each case, this distinction is noted in the text.
Compensating for these two outliers allows for a clearer look at the long-term, nation-wide trends in the Green Party of Canada.
The body of the report begins with Part 1.1: The Collapse of Local Contributions.
[Edit 2018-Sep-26: List of sources expanded to include Canada Gazette, which was referenced in Part 1.2, published today. Miscellaneous changes to phrasing to improve clarity.]