So it's been quite some time since I wrote about internal GPO/GPC stuff, but I figured that I should get back to it.
With the recent Ontario by-elections and the with the upcoming Federal by-elections I had a conversation with some GP friends about what criteria should be used to gauge whether a by-election campaign should receive support from the central party.
I should point out that by support I'm talking money, of course the central party should be supporting by-elections in other ways but the question of where to put or limited financial resources is an important one.
Most of our discussion focused on what I'm going to call 'campaign criteria' rather than 'circumstantial criteria' where we pretty much all agreed that the riding (and riding history), timing, big issues and local organization matter. What we were focusing on was if there is a by-election in a decent riding, with good timing (a by-election for Jack Layton's old seat would not qualify) and Green friendly issues, and there is a local EDA, should the campaign automatically receive support or should there be some hoops to jump through?
I can think of three key campaign criterion: must Use Central Party Tools, a plan to Engage Greens Regionally and Nationally, and a plan to Engage the Young Greens through the Young Greens Council.
This one is fairly straightforward, if the central party is going to invest in a by-election campaign we need to know that we will be capturing and retaining the information that help us grow. This means ID'd support goes into GRIMES along with sign requests and other worthwhile information and campaign donors are put into CiviCRM.
The way I see if, if the by-election campaign is unwilling to cooperate with the central party by using these tools, that by-election campaign should not be receiving money from the central party.
By-elections provide us with an opportunity to engage Greens in surrounding ridings and across the country in between elections. These opportunities are critical for our continued improvements in campaigning. A regional plan might be as simple as organizing billeting or could include renting a house for volunteers to crash in (LNC 2006, Guelph 2008) so that people from around the riding can travel to the riding for canvassing blitzes for for the last weekend to help with GOTV.
Nationally, we learned the importance of a large phone canvassing campaign in 2011. Tens of thousands of calls were made into SGI by hundreds of volunteers across Canada. Thousands of supporters were ID'd and we even had the capacity to call them back on election day. Would Elizabeth May have won without the phone canvassing? I think it's likely, however none of our other candidates have the built in name recognition as our Federal leader.
A properly run phone canvassing campaign (with follow-up GOTV calling) is no-brainer for by-election campaigns looking for a big result. If you're asking the party for money, you're hoping to earn a result well above our average. A proper phone canvassing campaign should be a part of that strategy.
This third criteria may seem less important than the two above, but I think for future growth it is the most important. How many Young (and recently young) Greens seem to have a dense web of connections with other Greens all over the country?
Some of it is driven by campus clubs, but lots of it is likely from by-elections. London North-Centre in 2006, Guelph, Toronto Centre, Vancouver Quadra and Westmount—Ville-Marie in 2008 were huge for engaging youth who are involved at all levels of our provincial and federal parties today. I'm sure that the upcoming by-election in Calgary Centre will be the next big one for the Young Greens.