2020 Federal Council Candidate Question Responses

“Federal Council is responsible for the governance, strategic, and financial oversight of our Party. What does this mean to you?”

Responses are added as they are submitted by the contestants. Stay tuned!

John Kidder, candidate for Vice President English

I have studied and practiced governance for years (see www.johnkidder.ca).  I offer these opinions.

Governance is the responsibility of Federal Council.  Its duties of loyalty and care have been described above. 

Council is responsible for many things:  working with the Leader, policy development through Shadow Cabinet, development of EDAs, liaison with Parliamentary Caucus, reporting to members, etc.  Council is responsible for strategic plans and budgets, and for keeping governance up to date.  For proper oversight, Council needs to be fully engaged and informed about all these activities.  

We now use a governance system designed for single-purpose non-profits, where it may be appropriate for all communication and accountability to be through a single individual.  In my view, the Green Party of Canada has outgrown this simple model, and Council’s effectiveness is limited (a presentation to council about this is on www.johnkidder.ca).  

For Council to work properly, and especially to meet our dedication to grassroots democracy and consensus, we need to recommend to members that we modernize our governance, as millions of boards have done over the last years. This is not an “attack” on anyone, nor dismembering of a “proven” system, nor an attempt to end-run the will of members.  It’s just an ordinary process to adapt to and facilitate growth.

Our new Executive Director and our new Leader will depend on our new Council to give them the best tools, so that together we can grow Canada’s most effective political movement.  Modern governance is an essential key.

Darcie Lanthier, candidate for Vice President English

After two terms on Federal Council, I have a very clear understanding of my role and responsibilities. I have represented the Party Membership on Prince Edward Island by growing the membership, planning events, and founding and assisting EDAs. I look forward to the broader scope and additional responsibilities of Vice-President, I feel it is a position for an experienced leader.

As a Federal Councillor I was first a member of the Finance Committee learning the policies and processes, before serving as the Chair ensuring oversight, planning and accountability. When Council sets priorities, it is up to Committee Chairs to ensure that those priorities are acted upon and I take this responsibility seriously. I am currently the Chair of the Convention Committee, which is a task that like almost every other has become much more challenging now, then it was when I took it up in November 2019.

As an organizer, volunteer, candidate, financial agent, scrutineer and campaign manager, I have first hand Green Party experience from a wide variety of perspectives. There has been a lot of upheaval in the Party over the last few months and I think it is our responsibility to ensure that the Party is properly governed, following the Constitution and By-laws.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with Elizabeth May, Emily McMillan, our great staff and my fellow councillors. I have complete faith that our Members will make the right choice now and in October. #ForTheNewLeader

Dave Bagler, candidate for Fund Representative

Members like you and I are the owners of the Green Party of Canada. Since it wouldn't be practical for all twenty thousand of us to have monthly conference calls, we place our trust in Federal Council. Council makes decisions on our behalf between General Meetings.

Each Councillor must represent the membership in setting strategic objectives for the Party through its employees, EDAs and other units.

For Federal Council to truly reflect our membership, participation cannot be limited to Council elections and General meetings. I believe EDAs must be partners in decision making. Region representatives on Council must have strong relationships with the members and (if one exists) the Provincial/Territorial Green Party in their region.

Our by-laws dictate that Federal Council uses the Carver model (also known as Policy Governance) for governance. I am fully committed to the rules that you—our members—have created. I believe that this model is appropriate for our Party. When understood by Councillors, the model makes it easier for Council to focus on strategic planning and oversight rather than merely reacting to staff-led proposals.

The Carver model encourages Council to proactively develop policies for operations that lead the staff in developing appropriate implementations to achieve our goals. Federal Council's oversight duty is to ensure that the Executive Director's implementations meet the requirements of Council policies.

Federal Council should be focused on developing the policies that guide operations, not on day-to-day tasks. When Council micromanages operations, they lose focus on longterm strategic planning.

Kate Storey, candidate for Fund Representative

Federal Council is accountable to the membership and is responsible for all aspects of the party between general meetings. Council governs by setting goals, hiring an Executive Director and monitoring operational outcomes. There are many models of governance but all equally require that Council create a strategic plan that meets the needs of the membership and then monitor the achievement of the plan in the context of Green values of transparency, collaboration, respect, and grassroots engagement.
A Political party is a complicated network of EDAs and MPs, members and staff, organizers and committees. Our operations must be flexible and ready to adapt to the varying needs of campaigns across this varied country. Good governance and good management are rooted in respect – respect for green values, respect for our grassroots membership, respect for the diverse skills and perspectives of Council members, respect for the hard work and expertise of staff, and respect for our candidates, campaigns and electoral district associations.

A responsible Council looks deeply into operations and raises concerns when necessary. A responsible Council recognises the skill of its employees and refrains from imposing solutions, holding staff responsible for the achievement of outcomes.

I am standing for election for Fund Representative on Council and am well prepared for this position with 30 years of financial and board governance experience and 15 years in the Green Party.  I bring my experience and a commitment to careful consideration, critical thinking and positive collaboration.

George Orr, candidate for British Columbia Representative

Our job as an activist Council is to be responsible to all our members to ensure this goal is met. In doing so, we must be continually engaged with staff to set strategic directions. We must ensure clarity of communications throughout the Party and enable an environment where we can both initiate and respond in real time to the challenges of Canadian political realities.

We must engage the EDAs as our bedrock and provide them with every resource possible to enable them to plan, flourish, fund-raise, recruit, innovate and organize such that, when the next writ is dropped, each is in the best shape possible to capture the Green vote.

Five months after an election where we only won three seats, events in the world are moving so swiftly we are in danger of being left behind. Parties that react are not parties that succeed. We must pro-actively step into the new political arena of 2020 and work to set the agenda that Canadians can and will embrace.

My region, British Columbia, is fertile ground for Green vision and values. By collaborating with provincial and municipal greens, we can bring about the changes that Canadians are crying out for as part of a national movement that will enable Canada to be an example to the rest of the world.

Nick Poppell, candidate for British Columbia Representative

In our Green Party, governance is the cornerstone that allows activism to flourish. Councillors act as stewards and leaders of the party. They are transparent and accountable to the membership, and uphold the Green principles. This solemn duty is key to building a safe environment where diverse voices can be heard, and ideas and opinions can be shared respectfully. While adherence to rules and conduct are necessary, they should be tempered with the understanding that there cannot be justice so long as laws are absolute.

Lee Bolman once said "A vision without strategy remains an illusion." This resonates deeply when I think of the Green Party. Federal Council is responsible for plotting the course, navigating the rapids, and trusting in the members, staff, and stakeholders to do their part in delivering our message to Canadians. Hope, while inspiring, is not a strategy for success. It is only through hard work, careful thought, and belief in the evidence based decision making process can we achieve the goals of a safe, equitable, and resilient Canada for future generations. Everyone has a part to play, and the tactics we employ to support those strategic goals will be the keys to success.

In the end, we cannot do the work we do without generous contributions from our grassroots membership. It's imperative that we not only provide strong fiscal oversight, but also branch out and explore new, and creative ways to increase our fundraising capacity.

Dana Taylor, candidate for British Columbia Representative

Federal Council is the authority conducting the policy, action and affairs of the GPC on behalf of the membership. According to the Constitution it is “responsible for the overall implementation of actions as called for in this Constitution, the Bylaws, or in other decisions of the membership in General Meeting”.

Federal Council plans and develops organizational strategy and budget and provides direction to staff.

Federal Council provides oversight to all aspects of the party’s operations between general meetings. In this latter capacity Council’s actions have the greatest impact on the operational competency and efficiencies of the Party. There is no higher level of authority. Oversight requires Council members to be attuned to the issues of members and the functions of the organization. To be clear Council does not direct or control staff, but it is, as are each of the members of Council, accountable to its (their) constituents – the membership that elects it.

The current operational regime indicates impediments to Council members communicating with members, and a lack of clarity about how those communications feed back to Council and staff.

Financial oversight appears structurally conducted in two parts with a) “The Fund” compose of Council members with directed legal responsibilities, and b) budget decisions being made by Council of the Whole.

Strategic oversight (assisted by the Committee system, both Standing and Ad Hoc) appears to be a two-way engagement, supplemented and supported by both membership and staff. Council makes strategic decisions for either communication to membership and/or direction to staff.

Lia Renaud, candidate for Nova Scotia Representative

My understanding of governance would come from what is set out in legislation, bylaws, and government policies. It is imperative that representatives understand the legislation applicable to the Green Party of Canada (GPC).

Directors are in a fiduciary relationship with the GPC. Directors have a duty to act honestly, in good faith, and in the best interests of the organization. Directors also have a legal duty to exercise care, diligence, and skill of a reasonably prudent person.

The strategic oversight of our Party speaks to organizational stewardship. Organizational stewardship includes:

  • Following the mission, vision, and values and setting strategies for achieving the vision;
  • Overseeing risk;
  • Ensuring competent leadership, managing performance and planning for succession;
  • Overseeing financial and operational performance to ensure that the financial, human, and material resources are used appropriately to further the mission;
  • Ensuring legal compliance; and
  • Ensuring the organization has adequate resources to achieve its plans.

I would act in an ethical manner, listen actively, and seek comprehensive information to draw insightful conclusions from complex information. Additionally, I would work with all representatives in a constructive way and contribute at the same level.

Adrian Currie, candidate for Ontario Representative

The phrase “Federal Council is responsible for the governance, strategic, and financial oversight of our Party” means a lot to me. It means that as Council members, we have a lot of responsibility to our members.

Governance - It means to be familiar with and to respect the rules and by-laws that govern the Council and the Party. It means to seek new and innovative ways to improve our governance structure in order to ensure that our Council is relevant and reflective of the diverse make up of Canada. More importantly, it means that our party is current with new ideas and ways of governing in our democracy.

Strategic Oversight - It means to be acquainted with our Party’s Strategic Plan and to govern accordingly. It means to be adaptable in our strategic plan and to update it as we move forward making sure that our party is responsive to the needs of Canadians.

Financial oversight - It means that we should pay attention to our finances and support our treasurer in making sure that our books are in order and that care is made to keep our balance sheet current and positive. 

These three concepts are key to any organization, whether it is a local not-for-profit or a Fortune 500 corporation. As the Green Party of Canada, these ideas are even more important in a rapidly changing world where our ideals and beliefs will make the difference, literally, between life and death in our present and post Covid-19 world.

Andrew Hazen, candidate for Ontario Representative

I believe it is critical to the future of our kids and grandkids that we returen significant numbers of Green MPs in the next election. Howver, we needed to elect many more Greens back in October. Like many, I am extremely frustrated with how the Campaign and the Party has operated leading up to the Campaign, during and after. I believe that comes down to “governance” by the Federal Council.

Governance means building a healthy and productive relationship with staff, and making sure that our small staff are backed up and enabled by strong committees to leverage their strengths. In turn, staff need to understand that their primary role is to serve the membership of the Party, not the other way around.

Governance means ensuring that decision making at Council is as transparent as possible, and that both the content and results of decisions are clearly communicated to the membership.

Governance means that members of Federal Council work to represent their constituents, just as an MP would, and that means two-way communication on a regular basis.

Finally, Governance means planning for the short and long-term strength of the party by investing in EDAs with funding, training, tools and templates so that they can carry the “ground game” that we need to win local contests.

As we work to bring in a new political Leader, and a new Executive Director, and the climate crisis worsens, it is more important than ever that we significantly improve the governance exerted by Federal Council.

Eric Larouche, candidate for Ontario Representative

In order to have a voice in Ottawa, GPC needs to gain more seats. 

Our Green message currently transmitted to Canadians isn’t catching traction. GPC needs to get more support to grow. How to approach this is very important, or we won’t improve GPC support. 

We clearly saw in 2019 that Greens, moderate and independent votes aren’t enough; we need support from blue, red and orange voters. Even with current global Climate Change awareness, Greta Thunberg youth movement, Elizabeth May and 94% of Canadians believing in CC, the majority of this 94% isn’t supporting drastic, bold moves. Canadians are concerned and want things to make more sense. They look for more fairness, things more just. 

Being part of GPC in any capacity is challenging if we are serious about implementing the changes we know are necessary for a better future. Leaders need to better inform Canadians the GPC platform isn’t a threat. GPC needs its members to focus on how to engage other voters, sell the points that count. Canadians have same goals, similarities and GPC can lead the way without hurting the economy – if well planned and organized. GPC needs to show, demonstrate and prove this to gain Canadians’ trust. 

Even with a clear platform, best interest at heart, bold vision, GPC must be realistic: although hearing same things; voters aren’t driven by the same views. Federal Council job is to find out what makes people click, help Greens use this information ensuring Canadians understand what Greens mean.

Michael Pilling, candidate for Ontario Representative

Politics is a popularity contest. Governance must not be.

Good governance for any organization requires that those elected to highest decision-making body be fair-minded, professional, and willing to put the interests of the organization ahead of other agendas. Making good decisions requires having full and sufficient knowledge examining a variety of perspectives, and working to eliminate biases that everyone tends to have.

Consultation is such a critical factor in good governance, but this is something the current council does not seem to do well. The Members for Growth and Renewal <growthandrenewal.ca> a volunteer group of professional management consultants has red flagged this lack and also red flagged the lack of proper and timely reporting to members. Council has not really been in the habit of informing members what they are considering beforehand – such as the controversial rules for the leadership contest. In fact they were intentionally secretive about this – deciding it all “in camera”. This needs to change. In my close to 20 years of observing council we have had some bad habits which were always there and still need to be corrected. It is not easy managing a big organization in such a huge country with so little resources.

Going forward those of us who are elected need to raise our game, we must strive for continuous communication with our members and EDA’s. And those of us who are not elected to council need to pitch in on subcommittees to help lighten the load.

Lorraine Rekmans, candidate for Ontario Representative

I support a Federal Council that is diverse, inclusive, respectful, transparent, and representative of the membership. Federal Council must adhere to the six principles of the Green Party. It must embody the vision and mission of the Green Party and be responsible to provide central communications across various parts of the GPC. Communications must ensure we are conveying a clear message and vision, and that we all understand and stand by our mission statement.

Councillors must provide clear direction to staff and help facilitate expected outcomes when required to ensure that GPC is responsive to members.

Federal Council must be open and responsive to members and assist grassroots efforts to grow the GPC, including building an expanded membership and a wider volunteer base, as well as ensuring all Canadians are familiar with the Green Party of Canada.

The governance structures supporting Federal Council must be reviewed to ensure they allow for stable governance, financial surety, and election readiness. Federal council is ultimately responsible for setting strategy, budgets, and indicators to evaluate performance. As Federal Council holds a duty of care to protect the organization they must be accountable, however given the level of work required at this time, Federal Council will have to work closely to encourage membership participation to achieve success.

As a grass-roots party, member participation is essential. To do politics differently, this means inclusivity and member participation. The GPC must distinguish itself as a trusted party of people and we will need to demonstrate our people are engaged.

Henry Wright, candidate for Ontario Representative

First and foremost, I believe that Federal Council exists to serve and safeguard the interests of the members of the Party, and to build a strong organization that is ready to face our next electoral challenge. Everything the Council does, every action it takes, should be filtered through this lens.

Good governance is transparent, accountable, consensus driven, participatory, efficient and effective. It is the foundation for achieving the Party’s vision and mission. Every member of the Federal Council has a responsibility to ensure the Party is administered in accordance with the highest principles of good governance. 

Between elections it is necessary to set strategic direction to guide the efforts of the Party and staff. It is the roadmap to help broaden our membership base, ensure more diversity and inclusivity, develop policy, and strengthen the organizational capacity of our EDA’s. Once that direction is set, oversight by Federal Council ensures it is carried out, so we all have the tools we need to elect more MP’s.

The Green Party is funded solely by generous donors. Prudent oversight of the Party’s finances by Federal Council is critical to ensure we are good stewards of those donations, to build public trust in our Party, and to ensure we have the funds to compete effectively in election campaigns.

Practicing good governance, and providing sound strategic and financial oversight will help us build a strong party. And it is those principles that will guide my actions as Ontario Representative on the Federal Council.

David Lobie Daughton, candidate for Prince Edward Island Representative

Federal Council has a fiduciary responsibility to the members of the Green Party of Canada (GPC). "Fiduciary" means that anyone elected to the Council has a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the party as a whole (whether strategic, financial, or legal). This position of trust requires that each and every member of the Council makes an effort to understand the issues under consideration, contributes respectfully to discussion, abides by the values and policies approved by the membership, and that each Council member must act in solidarity with the decisions made by the Federal Council as a whole. Although Council members represent the GPC, each is unique as a person and has a right to their own opinions. However, participation in any democratic governing body requires accepting collective decisions made through a "bona fide" (good faith) democratic process. Governance of political parties is particularly challenging because of the nature of electoral politics that often focuses mainly on the Leader, rather than on the party's governing body. Balancing effective governance with clear leadership is not easy. It is especially important that the GPC's governance process remains firmly rooted in grassroots democracy rather than being co-opted by "back-room" powerbrokers or cliques. Because I have been a committed GPC member for 36 years and have many years of governance experience on bilingual national Boards, I believe that I can help strengthen the GPC's democratic process by facilitating fairness, clarity and inclusion in Federal Council's work.

Anik Lajoie, candidate for Quebec Representative

Federal Council must increase its accountability and engagement with party members.  The Council must insure a balanced relationship between staff and volunteers and must see to the proper allocation of resources.  Campaign tours must be better organized with stronger logistics, and must not rely on a tight-knit closed circle surrounding the Leader.  The Leader must be given a stronger budget and actually be asked to lead the Party. 

Federal Council should be held accountable to increase logistical operations and better handle media requests and media advisory.  The Green Party must hold other parties accountable for appropriating themselves the environmental message -- the GPC should be responsible to educate and increase awareness in environmental ambitions, and help the public discern between green washing and evidence-based climatic goals. The Council has a responsibility to modernize itself and use new ways of communicating with the public and between themselves.

Samuel Moisan-Domm, candidate for Quebec Representative

The Federal Council, as the representative of the members, has ultimate responsibility for governance, strategy and finance. In order to fully play this role, the Federal Council must take the necessary actions to ensure that all actions taken by the Party reflect the interests and will of the members and that they are carried out with rigor and competence.More specifically :

  • Governance: Members have the right to expect decision-making and consultation bodies that are inclusive and based on the mobilization and buy-in of its members. 
  • Strategic: Members have the right to expect strategies and actions that reflect their values, priorities and concerns, including in its execution. 
  • Financial: Members have the right to expect well-managed finances that reflect their values, priorities and concerns.

As the Representative of Quebec, I will argue in favor of:

  • Sub-committees of the Federal Council and a Shadow Cabinet that include a greater number of Quebecers; 
  • Offering the Quebec Wing of the Green Party of Canada (AQPVC) management of all communications aimed at Quebec; 
  • Granting the AQPVC a minimum annual and recurring operating budget.

William Gagnon, candidate for Territories Representative

It is imperative that the Federal Council receive comprehensive anti-oppression and decolonization training. The FC must indigenize its practices by receiving the advice of qualified indigenous leaders.

This will allow the Federal Council to show greater leadership and expose itself to more regional visibility. It is the responsibility of the FC to bring more innovative measures to work in a national and virtual context. The FC must equip itself with better tools to increase the use of social networks and virtual platforms; demonstrate strong and modern governance based on other initiatives that we could better align with, for example, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, science-based policies, and be more influential. It is imperative to put in place a transition plan for the Federal Council to become a full-time branch composed of high-level profiles -- FC will act as an accelerator for the Green movement and spark new ideas.

The Party has a lot to learn from its mistakes from the 2019 election; we have no shortage of volunteers and show more commitment and discussion with our members than other parties; how can we benefit from it? All movements go through periods of renewal and I believe that we are at a critical point; the alignment of the concepts of sustainability, planetary health, human health and the circular economy are beginning to resonate all at once for several groups that previously had little in common. The Federal Council must exercise rigor and strategy while putting forward their vision and ambitions.

Lorraine Hewlett, candidate for Territories Representative

Federal Council members have a fiduciary duty to ensure the financial and organizational well-being of the Green Party; and to carry out proper oversight of the organization. That duty includes:

  • Thoroughly analyzing and understanding financial statements and audit/ management reports;
  • Ensuring that the necessary financial resources are in place to carry out the organization’s activities;
  • Setting sound strategic direction and ensuring the necessary action plans are developed and implemented;
  • Ensuring proper policies are in place to guide the organization;
  • Ensuring proper human resource management, which includes ensuring the workplace is free of harassment and bullying and there is a solid process for performance management;
  • Ensuring good communication between the Federal Council and the grassroot members who elected them into those positions of responsibility.

Being a member of the governing body of the Green Party is not the sexy part of political activism. It’s not speaking into the microphone or organizing political protests. The best way I can explain “governance“, and being a Federal Council member, is with this analogy: You are not the person going out to hunt the moose, caribou, or buffalo. You are one of the people back at camp ensuring that the fire keeps burning, food is prepared, shelter is ready, clothing is being sewn, and the kids are OK. Federal Council members must ensure that the necessary supports are in place so that our social justice warriors can successfully go out and do the work we need them to do, on behalf of the organization.