When winning isn’t really the plan

The news this morning is understandably about the winners, or, in some cases, the almost winners, of yesterday’s election. And while it’s important to discuss what an NDP opposition will look like, or look at the numbers for our own province, it seems like today is also a good day to talk about losing.

Fabian Manning almost won. Siobhan Coady almost won. But for all intents and purposes, Matthew Crowder, the Green Party Candidate for the Avalon, wasn’t even in the race at all.

A Question Of Hurdles

Partly, it was a question of funding. The Green Party provided Crowder with everything he needed in terms of platform information, but money was his own concern.

“Without the money to run a campaign that competes in terms and capacity with the Conservatives and Liberals,” he says, “…that’s a way to run my resources right out, right? So I can’t do that.”

“Do you think that with any amount of money I could pull those voters away from who they think has their values?” —Matthew Crowder

But it wasn’t just about money, says Crowder:

Do you think that if I had as much funding as I possibly could, I could wrest people from that association of values that the other parties have already created? Do you think that with any amount of money I could pull those voters away from who they think has their values? I don’t think so.

That value branding, says Crowder, is one of the biggest things the Green Party lacks right now. People have considered themselves Conservative or Liberal (or even New Democrats) for years; it’ll take a long time to get them to change their minds.

The other issue is that the Green Party of Canada has no track record to point to. They can’t say ‘look how we’ve kept our promises,’ because they haven’t had the opportunity.

With party leader Elizabeth May receiving a single seat in yesterday’s election, that might start to change — but May’s potential victory wasn’t much help to Crowder in the days leading up to the election.

What Can You Do?

So what is there to do when you have no real plan to win an election? Groundwork, says Crowder:

I think when you’re building the foundation of a party, the real leg work is calling up companies and calling up stake holders person to person and saying “Here’s what i can do, does that synchronize with what you are trying to get at with your objective?” And if so, you have an ally. If not, then you have something else.

Crowder, an Engineering student at the College of the North Atlantic, says that that’s how he spent this last campaign: calling interest groups, working to generate reports on alternatives to the lower Churchill, and trying to develop some kind of base, so that next time, things might be different.

“I know that any other candidate would say ‘Oh we have been campaigning’ and would trot out the facts and say ‘This is where I’ve been pounding the ground.’ And right, I do, but the Avalon is quite a big riding, I feasibly can’t do that. So my options were limited from the get-go. plus I was in the middle of exams,” he says. “Not to use that as an excuse.”

But he does have a point. Crowder jokes that he only had this one shot at passing his exams, he has his whole life to lose elections.

Nationally, the Green Party picked up one seat and 3.9% of the popular vote, coming in 5th, with a total of 576,221 votes. On the Avalon, Crowder also came in 5th, at .6%, or 217 out of 36,526 valid votes.

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