Dear Members and Supporters of the Green Party of Manitoba:
For thirteen of the past fourteen years it has been an honour and a privilege to serve as the leader of the Green Party of Manitoba (GPM), but today I publicly announced that I will not be seeking an eighth term as leader.
Rest assured that I will remain an active and loyal member of the GPM. This a personal decision that I need to cut back my volunteer commitments to focus more on my personal life and my business.
Looking back on my time as leader, there is so much to be proud of. Certainly the accomplishments outlined below are not mine alone — it has always been a team effort and there are too many people to list them individually — but collectively, we have achieved many things since 2008.
We Greens have an important role to play. Even outside of the Legislature, Greens have had a meaningful impact on numerous areas of policy: putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions; a ban on the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes; ending logging in provincial parks; removing nonsensical regulations regarding farmers’ markets; and, putting the idea of a guaranteed income on the political map in Manitoba. These are but a few examples of how I can look back at my time as leader and say with certainty that without the Greens there would be even less progress on these important policy initiatives. But to become an even bigger force, we must continue to grow our membership and supporter base.
When I first ran for leadership in 2008, we had about 90 current members; today, that number is around 250. We have also significantly increased our annual donation revenue and the savings at the credit union compared to 2008.
We have increased the total number of Manitobans who voted Green from 5,586 in 2007 to 27,450 in 2019.
We have grown the size of our slate. When I first ran as a Green candidate in 2007, we fielded 15 candidates out of 57 (or about one-quarter of the ridings in Manitoba). In 2019, we fielded 43 candidates (or about three-quarters of the ridings in Manitoba).
By pushing to increase the size of our slate, we were also able to earn our way into the televised leaders’ debates. By most accounts I represented the party quite well, and this helped to highlight important issues such as action on climate change or the need for a guaranteed income.
This has also helped to raise the party’s profile and credibility with the public. We have accordingly improved our showings in numerous ridings. In 2007, only a single candidate received more than 10% of the vote, and 5 candidates received more than 5% of the vote. In 2019 more than 8 candidates received more than 10% of the vote, and 37 received more than 5% of the vote.
However, some objectives remain unfulfilled. The one I regret most is not electing a Green to the Manitoba Legislature. We of course came very close to winning a seat in both 2016 and 2019 — thanks in large part to the hard work of Dave Nickarz and his campaign team — who earned 35.8% of the vote in 2019. Unfortunately we were not quite close enough given the need to reform our democratic system.
Giving every Manitoban the opportunity to vote Green is the second objective that I wish I had achieved in my tenure as leader. I certainly hope that we as a party continue to target running a full slate of candidates as a key objective, as I feel that it is of the utmost importance that we offer every Manitoban the opportunity to vote Green. I also recognize that we need to strategically target a seat or two to best use our resources (as we have done in the past), but I do not feel that this is an either/or choice: fielding a full slate synergistically benefits all of our candidates, particularly those with the best strategic opportunities to win.
The Green Party of Manitoba is run almost entirely by volunteers. A third objective I held as leader was to increase our revenues to support a salary or honorarium for our leader and/or full-time paid staff to better support Council and the party at large. We need many, many more members, supporters and donors to become a true political force in this province. I hope going forward the party can find a way to remunerate this important work.
I am particularly encouraged by the energy and excitement of our newly formed Youth Wing and our new President Pearson Singbeil — all of which makes me confident that I am leaving the party in good hands.
Although I will no longer be leader after this fall, I will still be active with the party, including possibly being willing to serve as candidate again in the next election. My passion for politics has not left me, but for my business, myself, my friends and family, I need to take a break and pass the torch to the next generation.
I look forward to being inspired by our next leader. I want to see our next leader succeed in electing Greens, running a full slate, and raising the supporter base that enables us to better support our leader and Council.
Although it has indeed been challenging and exhausting at times, I have also learned so much and met so many great people through my involvement with the Green Party of Manitoba. I would not trade the experience for anything in the world, and stepping up to serve as GPM leader has been one of the best decisions of my life.
I have advised the rest of Council to begin preparations for holding a leadership contest in the fall. Further announcements regarding the soon to be called leadership contest will follow.
I encourage you or someone you know to consider running to be the next leader of the Green Party of Manitoba.
Leader, Green Party of Manitoba.