Elizabeth May Campaign Files Expenses for Central Nova. Interesting.

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Elizabeth May Campaign Files Expenses for Central Nova. Interesting.

Pundits Guide posted a comparison of all the party leaders' riding campaign spending.


Analysis in the post included this: 


The surprise for me was Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's return, inasmuch as ... for all the effort that was reportedly going in to getting her a seat in the Commons ... her campaign spent only 69% of the limit, in spite of having $80K (nearly the full amount of the spending limit) transferred to the campaign by the central party office, and of raising more than the other 3 party leaders during the campaign itself. Doing a quick eyeball comparison of her return to Layton's and Duceppe's, her campaign reported significantly less on salary costs than the other two. 

And here is a comment I posted in that blog:


The May campaign had more than "significantly less" salaries than the other leaders' campaigns.

And volunteers cannot replace staff functions for management and coordination. The more volunteers a campaign has, the more bang for buck. BUT, those volunteers MUST be coordinated by a staff of people with more than full time hours, and a minimum of previous campaign experience.

The Central Nova Green campaign was a full bore organization. That requires a number of full time campaign staff, some of whom could have minimal experience. But the Campaign Manager and at least one more would have to have a fair bit of experience.

Occassionally one of those people can be a volunteer. But Elections Canada reporting rules are VERY unequivocal that if a person has a paid job, whoever is paying the salary, the campaign has to report it as an expense. The only exception allowed is when the person takes a vacation- out of their normal entitlements [no fig leaf 'special paid 'vacations' allowed].

How likely is it that all the full time staffing in that serious campaign were real volunteers?

They reported TOTAL salaries of $2,800. !?! For a campaign like that, about $20,000 would be the norm.

A normal phenomena in minimal campaigns a party wants to see some results in is to send in a Campaign Manager [bare minimum $3500]. But they don't run campaigns a fraction of what was done in Central Nova.

The May campaign reported 4 people who got under $1,000- the kind of amounts that go as honorariums to people who put in a lot of time but come without previous experience. [And sometimes an amount like that to an Office Manager in a low rent campaign, which this was not.]


It's Me D

Hey Ken I don't know much about this but are you saying that its illegal for May's senior campaign staff to refuse salaries and work as volunteers or for a small honorarium? Or is it just unconventional?


Leaving aside what you call them or whether or not someone somewhere is paying them a slary while they are working on a campaign, a campaign such as that of E May required for starters a reasonably experienced campaign manager able to work full time plus for more than the campaign period.

With as many volunteers as thay had, it would require a minimum of 2 more full time equivalents who while they did not need to be as experienced as the campaign manager, could not be new to campaigning either. [And you couldn't cycle through 10 different people for those 2 positions across 5 weeks.]

Occassionally, such senior campaigners working full time are true volunteers. If so, they have to be retired, self employed who can do without the income, or taking a leave or vacation from their paid job. Anyone else paid by someone while they work in a campaign for a week or more, Elections Canada requires the campaign to declare that as a staffing expense.

You can't just have anybody willing to put in the time fill these positions. And it is a very small pool of people both willing and able to do this on an unpaid basis. Volunteers for something like Office Manager are not unusual [although even there, the vast majority in a serious campaign will be paid something, and more than an honorarium]. In full tilt campaigns such as May's was, Campaign Managers and Voter Contact Organizers and the like who are unpaid [by anyone] are at best pretty infrequent.

So how likely is it that all the 3+ senior staff positions in the campaign were unpaid. Least of all in a party that does not have a big pool of campaign managing talent to draw on. Its a demanding and all too thankless job even when you get paid- you don't develop and have on continued availability that vitally necessary experienced talent pool by not paying those folks. Paying them is a minimal and high priority for any party. 


The Pundits Guide blogpost provides a link to the filings. The Elections Canada financial reports are not user friendly enough to provide a single URL that takes you to the filing for the May campaign. To get there click on the link, and then follow the 2 steps after the link. [Since this is going to be replaced by the linked webpage, you need to remember the 2 steps. Sheesh.]

Elections Canada party leader campaign filings

1.] What shows here is less information than is on the blogpost table. Click onto the top drop-down list titled "Choose another part of the return"  Click on "Part 3a".

2.] This will take you to the detailed filing for the first leader in the list Stephane Dion [whose is the least interesting since his seat was the safest]. On the second drop-down line/choice click on "May, Elizabeth".

Its instructive to compare the campaign expenses for May to those of Duceppe and Layton. 

All of the expenses for the May campaign are similar to those of the other leaders, EXCEPT for staffing, which as already noted is radically different.

Duceppe and Layton spent more on advertising, but not categorically more. [And print advertising in Central Nova is far cheaper than in the other markets.] They spent less on office, no surprise in a very depressed small town commercial real estate market.

So everything is comparable, except for the reported expense of the staffing it takes to make a serious campaign come together. In the case of the May campaign that reported expense is virtually nil.


My link to the Elections Canada filing [3 posts up] was not working. I fixed it.


?Did I mention how much I don't like the new Babble?

Almost as good as that clunky Elections Canada site.


It's Me D wrote:
Hey Ken I don't know much about this but are you saying that its illegal for May's senior campaign staff to refuse salaries and work as volunteers or for a small honorarium? Or is it just unconventional?

 It may up being legitimate but it is the kind of red-flag that would set the CRA off. 

 It just doesn't pass the sniff test, for all the reasons Ken listed. To speak from my personal experience, I sometimes take my annual vacation to work campaigns, which frees up my campaign salary for something else. Usually I bring on another staffer. 

It's Me D

I'm not defending the Greens if they've done something illegal here, I'm just wondering whether that is indeed the case; that and I am a little shocked that working for a cause one believes in without being paid for it is that uncommon and frowned upon in Canada...


It isn't that I'm frowning on it. I've spent tonnes of volunteer time on campaigns. The issue is that this was a national leader's campaign. Maybe she really had enough staff who are economically self-sufficient to give at least six weeks of their life to her campaign for free. It just doesn't seem likely.

It's Me D

Maybe she really had enough staff who are economically self-sufficient to give at least six weeks of their life to her campaign for free.

Well I know its stereotypical but the Greens seem to be composed of "Tories with composters" who have a fair bit of $$ on one hand and semi-unemployed/self-employed hippies with no $$ either way on the other; those are two groups which could potentially volunteer a lot of time. Wink I wouldn't really know how likely it is either though. Any Greens (who aren't to offended by this post) willing to share your thoughts here?

ETA: Hey Heywood I just noticed you lost your "Token Rightwing Mascot" tag from the old babble Frown Just another "recent-rabble-rouser" now eh?


It's Me D wrote:
that and I am a little shocked that working for a cause one believes in without being paid for it is that uncommon and frowned upon in Canada...

No one frowns on it. Like HF and I said, there are just a lot of practical reasons it does not happen.

So that the likelihood that two or threee experienced campaigners were unpaid, seems awfully low.

And to be clear, I'm not suggesting they did something illegal. I'm suggesting that its most likely that at least some of the staffers who worked were paid by someone for the time they were there; and therefore they should have been reported expenses.

If they did not follow the rules, that does not necessarily mean that there have been illegal actions.

I am saying that this does not come close to adding up.

Discussions about this filing are going on elsewhere. A knowledgable Green party member/supporter responded saying that those May campaign staffers were paid out of national office.

 I raise questions about that, beyond what I said here already that they are suppossed to be declared as riding campaign expenses.



It's Me D wrote:
Well I know its stereotypical but the Greens seem to be composed of "Tories with composters" who have a fair bit of $$ on one hand and semi-unemployed/self-employed hippies with no $$ either way on the other; those are two groups which could potentially volunteer a lot of time.

Potential volunteers for senior campaign staff positions have to be experienced as well as willing. The chances that someone from the second group has the experience and the economic independence to work for free multiple times, thats just about zip.

People with independent means of support are plausible. but 2 or 3 of them, with substantial experience?

These considerations of specific possibilities of how it can happen, just serve to corrabarate how much this is the exception. Single cases are by no means rare [HF is one of them]. But all the experienced people in a full tilt campaign?

Like I said before, a new or expanding party does not build that vital pool of available talent by depending on people who will work for nothing. That would just be way too thin.

It's Me D

KenS, just to be clear I'm only curious in getting to the heart of the information you've posted here, I'm not disputing it or disagreeing with anything in particular.

Could you tell me the penalty for not declaring senior campaign personnel salaries from another source as riding expenses? I guess the term illegal is a little harsh, and yet if they have broken electoral rules I think that should be a pretty serious offense; its no so much what rules are broken as the importance of upholding a respect for the rule of law in electoral politics (despite everything the Conservatives do to circumvent these laws anyway!).


Someone commented on the post at Accidental Deliberations that the central party's staff were assigned to Central Nova.

I don't know if that is true or not.  But wasn't this kind of situation parallel to the disagreement between Elections Canada and the Conservative Party about what constituted a "riding expense" and what constituted a "national expense"?  Even though a person is on the payroll of the central party, if they are assigned to work on the riding campaign, that's a riding expense, is it not?  Or, if a staff member was doing the Leader's work qua Leader (i.e., for the whole party), but based in the riding, that would be a national expense, would it not?

I've never been an official agent, so what do I know, but I just thought that was the crux of the dispute over advertising expenses for the Conservatives (i.e., were they legitimately local advertising expenses, or ought they to have counted as national expenses), and presumably it might be the issue here.  It's not like the actual costs would have put either the party or the riding over their respective limits, though.


Well, I'd say that this shows prudent management and fiscal restraint, but considering that they didn't actually achieve any of their end goals with the money they spent (unless their end goal was to endorse and campaign for the Liberal Party, thus ensuring the Greens didn't win any seats at all), then obviously it wasn't very prudent management at all.


I agree with you on that point, Michelle.  If the goal was to win the riding, they should have gone all in, and not left $25K on the table.  If not, then what were they doing spending $55K just to place.

remind remind's picture

Nothing to do with prudence, and everything to do with using the national campaign staff at the constiuency level and not claiming it as a riding expense, as opposed to a national expense.


KenS wrote:
People with independent means of support are plausible. but 2 or 3 of them, with substantial experience? These considerations of specific possibilities of how it can happen, just serve to corrabarate how much this is the exception. Single cases are by no means rare [HF is one of them]. But all the experienced people in a full tilt campaign?
Even in Calgary, where there are STACKS of right-wing people willing to work campaigns, I was an exception to the rule.

 There are a few of us who could do this but we are still few and far between. The other guys that I know (yes, all men) are independantly wealthy.

I'm not sure how healthy it is for me though. Consider that with the federal, provincial, and municipal elections over the last few years, I haven't had a real vacation since about 2005.


Report on Greens

An interesting blog. Some of the information surprises me. Well, actually all of it does.............

Money in
$25,110 in local donations
$80,000 in transfers from the Green Party of Canada
$105,111 is the total of available funds.

Money out
$55,482 in assorted expenses

QUESTION ONE - why did the campaign team only spend 69% of the allowable limit despite having over $100,000 available to spend? (h/t The Pundit’s Guide)*


It's Me D wrote:

Could you tell me the penalty for not declaring senior campaign personnel salaries from another source as riding expenses? I guess the term illegal is a little harsh, and yet if they have broken electoral rules I think that should be a pretty serious offense; its no so much what rules are broken as the importance of upholding a respect for the rule of law in electoral politics (despite everything the Conservatives do to circumvent these laws anyway!).

In most, if not all, cases of infractions Elections Canada consults and negotiates first. They are looking for voluntary compliance, after the fact and making sure there is compliance in the future.

Penalties for infractions only may come in depending on the severity of the infraction. So the consequences for not reporting major salary expenses would mostly depend on whether those expenses put the campaign over the spending limit.

If there was an infraction in this case, either admitted to or that EC staff had reason to believe took place, they would put the third degree to the Greens to make sure all actual expenses came to light.

If spending limits were actually exceeded then they start talking penalties.  If not, they still might put on some heat depending on whether they think the non-reporting was done with the intension of some pattern of evasion. Whether they suspect that depends first of all on who is involved. This being the leaders campaign they are going to figure that the national office was involved and that the non-reporting was not an accident. My guess would be that if they are confident spending limits were not exceeded [say, if the campaign was still not close enough to the spending limit that there are likely to be other non-reported expenses putting it over the top] then they would leave it as 'heavy pressure exerted'.


There is another mystery in that filing with Elections Canada: the $80,000 transfer from the party to the riding. Which is the full amount of the spending limit.

The Central Nova EDA already had a substantial amount of cash [despite a staffed headquarters having run for over a year already] which they did not transfer to the campaign.

And even without that, the campaign did not need a transfer of the most they could possibly have spent [let alone never did spend]. Even a conservative estimate of fundraising during the election is a substantial amount. Plus a substantial riding rebate they would get.

In fact, the previous surplus, plus a conservative estimate of fundraising, plus the rebate, was already sufficient to run a full spending limit campaign... without a dime from the party.

Let alone that the normal thing that is done if the party is going to make up any shortfall is to transfer the amount necessary after all the numbers are done. This is what was done in Duceppe and Layton’s riding campaigns. [Dion’s campaign produced a small surplus on their own.]

The fact that the amount transferred was not remotely required, but was pegged very close to the spending limit, tends to indicate that the $80,000 figure was chosen for appearances sake: that they wanted to transfer as much as possible and any more than that would raise eyebrows.

I’m pretty sure there is nothing illegal in that. Certainly not in the transfer itself, and highly unlikely it could be part of some chain of transactions the total of which would be an infraction. [Which would be a closer parallel to what OO was referring to the Conservatives did with their 2006 election Adscam, where all the transactions are allowed but there is an obvious shell game in the end result.]

So obviously the Greens are intent on parking a lot of cash in Central Nova. The party spent a LOT there in 2007 and 2008 before the election, and still left the EDA with a substantial surplus. And now they’ve parked another $80,000 not needed in the election.

Since they can always transfer money to the EDA or riding campaign any time they want, I have no idea what the purpose of this might be.


remind wrote:
Nothing to do with prudence, and everything to do with using the national campaign staff at the constiuency level and not claiming it as a riding expense, as opposed to a national expense.

The idea that the campaign staffers were paid by Ottawa came from a Green replying to me on another blog. That is aparently what he heard. I have seen no documentation that would show that.

I think I pointed out already, since the May campaign was 25K under the spending limit, that limit would not appear to be a reason for not reporting the staffing expense.

I know a reason that the Greens may not have wanted to report staff salaries. Not because of the spending limit, but because those salaries may have been paid by Nova Scotia taxpayers via the Nova Scotia Green Party.

The NSGP has been getting $11,000 per month for more than 2 years from Nova Scotia taxpayers... and is still virtually invisible in the province.

Where that money goes has always been a good question. At the same time in 2007 that the federal Green Party was having very public money troubles, they opened a campaign headquarters in Central Nova. That has been opened and staffed ever since- with the Central Nova EDA never reporting any such expenses.

Since riding associations don't have spending limits, thier reporting [or possible under-reporting] expenses gets little attention. Election Canada's main attention main focus with them is very much on contributions.

Elections Canada IS very concerned with expenses for election campaigns- because of the spending limits. So I did not expect to see Green under-reporting of staff expenses for this.

As I pointed out in the reply to IMD about possible penalties for non reporting of staff expenses, the Greens would not be taking much of a risk to not report some of the staff expenses as long as the real total was still under the spending limit. That would get them a rebuke from Elections Canada if it came to light, but no embarrasing penalties as long as the unreprted expenses did not push the total over the spending limit.

The benefit under this hypothesis being that the Greens would not have to admitt to using the Nova Scotia taxpayer subsidy to a shell organization, for May's campaign.


There are recent exchanges between myself and a Green blogger on this matter at Accidental Deliberations. And they are likely to continue.



Something I had not thought of was pointed out to me by a Green Party member on the blog linked to just above.

I had made the same suggestion there which I made upthread: that some May campaign staff salaries may have been paid by the cash rich Nova Scotia Green Party, and that the non-reporting was not to keep under the spending limit. Rather it was because of the bad PR if it was known that Nova Scotia taxpayer subsidies to an invisible organization were used to finance the campaign of the leader of the national Green Party.

He was skeptical that this happened, but pointed out that it would be simply illegal.

I’m not positive beyond a doubt that is correct. But I believe it is correct that federal party entities cannot take monetary or in kind contributions [such as salaries] from ANY organization, including a provincial party. The logic behind this being that some provincial parties can and do accept contributions from unions and corporations; so transfers FROM provincial party entities, if they were allowed could be a too easy means of circumventing a basic principle of the federal elections financing laws. [Because they do not have this potential for circumvention, federal party entities making transfer TO provincial entities is explicitly allowed in the Act.]

remind remind's picture

How would one find if this was the case the the provincial party paid the salaries?


Elections Nova Scotia filings' enforcement is a joke. Even if that was not the case, the annual filings of the Nova Scotia Green Party would most likely only require a total amount for salaries... not detail of who the salaries were paid to.

But should the names of any of the May campaign staff become publically circulated, if they were paid at the time by the NSGP I doubt it will take long for those facts to come out.

By the same token, if any insiders care to offer credible evidence that the campaign staffers in question were NOT paid by the NSGP... they can demonstrate this even faster.

And if they decide to look into it, Elections Canada staff would be able to come to the truth pretty quickly. Too many easy to find tracks to hide this sort of thing from an audit. If investigation were to turn up nothing, I’m sure the Green Party would make sure we hear pretty quick.

But I would think that if there is no basis to the suggestion that some of the May campaign staff were paid by the NSGP, we’ll be hearing evidence of that soon enough.


Mr.Ken S.

          Correct me if I am wrong- but does not the NS NDP receive monies through similar payments from the NS provincial government??

Maybe , even  more money than you let on.

remind remind's picture

Point? The NS NDP actually have a party in that province that exists unlike the NS GP, which has been KenS' point all along.

Moreover that is money designated for provincial politics NOT federal.


Mr. O,

Remind already gave the most relevant answer to your question. But since you are looking for more information, here it comes.

Nov Scotia public subsidies of parties came in over 2 years ago with a new election financing law. The PC minority government and the Liberals sat down and blatantly traded favours in the crafting of the legislation to game the new system for themselves and undermine the NDP. Every other jurisdiction in Canada- even with majority governments that could do what they wanted- came up with a system fair to all. Jean Chretien even brought in a system that disadvantaged his own party.

The NS public subsidy of parties is gamed with a HUGE ‘base rate’ for any official party. The result being that the then, and still, minuscule and skeletal Nova Scotia Green Party only gets a tiny fraction of its subsidy from the per vote amount.

The vote share of the NSGP is too small to do any statistical analysis with. But unlike in other jurisdictions, the consensus is that it gets its 2% mostly off the back of the NDP. There are a number of close races here, and the shameless PC-Liberal brotherhood obviously had hopes money would help the NSGP grow.

To directly answer your question, the NSNDP gets approximately 15 times the vote that the NSGP gets. But probably only gets two times the subsidy amount. [If it’s three times, which I doubt, big difference.]

If the subsidy is any more than 20% of the NSNDP budget I’d be surprised. While, the subsidy IS the budget of the NSGP. Period. And it all comes from the base rate portion of the subsidy. The portion of the NSGP subsidy that comes from the per vote part probably wouldn’t even pay the office rent.

And to put in context how much that $11,000/month NSGP subsidy is... that is equivalent to what the NSNDP revenues were [all from fundraising] through the Nineties before the big breakthrough.

With that revenue base the NSNDP, while it had only 1 or 2 MLAs, was very visible and serviced a large membership base. $11,000 per month in a province under a million people is definitely not peanuts for a volunteer based not for profit.

Yet, over 2 years since it started getting the substantial regular cash flow, the NSGP is as invisible as ever. Just before that the national Green party was paying a single organizer for the whole Atlantic region, and he had a noticeable impact.

Now the NSGP alone has a revenue about 4 times what that single organizer cost the national party. But Google the NSGP and see what you get. In fact that same person who had an impact as the national party paid Atlantic ogranizer has since been employed by the NSGP. Let alone they have enough funds to hire 2 or 3 more organizers.

But the only thing the NSGP has been in the news for is in the Summer of 2007 the Leader and Deputy Leader quit over decision making about party spending. Not to mention the Deputy Leader having run in a by-election, in her own riding, with the NSGP having run the same kind of skeletal campaign as they had before they got that really big cash cow.

A few months later when they had their leadership convention it would have been a side bar note except that E. May gave a speech of course. Buried in coverage of that speech were some questions a reporter had to pry out of the NSGP organizer Chris Alder. The new NSGP leader- don’t remember a thing about him/her- got a few dozen votes and Alder spun a provincial membership of a couple hundred, which would be inflated by including lapsed members, as "impressive growth."

What a joke.

So if the NSGP has had for 2 years as much revenue as the NSNDP had to service an early but very visible organization, where IS all that money going?


Upthread, HF and I both commented on how unlikely it is that all the senior May campaign staff were volunteers. How it is unusual and lucky enough for a campaign to get ONE such reasonably experienced campaigner... but to fill the 2-3 or more positions ALL with volunteers is very, very unlikely.

But it goes beyond that even. The Central Nova Headquarters has now been open and staffed continuously since early 2007. That is 2 years where they have never been just hanging out a shingle and waiting for people to walk in.

Included in that 2 year time span is the election last Fall when the Greens ran a full tilt campaign that acquitted itself well- plus the ramp-up to the election that was not in Spring 2007.

For anyone who works for as little as a week in a campaign or for a riding association and is receiving a salary from anyone while doing that staff work, Elections Canada requires that the salary be reported as an expense for the campaign or riding association

For that whole 2 year time span, with all the coordination that requires, the Central Nova EDA reported no salaries whatsoever, and the May campaign reported only 2 salary amounts that even could have been for a one week staff position stint [and even those two minor exceptions appear to be more typical of honorariums given to interns or other minimally experienced individuals who worked long hours for a campaign].

The idea that ALL this pretty sophisticated coordination work over 2 years was done by volunteers goes well beyond "very unlikely."


I have been looking around Elections Nova Scotia for at least a filing of the NSGP 2007 Income Statement. Not that ENS likely does any vetting of the things.

So far I have found nothing except the fact that since the beginning of 2007 the NSGP has received $300,000 from Nova Scotia taxpayers.

And i noticed on the site that the NSGP now at least has a website! When you go there and click on Newsroom... you get things like Kings south Green Party Association meets. Etc. News releases. No media stories for an invisible party.  

remind remind's picture

You the silence on this is astounding. And 300k is a whack of  taxpayers money to do nothing with.

It seems the GP sure does NOT do things differently than either the Cons or Libs.


Hey Ken


             I have a copy of the 2007 financial statements but I don't think I can attach them for you since I don't think babble allows attachments.  I can send you them on a private email if you'd like.  I can't remember where I got them online and couldn't find them again in a search earlier today.  Anyway I'm not privy to what goes on in Central Nova but since these are public records I can send them to you.  Send me a private message if you want.  There are salaries and professional fees listed but no itemized whose who in terms of positions.  The statements range from March 2007 - the end of the year which is the fiscal year end I suppose.

$110,854 from public funding on those statements so I'm not sure where you get $300,000 from over 2yrs. I would imagine the subsidy remains consistent since there hasn't been an election.  

$31,529. in professional fees.

$21,378. in wages.   

$4,900 transfer out of Green Party.  (hardly a subsidy to Central Nova to warrant any real suspicion.)

No real fundraising to speak of. 

$75,264. Net assets as of December 31, 2007.   

You had a thread a while ago on NSGP but no one answered my questions about how things were going in NS for the Greens.  So I'm not much help to you there.  They appear to be sitting on the money for now but I don't know what they spent in 2008.  But I don't see anything that says they are subsidizing Central Nova in any way. 

In the end though anyone can launch a formal complaint to elections Canada or Elections Nova Scotia.  You guys seem to be trying to compare apples and oranges and want a connection. 

Elizabeth ran and lost.  If anyone here really thinks the Green Party broke the law and/or violated any elections Canada regulations on reporting then by all means launch a formal complaint and ask for an investigation. 



Thanks Steve. Sent you an email. 

mimeguy wrote:

$110,854 from public funding on those statements so I'm not sure where you get $300,000 from over 2yrs. I would imagine the subsidy remains consistent since there hasn't been an election.  

They get $33K per quarter. Not sure why it would be $110K for an annual. Though this was the first year of the subsidy and they effectively got an extra quarterly payment.

The $300K figure is what is on the Elections Nova Scotia site. And that is what it would be for 9 quarterlies since Jan 2007.

The 'drafting' of the legislation was totally secret. So the first $66K would have dropped on the NSGP with no warning.... with knowing the $11,000/month would continue, but still only the virtually zero budget for expenses they had at the moment.

So whatever spending they did do, started quite a ways into the that 2007 fiscal year.

I'll comment more when I see the statement. You might have got it from public records, but so far even with staff help I've got nothing.  

mimeguy wrote:

$31,529. in professional fees.

$21,378. in wages.   

$4,900 transfer out of Green Party.  (hardly a subsidy to Central Nova to warrant any real suspicion.)

If there is a subsidy it isn't going to take the form of a transfer. It would be payments to individuals who were then doing work in Central Nova.

I'll comment on those amounts when I see the whole statements. But thanks now for making this much public. It was certainly my understanding that NS political parties were required to file these financial statements the same as do the national parties with Elections Canada.


Looking at the 2007 Nova Scotia Green Party filing- and mimeguy already posted the relevant items....

"Professional fees"

That could be a number of things. And in any other provincial section of a party it would be plausible that is something other than a different label for term contract work.

The NSGP did not even have a website for more than a year after this report was filed, so they didn’t spend part of it on that. Polling? For a party with a negligible showing? Some kind of political consultant recommendations? Let alone this is not the norm in the region or within the Greens, there was no visible actions of any kind taken for the following year... so it seems pretty unlikely money was spent on such a study.

I also don’t see any evidence that the NSGP is just sitting on the funds. The filing only covers about 6 months after the NSGP would have the first inkling that all this money was going to drop on them. And they got 2 quarterly payments [one essentially retroactive] almost immediately after the surprise. That’s $66,000. That and a little bit of head scratching over what to do with this new mana would account for the $75,000 in assets, rather than it being a story of them "sitting on the funds."

Granted, it is only 6 months since they had the Nova Scotia subsidy money in hand, and over a year has passed since then. But the indications are that after the initial surprise jolt of cash, that the NSGP has since been spending all or the bulk of what was coming in... and most of that was spent on paying people to do something.

And the ONLY visibility there is for a Green Party in Nova Scotia is the May campaign in Central Nova.

That $21,378 in wages is presumably for the Provincial Organizer and usual spokesperson of the NSGP, Chris Alders. The same Chris Alders who was the Atlantic regional organizer for the national party and was the point person when May settled on running in Nova Scotia, and then specifically on Central Nova... before the Nova Scotia subsidy money existed.

I know Chris Alders to be a talented organizer. And he laid the groundwork for the national party and at least started things going in Central Nova. Do you suppose he stopped doing that when he became "Provincial Organizer" of the then and still invisible NSGP? Part of the stated reason for May running in Central Nova was to build the Green presence in Nova Scotia and the region. Was Chris Alders replaced as Regional Organizer for the national party when he became the anchor staff person of the NSGP? How much has the position been filled in the last almost 2 years since Chris Alders had the position?

So we have for several months in 2007 for the NSGP declared salaries of $21,000. And a further $32,000- half the total expenses- for a mysterious ‘professional fees’. Mysterious, but it was for some kind of work done.

So we have $53,000 paid for people doing work. Depending on when that started, that works out to a range of $6,000 to 9,000 per month. Which translates into 2 or more paid people.

By comparison, the NSNDP for a number of years had a staff of 2. Which served a membership of 2-3,000 [over 10 times the NSGP 2007 membership], many events per month around the province, and a very visible overall presence.

I’ll bet the the Ontario Green Party- very visible and in a province with more than 10 times the population- doesn’t have any more than 2-3 staff.

I can’t speak to the skills of others since I don’t know who they are. But Chris Alders is anything but incompetent. I’m sure he does spend some time on the skeletal existence of the Nova Scotia Green Party. But based on what is out there, that might very generously account for a half time job.

The NSGP is simply not a product of the work of 2 or 3 people.

Again, based on the results that one sees, my organizers’ experience has told me on the other hand that what you see coming out of the Central Nova / May Green campaign, going on 2 years now, indicates a capable staffing of a couple people on a sustained basis. Who just happen to never show up in any expense filings for the Central Nova EDA, or for the full tilt May campaign, that spent the typical amounts in each category for a campaign spending the allowable limit... every category except salaries that is... for which the May campaign filed a negligible expense instead of the typical $20 to 30,000 range.

Just a marvelous set of coincidences I suppose.


KenS wrote:

I’ll bet the the Ontario Green Party- very visible and in a province with more than 10 times the population- doesn’t have any more than 2-3 staff.

There is no ongoing public subsidy for political parties of any size in Ontario, as there is federally and in half of Canadian provinces.  I doubt the Ontario Green Party has any permanent full-time staff at all.


Just about no likelihood that is true.

My comment on how many staff positions are likely to have existed for the May campaign and the Central Nova headquarters running long before that, is based on both the overall budgets of those and on their visible impact.

IE, no matter how many volunteers you have, you don't run something like that without a capable staffing complement. And both the May campaign and the Central Nova EDA with a headquarters open and staffed for an additional 18 months show no salary expenses.

My observation of the Ontario Green Party is pretty distant. Maybe I'll look at their financial statements later.... but I'd be safe in betting they always have staff, and more than 1.

I doubt there is another party than the Nova Scotia Green Party that is totally dependent on public subsidy money.

Just so the point doesn't get lost: that the Nova Scotia Green Party is showing a staffing complement that would put it in the same league as the Nineties NSNDP, and the Ontario Green Party now.

But the NSGP is invisible. Which opens up the questions of what those people paid by the NSGP were doing.

And that matches up with the anomolay we have of the May campaign and the long running Central Nova headquarters that have had a very visible impact, but show no salary expenses.


Here’s a comparison to the Ontario Green Party using figures from their 2007 annual report.


Professional Fees      28,498.25

Research & Polling          75.00

Salaries & Benefits   42,918.09

There is those "Professional Fees" again. Maybe this is where the NSGP got the label.

All political parties use a pool of organizers paid on short term contracts. Even when the cotracts are continuously renewed, they don’t have benefits, so they don’t fit under the category of "Salaries & Benefits".

"Professional Fees" strikes as an odd label, and could be anyting. But in a normal lean non-profit such as the ONGP, such a large part of the budget is going to be contract work- ‘boots on the ground’.

So the ONGP had $71,500 in the 2 categories, and also for 2007 the NSGP had $75,000 to $100,000 when you annualize the expense [the range depending on when during the year you peg the beginning of the spending].

We can disagree about how well the ONGP really did in the election, but even before the election the ONGP definitely had a number of active riding association, was visible to the public, and even more visible to politically aware people.

In Nova Scotia, after 2 years of comparable revenues and staff expenditures, in a much smaller pond where it is not difficult to be noticed, the NSGP still has a very skeletal organization and not even political junkies ever hear of them.

During the time of the 2007 staff expenditures reported above there was a by-election in the home riding of the NSGP Deputy Leader. By-elections are the golden opportunities for also-ran parties. What the London North Centre by did for Elizabeth May has lots of historical precedents.

But even with that multiple staff available, the NSGP still ran the same old zero visibility campaign in the by.

At the same time that there was lots of ground work organizing being done at the Central Nova headquarters, getting ready for May campaign. But the same as for the May campaign EC filing, the Central Nova Green EDA 2007 filing shows rent and all the other expenses for an ongoing campaign, but no salary expenses.


Not much to do with the thread topic.

Just that it includes E May and Central Nova.

Ignatieff will run Liberal candidate against May



No surprise. And Iggy is here for the NS Liberal Convention. So its the right time for him to reassure Libs here and elsewhere.

But you have to think hes aware the Greens are also have a convention this weekend in Pictou.

Nothing personal, just a little shot across the bow.

Sunday Hat

No surprise really. The backroom deal with May has to go down as one of the dumbest "clever schemes" in political history.

The Liberals thought an empowered Green party would eat into NDP vote. Instead the Greens ate into Liberal vote. They thought having a party leader concede the election to the Liberals would earn them credibility. Instead, May lost the little credibility she had and the Libs looked ridiculous.

It was inevitable that the Liberals would pull the plug on this. The real issue now is how May, with her self-selected mandate of defeating Stephen Harper no matter what the cost, will react to a Liberal leader who sees her as irrelevant. Not to mention one who loves the oil sands.


"The Liberals thought an empowered Green party would eat into NDP vote. Instead the Greens ate into Liberal vote."

You have this the wrong way.  It was never expected that the Greens would eat into the ndp vote.  Elizabeth declared her opposition and resentment towards both the party and Jack Layton.  The idea was the concept of keeping your enemies closer.  At least for many liberals.  Frankly I think on one level Dion thought he was doing a real non-partisan gesture by surrendering a riding he couldn't win anyway.  There is actually a legitimate, mutual respect between the two of them.  The liberals though aren't dumb.  The tactic all along was to embrace the Green environmental policies and then present the liberals as the experienced party to put them in place. After all Dion agreed and believed that the carbon tax was the solution and the Green Party environmental passion is also its Achilles heel.  What the liberals misjudged was the fact that Canadians still don't trust them and have every reason not to.  So there is no point in embracing the Greens any longer since the plan didn't have the effect it intended and the liberals never embraced Dion's environmental plan anyway.  He's gone and so is the headache of having to stand up for real environmental protection. Hell there is less incentive to even pretend to stand up for real environmental protection since the economic crisis is providing all the cover they need to delay action.       



YOu may be right about Dion's personal motives, but I think that some of the third rate hacks in the Liberal party organization who have watched too many episodes of the west wing really did think that by raising the profile of the Green Party - they would be forcing the NDP to fight a two front war. I think that a lot of those Liberal hacks made the mistake of stereotyping people who vote Green as being a bunch of counter-cultural Birkenstock types who would otherwise vote NDP and they were licking their chops at watching that segment split away from the NDP and help the Liberals win places like Ottawa Centre and Trinity-Spadina.

That was the logic - of course it didn't work out that way.

Its pretty obvious that the Liberals have come to terms with the fact that their ceaseless efforts to kill off the NDP have been a total failure and so they are now going to doing what they do best - getting pro-business middle of the road suburban types to vote Liberal instead of Tory.


I would agree from my personal experience in Trinity Spadina that the liberals thought I would take more votes from the ndp here.  The dilemma is that both the liberals and ndp lost equal support and the Greens and Conservatives gained about equal.  So there still may be room for liberals to think they lost their support to the increased conservative vote and the ndp lost to us.  No one can be sure where those votes came from or went to or whether they mostly stayed home. 

Concerning the topic of the thread though in context the Nova Scotia government may very well have thought the Greens would affect the ndp proportionally more.  I just don't think this will happen given Elizabeth's personal opposition to anything remotely associated with the ndp.  But the deed is done and the NSGP has significant funding for a smaller provincial party.  I just don't know what their doing with the funding.


"I just don't think this will happen given Elizabeth's personal opposition to anything remotely associated with the ndp."

Can anyone explain why May has this personal obsessive hatred of the NDP. Is it simply that the NDP isn't big enough to ever offer her any patronage appointments they the Liberals might? It certainly isn't policy related since the Sierra Club that May used to head always gave ther NDP very high ratings for its environmental policies. So is it just some bizarre personal animus?

Sunday Hat

May - the legend goes - never forgave Layton for calling an election in 2005 when she was so close to seeing the Liberal government take bold action at the UN climate summit that year. Of course, Layton should forever suffer for not putting her agenda and her tactics first. He failed to realize that it didn't matter that the Liberals failed to take any action on Kyoto, and that they wouldn't take any action on greenhouse gases in the years to come. The most important thing was that Elizabeth May had access to corridors of power and Jack screwed that up for her.


I don't think its a deep animus, or a hatred- she just doesn't like the NDP.

She has always been more comfortable with the Liberals. I don't know why, but its not unusual and I don't really think it matters.

Her practical standard is not unusual for people close to the Liberals: not uncritical Liberals, but they'll look to the Liberal party as long as there is a shred of a rationale [in their terms]. For example, Dion the wonderful, or Martin the Harper stopper, whatever.

By that standard, the NDP is just a competitor in the way.

At bottom I think its all rather mundane. So what if she doesn't like the NDP?

Today she was still willing to hold out an olive branch to Iggy. At bottom, simply because he's a Liberal.

She and other Greens will say its because she does politics differently. She can get away with saying that and it being ignored that some parties [one anyway] get treated way more generously. She just throws the NDP a pro forma bone now and then where the script obviously requires it.

But its not worth chewing on it. Personally, I wouldn't want to give eMe the satisfaction.


Of course that all begs the question - if she likes the Liberals so much - why doesn't she end this sad Green Party charade and simply join the Liberal Party? (or would they have her?)


She will only maybe be going all the way actually into the Liberal Party as an MP, after she is a failure or at a dead end as the Leader of the Green Party. She isn't there yet. As much as i might hope otherwise, not even close yet in my opinion.

And you bet the Liberals would have her. If she didn't fit in, they'd drop her out- but I can't see them not giving it a go.

They'll have her, unless she were to leave the Green Party because of what people across all party lines would see as some kind of disgrace.

It is a disgrace how she and her yes people get the run the party internally. But that is far from a majority opinion within the Green Party- and wouldn't count as a disgrace to anyone except a thin crust of political junkies.

Sunday Hat

If I was a Liberal I'd worry she was more of a liability then an asset. I certainly would oppose her if she sought the NDP nomination in my riding.

Suffice it to say, the Michael Ignatieff who is courting Conservative support and praising the oilsands won't go anywhere near her.



While and before the Greens had their weekend Convention in Central Nova, there have been media articles and Green blogger discussion about where May will run next.

IE, other than for a by-election, might it be other than Central Nova?

Well, no bloody way.

For all the reasons eMe states, plus another one she doesn't say out loud.

Elizabeth May is the face of the Green Party. She IS the Green Party to the public, and to many, many supporters.

But only from her Central Nova base is she able to be the Green organization as well as its public face.

Too many nagging questions asked from the diversity of the national Green party, and especially in Ontario where the organization is strongest.

In Central Nova, among Greens, Elizabeth May walks on water. And since there is nothing going on with the Greens in the region- national party as well as the cash rich but invisible Nova Scotia Green Party.... Elizabeth May is not just the face, she's the be all and end all.

Make no mistake, Elizabeth May has lifted NO boats out here, except her own. the Greens show NO impact in the region despite all her exposure. Politics is a very small pond out here. But she's still only "noticeable," the same as when she brought her media savvy with her here.

She not only is no big fish in a small pond, she's not becoming one either. Nothing like for example what Alexa McDonough became: the regional big fish in small pond that pulled a LOT of boats way up with her.

But, in the small pond of the Green activist world Elizabeth May is everything out here. The complete vacuum of anything elsa than her going on in the Green world out here, empowers and augments her Central Nova power base.... which in turn gives her weight to bully her way in the national Green organization.

May has been throwing her weight around in the organization since the day she came in as Leader. But there are limits on how much clout even a personality cult Leader has within a national party, even one as thin as the GP.

But the complete dominance she has here, and especially from her Central Nova base, has allowed her to plow past those usual limits.

She and her yes people always have the case that continuing to hold national Conventions in Central Nova raises her profile and the strength of the organization here.

But they already have that in spades, and more of it is not what is required to get her over the top of winning here some day.

But every Convention held here builds the devotion of local Greens to her, which builds her power base within the party, whether or not it builds the party within Nova Scotia and the region.

And it certainly doesn't hurt that it packs the house with people who love her, and limits the number of pesky activists from Ontario and west.

I'm going to do a couple more posts. First one on staffing decisions and changes in structure within the Green Party.

Then one on the considerable lack of transparency and obfuscation in Green Party financial reporting.

I extend an invitation to Green dissidents to join in, and challenge some one to come forth and defend the current state of affairs. [And not just the predictable and pro forma "what do you know / you can't prove anything / your agenda is obvious" etc. Some refutation with facts would be nice.]

This discussion IS being followed by both, and is reflected in Green blogger discussions. The total silence from the status quo supporters is notable.


If you read the blogs of Greens that are independent of the GP website you’ll see lots of details about staffing choices/processes, substantial changes in governance rules, and disputes about nomination processes and filling of elected vacancies in the party structure.

A certain amount of this happens in any party. And one has to make allowances for exaggeration, crankiness, whether people have their facts straight, all the usual stuff. But make all those allowances and there is still a clear picture of the leader and leadership throwing their weight around, dodgy process that seems to change arbitrarily, and staffing choices that are puzzling about as to the priorities, if not downright nepotistic and sycophantic.

A lot of Greens were not happy with Jim Harris being Leader. But there are probably few if any accusations that Harris did anything that smacked of packing the house and manipulation so that he could get his way without pesky opposition.

One thing I do NOT see on these blogs though is a frank aknowledgement that all the evidence is that this state of affairs is at least satisfactory to the vast majority of Green activists.

I don’t even get the sense that there are a lot of Green activists who like or grant what May has done for the profile of the party, but express reservations about her influence on the internal process. Some of that, but not much as far as I can tell.

Yes, a certain amount of that can be chalked up to people not wanting to make waves. But only so much. And in the final analysis it doesn’t matter how much that is a part of the lack of opposition.

Despite the popularity of the idea on babble, the Green Party is not a pressure cooker ready to blow. I would even say that is not even on the horizon.

With the possible exception of this overall assessment of there being not that much opposition, I think the Green dissidents would agree with most of what I’ve said here. It’s the stuff they rightfully pay a lot of attention to.

When I have had discussions with Greens on other blogs, they have disagreed with my suggestion that Nova Scotia Green Party subsidy funding may have been used in fairly substantial amounts to pay part of the way of the May / Central Nova Green machine.

Not surprising that even dissidents do not want that to be true, and I readily admit I have nothing more to show than coincidences of a number of funding and financial reporting anomolays [plus the fact that what we see in results on the ground compared to spending reported, shows totally complementary opposites in the NSGP as compared to the May Campaign and the de facto permanent Central Nova campaign].

In my next post I’m going to back off that specific suggestion that would account for the financial reporting anomolays.... focusing instead on the pattern of lack of transparency and obfuscation in the financial reporting of the May Campaign and the Central Nova EDA.

On that score I find even the Green activist dissidents too ready to buy the excuses that come out of the May brain trust.

On some reflection I think there are two things that contribute to that. The obvious one being that me saying that the financial reporting is dodgy, is entwined with my suggestion of a specific motive for the lack of financial transparency.

But also, I have gradually realized that I don’t think people are aware that the excuses for the dodgy and/or obscure financial reporting emenate from the people responsible for it. The ‘explanations’ just sound natural to people.


Staff positions taken off the GP website: 

Office/Research Assistant, Central Nova
Lise Richard

Aide to Elizabeth May, Central Nova
Trudy Watts

Maritime Organizer (NB, NS, PE)
Ellen Durkee
902-673-2368 [in Central Nova, where she already resided]

As pointed out earlier, there are only trivial salary expenses reported for the May campaign [when $20-30,000 is typical for a campaign that size], and none at all in the 2007 Central Nova EDA that ran a campaign headquarters for over 7 months of that year [part of which was ramp-up to an election expected soon]. For the EDA it was rent and all the other usual expenses, but also no salary... despite a substantial amount of organization and coordination done at the HQ.

There is indeed a lot of grey area over the May Campaign having been required to report staff expenses for any of the people listed above.

In the first place, we do not know which of them were there during the campaign- we only know they are on national GP staff now. If they were in the HQ doing campaign work though, it doesn’t matter who actually paid them... they are supposed to be declared as an expense.

This info is fundamental to Elections Canada so that THEY can determine if spending limits were breached. The fact alone that the national party paid them most definitely does not exempt them from riding campaign reporting.

The grey area that does come in is that in all 3 cases, their work can at least to a degree be chalked up to May’s functions as Leader. Or in the case of Ellen Durkee, that even when she was there, she was doing regional organizer work.

If the first two were in the HQ during campaign, its unlikely they did no significant campaign work. [Let alone that if they were there during the campaign and paid by Ottawa, they did not necessarily have their present functions that are legitimately national expenses]

On the surface, the regional organizer would look to be the most clearly legitimate as not being a riding campaign expense. But if you live in the Maritimes you know that with only one possible exception, the other riding campaigns were invisible. Not just thin like you find in the Ontario hinterlands- non-existent.

There was nothing for an organizer to do everywhere else. And a great deal to be done in Central Nova. With the Greens not being chock a block with experienced organizers to coordinate all those volunteers. Not to mention that May attaches an exceptional premium to staff work done around her to be performed by people with maximum loyaty to HER.

All that be Ellen Durkee in spades.

And by the way, the fact that there is NOTHING on the ground anywhere else in the region just might have something to do with how much of Durkee’s time has been devoted to Central Nova organizing ever since that never closing HQ opened.

And... not to mention the fact that Ellen Durkee was on the Exec of the Nova Scotia Green Party and became Interim Leader when the Leader and Deputy Leader quit over changes to the decision making structure. The substance of the differences being over unspecified"party spending". This being after the huge cash cow subsidies dropped into the laps of the skeletal provincial party, and after the opening of the [permanent] Central Nova Campaign Headquarters.

But that bit is a digression more to do with the previous post about the structure of the Green Party being heavily hewed to Elizabeth May .... and to the possible mingling of NSGP and May campaign/Central Nova spending.

If the May campaign were to have to account to Elections Canada for people paid by Ottawa but working from the HQ, and if they were positions such as the 3 listed above, it is true that in practice EC would be very tolerant in accepting attributions of those staff costs to national or regional expenses rather than the May campaign. EC has to be tolerant in such judgements.

But if each of specific persons are exclude as significant May campaign functions, then someone else was doing the work. And its back to the same question: where are these staff expenses?

If all the actual May campaign staff functions had been reported, I doubt that the expenses would have put the campaign over the spending limit. That there were no salary expenses- that everything was done by actual volunteers [not paid by anyone] is unlikely in the extreme. [Discussed upthread.]

So if there were expenses that should have been reported- and that specific reporting is both required and a high priority for EC- and reporting the expenses would NOT have put the campaign over the limit.... then the obvious question is why would they not be reported?

Good question.

Leaving aside suggestions like I have made about plausible motive[s]... lets stick with the apparent non reporting itself.

It is hugely unlikely this is just an oversight. Whoever is the steward of Green Party financial reporting has shown she/he knows where the lines are and how to play them. And no party Leader’s riding campaign CFO gets left to make such decisions on their own... let alone in the May Green Party where FAR less is kept very close to the inner sanctum.

I’ve said before that non-reporting of salary expenses that turn out when investigated to NOT put a campaign over the limit... that is not likely to get you a penalty. But it predictably brings one or more public admonishments, and the certainty that you are going to be cut slack in the future. Those are not trivial consequences.

I think this indicates at a minimum a deliberate policy of non-transparency and obfuscation. [With a separate question as to whether this is to hide specific activities, or simply to keep options obscured from view.]

This post has already taken more words than I expected, so I’m going to leave the rest about non-transparent financial reporting for another post.