Monday, May 11, 2015

Speaking of Elizabeth May ...

Given all the chatter over Green Party leader Elizabeth May's "sleep deprived" antics at the recent Ottawa Press Gallery event, I thought I'd pile on a bit and reproduce a column I wrote which appeared a few years ago in the Ottawa Citizen

Green Party Needs a New NameIt’s time Green Party leader Elizabeth May changed the name of her party so that it more accurately reflect its true purpose.

I’m thinking of something like: “We will do Everything we can to Help the Liberal Party Even if it Means Undermining our own Environmental Cause Party.”

OK that moniker might be a bit difficult to fit on a ballot, but it sure fits the Green Party’s current raison d’etre.

After all, ever since May became Green Party leader, her chief political goal has been less about promoting Green ideology and more about helping Liberals get elected.

Recall, for example, that in the 2008 federal election she decided not to run a Green candidate against then Liberal leader Stephan Dion.

And in doing so, she effectively endorsed Dion for prime minister.

This was an odd decision since if May really thought Dion would make a great prime minister, why was she even running?

And don’t tell me May endorsed Dion because she believed he was some kind of green activist.

That theory doesn’t hold water because the Liberals at the time didn’t exactly have a sparkling “green” record.

In fact, the Liberal government, of which Dion was part, had done precious little to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions or to implement the Kyoto Accord.

That’s why Jamey Heath, an environmental activist and onetime NDP advisor, called May’s Dion endorsement “incredibly self-defeating”.
He was right.

Also seemingly self-defeating was May’s bizarre call during the 2008 federal election for strategic voting, in which she actually urged Canadians not to vote for a Green candidate if another candidate (i.e. a Liberal) had a better chance at defeating a Conservative.

With a friend like May, Green Party candidates didn’t need enemies.

And even though the Liberals have fallen into third place, May has still not given up promoting their electoral cause.

Most recently, she announced the Greens would not be running a candidate in the upcoming Labrador by-election against ex-Conservative cabinet minister, Peter Penashue, and she strongly urged the NDP to follow suit, as this would increase the probability of a Liberal victory.

May’s point is that such electoral co-operation is needed to defeat their common enemy, the Conservatives.

This might be true, but please note May is not asking the Liberals to step aside in the name of electoral co-operation, even though as the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hebert recently pointed out, the provincial NDP is growing in popularity in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Clearly, May’s goal isn’t just for the Conservatives to lose; it’s also for the Liberals to win.

If Green Party supporters aren’t angry about all this, then they aren’t paying attention because it’s obvious that May is hurting their cause.

By pulling out of election contests, for instance, May is undermining the party’s ability to get its message out to voters.

Certainly running a Green candidate in the Labrador by-election, which is guaranteed to receive tons of media coverage, would give the Green Party an amazing chance to promote its cause.

But the problem for the Greens goes much deeper than just losing free publicity.

Much deeper.

The more important question is this: if it doesn’t field candidates in elections and if its leader keeps promoting another party, why does the Green Party even exist?

To be blunt, if the Green Party doesn’t want to engage in the political arena as an independent voice, with its own vision and with its own ideals, than it serves no real or useful function.

You know, now that I think about it, maybe changing the name of the Green Party isn’t the best answer.

Maybe it would be more logical and easier if May simply changed parties.

The Liberals are probably looking for a few more MPs.

No comments: