elizabeth may

Elizabeth May Too Politically Green to be Leader

Exclusion from debates a self fulfilling prophecy for Greens

By: James Di Fiore

Imagine if Elizabeth May were a far right leader who espoused ideas like eliminating the corporate tax altogether, privatizing daycare centers and making abortion illegal. Imagine she had the support of nearly 1 million voters in the last election but still did not hold a seat in Parliament.

Now, if you can, try to imagine all of her current boosters rallying to allow her air time during the televised, federal debates. Can’t do it, can you? Don’t feel bad, most of May’s supporters are left leaning, which is fine on the surface, but scratch away and you’ll find a facet of the electorate as important as voter apathy; complete and utter hypocrisy born from an ideological bent dressed up as a fight for democracy.

This new cause celebre is the latest example of Canada’s continuous erosion of political consistency, spotlighting a hyper partisan yet fractured electorate in the run up to the fourth election the nation has seen in the past 7 years. Say this to May’s boosters and you will be met with the disingenuous claim that they would fight the good fight even if Ann Coulter were the shafted leader of a seatless party. ‘We want proportional representation,’ they claim, and have no qualms over pretending the system is already changed before actually trying to change it. In other words, they insist on circumnavigating the process while simultaneously stating the process is unfair. How’s that for double speak?

This is an issue of process, not fairness. Proportional representation is a fight worth having, but allowing May to debate before winning that fight would be an act of collective civil disobedience rather than an exercise in democratic fairness. Indeed, this fight begins and ends with Elections Canada, an organization ripe for criticism by all federal parties, especially the current government who believe Elections Canada are out to get them. But the Greens, who sat on their hands since the 2008 election when they should have been trying to work cooperatively with the other federal parties to evolve our Canadian system, now expect to be given special treatment as they describe their exclusion as “arbitrary” and an “outrage”. Outrageous is an apt description for May’s claim that Canadians will be deprived of real democracy, implying that the debates are the best way for Canadians to make an educated choice in the election. Assuming this is true, it speaks volumes of May’s leadership when one considers her inclusion last time around garnered exactly zero seats in Parliament. And while a million voters are nothing to sneeze at, the actual number could be much lower if some Green supporters are now tired of a disorganized party with fractured support and no official voice in Ottawa. If May had been active in the pursuit of proportional representation she would be coming off more credible. As it stands, her old antics of flailing her political limbs and screaming ‘democracy now!’ is getting old…and obvious.

But hey, let’s not let something as arbitrary as ‘the system’ get in the way of a good publicity stunt. If support for the Greens decreases this time around then May’s days as leader will be numbered, and whoever replaces her will have to decide what’s more important: a chance to participate in televised debates, or spending the next few years championing the very system they need to justify their participation. Choose the latter and they will not only increase their political capital for the next election, but possibly save their party in the process.