Monday, April 16, 2007

Did Elizabeth May Fool Green Party Voters?

All Things Canadian has put up a transcript of a debate between David Chernushenko and Elizabeth May during the run for the leadership of the Green Party. It makes for fascinating reading:
David Chernushenko:
I do however have to ask a question of Elizabeth and she’ll be able to rebut when it comes. I’d like you to explain why you felt it necessary to call me and Jim Harris during the last election and ask us to consider asking Green Party candidates to stand aside in ridings where our running…

Elizabeth May interrupts:
That’s not what I did David.

…might have a chance to…

EM interrupts:

You’ll have a chance to rebut. Please continue and we’ll give Elizabeth a chance to rebut.

I’ve finished my question.

Moderator and Jim Fannon finish round before rebuttal.

No, I don’t like my actions being mischaracterized in a public debate and I apologize for interrupting David but I was a bit taken aback. What I felt at the end of the last election, and we were about a week from the vote, and I did talk to Jim Harris about it and I did call David as deputy leader because I felt the Green Party could take centre stage at that moment - we’d been denied the stage all through the election - to talk about putting principle ahead of power; to talk about what could happen if Harper was elected to all the platforms we cared about. Beyond that I didn’t have a very well formed idea at all. I was calling them in desperation to say ‘What could we do?’ Could you for instance interest the Liberals if they were interested in talking about proportional representation? Was there room for a coalition there? We had about a week. I admit I was desperate. I had no actual plan but I certainly didn’t call to suggest that people should stand aside for no reason. It was a question of what we could do to ensure the Green Party was front and center.

I do raise this here and I feel I have to because the same question was asked in the Montreal debate and I believe what was being asked of me and of Jim was – you posed the question; would I consider – would it make sense to ask Green Party candidates to step aside in riding where by doing so we would help to prevent a Stephen Harper government from being elected and I equally am very concerned about a Harper government but my response was no, I couldn’t do that. I did not believe that was a principled thing for the Green Party to do because in fact I could never – we are running on principle – not running to try to keep one government out. We’re running on trying to bring Green in and I as a candidate and one who has been a candidate several times could never ask another candidate; could never ask another riding association to have their candidate step down.

EM interrupts:
This is an odd situation.

Moderator and Jim Fannon finish round of rebuttals.

Was your position clearly understood Elizabeth.

No, I don’t think so. There’s elements of it of course. What David and I had a conversation; Jim and I had a conversation. At the time I wasn’t acting as anything other than the Executive Director of a national environmental organization watching what appeared to be, and which has proven to be true; 20 years of work about to go down the drain. I didn’t have an actual proposal. I said ‘What could you do? What could make a difference? Could you approach other parties?’ I had many more conversations with Jim in fairness than I had with David – certainly didn’t ask you to step down – I thought you were going to win in Ottawa-Centre. So, what we’ve got to do is, is… I’m glad to get it out in the open because there’s been rumours about this and they’re not really very helpful. It wasn’t a clear idea that I was putting forward. It wasn’t actually a proposition. It was a what could you do now if you stepped forward. Could you make a difference and that is something that I would not do as Green Party leader it was in my role as an NGO and it wasn’t quite as represented before so I appreciate the chance to clear it up. (emphasis mine)
What is clear to me is Elizabeth May has had a significant change of heart about what she would or would not do, now that she is leader of the Green Party. It is also clear that with May, the ends always justify the means (which is very old politics indeed). I wonder how many Greens are having buyer's remorse?
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