There’s something nostalgically retro about Elizabeth May cry of “sexism” to explain her exclusion from the leaders’ debates. After all, isn’t “sexism” the very vehicle that transported Sarah Palin to the VP debates south of the border? Talking to a group of reporters on Parliament Hill yesterday, May played the victim, blaming the “old boy’s club”: “This is anti-democratic, closed-door, backroom decision-making by four national party leaders who are all men and five television executives – who are all men – to keep out the one woman leader of a federal party.”
That’s poppycock, of course. Even more laugh-out-loud funny is May’s outrage over “anti-democratic, closed-door, backroom decision-making.” As I learned researching this profile of her last year, behind May’s feisty-martyr public persona is a woman well-acquainted with closed-door finagling. Just look at that contentious arrangement she hammered out with Dion in Central Nova last spring.
May belongs in the leadership debates for the very reasons the leaders don’t want her, and none of them has to do with the fact she’s a she. Rather, her arrival signals a potential threat. The Greens may have only garnered 4 per cent of the national vote in the last election, but they’re currently standing at 10 per cent, behind the NDP at 16 per cent, according to this Aug. 30 Ipsos Reid poll. May’s presence would be, at worst, an oxygen-sucking distraction, at best a gust of fresh air. She’s whip-smart, charismatic, possesses a rapier wit and can speak across the range of issues (though her Central Nova deal with the Grits hand-cuffs her from really going to town on their woeful eco record).
Why the pols don’t want her is obvious. But what are the suits who make up the shadowy TV network “Consortium” thinking? They can’t use the “no Green MP” excuse now that former Independent Blair Wilson jumped last month. May’s presence would draw viewers and raise the level of spectacle. So why the freeze-out? That’s the question May should be asking, instead of serving up a “I’m just a powerless woman against the patriarchy” explanation. It’s just so 1970s.