UPDATED: Ah, nostalgia - Macleans.ca

UPDATED: Ah, nostalgia


UPDATED with brand-new thoughts from Elizabeth, below

“Harper and Layton have their plan. Nothing can interfere with their plan. Their plan, to destroy the Liberal party, is a route to electoral success for both of them. But my concern about climate means that I can’t play into the game that says it doesn’t matter if Harper is elected… My commitment is ensuring that Mr. Harper isn’t prime minister at the end of the next election.”

“In 2005, I’d been on the phone with Jack Layton right up until the government fell. Until that point, I’d believed in him. I’d admired him. He told me that he’d only gone into federal politics over his concern for the climate. I’d been on the phone with him begging him: ‘don’t bring down the government on the day of the opening of the climate conference.’ I remember leaving him a voicemail on his cell saying: ‘Jack, I don’t know how you live with yourself. I don’t know how you could possibly do this.'”

“It’s not about politics. And it sure isn’t about whether I prefer any party over the Greens. I refuse to play these stupid strategic games that would win us a few seats, but lose us the planet. It’s rather clear in my mind what’s more important.”

Elizabeth May, so long ago

UPDATE: From Monday’s Globe:

“’New Democrats, search your hearts,’ she said Sunday in an interview, repeating a line she delivered during the local candidates debates last week attended by hundreds of Nova Scotians intrigued by this high-profile local battle….

“In response to criticism from within her own party, Ms. May acknowledged yesterday that her message is confusing….

“‘I love our candidates. I think they’re fantastic people,’ said Ms. May. ‘…I cannot lie to voters and say there is no issue [with voting Green] in these ridings. I trust the voters. That’s what it comes down to.'”


UPDATED: Ah, nostalgia

  1. So, the eyes of Green Party supporters get big, and in trying to decide whether to support their party or the environment (at least as far as the environment is supported by a carbon tax), there is a strong possibility that they will wind up with effectiveness in neither.

  2. Vote splitting became inevitable when Elizabeth May became leader and took the party noticeably to the left.

  3. We boast a democracy. Delusion. Too many triffids in our midst.

  4. To the left? That’s not very realistic. Harris and May both have some roots in the Progressive Conservatives. Some of her positions could be lifted out of the last policy document of the PCPC. But clearly within the GPC membership there is a very broad range of opinion including those who are pretty moderate but also a great many who are on the left. I see much the same people involved at the riding and grass roots level as were there when Harris ran the show. So are you telling us all that GPC motherhood about grass roots democracy is fluff?

    I wish for once someone in the media would look at the real threat Harper poses.

    His drive is single mindedly focussed on reducing the power of Ottawa. Some surely have noted that.

    But few have made the connection that one very important by-product of savaging the power of the federal purse as Harper has done and will continue to do if he returns to the Langevin Block is that among the national initiatives that won’t ever be done is anything meaningful on climate change. By reducing Ottawa’s fiscal capacity he’s going to realise his life long dream of reducing Ottawa’s sphere of influence to a date back in the 1800’s when the British North America Act was written.

    Let the provinces, and people, sink or swim on their own is one style of governing philosophy – Stephen Harper’s. It sounds seductively “correct” when times are good.

    It doesn’t sound at all positive when times are bad.

    Greens may account for 9 or 10% of the vote or less in this election. They really need to consider whether their vote, strategically applied, can help push Harper *out* of office not merely limit him to a minority.

    A Harper minority, as we’ve seen over the past two and a half years, is just as destructive as a majority. If Harper regains control of parliament by the time a “green” leadership is in place in Canada in one, two or more elections, it’ll be far too late to do anything about environmental issues-not because the environment will then be irreparably damaged (it may be) but because the federal government won’t have the ability to raise funds to do anything meaningful.

    That’s the not so hidden agenda people need to wake up to.

  5. Michael Watkins, the Liberals did squat on the environmental front while in office because Chretien wanted it that way. The Liberals talk the talk but never walk the walk. Who are you trying to kid?

  6. Michael Watkins,
    Did it not ever occur to you that an awful lot of Liberals are perfectly happy with Stephen HArper as Prim e Minister so long as he doesn’t get a majority?

    Too many people jump to the conclusion that just because 65 percent (or whatever) of the voters don’t make Stephen Harper their first choice, that they’d rather have a government based on NDP principles. According to the polls, approximately 75 percent of voters do not want Dion to be PM and approximately 83 percent don’t want Layton as PM. Before the election, polls suggested that over 50 percent of Canadians were generally ahppy with the current government. That does not sound like a desire to rush into the hands of Dion or Lyton.

  7. Not to suggest any of the previous commentators or you Paul have made this suggestion, but we have seen it elsewhere so I assume that May will soon be condemned for ‘selling out the party’ on these boards.

    I find this interesting. If we detach ourselves from our emotional investment it doesn;t take long to realize that one of the most common condemnation of politicians these days are they never stick to their principles on substantive matters.

    I have never intended to vote Green and am a leftard so I guess her voice it helping the outcomes I want…but clearly Ms May is not helping herself much wit this strategy, she may well win her riding but will prob get pilloried by her pwn party faithful in the process. I know she has made noise about dedication to the party…. but….

    on the one issue she made clear was her priority she is choosing to stick to what that seems to be the most likely strategy regardless of whether that damages her own fortunes and her parties….

    isn’t that acting on principle?

  8. To the left? That’s not very realistic. Harris and May both have some roots in the Progressive Conservatives. Some of her positions could be lifted out of the last policy document of the PCPC…

    May ran in the Small party (a fringe party) in 1980, and travels in left-leaning circles (friends with Clinton, Maurice Strong). She does not have roots as a Progressive-Conservative, she was HIRED as a lawyer to advise the Mulroney government.

    Almost none of her policies are even close to those of the Tories.

    -She favours pulling out of Afghanistan
    -She is anti-NAFTA (the signature accomplishment of the modern PC Party)
    -She is dead set against any private healthcare
    “The Green Party of Canada fully supports the Canada Health Act (CHA) and all of its principles. We oppose any level of privatized, for-profit health care. ”
    -They support a $10 minimum wage and a 35 hour workweek, and this statement would surely make any Conservative (progressive or no) want to puke: “labour rights are human rights”.

    Contrast that to the 2007 Green Party of Ontario platform, which actually was to the right on a number of issues, and came out of the eco-capitalist tradition (of which Jack Harris and Chernuschenko are part).

    -eliminate funding for Catholic schools
    -full disclosure of private p3 projects in healthcare (but they are evidently okay with private healthcare)
    -essentially vouchers for prescription drugs
    -taxing the value of homes at a lower rate than the value of surrounding land (good for wealthy urbanites).

    The Green Party of Frank De Jong offers a distinct alternative in the mould of the old PC Party to voters that Elizabeth May simply doesn’t.

  9. 1. So Layton and Harper were right when they said that someone who says “don’t vote for me, vote for him” doesn’t belong in a national leaders’ debate?

    2. And on the issue of climate change, is the difference between intensity-based targets and a carbon tax (thin), as it relates to a reduction in Canada’s contribution to anthropogenic carbon emissions (negligible), something that should decide an election? Arguably the consensus international solution, if one looks to what has actually been implemented, is the NDP’s cap and trade scheme (which the Liberals formerly proposed, and what comprises the medium/long term form of the Tory plan). I’m just dumbfounded that this distinction should constitute the rocks upon which the Green Party’s future should break.

  10. Actually sea…etc, the answer is No.

    When Ms. May accepted the leadership of her party she promised to lead it, and all its candidates, in an election based on the platform chosen by the Green Party membership.

    If it turns out that she is simply a latter-day Pied Piper, delivering Green votes to the Liberals (a party that one expects most Green Party members chose not to join for valid reasons), she’s betraying that promise, which hardly seems principled.

    If she had wanted to remain aloof from the entanglements of party loyalty, she should have stayed with the Sierra Club, where she could act on whatever principles struck her fancy.

  11. Oh and Michael Watkins, tin-foil is sooo last year.

    You wrote: ” By reducing Ottawa’s fiscal capacity he’s going to realise his life long dream of reducing Ottawa’s sphere of influence to a date back in the 1800’s when the British North America Act was written.”

    Duh, yeah because the provinces were SOOO powerful (which is why John A. called them glorified municipalities) back when the primary task of government was DEFENCE, and when there was no welfare state. Moreover, the BNA’s intent was not provincialist, it was centralist – it gave residual power (control over things we didn’t know about) to the feds. It gave the provinces jurisdiction over stuff nobody thought was very important, like healthcare and education. Hell, even if you look at the past 45 years, Liberals have done a FINE job of expanding the fiscal power of the provinces.

    The ratio of provincial to federal spending went from .375 in 1961 to about 1.13 by 1998.

    Moreover, your “Harper the evil provincialist” theme doesn’t actually square well with the traditional “Harper is Bush” theme. You see, in this bizarre fantasy you have created, Harper wants the provinces to have control over spending… but wait… what do the provinces do again? Healthcare and education. At the same time, Harper is a war-monger and a control freak who wants to expand Canada’s defence budget so he can go to war with whoever looks at us (or America) cockeyed. And don’t forget that Harper is also a Quebec-hating opponent of Meech Lake, and the intellectual father of the Clarity act (who Dion has chastised for not meeting with the premiers enough). Oh and don’t forget his commitment to end provincial barriers to trade.

    Harper’s record on federal-provincial relations is much more complex than it is made out to be. It is pretty clear to me that Harper’s penchant for decentralization is tactical, and stems both from a desire for votes in Quebec, but also the perpetual national unity issue that all Prime Ministers must deal with. Decentralization of power is main thing capable of bringing Albertans and soft national Quebec together.

    It isn’t all that horrid from a policy perspective either – federalism is far more innovative than a centralized state, because the same public goods are being delivered differently across various provinces. Federalism also enables voters in smaller jurisdictions to vote, instead of forcing a tradeoff between voters with distinct preferences. On the other hand premiers may not maximize spillovers to other provinces for goods – but that is where the federal government can come in. Harper’s stance of ending inter-provincial trade barriers is a good example of this in action. Is this part of Harper’s plan to screw the environment? Hardly, Harper’s plan to screw the environment is an entirely separate matter.

  12. Michael Watkins: “By reducing Ottawa’s fiscal capacity he’s going to realise his life long dream of reducing Ottawa’s sphere of influence to a date back in the 1800’s when the British North America Act was written.”

    Have to disagree with you there. Interestingly, it’s like deja vu all over again. The BNA Act was written, at least the principles of it, during the waning days of the American Civil War. One of the “lessons” our founding fathers learned from that war was that too much power held in the hands of the states caused states to be unwilling to hear what was best for the country as a whole. Rather than leave all powers not specifically bestowed to the Federal Government in the hands of the states, as in the American model, MacDonald and Brown and the rest determined that all powers not specifically bestowed to the provinces would rest in the hands of the Central government.

    What Harper is trying to do is to completely unlearn that lesson. So far, I don’t feel more united as a country, do you?

  13. HoosiertoHoser: “Jim Harris”, not “Jack Harris”. Two quite different fellows.

  14. Michael Watkins wears my armour. I cannot fathom the mob mentality evident here in comments from Harper supporters. Can you detect a modicum of doubt about the empty rhetoric spewing from their high priests? Can you find a shred of substance in the diatribes they vomit like so many demons craving exorcism? Do you not recoil from the vision of their messiah’s twisted grin overborne by his demonic eyes? Where do those eyes stare? Into your soul. He is the hunter. He is the collector of dreams and the destroyer of hope. He is your nightmare made real.

    Behold he whom is of the Gadarenes.

    Now let us all repeat this for 30 months.

  15. At least she’s honest.

  16. -if you support the Green party, vote Green.
    even if they don’t win, they still get the money. if enough people actually stick to their convictions and vote Green, they might actually win a seat or two, probably where no one was looking.

    -if they get a million or two votes, and still don’t get a seat, they get a moral victory, and the pressure to change our broken electoral system will be immense. This is a way better outcome than electing a few more unrepentant Liberals, in a Tory minority, as is most likely the case.

    -throwing your votes to the Liberals is a travesty. If Libs, NDP and Greens were serious about not splitting the progressive vote, they would have agreed not to run candidates against each other in various ridings, thereby each getting more seats, assuming that all votes for the three parties would acrue to their candidate in that riding. The reason they haven’t done this is that they all hate each others guts, just like the PC’s and Reform/Alliance candidates could not agree on riding sharing and handed Chretien two more majorities in 97 and 2000.

    -if Harper gets a majority with 32 or 35% of the vote, our voting system will be completely discredited, and ripe for change.

    -I note that I am being encouraged to vote for Liberal Raymond Chan, who encourages development of the Garden City farmlands, over Conservative Alice Wong, who is opposed. By the strategic Environmental site. Right. Lost all credibility there guys.

  17. marty: After all, it’s not like we’ve ever elected a majority government before with a minority of the voters. Had that happened, say in the year 2000, I’m sure everybody would have been up in arms. Oh wait.. it did.. and they weren’t.

    If you support the Green Party, vote for the Green Party. If you support the environment, vote based on your riding and who is most likely to unseat the conservative there. If you support a government where the leader promising not to do something means the government won’t turn around and do that exact thing, vote based on your riding and who is the most likely to unseat the conservative there. If you support a government where you want parliament to be functional and perhaps govern with the spirit of compromise between the parties, vote based on your riding and who’s most likely to unseat the conservative there.

    If, on the other hand, you support deficit budgets, broken promises, flat out lies, deregulation of food safety, foreign countries getting the contracts to build our military equipment, bribery, stealing from taxpayers during elections, and a general attitude of “if you were supposed to know we would have told you” from your government, by all means vote for the conservative candidate or the candidate who doesn’t have a chance of taking the seat away from a conservative.

    And if you happen to feel bad that they won’t get the money from your vote? Send them a toonie. It’s more than they’d get anyway, and it costs you less than coffee and a donut.

  18. If, on the other hand, you support deficit budgets, broken promises, flat out lies, deregulation of food safety, foreign countries getting the contracts to build our military equipment, bribery, stealing from taxpayers during elections, and a general attitude of “if you were supposed to know we would have told you” from your government, by all means vote for the conservative candidate

    Your description indicates that you meant to put Liberal candidate, not conservative.
    I, like many others have not forgotten Adscam, HRDC, gun registry, billions to foundations, and a lot of missing taxpayer funds.

  19. DWT: The liberals haven’t outsources our military purchasing contracts to foreign countries. Nor did they run a deficit government for 6 months out of 7 any time in the last decade.

    While it may be comforting to think you can still live in that previous decade, hence why your mind is still fixed on those things, time moves on. These days, the Liberal Party is no longer that of Chretien, and the “conservatives” are no longer conservative in anything but name.

  20. Davey Boy

    I have given it some thought and I think I respectfully disagree.

    1) She has led her party admirably over the 30-odd days of the election thus far. She got her party a seat at the debate that will not easily disappear (if they can elect an MP or two) and building off the work of her predecessors has convinced a large of Canadians that she and the Greens are legit voices in Canadian politics.

    2)But despite her and her colleagues best efforts they will elect a maximum of two MPs. All other candidates in her party will not be elected.

    3) Facing that reality she can either hold-steadfast the party line …or… she can works toward getting the central plank of “the platform chosen by the Green Party membership” (as you say) by aligning her party outside of those two ridings with the one opponent she has whose own platform happens to correspond.

    4) Thereby, sticking to the central plank of the party’s platform and her clearly stated principle, as highlighted by Paul, to do politics differently, in manner that loads of Canadians seem to favour (less partisan).

    5) Given that there are only two electable MPs in her party and they are not likely to be effected, this move comes at a marginal cost (~1.89/vote)… while this will leave the party a bit worse off financially (the difference won’t be massive) in the short-term, that seems justifiable if it gets her central policy (mostly) implemented.

  21. May is acting on her principles. Harper is not.

    “The truth of the matter, is that the real agenda and defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values, so conservatives must do the same.”

    – Rediscovering the Right Agenda, Stepen Harper, 2003

    To Harper, the economy is an inconvenient distraction. His real agenda is to impose the fundamentalist morals of his invisible cabinet and gut the federal government of its remaining powers.

  22. Quote:” The liberals haven’t outsources our military purchasing contracts to foreign countries. Nor did they run a deficit government for 6 months out of 7 any time in the last decade.”

    1) where did those Liberal-purchased subs come from? The ones that kept on catching on fire.

    2) go to the ministry of finance website and look up 2001 and 2002. You’ll notice a number of monthly deficits posted by the Liberals.

  23. May is all over the place. She wants people to vote for her party where they can’t win, vote Liberal in ridings where the Greens can win and, to top it all off, she wants people to vote for her even though she is going to lose.

    When you read her quote about Layton, it seems she lets the personal get in the way of political. She’s running against McKay because she’s angry with him when she could have chosen a much easier riding to run in and now is against NDP because Layton let her down a few years ago. The only party left is Libs but they are poseurs when it comes to environment.

    I am sure long-time Green Party supporters are apoplectic at the moment and that convention going to be held after the election will be very entertaining indeed, at least for those of us who aren’t Green supporters.

  24. The Greens have a charismatic, brilliant leader who has boosted their polling numbers. Perceiving the implications of her success (a Harper govt due to her Nader effect) she is confused of late and cannot decide which to betray: her party or her country.

    I know some Green supporters (with signs on the lawn etc) who are agonizing over their decision: Liberal or Green.

    As much as I hate the FPtP system, it is what we got – and the Greens can only wreck the outcome from a progressive PoV – not shed their fringe status.

    As to the smooth talkin’ Jack – he is selling out his country for a Broadbent-sized bounce and his party will fade to insignificance in the years to come as is the perennial history of the NDP.

    Vote for the progressive most likely to beat the Harper-bot running in your riding.

    Perhaps (after Tuesday) progressive voters should each take a membership in all three parties and force electoral compromise until we shed this dreadful FPtP system we have saddled ourselves with.

    (disclosure: posted elsewhere)

  25. Shouldn’t some of the press be mea culpaping about having the wool pulled over their eyes, and stuck in their ears by Ms.May and the integretical Mr.Dion.

    Dion. May. Collusion.

    Harper called it.

    Canadian media missed it.

    By that much.

  26. Re: Michael Watkins “To the left? That’s not very realistic.”

    I have for some time suggested the GPC is now closer to the NDP than other parties. Both are anti-Nafta, both are anti-nuke (two major pet projects of May that can’t be found in other national parties)- and an increased focus on social sending/programs.

    This snippet from a Michael Volpy column in today’s G&M illustrates the point:

    What is of more significance is that a substantial chunk of Green Party supporters told the pollsters that their second party of choice would be the NDP, not the Liberals, indicating they preferred NDP Leader Jack Layton to Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion.

    Jeffrey Simpson’s Saturday column picks up on May’s leftwardness:

    Think about the Green Party Leader’s opening remarks in the English-language leaders debate. The government should intervene to bring the dollar down to 80ish cents, Elizabeth May said. Then it should stop foreign takeovers of Canadian business.

    This is economic illiteracy of a high order. There’s a reason countries have central banks. They exist precisely to keep political hands off the currency, and to do what the Bank of Canada is now doing, and quite intelligently, to steer through the economic catastrophe unfolding daily. Similarly, the stopping of foreign takeovers would or could be met, of course, by reciprocal measures against Canadian companies overseas.

    Not content with stopping takeovers, Ms. May and the leaders of the NDP and Bloc Québécois pronounced themselves in favour of a Buy Canada policy, which, if employed by every other country, would crucify the G8 country most dependent on foreign trade – namely Canada.

    In addition, I thought Coyne, appearing on the Agenda with Steve Paikin last Thursday Oct 9th, summed it up reasonably well (35:10):

    Andrew Coyne:I think it’s a less interesting party now than it used to be…The Green Party used to be this unpredictable mix of right and left. I find them much more a conventional left wing party now.

    Patrick Gossage: They are. That’s my point.

    My point as well.

  27. Oh, the Red/Green coalition – as opposed to the Blue/Orange Coalition. There’s a lot of coalitioning going on.

    Maybe Mr. Wells will know – a guy in the VIA train told my husband that Harper wrote an essay of his vision for the North American “country”…or anyone else know about it?

  28. Give it up Wells. May doesn’t support strategic voting. She’s said so. Repeatedly. All she’s saying is that people obviously will do it, and she understands it. Are politicians not allowed to live in the real world?

    It seems to me that May went to the same clarity coach as Ignatieff did when he wrote about torture. So, please forgive us for being confused by May’s position(s) on strategic voting.

  29. daveND,

    Party of her anti-Harper agenda/obsession I might suggest. I believe, but am not certain, that her riding might have strong military roots, as well. Which might explain this “policy”.

    Also, since she is running in a riding that has predominantly NDP provincial representation, and the strong second place finisher in the 2006 national election was NDP, many of her policies are pandering to that electorate. Stuff like restarting the failed Trenton Steel Works, accusing Peter McKay of not bringing home enough bacon etc.

    Just figure out what will fit into her anti-Harper, get me elected in Central Nova theme, maximize my media exposure, and it isn’t hard to figure out her positions on anything.

  30. Maybe, just maybe, Ms.May has come to the conclusion that the polictical armchair rests rather comfortably,

    while sitting on the hot seat is giving her the willies.

    “elle me donne les chocottes!”

  31. What’s everyone complaining about…short memories? Remember the Reform/Progressive coalition?