Workin' in a coalition mine Whoop! About to slip down - Macleans.ca

Workin’ in a coalition mine Whoop! About to slip down

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It’s been so long. Time for a new variation on a favourite old tune: The question of just what Elizabeth May will do if this election gets to the home stretch and Green votes could conceivably make the difference between a Conservative and a Liberal government is posed again by this morning’s La Presse. As you will recall, May has seemed in the past to suggest she would do anything to stop the Conservatives, including calling on less-competitive candidates in every riding to throw their support to the leading pro-environmental candidate (defined as “not Conservative”) (defined therefore, in most but not all ridings outside Quebec, as “the Liberal”).

Now there’s more. I want to emphasize that Joël-Denis Bellavance’s story in La Presse is exceptionally darkly sourced (“a Liberal source well-informed of the talks between Liberals and Greens”) and it contains a formal denial from May’s spokesperson (“It’s without basis”). But what it suggests is interesting:

“But this pact also provides for Mme May to pronounce herself in favour of the election of Stéphane Dion as Prime Minister in the final days of the election campaign…

“‘The idea of the accord, it’s like a non-aggression pact so that on the eve of the vote, we arrange it so the environmentalist forces in urban centres rally around Stéphane Dion. In the discussions with Mme May, it was implicitly understood that she put out a call in favour of Mr. Dion. That has always been the spirit of the agreement,’ said a Liberal source well-informed of the talks between Liberals and Greens.”

Again, I need to emphasize that I don’t find the level of sourcing in this story satisfactory, given the prominence La Presse has given it. It’s a story about an accusation launched anonymously by a political opponent of the Greens. It does not settle the question it raises. But now the question is raised, in one of Canada’s largest newspapers. May is doing media interviews in Toronto today. The question, it seems to me, is not so much “Is there a pact?” It’s to test the negative: “Can you say right now that every Green candidate must stay in the race right up to election day, even if their vote could be what keeps a Liberal from winning?” Or, more simply, “You’ve said you do not want to be the Ralph Nader of Canadian politics. What does that mean?”

And since the source for this story is a Liberal, Stéphane Dion should be asked his understanding of his own agreement with May. Does that agreement contain clauses whose import we haven’t yet seen?