Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A reality check for Elizabeth May

Rather than try to build on her success in London-North Centre, where she took almost 26% of the vote in a recent byelection, Green Party leader Elizabeth May has instead decided to run in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova. What is Central Nova--other than the current seat of Foreign Affairs minister Peter MacKay, that is? Let me paint you a picture.

It is a riding where an outstanding young NDP candidate named Alexis MacDonald (I have met her, and trust me, this woman is amazing) came within striking distance of MacKay in 2006 with almost 33% of the vote. She has not yet decided whether or not to run again, but is considering it.

It is a riding where the Liberals also turned out a respectable vote in the last election, taking almost 25%.

It is also a riding where the Greens took only a measly 1.6% of the vote in that same election. It is a riding where the Greens have absolutely no on-the-ground organization, no database of supporters, no ready-made group of volunteers--nothing. In fact, as far as I can decipher, they don't even seem to have a registered riding association.

Now, I am no Green Party member, but I do think it's criminal that with more than six hundred thousand Canadians voting for them in the last election, they don't have a single seat in Parliament. But unless both the Liberals and the New Democrats agree not to run candidates against her and also rent out their respective election machines to her, Elizabeth May doesn't have a chance in hell of winning this riding. Given the two parties' successes there, I don't see why they'd do the former (especially since such a move would be almost certain to be seen by voters across the region as trying to fix an election), and they're certainly not about to do the latter.

Why on god's green earth would May make such a ludicrous decision? It's simple, really: ego. Apparently, she's decided that she'd get more media attention running against a high-profile cabinet minister (she had also been considering running against Environment Minister John Baird) than if she ran against the Liberal who beat her in November. And while it's hard to argue with her about that, what a shame it is for her party that she's decided to throw away their best chance of winning a seat on a publicity stunt.

62 comments:

janfromthebruce said...

Ms. May seems to be more interested in getting photo-ops rather than actually getting elected. Too bad, her Green troops need her in the House. Politics 101: organize on the ground and build a base of supporters.

Scott Tribe said...

a) She grew up in that area, so its natural to me that she'd run somewhere in the region

b) if she had decided to run in the actual riding she grew up in, she would be facing an incumbent Liberal who won the last election with more then 50% of the popular vote. Mckay's total margin of victory was not that and as you say was considerably closer.

c) I am sorta in Chantal Hebert's camp when she says that progressives face a zero-sum result if we're continuing to face off against each other then to take out our common enemy in the Conservatives, so I support May's decision to run against an incumbent Conservative, rather then a sitting Liberal or NDP MP.

d) McKay hasn't exactly had a stellar time while he's been in government (inferring Belinda is a dog, etc) and so he may be vulnerable.

e) If the Liberals are thinking of either not running someone or at best throwing only a token candidate there in order not to split the anti-CPC vote (and they wont confirm or deny this that they've talked to May about doing this, which in of itself is rather unusual - usually you'll get a flat denial from them), then it makes sense for May to run here. Quite frankly, I'm waiting to see if that happens.. and if the NDP would follow suit.

I would also point out ID, you're the one who always is advocating coalitions and alliances in how we should be operating as a system in government, so why not get behind May's efforts? :) Why not call on the NDP to clear the field and allow May to go 1 on 1 vs Mckay in an effort to get the Greens and their leader a chance to sit in Parliament as well as to oust a sitting Conservative MP - and one I'd take pleasure in seeing beat?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Scott,

Okay, let me set one thing straight: I'm not in favour of "coalitions and alliances," I'm in favour of coalition governments. There's a big, big difference between a) two parties deciding to run the country together who together have been given a majority of the seats by the voters, and b) fixing an election to deprive voters of two of their democratic options. More than anything else, I believe in real representative democracy and genuine electoral choice, and any kind of deal would be antithetical to that. Besides, as indicated by the comment I link to above from someone on the ground, a move like that would NOT be regarded well by the local population, that's for sure, and all three parties--the Greens as well as the two parties that had colluded with them--would be punished for it.

As for the "not wanting to face off against a fellow progressive" idea--I'd buy a lot more that she was using that reasoning if she hadn't run (hard!) in a byelection in a Liberal-held riding not four months ago. This is about wanting to run against a high-profile cabinet minister and nothing more noble than that.

My real point, though, is that May needs to pick a riding that she can win. She can't win in Central Nova, not with zero organization on the ground. You can import all the party organizers you can scrape together to run your campaign, but you can't import volunteers and voter databases. She'll take enough votes away from both the NDP and the Liberals to make sure neither of them can win it, either, but she's essentially just handed Peter MacKay a win. That is simply not smart politics, especially when she could probably have won in London-North Centre and given her party its first seat in the House.

P.S. Off-topic, but I've been wondering for months why you keep calling me "ID." Do you think my blog is called "Idealistic Dragmatist"? :-)

Scott Tribe said...

I'm not implying May is using the "dont want to run against a fellow progressive" argument; I'm saying that I agree with her picking this riding because of that idea that Hebert mentions, and that I support to an extent. I wish for example, that Rae would pick a riding where a Conservative MP was sitting, not an NDP'er. I know thats not possible to avoid in every case, but...

As for ID.. its the first 2 letters of your first handle's name. I figured using IP might be too confusing for people used to seeing that in the context of IP addresses. :) So, I use ID.

Rosie said...

Elizabeth May is from Cape Breton, and she moved there as a teenager from the States. I don't understand why she isn't running there. Also, I went to university with Alexis MacDonald (where she was student union president when I worked on sub-exec). I agree that she would be a great MP.

I am a Green party member and am a bit confused as to why EM is doing this. Hopefully it will become clearer in days to come.

skdadl said...

I am not following Scott's logic at all.

May, after all, is the person who recently sneered at Libs and Dippers as not "mature" enough to recognize what it would take in any given riding to elect a progressive.

But IP has just described for us what it would take in Central Nova -- in May's terms, anyway, it would take a little "maturity" from the Greens and the Libs, since the serious challenger is a Dipper.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Scott,

I wish for example, that Rae would pick a riding where a Conservative MP was sitting, not an NDP'er.

Actually, Rae is running in Toronto-Centre, the Liberal stronghold that is Bill Graham's riding. I think you mean Kennedy running in Parkdale-High Park, right? I see where you're coming from on that, but it makes sense for him to run there, since it's the riding he used to hold provincially. Especially given that there aren't enough Toronto-area ridings for all the Liberals who want to run there. The trouble it will make for Peggy Nash is unfortunate, but that one at least is not just a matter of a Liberal wanting to pick off a New Democrat.

I figured using IP might be too confusing for people used to seeing that in the context of IP addresses.

Ha! You know, that makes sense, but it hadn't even occurred to me, since I've been called "IP" by all and sundry since I started blogging. (Amusingly, I now see "IP" in the context of IP addresses and do a double-take. :-)

skdadl,

Exactly!

Erin said...

I'm not from Nova Scotia, so I can't speak to whether or not people would be angry about a deal there, but I agree with you that she can't win against Peter MacKay. You can chalk me up as another Green Party member who thinks this is a BAD idea.

Joshua Kubinec said...

I'm glad that no one has decided to drink the "May isn't running against a progressive" kool-aid. If she ran in Cape Breton - Canso, she'd be running against one of the Harper Liberals.

As for "building on her success" in London, I don't see her being able to pull it together enough to win here. London-North-Centre loves it's Liberals, and although May put up a good showing here, she'd almost certainly never win with things the way they are now.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Joshua,

London-North-Centre loves it's Liberals, and although May put up a good showing here, she'd almost certainly never win with things the way they are now.

My reasoning was that given the wave her party seems to be riding right now, I think May can win in any riding where there's a strong Green Party organization--and there's no organization stronger than the one that got her 26% of the vote in November. There's no way of being sure, of course, but she's certainly got a better shot there than she has in a riding without a registered riding association.

janfromthebruce said...

Also, why is she not running in a riding that she grew up in? Well, that is held by a liberal incumbent. That aside, McKay's margin of victory was in relationship to a great NDP candidate, who has for that past 2 elections built up a wide base of supporters and volunteers on the ground. In fact, in the 2006 election the Green candidate only musterd 124 votes or 0.29% of all votes cast.
Using Scott's login, it would actually make more sense for her to run in the riding she grew up in - Cape Breton-Canso - as the Green there actually got 1006 or 2.5% of all votes cast.
Or even west nova as the Greens got 682 or 1.51% votes.
If May really wanted to win and knock off a con heavy weight, she would stand better going against Baird. Now I am going to use Scott's logic here.
Although Baird won with 43.07% of the vote which is better than McKay, the combined vote for the libs (34.06) plus the NDP (16.19) and the Green vote (4.49) puts it over the 50% mark. And at least here, the Greens got 2941 votes which is a hell of a lot better than 124 votes.
Personally, I am in agreement with the Green supporters here who are really questioning the May's strategy here.

Buckets said...

It seems to me that the Green game plan may be a little different from what one would normally assume is the primary goal. Putting a member in the house would be good, but a longshot no matter where May runs. Running against a high profile cabinet minister brings attention to the project whether she wins or loses.

There is another way to look at what the Greens are. Are they a political party? Yes, and on that paradigm not an effective one since they will fail to elect members.

They are also an advocacy group, however, and their most important source of funds is now the money they get from elections. That money can then be used to push the message rather than the party.

It seems to me that a rational plan on their part would be to do things that increase their vote nation-wide, even if these things do not result in actual seats.

What I'm suggesting is that May's choice of seat might in fact be part of a strategy at increasing the nation-wide vote and thereby put more money in the war-chest. May's chances of winning a seat are slim-to-nil against McKay, but to be honest they weren't much better anywhere else.

Greg said...

IP, I love Scott's logic. I think all progressive Liberals should vote NDP and Ms. May should just admit she has no chance and throw her support behind Jack. See how well that logic works when tweaked in just the right way, Scott? :)

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

buckets,

Hey, look what the cat dragged in!

I can't really agree with you on this one, though. I'd buy Elizabeth May as a noble sacrificial lamb a lot better if she hadn't spent all her time since she was elected Green Party leader making the entire party all about her, her, her. She's arrogant enough to think she can actually win there.

Josh Gould said...

a) She grew up in that area, so its natural to me that she'd run somewhere in the region

As others have pointed out, she "grew up" (in the sense of moving there as a teenager) in Cape Breton, which as anyone from the NS mainland can tell you, isn't quite the same!

c) I am sorta in Chantal Hebert's camp when she says that progressives face a zero-sum result if we're continuing to face off against each other then to take out our common enemy in the Conservatives, so I support May's decision to run against an incumbent Conservative, rather then a sitting Liberal or NDP MP.

No... she's just running in a riding where a strong NDP candidate has a good chance of knocking off MacKay in the next election.

e) If the Liberals are thinking of either not running someone or at best throwing only a token candidate there in order not to split the anti-CPC vote (and they wont confirm or deny this that they've talked to May about doing this, which in of itself is rather unusual - usually you'll get a flat denial from them), then it makes sense for May to run here. Quite frankly, I'm waiting to see if that happens.. and if the NDP would follow suit.

The NS NDP takes a dim view of the Greens, to say the least, and members of my provincial riding association, at least, think of them as progressive pretenders who don't really get the big picture.

You will see no free pass from the NDP in NS.

As an aside, yesterday Craig Oliver said something to the effect of how MacKay has "deep family routes" in his riding. I don't know about that, but his mother lives right here in Wolfville (and she's no Tory, from what I hear) - in Kings-Hants, domain of Scott Brison.

For my part, I'd reallllllly like to see MacKay knocked off come the next election, and the best chance for that lies with the NDP. While I don't think Ms. Ego will prevent that, don't look for her having a particularly easy ride in Central Nova. Who knows? She may even be able to win as many as a thousand votes, thereby boosting Green support there!

janfromthebruce said...

And it would really help the progressive NDP candidate take the riding and knock off McKay if the progessive libs ran a snooze candidate.

Mark Francis said...

I have little time, but I think it is worth udnerstanding that London North Centre (LNC) did not and does not have much of a green organization either. That's not a reflection upon the EDA there, but, like many Green EDAs, there are few people and little experience.

So don't think that LNC is worth running in because there's some large organization there. There isn't. It was almost all imported.

I have much more to dsay. I'll comment more on my blog later today.

Suffice to say, this was a good choice.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Mark,

Well, I didn't mean "Big Red Machine" large, I meant "fired-up Green voters from only a few months ago" large. Of course any Green riding association isn't going to have the local machine that a more established party will have. But there are ridings with small, tenacious memberships, and there are ridings with no registered riding association.

I look forward to your post, though--you certainly know a lot more about the inner workings of the Greens than I do!

saskboy said...

My friend from that area says May doesn't have a chance, and so I have to wonder what she knows that we don't. If it isn't something big, then yeah, she's sacrificing herself to try and win gains for the next election instead.

I don't think the NDP has the maturity to honour any kind of cooperation agreement with the Greens for not running candidates in select ridings, even though it would benefit both parties. Canadians are already cynical about how much parties respect the grass roots, so I don't think it would do any "additional" damage to the reputation of parties. I don't know if the Greens even have the kind of honour needed to form a pre-election coalition with the NDP. I do know that the NDP don't realize their days are numbered one way or another, so they can either start currying favour with the Greens now, or do it after they've lost seats they didn't need to lose.

janfromthebruce said...

I'm looking forward to Mark's post too. Considering, as he suggested "It was almost all imported", it would be a lot harder to import help during an election when everybody is involved in their own riding and candidate. I remember the executive of my local Green riding association mentioning of going and campaigning in London. At least london is closer to London than Nova Scotia, but during an election, that type of outside of help is going to be at a minimum.

Anonymous said...

Some facts and insider perspective that might help guide this debate. Most are easy to verify on openpolitics.ca or the gpc-members yahoogroup. Go search:

1. The Green Party of Canada did in fact entertain a resolution that would give the Leader power to pull out of six ridings (only) without consulting the party's own Council. This was a crippled and cut-back version of a resolution originally proposed to the party that laid out detailed criteria for a deal between the Liberals, NDP and Greens. It was the GPC fulltime staff that sabotaged the resolution and prevented the whole party from seeing and debating the comprehensive resolution. Some of the original detailed resolution's supporters have since left the party.

2. The GPC has effectively been taken over by its fulltime staff, who regularly pervert policies to present them in self-serving ways in press releases. For instance, a relatively mild resolution that called for four-week vacations was twisted into a press release polemic against all part-time work or job sharing, two alternatives which Greens have always historically advocated to reduce the amount of time people spend on work. May is a weak leader who has generally facilitated this kind of subversion of the members' right to set policies. She is not highly regarded among the wiser or older members of the Green Parties.

3. May retained most of the staff from the Jim Harris era including the campaign manager, George Read. During the 2006 campaign, Read came out strongly in defense of SLAPP lawsuits against critics of Jim Harris, paid for by the party (although they initially had lied and denied it). So did former Deputy Leader David Chernushenko, May's challenger for the leadership. Since then other SLAPP lawsuits have been filed vs. openpolitics.ca and critics of the Harris regime and its main funder, Wayne Crookes. May's support in the leadership race generally came from people opposed to Harris and Chernushenko and strongly opposed to perverting the political process with lawsuits, particularly those funded with public money paid to Green coffers. May is now depending on a group of people who backed her opponent.

4. The NDP has similar problems, it was taken over by fulltime staff many years ago. Also NDP candidates do not even have the right to pick their own campaign team, so if those who run the riding association don't want a candidate, they sabotage him or her. Also the NDP's brain trust was taken over by the public sector unions many years ago, and inhibit any change in government processes themselves. The NDP is losing young people to the GPC due to giving its own young members no serious power or access to power - not because the GPC is of any use.

5. The brainpower of the GPC has fled to the Liberals, mostly - it lost Chief Agent Kate Holloway, who led the charge against Harris, in December. Holloway had been a dismayed with May's behaviour in London, especially her failure to appreciate the ground troops who came from everywhere to get her vote up. Apparently May has isolated herself from many people who really know how to run actual campaigns.

6. There was active debate in the GPC regarding Alexis MacDonald and the desirability of recruiting her. Everyone agrees she's a star.

7. There was also active debate in the GPC regarding a strategy that would simply focus on defeating a number of vulnerable Conservative Cabinet Ministers, particularly in Nova Scotia (MacKay) and Ontario (Flaherty, Clement, Baird) and BC (Nunn). This list was assembled a long time ago and was the basis for the resolution clause setting six seats as Leaders' discretion: if no GPC candidate could be found to knock them off, it would be those seats where the GPC would back off to help the NDP or Liberal defeat the Conservative. Leaving Harper a thin Cabinet of mostly out-of-touch Albertans. May running against MacKay herself suggests this strategy may be alive in a different form, putting pressure on the NDP and Liberals to make deals to knock off other major Cabinet ministers.

7. The fulltime staff of the GPC oppose and sabotage all attempts at making any deal that would reduce their job security, and they view any electoral deal in that light and only in that light. They are all incompetents who could not be employed in any other political party in Canada, with only about two exceptions. Volunteers are the backbone of all GPC campaigns. And MacKay's seat is very close to a core of those in PEI under Sharon Labchuk, May's closest supporter.

8. May running in Nova Scotia may attract a higher profile person to run the Green Party of Nova Scotia which has been dormant for months and in internal chaos due to total failure to follow its constitution and define its internal processes. It lost its Deputy Leader over this just recently.

9. All detailed electoral deal criteria ever proposed in the GPC have included a guarantee that electoral reform would be pursued in the next parliament (resulting from the deal). Accordingly any loss of voter choice would be temporary, as opposed to today, where people in Alberta or Quebec have very little electoral choice, and new politicians also feel they can achieve nothing except by joining established parties. It is ridiculous to suggest that it is unethical or immoral to make such a deal before the fact, if it contains provisions to solve the long-term problem of FPTP and a five-party system that we see now.

10. All political parties are advocacy groups by definition - they exist to change laws, not necessarily to gain power. As anyone who voted for Tommy Douglas as "Greatest Canadian" must know. There is a faction in the GPC that wishes simply to replace the NDP. They are in constant conflict with those that want to use the party's positioning tactically to defeat the most anti-environment players, or who want to leverage blue-green policy initiatives like carbon neutralization markets and green tax shifts and changing building codes to make green building easy (which means in general fewer rules about building types etc.). It would be silly to look at this move in any way other than to ask what issues would be highlighted. In this case, Maritime region lack of attention and underdevelopment of its green economy, and failures in foreign policy under BusHarper.

If May wants to grow in the Atlantic region, she had to run there. There was no other choice, since the NDP wouldn't talk to her. (and yes, she tried hard, but you cannot possibly do this in two months - they would have had to pass the resolution last August and lobby the NDP publicly for months via their own membership by showing how useful the comprehensive deal would be to both, and the staff sabotaged that)

Josh Gould said...

I do know that the NDP don't realize their days are numbered one way or another, so they can either start currying favour with the Greens now, or do it after they've lost seats they didn't need to lose.

The incredible arrogance of Green supporters never ceases to amaze me. How many seats do the Greens hold, federally or provincially? What's that? Zero? Heck, what party is currently in government in Sask?

The Nova Scotia Green Party is a virtual non-entity.

4. The NDP has similar problems, it was taken over by fulltime staff many years ago. Also NDP candidates do not even have the right to pick their own campaign team, so if those who run the riding association don't want a candidate, they sabotage him or her. Also the NDP's brain trust was taken over by the public sector unions many years ago, and inhibit any change in government processes themselves. The NDP is losing young people to the GPC due to giving its own young members no serious power or access to power - not because the GPC is of any use.

Well, the NS NDP just had a youth convention this weekend. Sounds like the Greens have more than their fair share of organizational problems.

Greg said...

I do know that the NDP don't realize their days are numbered one way or another, so they can either start currying favour with the Greens now, or do it after they've lost seats they didn't need to lose.

All hail Queen Elizabeth! Boy, talk about delusions of grandeur. IP you were dead on about the Greens being as arrogant as the Liberals, with even less cause.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

anonymous,

Whoa, if even half of that is true...you really need to get yourself a blog, man. *grin*

saskboy,

I do know that the NDP don't realize their days are numbered one way or another

Oh, dear, it looks like Elizabeth May isn't the only one who needs a reality check. The Greens aren't replacing the NDP--the whole system is opening up and making room for them. Don't let your loathing of the NDP blind you to the facts. You don't have to put down the NDP to feel good about your own party, you know. There's room for all of us.

saskboy said...

IP, I'm not "putting down" the NDP, I'm giving you your reality check. For someone in favour of PR, you should know that elections of the future determine influence, not elections of the past, so it doesn't really matter how many seats the NDP has now compared to the Greens.


Josh "Heck, what party is currently in government in Sask? "
Last I checked it was the NDP, and 16 years later, we still don't have a green economy, or PR voting like the NDP [supposedly] support. The Greens ran candidates in Nova Scotia, and candidates are people, hence there was a Green Party entity. Just because they aren't a well oiled machine doesn't mean they'd run things worse than currently established parties. After all, the politicians lead, but the bureaucracy runs things, and they don't change the day after an election.

saskboy said...

Greg "All hail Queen Elizabeth! Boy, talk about delusions of grandeur. "

With an attitude like yours, I won't feel as bad saying "I told you so" in 5 years.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

saskboy,

For someone in favour of PR, you should know that elections of the future determine influence, not elections of the past, so it doesn't really matter how many seats the NDP has now compared to the Greens.

Could you point out where I said anything about how many seats either party has now? 'Cause I must have missed that part. (If you're arguing with someone else, please don't address it to me.)

Look, I'd love to see the Greens win a seat in the next election--you guys deserve at least that much. But if you think the NDP's going anywhere after all these years, you're deluding yourself. Good thing there's room for *all* of us--we don't have to tear each other's parties down in order to give our party's supporters a voice.

Josh Gould said...

With an attitude like yours, I won't feel as bad saying "I told you so" in 5 years.

Right.

The Greens ran candidates in Nova Scotia, and candidates are people, hence there was a Green Party entity.

Yes, and certainly from your vantage point on the Prairies you're in an excellent position to assess the joke of a campaign that the Greens ran in the spring. They're little more than a fringe party here. Don't you get it? They didn't even win 10,000 votes in the last provincial election.

I'm not trying to argue that the Greens should be wiped off the map - far from it - but the notion that they'll be replacing any existing party with established networks of institutional and organizational support is delusional.

janfromthebruce said...

"The NDP has similar problems, it was taken over by fulltime staff many years ago. Also NDP candidates do not even have the right to pick their own campaign team, so if those who run the riding association don't want a candidate, they sabotage him or her. Also the NDP's brain trust was taken over by the public sector unions many years ago, and inhibit any change in government processes themselves. The NDP is losing young people to the GPC due to giving its own young members no serious power or access to power - not because the GPC is of any use."
I have to say that this probably true for all political party riding associations, whether green, orange, red, or blue.
That said, having been an NDP candidate before, I had lots of support from the riding association and got to pick my own campaign team. So making blanket statements doesn't hold water when comparing it to 'on the ground.'
As an aside, I was very fasinated by the rabble conversation that Josh links to. There were very informed posters there who really illuminated some informal strategy going on between the red - green show.

calgarygrit said...

I'm not sure if ego is the right word. She SHOULD want publicity - that's what party leaders need, especially fledging parties who are overlooked by the MSM and voters.

I agree it's a stupid move but if media exposure is where she's coming from, then I guess that's fair enough on her part.

Candace said...

I think May is running for the money & media coverage, not the seat. How much $ do the Greens have to buy ads? Probably not alot, I'm guessing.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad about Alexis MacDonald, if she is planning to run in this riding, but her main problem is that she belongs to a party led by Jack Layton. I voted NDP in the last election (as I often have done in the past) but there is absolutely no way I will vote NDP again. I lean pretty far left and I can't support a party which doesn't see any difference between a Harper-Conservative government and a Dion-Liberal government. Layton has lost it as far as I'm concerned and I know some other former-NDPers feel the same way. Elizabeth May can see the difference and her Party offers a good alternative to former-NDPers who don't want to vote Liberal.

Josh Gould said...

So are the Greens left-wing or not? We keep hearing how they're "socially progressive" and "fiscally conservative" and therefore outside the left-right access or something to that effect. So which is it? Are they the NDP painted Green or something else?

Anonymous said...

Josh, in the 2006 election I would not have called the Green Party left-wing. Some of its fiscal policies would be more appropriately labelled right-wing, and other parts I found down-right silly and difficult to label. However, under May their platform has been revamped. There isn't anything there I would label right-wing and, in fact, May has made it clear that she thinks a Harper majority would be a disaster for Canada. I happen to agree with her on that.

Deanna said...

...in fact, May has made it clear that she thinks a Harper majority would be a disaster for Canada. I happen to agree with her on that.

So, what does this mean, anonymous? That the Greens won't run against the Liberals so as not to split the vote? That Green party members must vote for the Liberal or NDP candidate likely to win a campaign against the Conservatives?

Then what's the point of having a party that acts as your voice if you can't vote for them?

Josh Gould said...

Just so - if May believed that "Harper must be stopped" then why the hell should anyone vote for a party which holds no seats and has never come close to winning a single seat in a general election? Does not smart strategic voting on any measure mandate that one votes NDP or Liberal, depending on the riding?

Anonymous said...

I just interpret it as meaning what May thinks. Each voter will decide whether to vote for the candidate/party which best reflects their own values or whether to vote against the threat of a candidate/party which is farthest from those values. When I listen to May I know that she understands this and can recognize. That threat won't always be with us (I hope!) and voters who were swayed by the threat will still look to a principled candidate in the future.

Over past decades, I've voted for NDP about 2/3 of the time and Liberals 1/3 of the time, and have never voted Conservative (even for the old conservatives which I prefer to the new ones). When I listen to Layton's speech, his compulsion to give equal time critizing Liberals and Conservatives now really grates on my ears as it shows me that he doesn't understand how voters like me feel. I agree, for the NDP party faithful, who would never consider voting for a Liberal, this may all sound perfect. I'm just pointing out that in the past the NDP has captured some votes beyond this party faithful and from the circle I'm familiar with (which includes a lot of people between the NDP/Liberals) they have lost this crowd for the time being.

Josh Gould said...

So... if Layton shouldn't be criticizing the Liberals as much as the Conservatives, why have an NDP at all? And why vote Green if you actually want the Liberals to beat the Conservatives? Huh? I don't really follow the logic of voting Green when you want to defeat Harper.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I live in an NDP riding, and will be actively working to upseat him. I realize that many of the people I have talked to also live in this riding. Perhaps we would feel differently in a different riding, but nothing like thinking you voted for someone who really shared your principles only to find they actually only care about how many seats their party gets and not about what happens to Canada more generally.

Mark Greenan said...

I got to admit it looks strange to me that all the Liberal posters who bring the tired old "Jack Layton elected Stephen Harper" meme feel the need to do it anonymously. Is it because if they used their real name, we could Google them and find out they are Liberal activists with too much time on their hands?

And to the first anonymous poster, you REALLY should get a blog, it seems like it'd get lots of readership in the GPC bunker!

Anonymous said...

Several of the recent anonymous posts are from me. I don't have a google account. I have recently written to May and Layton about my views on their positions, saw this post on May and was curious whether other NDPers felt similarly (that there is a whole lot more space between us and Harper than Dion) so decided to post my views. I certainly don't think Layton elected Harper. I was very happy with my NDP vote in 2006. It is only what Layton has done since then that has turned me off. Anyway, I see posters here feel comfortable with the way Layton interacts with Harper and Dion, but I don't. I'll be looking at both Green and Liberal in the next round. Neither spends their time attacking each other or the NDP and both share my view of Harper.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

anon,

I don't have a google account.

You don't need one to post here with your name or handle. Not saying you have to do that, mind--I've enabled anonymous posting for a reason--just letting you know.

It is only what Layton has done since then that has turned me off.

At the risk of derailing this topic even more than it already is, I'm going to ask you to name some specifics--a list of specific actions that Layton has done or said that have made you switch your vote. And could you say *why* you dislike those actions? I'm asking because when I've seen other bloggers express similar feelings, it's all been very vague stuff like that he "supported the Harper government," which doesn't match up with the facts (the NDP have actually voted against the government in every confidence vote so far, something that can't be said for the Liberals). Thanks.

Neither spends their time attacking each other or the NDP

Um, that's actually not at all the case. They definitely both attack the NDP--have a look at what either party has said recently about the NDP. It's not exactly positive. I have to wonder why you see only the attacks the NDP makes and not the ones it receives.

and both share my view of Harper.

Can you provide some evidence that Layton does not share that view? Specifics, please, not general impressions. A quote would be nice. Thanks.

Josh Gould said...

Um, that's actually not at all the case. They definitely both attack the NDP--have a look at what either party has said recently about the NDP. It's not exactly positive. I have to wonder why you see only the attacks the NDP makes and not the ones it receives.

I see this Anon ignored your post directly below - Cherniak's views are not uncommon at all, and it was months and months ago that he declared that the NDP was "sick" for not simply folding itself into the Greater Liberal Co-prosperity Sphere.

Josh Gould said...

And concerning what Layton is doing and saying lately, consider this.

Mark Greenan said...

After than verbal smackdown you just delivered, IP, I doubt we'll hear a response from no-google-account-anon.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Mark,

Nah, if asking someone to back up their assertions counted as a smackdown, then my students would be a lot more bruised!

I love your blog, by the way--your electoral reform posts always have me rapt. Any way I could bribe you to post more often?

Anonymous said...

IP, First, I don't spend much time at this so I am not going to be able to provide you with past specifics -- it's my memory or nothing! As I became more aware of May and what she was saying my irritation with Layton started to grow. Here are the most recent examples:

(1)Just read what May says about choosing this NS riding. She doesn't want to take out an NDP/Liberal and she sees a Harper government as a clear threat to Canada. Very straightforward. She has made similar statements in the past.

(2) Compare this to Layton -- just look at his recent speech for example (I think I saw it on the NDP site within the last few days.) It is rather long (compared to May's brief statement) so perhaps his statement that the most important thing for Canada is not to have a Harper government and his clear distinction between Dion/Harper slipped by me, but I didn't see them.

I have actually already written both Layton and Christopherson (the NDP I voted for in 2006) and told them how unhappy I am with both of them and that I don't plan on supporting them again. So, for the next round, I am a lost cause. I was more interested in seeing if lots of NDPers felt this way -- I see it is perhaps just NDP-Liberal-swingers or perhaps even just swingers in my riding. Christopherson has been a disappointment, doesn't even answer our letters, never mind email, and that was long before we gave up on him. Perhaps you guys have better representation in your ridings.

Anonymous said...

I just took another look at Layton's recent speech (Josh linked to it) and it's worse than I remembered. Except for Harper being the current PM, Layton gives them almost equal time for criticism and, in fact, parrots Harper's attack ads on Dion. Meanwhile, I couldn't find any criticism of either the NDP or Jack Layton on the Liberal site.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

anon,

What, no specifics? Not even a few? Aw. Pardon me while I pout.

Just read what May says about choosing this NS riding.

I did read it--among other things, I read where she said that the Liberals and New Democrats didn't have the "maturity" to not run candidates against her. To this democracy nut, it sounds more like they have the maturity to offer Central Nova Liberal and NDP voters real choices!

perhaps [Layton's] statement that the most important thing for Canada is not to have a Harper government and his clear distinction between Dion/Harper slipped by me, but I didn't see them.

You can read the speech all you want, because Josh linked to it a few comments back. He doesn't say that the "most important thing" is not to have a Harper government, but I challenge you to find anyplace where Dion or May have said that, either. (If May believed that, she wouldn't let her paty run any candidates in the next election, since more Green votes almost certainly means more vote-splitting with more Conservatives able to come up the middle.) He does say that Harper can't be trusted, along with various other negative things. As for making a distinction between Harper and Dion, he does that, too. He makes a distinction between both in the same way that Dion makes a distinction between Harper and Layton--by disagreeing with both of them, but for different reasons. That's completely legitimate, and the reason why they're *not part of the same party*.

Perhaps you guys have better representation in your ridings.

My MP is Rahim Jaffer, so no, not really. Lucky for us that the candidate most likely to beat him is Linda Duncan, who took 33% of the vote in the last election, and with a very similar resumé to Elizabeth May's (they've worked together for years), will be one of the top two or three environmental candidates across the country, in any party. And she's a New Democrat.

Sorry to hear about your experiences with your own MP, by the way. I certainly wouldn't want anybody to vote for a candidate they can't stand, so I respect your choice. I can't agree with anything you've said about Layton, though, and am disappointed that you'd make statements like that in my blog without being able to back them up. I'm perfectly willing to criticize the party where it deserves it, and have done exactly that many times in the past, but the evidence just isn't there on these counts.

Mark Greenan said...

IP,
*blush* you sure you know how to flatter a guy and make him want to post more. The actual work at fighting for electoral reform and trying to do my oft-neglected academic work keeps me busy, but now that I've been asked by the Queen bee of the Blogging Dippers, I'll have to put in some extra effort.

Anon,
On (1), Ms. May says she wants to defeat Harper, but it's pretty tough to do that as leader of the fifth party. As and our first anonymous poster, who clearly knows more than any of us about internal Green politics, tells us the Greens explicitly rejected a "Stop Harper" strategy for this election.

On (2), it's too bad your NDP MP who you previously supported won't return to your emails about NDP Party strategy. But I hope you'll consider the Liberals' "Stop Harper" strategy before you vote them for because IMHO it's a poor one. Of course, it's to scream at the top of their lungs that the evil PM (who is only continuing their policy direction since 1993) "must be stopped" while visiting Con-NDP races where his party will never win or in Lib-NDP races where the Cons aren't a factor.

That makes no sense, particularly for a party that opposes a fair voting that would ensure Harper could never get a majority.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

anon,

By the way, if you want more examples of the Liberals attacking the NDP than you could shake a stick at, all you have to do is watch Question Period (or check Hansard for a transcript). I'm headed home from work now (finally!), so I won't have time to hunt any down, but there are some examples in this old post of mine.

Mark,

Queen Bee of the Blogging Dippers? My goodness!

Mark Greenan said...

IP,
Hope you don't mind the honorific, but I was trying to think of something funny that captures my opinion (and lots of others I'm sure) of you as the creme-de-la-creme of the BDs :)

Anonymous said...

From the Toronto Star article I read: Saying she expects an election "very, very soon," May minced no words about her antipathy to Conservatives yesterday when she announced she would be vying for a Commons seat in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova, held by MacKay for the past 10 years.

"I can't say how much I fear for my country if these people ever got a majority," May told supporters and journalists in Antigonish, one of the main towns in the largely rural riding.

There were ridings where her chances were deemed to be better, May acknowledged yesterday, but she didn't want to run against a sitting Liberal or New Democrat.

In fact, she said she wants Liberal and NDP help in Central Nova, though she is spurning "backroom deals" on any formal or potential alliance.


Perhaps it is that last statement that you object to, but I don't see anything wrong with it. No one has to help her if they don't want to. Dion said he hasn't made any decision on this. I've already decided to send her some money for that riding, independent of which party I end up voting for in my own riding.

It is the statements by May above that I was referring to when I talk about distinquishing between Harper and Dion. May has been perfectly clear on this. Dion is clear on the threat of Harper -- just look at the Liberal site. Then read Layton's speech. I see little that distinquishes Dion and Harper (other than Harper being PM) and, in fact, some of the most pointed character attacks (such as using the Tory attack ads) are directed at Dion, not Harper. I won't keep harping on this...if it is still not clear, we obviously just have different perspectives on who May, Dion, and Layton are and are not spending most of their time attacking.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it's to scream at the top of their lungs that the evil PM (who is only continuing their policy direction since 1993) "must be stopped"

Mark, perhaps this is where we really differ. I lived through the Mike Harris/Flaherty years in Ontario (and even had to live through some of the Bush time in the US) and know what Harper could do with a majority. I don't see this at all equivalent to the Chretien/Liberal majority years or even the Mulroney/Conservative years. I guess this is where I do share something with May and Dion. It used to be shared with the NDP, but perhaps either I or they have changed.

Josh Gould said...

Perhaps it is that last statement that you object to, but I don't see anything wrong with it. No one has to help her if they don't want to.

If May wants to defeat Conservatives, why does she not lend her support to Alexis MacDonald, who was only a few thousand votes from knocking off MacKay? Why should the NDP or the Liberals help a candidate whose party won 1.6% in the last election? Can you answer that? Come on, just give one reason why, if the Tories are the Enemy, the other parties should help May and not vice-versa?

Mark Greenan said...

Anon,
I wouldn't be excited about a Harper majority, but my point is that the Liberals aren't doing anything to stop it.

If they were concentrating stopping Harper, they'd be worried about winning back seats lost to Harper, but it seems they're just as concerned at winning back Hamilton Centre and Trinity Spadina.

Or they could have done something on proportional representation since 1993 and ensure no one ever gets a majority, but Liberal power brokers couldn't stand for that.

Did you read IPs great post on Liberal attacks on the NDP? As far as I can see they spend as much time attacking the NDP or smearing them for either "electing" or "propping up" Harper.

Like seriously, what strategy do you expect from Jack, to fold up the tent and endorse Dion?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

anon,

Here's the article with the May "maturity" quote: "Frankly, I'd welcome any kind of co-operation but I don't think the other parties have the ability or the maturity."

And Dion has definitely made his decision, by the way--and good on him. I'd love to see Elizabeth May get a seat, because Green Party voters deserve at least that much, but it shouldn't happen by depriving Central Nova Liberals of their democratic rights.

Mark,

I've never thought of myself as the Queen Bee, but I take the compliment in the spirit in which it's meant. Thanks! :-)

Anonymous said...

Mark, Perhaps we are partly to blame for the Hamilton Center initiative as a group of us have been emailing the Liberals, saying we're ready to switch. I'm happy with either the Liberal or NDP platform, as ideally I'd choose something inbetween, but right now I also want someone who shares my anti-Harper/Conservative passion. I check out sites like the Canadian Coalition for Democracies just to remind myself of the type of people who are passionate about re-electing Harper and who claim to hold influence. Those groups can really see the difference between the Liberals/NDP/Green and Conservatives too.

Mark Greenan said...

Last post anon - I got to get back to winning a fair voting system for Ontario that will ensure no party ever get a majority government and 100% of the power to do whatever they want. Also, from your responses, I'm getting the impression you're not really hearing what I and IP are saying. I'm getting the impression you've made up your mind and don't care what anyone says.

I'm disappointed you're leaving the NDP for the Liberals, but what gets me the most is that the reasons you're citing for the move could equally apply to the Liberals.

As I've said now here a few times, as much as Liberal rhetoric is "we will do anything to stop Harper", their actions show otherwise.

The "stop Harper" rhetoric is a cynical attempt by the Liberals to get nervous nelly left-of centre voters like yourself to vote "strategically" for the Liberals. They don't care if the result of these pleas swing Con-NDP races to Harper as happened in places like Oshawa, Saskatchewan and BC in 2004 and 2006.

Not to mention that the best way to stop Harper from bringing Harris-style government is proportional representation, which the Liberals have consistently ignored and belittled over the past decade.

You're clearly going to pull your support from Christopherson but that isn't going to stop Harper.

You really want to stop him, write a letter to Dion telling him you're an NDP-Liberal swing voter and ask him to pull his candidates from NDP-Conservative races to "stop Harper". Bold prediction - he ignores you just like Jack and Christopherson!

Anonymous said...

Mark, I agree that I don't have an open mind on this right now. I haven't looked over this whole site, but I get the general impression this is a group who supports the NDP and their vision of what the NDP stands for. I can admire that and think that's important too. At the moment, I also am looking for a clear vision of what we don't want Canada to be. In past times, I would have considered this a negative outlook, but right now, I am sufficiently concerned that I want my leaders to articulate this clearly too. I agree you can poke holes in how effective the Liberals, Greens or anyone else has been on this front. In the end, being inspired by the vision of a leader is based on more than simply facts. I happen to see this in Dion and May. I don't see this in Layton. I think we just disagree on this or perhaps this "negative vision" isn't as important to you as it is to me.

Kenn Chaplin said...

I am beginning to think that May is to Nova Scotia what Jack Layton is to Hudson, Quebec or I am to the town, not far from there, where I grew up (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield).
Pfffft!!!

She will be appreciated, by many across the country, for having had 'the balls' to run against MacKay but, ultimately, little to show for it when the votes are counted. This is the riding which saw MacKay through the most embarrassing (potato field interviews with his dog) days of his political career.

I'd much rather see MacKay knocked off by the NDP, his closest rival last time!

Anonymous said...

Was she wise to shift to BC? That is where Wayne Crookes and his "gang of Crookes" are, and it's hard to imagine a greater embarassment to the Green Party of Canada, or a more off-putting message to young activists (especially the tech-savvy) than association with someone who tried to SLAPP the Internet silly. Why the Greens didn't kick these folks out, it's impossible to tell. It doesn't seem possible to win in BC with that kind of boat anchor on them. Crookes and his company West Coast Title Search keep losing lawsuits and every time they do the fact that he was the Green Party of Canada's financier before May comes up. What can she do to distance herself from him?

Isn't it time the Green Party just kicked him out? The Liberals purged a few people after the sponsorship scandal, so it's not exactly an unknown political move.