Turning Green

Scaredy Steve and Jealous Jack scuttle real debate

I don’t plan to vote Green—or at least I didn’t until Stephen Harper and Jack Layton became kissing cousins in an unseemly and unworthy attempt to keep Green Party leader Elizabeth May from taking part in the national leaders’ debate next month.

The Green Party is a legitimate national political party. In the last federal election, half a million Canadians voted Green. And that was even before the party chose May, a bright, charismatic woman, as its leader. The Greens will attract even more votes this time—regardless of whether May is part of the so-called national leaders’ debate.

But that, of course, is exactly the point.

Scaredy Stephen Harper and Jealous Jack Layton don’t want Canadians to get the chance to see her take them on in a national debate, so they’ve threatened not to play at all if she is allowed inside their private sandbox.

Harper’s slimy, self-serving political maneuvering is no surprise, but we expected better of the NDP.

No wonder Layton—as the Canadian Press reported—“was pulled away by handlers” when reporters tried to get him to clarify his party’s role in muzzling May.

Even Gerry Caplan, a former NDP national campaign manager said he was “hugely disappointed” by the party’s position.

“Now,” he told the Globe and Mail, “we are left with the spectacle of four men babbling to each other while another man moderates. Nice work, boys.”

Nice work too by the shameless, faceless “network consortium”—a collection of the supposedly finest minds in all of Canada’s supposedly powerful television networks—who caved, turtled and then rolled over and played dead at the mere threat that the other parties might boycott the event if May was allowed to participate.

“In the interests of Canadians,” weaseled a spokesman for the networks, they had decided a faux debate was better than no debate at all.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps the rest of us should tell the networks they’re wrong, and tell those other party leaders that—regardless of which party we supported previously—we’re turning Green until they change their mind.

PS— Harper’s argument against May’s inclusion is that, because she and Liberal leader Stephane Dion struck a deal not to run candidates against one another in their own ridings in this election and because May has, from time to time, argued that Dion would make an environmentally more friendly prime minister than Harper (no great feat), she’s become a Liberal in all but name, and it would therefore be “fundamentally unfair” for him to have to face two Liberals in the leaders’ debate.

Reality check: In April 2006, May, as the head of the Sierra Club, helped organize a dinner honouring former Tory leader Brian Mulroney as Canada’s greenest prime minister. "The truth is that for many years I've been saying that Brian Mulroney had an environmental record that puts subsequent prime ministers to shame," May told CTV News at the time.

So it’s not that Elizabeth May is a Liberal; it’s just that Stephen Harper isn’t an environmentalist.

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