Stupid is as Stupid Does (Whatever the Hell That Means)

by matttbastard

“I’m not the only winner today — everybody wins.”

Yes, Liz, everybody wins. See you at the debate.

h/t Leftdog

Update 09/11: Since the GPC has apparently tried to SLAPP Leftdog in a grammatically incoherent fashion (all your slander are belong to us!), and in light of transplants’ comment, I thought it best to include a link to the full quote in proper context. Judge for yourselves. Bottom line: If anyone feels I should remove the imbedded video, I shall do so.

Regardless, I regret any unintentionally slanderous implications.

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Elizabeth May Gets a Spot in the Debate

by matttbastard

(Image: ItzaFineDay, Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license)

So, now that the Green teapot tempest has finally subsided, does this mean we’re going to stop letting Uncle Steve and his merry band of puffin-pooping political strategists go all Rick Davis on the Canadian electoral landscape and get back to, y’know, those pesky issues?

Right, I forgot–this election is all about power grabs who can rock a sweater or cast a fishing lure with more fauxcenticity.

We’re doomed.

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Elizabeth May on the Sidelines

by matttbastard

For most of the day on Monday, the front page of Progressive Bloggers was absolutely dominated by one topic: the decision rendered by the consortium of Canadian broadcasters to deny Green Party leader Elizabeth May a spot in the national leadership debate.  The consortium, a coalition of 5 Canadian broadcasters that controls participation in the debate, claims that despite the Greens having reached the bar set last election (having a sitting MP, controversial former Liberal candidate, Blair Wilson, in Parliament), 3 of the 4 other parties have threatened to pull out of the debate if May is allowed to participate.  The Globe quotes NDP spokesperson Brad Lavigne as stating “[The NDP] said we would not accept the invitation to participate because the Greens did not have an elected [emphasis mine] member of Parliament and that Ms. May had endorsed [Liberal leader Stephane] Dion as prime minister”. 

The Conservatives offered a similar line of spin: May is running in Nova Scotia (specifically, in star cabinet minister Peter MacKay’s riding) unopposed by a Liberal candidate, and, according to the Globe, “could throw her support to [the Liberals] at the end of the campaign.”  Indeed, as noted by the Globe, May has already raise some eyebrows by sending out a mass email in which she pledged support to a Liberal candidate running against Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Regardless, the Greens are, obviously, fuming at what they see as the latest round of Calvinball on the part of Canada’s broadcast gatekeepers, with May calling yesterday’s announcement “anti-democratic, closed door, backroom decision making” while astutely pointing out that the other national party leaders and broadcast executives involved “are all men”–a sharp jab at the blatant disparity in gender on display among the principles involved, optics that may play more of a factor in today’s post-Clinton/Palin political landscape than in recent electoral contests.

Yours truly has in the past been critical of May and the Greens’ own arguably ‘anti-democratic’ maneuvers to gain a foothold in Parliament, be it by courting Wilson or via friendship arrangements made with Dion and the Liberals.  With that said, the other national leaders (including Stephane Dion, who, despite his party’s claim of support for the Greens’ inclusion, said yesterday that “I would like her to be there, but I will not participate if Stephen Harper is not there”–not exactly a ringing endorsement for “fairness”) are betraying obvious fear of what may be the wild card party of the 2008 election campaign.  Support for the Green Party has been steadily increasing in key ridings, and could provoke a split on the left (and, thanks to the Greens’ classical liberal economic platform, potentially bleed Conservative votes in environmentally-conscious BC) if the party can successfully court Canadian voters beyond the Greens’ standard constituency. 

As former Liberal strategist Scott Reid observes, “[i]f [May] successfully assembles a coalition that adds disaffected voters to her environmentalist basse, she could become a green Ross Perot–stealing support from others, altering the campaign’s core narrative and unpredictably affecting the result.”  May claims that she doesn’t care who Canadians vote for, as long as they vote, but it goes without saying that she is going to fight to get as many votes cast her way; it makes sense, then, that the 4 other party leaders want to limit May’s national exposure as much as possible.  However, by placing May and her party front and centre in what has fast become the first media firestorm of the 2008 election campaign, the scheme seems to have backfired spectacularly. 

Whatever happens, it seems apparent that Elizabeth May has emerged as a serious political player, and, come October 14th, may indeed prove to be, in the words of Reid, “the most dangerous woman in Canada.”

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Former Green Party leader Jim Harris says meeting first Green MP will be “like being in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall fell” and “like being in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was liberated from jail… .”

by matttbastard

Former Green Party leader Jim Harris can barely contain himself:

Today is a day of days. It’s the first day of a new era. It’s a day that you don’t want to miss. Come to Guelph today. There are tectonic forces at work in Canadian politics.

I imagine it’s like being in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall fell. It’s like being in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was liberated from jail — or the day he was inaugurated as President. Imagine being in Berlin or South Africa while history was shifting . . .

We are in such a moment. Funny thing is not everyone sees or feels the moment in terms of how profound it is until later — when history books are written. Carpe Diem! Seize the day — today is the day we all get to be part of history. It’s the day we’ll tell our grandchildren about — I was there when . . .

Meet Canada’s first Green MP in Guelph today (Sunday, August 31)! Blair Wilson, the former independent MP who is now the Green Party’s first MP in Parliament, comes to Guelph with Elizabeth May to support Mike Nagy’s campaign.

To quote Johnny Rotten, “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” After a rousing buildup like that, I was expecting a bigger pay off than “meet Blair Wilson!” If the superfluity of parody was ever in doubt…

h/t Partisan Non-partisan

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More On Blair Wilson, Elizabeth May, and The Green Party of Canada

by matttbastard

Self-described “card-carrying Green” Stuart Hertzog is none too pleased that Blair Wilson is now Canada’s first Green MP:

Why don’t I see this as good news? Because in accepting Blair Wilson into its ranks, Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May has shown that she’s prepared to throw out fundamental Green political principles just so she can be included in the nationally-televised leadership debate. Put simply, that sucks.

[…]

[W]hat effect will this appointment from ‘on high’ of a fallen Liberal star as Canada’s history-making first ‘Green’ MP have on local Green Party members? Were they consulted about this, or did they learn about it from the media?

I’m not living in that riding, but as a card-carrying Green I’m disgusted with this display of old-style, back-room political thinking that believes that secret negotiations to persuade star candidates to run under the Green Party banner is the way to open, democratic politics and ecological security.

Such shenanigans may create a brief flurry in the media — but at what cost? Blair Wilson MP has done well in the past by toeing the Liberal Party line, but the Liberal party’s environmental record is not good. Canadians saw little genuine progress in environmental enforcement during the decades it was in power.

Has Blair Wllson suddenly discovered a new ecological consciousness as a newly-minted Green? Or is his greening as pale as the current attempt to paint the Liberal Party green after its decades of environmental neglect? What are his Green credentials? He may call himself a Green MP — but is he really one?

[…]

Green politics was supposed to be different, an alternative to the moral and financial corruption of old-style politics. But Canada’s Green parties seem to have drifted away from these Green ideals. As the Green ‘brand’ grows in popularity, a new wave of political opportunists are hopping aboard the Green Party wagon as it trundles slowly but seemingly inevitably towards Ottawa.

Make sure to read the whole thing.  I think pogge nails it when he says (in comments; scroll down) “[t]he way to fix a broken electoral system isn’t to game it even more by exploiting whatever loopholes you can find. That’s a recipe for making voters [and, apparently, ideological partisans–mb] even more cynical than they already are.”

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Ends and Means

by matttbastard

NBCDipper:

The day that Mr. Emerson “crossed the floor” to the Conservative party was a dark day for Canadian democracy… He has betrayed his supporters and the entire electorate in Vancouver Kingsway. He has put his personal goals ahead of those of the electorate.

– Arno Schortinghuis, Green Party candidate for Vancouver-Kingsway, in official Green Party press release, February 17th 2006.

I’ll enjoy having Elizabeth May explain why her party did a total…180° on that one at the debates.

Oh, snap! Welcome to prime time, Liz.

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Blair Wilson, Canada’s First Green MP: Yes, We Can (Be Underwhelmed)

by matttbastard

Bruce Campion-Smith, writing for The Toronto Star:

The Green Party has wooed Independent MP Blair Wilson to its ranks, giving the party its first politician in the House of Commons and as a result, a spot in the televised election debates.

Because the party now has a MP, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will be entitled to participate in the televised leaders’ debates in the election that is expected to be called within days.

[…]

“Democracy is threatened when legitimate national leaders are barred from what is arguably the single most important political event in an election – the televised debates,” Wilson said in the release issued by the Green Party.

“It is shocking that the Green Party was excluded from the debates in the past, but by joining the Green Party, I can help guarantee that this travesty will not be repeated in the next election,” he said.

Campion-Smith calls the suprise maneuver “a stunning strategic victory for May” prior to an election widely expected to take place October 14th. However, it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for yet another round of vote-free Parliamentary seat-rearrangement. As noted by Campion-Smith, Wilson campaigned and was elected as a Liberal, and only left the Grits last fall as a result of a financial scandal (although an Elections Canada investigation recently found “minimal evidence of financial wrongdoing.”, according to North Shore Outlook, which led Wilson’s attorney to declare that Wilson had “been exonerated of everything serious.”)

pogge, who notes that “as recently as two weeks ago [Wilson] was still trying very hard to be reinstated as a Liberal and wanted the Liberal nomination in West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country”, is (imo rightly) skeptical about what this means for Wilson, May and the Greens:

This sudden elevation of the Green Party and of Elizabeth May’s status isn’t the result of a choice by voters. It’s the result of one guy who was, rightly or wrongly, kicked out of the party he originally chose and couldn’t get back in. On a rational basis I don’t believe that qualifies Elizabeth May to participate in a debate where she’ll be the only leader arguing that some other party’s leader ought to be Prime Minister.

When I think of the current state of Canadian Federal politics, the word that almost immediately springs to mind is cynicism. Maneuvers like this–to say nothing of Harper’s opportunistic jettisoning of his own fixed election reforms–do little to increase voter confidence in the health of our Parliamentary system. No wonder, as noted in today’s Halifax Chronicle Herald, some eligible voters (including yours truly) may have felt a little “campaign envy” this week as history unfolded before our eyes south of the border:

Americans are being dared to dream; Canadians hardly dare to eat luncheon meat.

If an election does come, there are no gripping issues, merely the end of the game of who triggers it and when.

The likely outcome is another minority government requiring the same sort of bipartisan compromises that supposedly can’t be made now. Not exactly the stuff of mile-high enthusiasm.

There are practical reasons electoral energy cycles are out of sync across the 49th parallel.

Canadians have nothing like the historic choice of electing the first black president, or the first woman vice-president now that John McCain has boldly picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Well, I wouldn’t quite go that far. Since this editorial was published, Canada has boldly made a small-town cheap contribution to the annals of political history. Yep–watching a tainted ex-Liberal hitch his political fortunes to a party dedicated to, um, electing Liberals certainly gives me hope for this fall’s homegrown electoral festivities; finally, a little bit of change that we as Canadians can, if not outright believe in, at least feign indifference towards.

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