Sunday, September 20, 2009

Elizabeth May's Nomination: Challenges and Opportunities

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, got the nomination to run out on Vancouver Island in the Saanich Gulf Islands riding. Green Party blogger Camille Labchuk wrote up a blog on it and there's some comment action over there. Commenter Mark Francis brought up a couplafew points regardin' Ignatieff's less-than-stellar environmental stance vis-a-vis the tar sands, incumbent Gary Lunn's vulnerability and the need for getting "boots on the ground." Here's my response recycled:

Mark makes some good points. Every candidate will have some baggage. For the Libs, Ignatieff’s environmental intransigence will be serious baggage for small-g green voters. He’s on record supporting nukes, too. His militaristic support for Bush’s Iraq invasion/fiasco doesn’t really speak well for his international savvy, either, and won’t play well with the stereotypical west coast flower children. Hetherington will be saddled heavily with her un-green leader.

Lunn is vulnerable on Chalk River. As Minister of Natural Resources, he was the guy who fired Linda Keen so ignominiously in the middle of the night. He was responsible for restarting the limping reactor that is now giving Canada an international black eye in the medical isotope department. So hapless was Lunn that he was relieved of that portfolio and it was handed off to the even more hapless Lisa Raitt.

Elizabeth May’s biggest piece of baggage seems to be the parachute label. If she can wrap herself in SGI issues and make herself visible enough between now and whenever the Cons get too unpalatable for Layton, she may be able to shake that off. Her environmental credentials and those of the GPC are impeccable. For small-g green voters, she should be able to capitalize on the Liberal leader’s poor environmental stance.

The Herzog flair-up will be seen by most as a sour grapes thing; internal, riding-level party power politics: no worse, better or different than what happens with every party. Elections Canada will not find anything amiss with the riding funding plan and despite some valid concerns regarding top-down party management, Herzog’s complaints will not continue to play a significant part in an election campaign.

Have the NDP nominated anyone? BC voters have the advantage of having had a provincial NDP government by which to judge the NDP’s commitment to the environment. Sure, federal NDP does not equal provincial NDP… except when the NDP wants it to.

I’m a longtime GPC member and EDA exec. I wasn’t too keen on the SGI choice but now that it is a done deal, I’ll be putting my support behind Elizabeth. The decision to run her wherever she is most electable wasn’t a top down decision but was endorsed by the rank and file. My biggest concern centres around the availability of SGI foot soldiers. When Elizabeth ran in London, the foot soldiers flocked in from Toronto and elsewhere in densely populated southern Ontario to knock on doors. I fear that sort of feet-on-the-ground support will be much more difficult to muster in SGI where the doors are further apart and the population nearby is sparser.


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