Elizabeth May goes too far

You have to read to the end before you reach today’s excursion into deep space by the leader of the Green Party of Canada, and even then I found I had to read twice before I untangled her syntax.

Nevertheless, it seems that one very reasonable reading of this passage in a piece on the outcome of the Commonwealth talks on climate change in Uganda —

For the dreadful irresponsibility of the Harper government. George Monbiot said that the triumvirate of Harper and Bush and Howard blocking action on climate represented a moral failure more culpable than that of Neville Chamberlain. I was variously skewered and attacked last spring for mentioning how Canada’s international reputation had suffered, citing George Monibiot’s statement to make the point.. (No need to revisit the various ways that quoting George Monbiot was viewed as some sort of political equivalent of a kamikaze mission.)

I repeat those words now, not because I thirst for abuse, but because in the light of day, following Canada’s actions in Uganda, they seem an understatement.

— is the new headline that news aggregator Pierre Bourque put on it:


The switch is that May has gone from pointing out Monbiot’s criticism to actively agreeing with it. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue that inaction on climate change will lead to deaths, both from an increased propensity toward natural disasters and from conflicts over dwindling resources — water, fertile land — in some parts of the globe. But to equate a bad policy with letting Nazi Germany rise largely unchecked in Europe in the hope that, as Churchill put it, Britain would be eaten last is … at the very least, not helpful.

Now the Tories have something they can talk about instead of trying to explain what Prime Minister Stephen Harper actually did in Uganda, which may or may not have been smart but certainly doesn’t look good on the face of it. I expect they’re quite pleased.

Update: Welcome, Bourque readers! Lest anyone think I have it in for Elizabeth May, take a look at a column I wrote on her last January, specifically admiring her skill with words and nuanced thought:

Consider the Green leader’s understanding of the assignment that sent Canadian troops to Afghanistan in the winter of 2002. It was, she said, “a mission to help [President Hamid] Karzai and the people of Afghanistan build a liveable civil society and a democracy, in the wake of many wars.”

That certainly meant shooting bad guys, May said: “The Taliban have to be removed. The Taliban insurgency, you can’t have them rebuild and regroup and constantly move back into Afghanistan, otherwise none of the efforts … are going to make much sense.”

This sounds like neither anti-Americanism nor reflexive peacenik-ery to me. It sounds like thinking that’s straight down the mainstream of Canadian opinion in 2007.

Above all, it sounds like the thinking of someone who knows that running a country is hard, a continual exercise in moral complexity and compromise, and isn’t about to pretend otherwise. It sounds like, at last, we have a party leader who’s determined to treat voters with respect.

I can’t believe the May wrote what she did yesterday without knowing exactly what she was doing.

13 responses to “Elizabeth May goes too far

  1. Remembering glass houses:


    It’s a good question why May gets criticized for making this analogy when the (male) members of parliament from all parties make the exact same comparison unscathed.

    We would also do well to remember what Rick Salutin says about making moral equivalencies:


  2. After all is said and done, I take May’s comments with a grain of salt and consider the source. Irrelevant rabble.

  3. E. May doesn’t prove anything by equating one way of solving Climate Change to Nazism. It sounds to me as if she is falling into the totalitarian trap of being an eco-commie, which makes her worse than Stalin, and if you want numbers, Stalin was even a greater butcher than Hitler, and mostly of his own people. She wants the developed world to stop developing, which will only result in manufacturing in the developed world moving to becoming polluters in China, India, Brazil, USA etc. etc. Harper is right, the planet is a life boat and having 70% of the world being allowed to pollute while 30% puts on a hair shirt is sheer unacy, inspired by E. May and her crooked thginking followers such as Dion. E. May has in common with Stalin that her target is her own compatriots, instead of the foreign countries that pollute our world.

  4. As a woman, mother and grandmother I cringe every time Ms. May opens her mouth. I have for a long time not taken her seriously..oh, maybe in the beginning because I did not know her very well. I was prepared to listen to her and way back when, I WAS agreeing with some of her comments. However all of that has changed recently. All I see, in my opinion, are the rantings of a lunatic. She lost me quite a while ago and my opinion of her is NOT a good one. Thanks a lot Ms. May for sounding like the fool that you are. YOU madam are an impediment to your party.

  5. The media has consistently painted Ms. May as being charismatic. I fail to see it. What I have seen is an egotistical and shrill partisan. She spouts eco-nonsense and brooks no counter opinions.
    I have seen a lot of charismatic leaders in my time. Some I liked, some I didn’t. Ms. May isn’t even on the radar, despite what the media would like to think.
    A steady diet of her before the next election will doom the Green Party to further irrelevance, that is a shame!

  6. May, what a fruitcake you are 🙂

    So going with the Nazi analogy and relating it to Kyoto… what does it make China and India?…acceptable purveyors of fine death camps not accountable to anyone? Wake up and smell the growing toxic Chinese smog. Is there anyone with the Greens that has actual leadership capability and a functional brain??

  7. If Elizabeth is guilty of anything, it is understatement. By equating Nazism with by global warming, she underestimates the death and destruction climate change will cause – orders of magnitude greater than all wars in history combined.
    Harper and big brother Bush are murdering world citizens by the hundreds of millions in the near future.They are also butchers of thousands of species of life by being the Pied Pipers leading anyone they manage to brainwash off a cliff like lemmings. That’s one way to support George’s big oil co’s. Apparently the billions in tax subsidy corporate welfare they recieve in the oil sands aren’t enough.
    Yet when Elizabeth utters one understated peep, as the brainwashed go off the cliff, while paying taxes to Exxon to help get pushed closer to the edge , they still find time to name call her on this list. Incredible.

  8. Those who would defend this idiocy produce a link to snicker, rabble and a bombastic Harper=Bush they’re killing everyone aiieeeee diatribe. They have illustrated the point of this post beautifully.

  9. I think the analogy was to the British (i.e. Chamberlain) and not to the Nazis.

    The issue here is blind appeasement with utter disregard to the consequences. It is the utter disregard, and not the consequences that any sensible reader would interpret as the comparison here.

    Of course, sensationalized use of the word “Nazi” makes for far better news/blog coverage, doesn’t it?

  10. Constantine your comments are exactly why many people think of environmental activists as crazy lunatics. Tone down the absolutely ridiculous rhetoric and maybe somebody will listen to something you have to say. I wonder what your types will have to spew about when Bush leaves office? It seems like the entire plight of the human race is his fault and anyone who doesn’t march to the drum of David Suzuki is instantly Bush’s best friend or minion. We all wish Bush was out of office today rather than next year. Get over it. Your predictable and senseless diatribe is pathetic and only weakens a worthy cause that most rational people would be more than willing to rally behind if it wasn’t being championed by people with a complete loss of connection with the real world. I salute David for this blog post which aims to bring civility to this discussion which risks being lost in the chaos brought on by trainwreck comments like those of Ms May

  11. I think I’m voting Tory because I can’t support the Greens under Elizabeth May. We need a real dialogue, not a grade-school practice debate, and May is simply not up to the job.

    The real blame lies with the many Green Party members who sadly and foolishly supported her over Chernushenko. I still believe today that he would be beating Layton – and possibly even Dion. I just shake my head at those who rejected him for this very, very poor “leader”.

  12. is this woman wacko? i hope she gets a seat in parliment so the country can see her as she is. maybe that’s why she is running in Peter Mackays riding. she can shoot of her mouth, because she knows she will never get elected.

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