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.