Category Archives: Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May Not Anti-Choice but Not Pro-Choice Either

In a letter to the National Post, April 19, 2007, Elizabeth May reacted with fury at having her views on abortion variously characterized as regressive, conservative, and, most incendiarily, “anti-choice.” So strong was May’s indignation that she thought it worse than being associated with a nominated candidate who described the 9/11 attacks as “beautiful”. In her attempt to set the record straight she wrote:

“I am strongly in favour of a woman’s right to access a safe and legal abortion. However, I think the polarization of the issue does our society a disservice.”

However, based on her comments during her run at the by-election in London North Centre, she confirms that she is vehemently against abortion, believing that a woman doesn’t have the “frivolous” right to choose. Although, she concedes that “therapeutic abortion” is necessary to avoid women dying during illegal abortions.
Still, her personal views are to me of less concern than the position of the Green Party of Canada, about which Canadians know very little. “The party’s position,” says May, “is that we must maintain access to therapeutic abortions.” The Leader of Green Party speaking on behalf of its policy says:

“what I’d like to do in politics is to be able to create the space to say, “Abortions are legal because they must be to avoid women dying. But nobody in their right mind is for abortions.” I’ve talked women out of having abortions. I would never have an abortion myself, not in a million years. I can’t imagine the circumstances that would ever reduce me to it.”

It mustn’t be missed that what she is strongly in favour of is access to therapeutic abortion, not strongly in favour of reproductive freedom. A woman’s choice is not a matter of morality, right, or principle. It is not about the right over her own body (incidentally one of the fundamental rights of liberalism, Greens consider this “frivolous”). The Green Party seems to support abortion not as a matter of reproductive freedom, but out of reluctant necessity. Abortion is a pragmatic, not a principled choice. Abortion must be made legal solely to circumvent the possibility of a woman dying while performing an illegal abortion. Any other reason is “frivolous” or crazy.

Is this grudgingly conciliatory stance simply one Christian person attempting to reconcile her faith with a contentious moral issue, or is this about a Party taking a position that could possibly placate the religious right or the morally conservative down the road? I have yet to be convinced that the Green Party is not composed of right-wing Libertarians who posture as environmentalists either to obfuscate their ideological core and make themselves more palatable or to overcome white middle-class guilt. Granted this last statement is a bit of a cheap shot, but I am really interested in the Green Party revealing its ideological core and its stances on social, political, economic issues. We know so little. A perusal through their blogs reveals a fractious, disorganized picture. Nominated candidates too seem to be all over the place.


May-Dion Deal is Scurrilous and Layton’s Refusal Principled

>The Dion-May deal is unscrupulous because it is completely cynical and disingenuous in the sense that it pretends to be:
1. not a “back-room deal”
2. genuine and desperate non-partisan concern for the planet (read the Green Party’s open letter to the NDP-plleease!), and
3. mutually beneficial. Green Party candidates and members were sold out by their Leader and have nothing to gain and everything to lose by this.

This was so transparently a dirty back-room deal intended to bleed the NDP and I wouldn’t have had any issues with the improprieties of the deal had it been presented as a united front against the NDP. I still would have thought it a dumb move and a good sign for the NDP, but not a scurrilous one. The corrupt heart of this deal was its deception and disingenuousness. I should say I am not in principle against backroom deals, nor do I think is any politician. I am against dirty, deceitful backroom deals.

So was Layton’s denouncing of and refusal to come to the table on this particular deal truly unprincipled? Obviously to the extent that the May-Dion pact was corrupt, then Layton’s refusal to participate was ethical and principled. I’ve desperately tried to understand the indignation over Layton’s refusal to deal with May, but I can’t. I think his rebuffing Elizabeth May and indirectly Stephane Dion was both pragmatic and principled. Perhaps he saw that he was being ambushed and chose not to be a willing participant! Perhaps he is sincere when he says “New Democrats don’t think that Peter MacKay or any Conservative deserves to go unchallenged. The Conservatives have a lot to answer for.” Since his party is in the best position to challenge that seat, why should he forfeit competing for it? I mean the charge that the NDP is not anti-Conservative is preposterous. The NDP is not only the sole voice of leftist party politics, but also the sole hope for any “progressives”.

Stephen LaFrenie, nominated Green Party candidate in Trinity-Spadina well enough understands what the May-Dion deal means and why Layton rejected it, why can’t the Liberals? Stephen is worth quoting in full:

“Jack Layton is an honourable man. Stephane Dion is NOT. Stephane Dion voted in line with liberal policy that has strangled Haiti. Joined in the liberal denial of human rights abuses and propped up a murderous temporary Government there. Stephane Dion voted against labour rights by not supporting the anti-scab labour bill to please the corporate power structure rather than actually thinking about what it meant. The Greens would have supported the bill. Stephane Dion did what he was told to do. Which is nothing but shut up and vote the way you are told when he was in cabinet and as leader has stated that he will impose the same rule of discipline. Vote his way or end your career. Stephane Dion was a willing participant in the liberal government of Paul Martin which did nothing but cater to big corporations and did nothing for the environment. The liberals with Stephane Dion’s support would have voted to extend the mission in Afghanistan if they had maintained a second minority government.

For the record it was Paul Martin who stopped cooperating with the NDP in the last minority government. It was Paul Martin who said he would call an election in March. It was Paul Martin who decided to continue the liberal policies of doing nothing for social justice, labour justice, working against everything the Green Party stands for. The NDP joined in defeating the liberal government because the liberals were simply going to use the spring budget to bribe Canadians with empty promises which was the liberal tradition for over a century.
Stephane Dion was elected leader by only a few thousand liberals who could afford to attend the convention. Even then he was elected by Rae supporters who wanted more to stop Ignatieff than support Dion. The liberals don’t even have the awareness to respect their own membership.

Jack Layton has a clear history of fighting for social and labour justice. Stephane Dion does not.Why should Jack Layton show Ms. May and ourselves courtesy when she has done nothing but insult him since becoming leader. She comes from a conservative mind set and has done nothing in her leadership to build the kind of cooperation she now claims to be trying. She has been a liberal sympathizer for many months with little consideration for the NDP. She has continued to praise the liberal record through her misguided support of Dion, a record that pales in comparison to the NDP record which is mind boggling considering they had the power and the NDP does not. Stephane Dion does not believe in electoral reform nor parliamentary reform. Like Stephen Harper he will ignore any and all reform that threatens the dictatorial power of the PMO.You guys are living in a delusion spun by both Ms. May and Mr. Dion that may yet prove fatal for the Greens. Stephane Dion will cast aside any cooperation with the Greens or the environment issues if he gets a majority government.

I continue to find the Layton bashing, partisan nonsense of many Greens on this site to be unacceptable. You are kidding yourself if you think the NDP is going vanish from the political landscape. If we continue to justify failed politicians and political parties like Stephane Dion and the liberals then we will only be seen as liberals and not an alternative.Either we stand for something or we don’t.”

(Stephen LaFrenie, nominated Green Party candidate)