Tell Jack Layton to talk to Elizabeth May

As everyone probably knows, Elizabeth May and Stéphane Dion will not be running candidates in each other’s ridings.  What everyone may not know is that Elizabeth has been trying since her election as Green Party leader to develop working relationships with any parties that support reasonable action on climate change, so that when we have some seats in Parliament, we can work with these parties. She has made no headway with Jack Layton, in spite of the fact that 85% of NDP members favour some sort of rapport between the parties. Jack Layton is your MP. He is supposed to represent you. So tell him to do the right thing. Then get two neighbours who are NDP supporters to tell him, too. Be polite but firm.

You can write to Jack at:
221 Broadview Ave, Ste 100
Toronto, ON M4M 2G3

And if it’s not too much to ask, tell me if you’ve written a letter, so that I can keep a tally of letters that have gone out.

For background, watch this CTV interview of Elizabeth May where she says “What the hell is wrong with Jack Layton that he can’t answer a phone call?”

People from outside Toronto-Danforth should also write to Jack Layton and tell him what he needs to do.

10 responses to “Tell Jack Layton to talk to Elizabeth May”

  1. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    Central Nova has not historically been a strong NDP riding. It has been Conservative as long as Peter MacKay has represented it. The reason for the strong NDP showing had a great deal to do with the NDP candidate in the last two elections. Alexis McDonald enjoyed strong local personal support. Prior to her candidacy, the NDP was pulling in just 11% of the vote.

    When Elizabeth May considered running there, she confirmed with Alexis McDonald that she was not planning to run in Central Nova, so we should not be expecting such a high NDP vote.

    Elizabeth has strong roots in the riding as well. She considers Nova Scotia her home. This year, she announced her candidacy in Antigonish for the second time, the first time being decades ago when she ran for the Small Party against Allan MacEachan. In her nomination speech, she pointed out her strong feeling of connectedness to Monsignor Coady and the Antigonish movement. She has an even broader history of fighting for the environmental and social justice issues of Eastern Canada and has a great deal of local recognition. She was honoured as a recipient of the Order of Canada in large part because of her work on the Sydney Tar Ponds.

    And finally, when she announced her intention to run, there was no NDP candidate.

    It was a good, solid riding choice. She did not attack a sitting Liberal or NDP, she did not attack anyone with a strong environmental record, and she focused her attention on the Harper government. It’s difficult to imagine a riding where she could split the vote less, and she has to run somewhere.

    And now, with the Liberals not running a candidate against her, she has succeeded tremendously in unifying the anti-Harper vote.

  2. Joe writes:

    If anything, we should be writing to Elizabeth May and asking her to pull out of Central Nova in favour of the NDP. The NDP came a strong second there, the NDP candidate is local and has strong roots in the riding, unlike May, and has a much better chance of success.

    May’s entry into the race simply helps split the vote and ensures that Peter MacKay will be re-elected.

    In the last election, May preached ‘thinking twice’ about vote splitting. She’s not practicing what she preaches.

  3. Joe writes:

    She has about as much connection to the riding as my old shoe.

    Elizabeth grew up in Sydney — 2.5 hours drive from the centre of the riding.

    If she really wanted to try to take on a Conservative, why not run against John Baird, the environment minister, who represents an Ottawa riding, (the City Elizabeth has lived in for over a decade). And take on the Con responsible for the environment.

    With respect, Green supporters are spinning a myth that the NDP vote was all Alexis MacDonald. That ignores the fact that the NDP support has been increasing in Nova Scotia in recent years. The NDP holds two provincial seats in Central Nova — were they because of Alexis?

    The NDP has spent the last 15 years building up support and an organization in Central Nova. Elizabeth is trying to now claim ownership of that organizational work she had no part in creating.

    The NDP candidate (Louise Lorefice) has real, deep, roots in the community. Elizabeth isn’t even a regular tourist in the area.

    If Elizabeth is serious about taking MacKay down, she will support the NDP candidate. The fact she won’t is further evidence she is being used by the Liberals to fracture the left vote in Canada — the very opposite of what she claims to be about.

  4. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    Hi Joe,

    I guess you’re an NDP supporter from Central Nova? I may be hopelessly deluded, but my prediction is that Elizabeth will win the riding. My guess is that she’s a stronger candidate than Louise Lorefice. But I’m a little biased.

    As Greens, our overarching concern is to leave a liveable world to our grandchildren. Most of us Greens recognize the need for strategic tradeoffs to further this goal. Sometimes the strategies are in open conflict. So a lot of thinking goes into our choices.

    If Elizabeth believed that the NDP would have won Central Nova, she might have chosen to run elsewhere. But there will be Green candidates everywhere (except, now, in Stephane Dion’s riding). We will be campaigning hard everywhere and promoting our message. Recognizing that some parties are less bad than others is not the same as deciding we’ll just lay down for them. If we thought that why would we bother at all?

    John Baird’s riding of Ottawa West-Nepean is not Elizabeth’s riding any more than Central Nova, probably less. And it l00ks like some very progressive nominees are lining up for the Liberal candidacy there. It’s a riding where the Liberals got about as close to the seat as the NDP got in Central Nova. So if she had declared there, we would have had Liberals complaining about our choice. We can’t satisfy everyone.

    Every riding across the country can claim either to have a Liberal or NDP incumbent or at least a strong challenger. If we used those criteria to withdraw from races, we could write ourselves off as a party.

    But the Green voice is important. Our vote influences policy even when we don’t have a single seat. If we fold up, that voice is lost. We are trying to work with Liberals and NDP even though in the last election, between them they only mentioned Kyoto once in all the debates (Paul Martin) and climate change not at all.

    If the only objective was to defeat Harper, both NDP and Greens should just give it up to the Liberals, who are clearly in the best position to challenge the Harper Conservatives. The NDP are by far the biggest vote splitters now. Does that mean I’d like to see the NDP fold up? No. I think we need their voice — for women’s rights, for medicare, for labour rights. Defeating Harper is not the only strategic objective. It isn’t where our party begins and ends. It’s one of many strategic objectives.

    What I’d really like to see is a more democratic electoral system with some sort of proportional representation. I suspect every single existing party would lose because dozens of small focused parties would be created. But Canadians would win. Our children would win. The environment would win. And we wouldn’t have to have this argument.

    As to the specifics of why Central Nova vs Ottawa West-Nepean, it has to do with the incumbent’s portfolio. It would be no surprise that Elizabeth, as former Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada and leader of the Green Party could claim the best knowledge on the environment. But it would cement our image as a single-issue party. She decided to take on Peter MacKay because building a sustainable future for our children actually involves integrated planning on many issues and our foreign policy is one of our strengths.

    So with Peter MacKay, Elizabeth can talk about our policy to renegotiate NAFTA and withdraw from Afghanistan. She can talk about our positions in the UN on native rights, climate change and weapons. She can make Canadians understand that voting Green means voting for a complete, integrated and balanced policy. That will increase the Green vote in Canada. And ironically, that will help promote an environmental platform more than focusing just on the environment.

    I hope Louise Lorefice does well. I hope she does better than Peter MacKay. But I do hope Elizabeth does better yet.

    Best wishes to you — Adriana

  5. Joe writes:

    I’m not from Central Nova, but I am from Nova Scotia, more than Elizabeth can say.

    Elizabeth’s announcement didn’t do much for poll numbers — according to Ipsos Reid (in a survey done after her announcement) Greens are running at 1% (one percent) in Atlantic Canada. So much for the argument she is the one who can beat MacKay.

  6. Bob Roberts writes:

    Elizabeth May is deluded if she thinks she can oust Peter MacKay. First of all, the riding is largely rural, and if there’s one thing farmers hate more than mad cow disease and poor rain fall, it’s bloody environmentalists. This is a fact. So good luck Elizabeth. I’m going to enjoy watching you get crushed by the Conservative juggernaut.

  7. Arif Jinha writes:

    We need to cooperate, the NDP and Greens. I don’t think this is the way to do it. We definitely ought to work hard for proportional representation. But Liberals and Greens cooperating in this way has left a bad taste for NDPers. I don’t know about the precedent for swapping in this way, it would get messy if done too often.

    In this case you have a party leader that should have a seat, but it is a struggle in the absence of proportional representation. Perhaps a better way would be for the Liberals and NDP to make a commitment, that should either form a government, they would appoint Elizabeth May to the cabinet, let’s say Environment Minister. Stephen Harper set the precedent in appointing an unelected person to the cabinet. In the next election, May would have to run to maintain her post with a seat, but she’d have a better chance after doing a fantastic job. Harper made the argument that it was out of necessity in having representation in the cabinet from Montreal. Here we argue the necessity of representation of the Greens and getting the best environment minister.

  8. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    Hi Arif,

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say you don’t think this is the way to do it. All I’ve asked for is to talk. I assume anything the leaders work out would be good. Elizabeth has been trying to open up some dialogue with Jack since the day she was elected leader of the Green Party. Recently, I’ve been told they have had a short cordial chat. It’s a start. It needs to continue.

    I wouldn’t presume to predict the direction this dialogue should take. I would be happy if the leaders just agreed to state that Mr. Harper is worse than any other option. Any sort of more formal arrangement such as a cabinet appointment would be welcome.

    Note, though, that the NDP are extraordinarily unlikely to form the next government unless we see a dramatic shift in the political field, so offering Elizabeth a cabinet post is not something they can deliver. The Liberals could have made that offer, but they seem to have offered her a chance to run without Liberal opposition instead.

    The reactions I’ve gotten about the May-Dion deal have varied. Some die-hard NDP supporters are very angry, but they’ve been trying to attack the Liberals and ignore the Greens, not work with either so there’s no loss there. Other NDP supporters, frustrated by the tremendous losses under a Harper Conservative government (the national child-care strategy, the commitment to Kyoto, the Kelowna accords) have expressed admiration for the ability of Greens to form strategic alliances for the sake of policy and principle. If Mr. Layton doesn’t show the same willingness to talk, he will lose them as supporters. They will go to the Liberals or Greens. It will be his loss.

  9. Arif Jinha writes:

    Well, I definitely agree that Jack Layton should talk to Elizabeth May – two people that can make a greater difference together than they can alone.

  10. mlpvolt writes:

    Hi Sharon,

    great idea!

    It is absolutely true that the NDP grassroots and the Green grassroots want to co-operate and the NDP brass (and not the Greens) have been the bad guy standing in the way, the NDP as a party has tried all kinds of machinations to squish their young political sister.

    PS. please do censor the partisan trolls – we don’t need to be sponsoring their silly remarks, and it is easy to tell the difference between the phonies and the honest people (of any flavor) who are posting to your blog.

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