NDP Leader Jack Layton says a deal between the Liberal and Green Party leaders will deny Canadian choices in the next federal election.
Layton says he's surprised and disappointed that supposedly principled politician like Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has "so quickly slipped into the muck of backroom wheeling and dealing."
I don't want this to be a partisan argument, because I respect many of the NDP supporters, but the above is weak at best. I have also heard the same type of criticisms from Conservatives. Tories will react in their typical way, but the NDP should take the high-road here, and resist criticizing May. Why? It's a tough sell, trying to convince voters that May is a political opportunist, who sacrifices principle for expediency.
If May were truly worried about her own fortunes, then why in the hell would she decide to run in a riding that gives her little realistic chance of winning? May's decision stands as one of the most apolitical moves I can remember. In fact, if I were a Green strategist, I would characterize that decision as politically naive, bordering on stupidity. The goal is to get Greens in parliament, particularly the leader, there were MANY other options that afforded May a real opportunity. The fact that she chose MacKay's riding serves as proof positive, this woman isn't a political animal in the traditional sense. With this reality as backdrop, any attempt by others to paint May as a "backroom" operator has zero legs. In fact, and this is the danger for the NDP, any attacks on May personally will simply look like sour grapes.
Canadians are sick and tired of partisan politics, as many in the NDP constantly remind us. I would suggest that May's approach as leader of the Greens represents a new style, that Canadians will find refreshing. I had wondered if May's decision to work with Dion was a good thing for the Greens. However, when you think about it, what better way to signal to Canadians that there is another option, that enters the political arena with a different mindset. Working together beyond partisanship, possibly undermining self-interest for a larger goal, those are themes that objectively play well, with a public whose cynicism is well-documented. After recent events, no one can say the Green Party is same old, same old.
The early Conservative attacks are downright amusing at this point. The Liberal Party is no longer a national entity, because it takes a pass on .29% of all available ridings. Yep, that will fly for sure, clearly a regional entity now, only Harper can speak for the whole country.
The other angle, Dion is disenfranchising Liberal voters in Central Nova, democracy is the victim. Not quite, Dion is endorsing May, she is essentially the defacto Liberal choice. If voters disagree, then there are other options available, and if voters feel slighted, the Liberal Party will pay a price. Sounds fine from here, particularly in a riding that is hardly a Liberal stronghold. For a party that has an unelected Minister at present, it might be better not to trumpet the idea of fair representation, lest the hypocrisy be to pointed.
My advice to Layton, take the high road and don't risk looking too partisan, especially when the whole "arrangement" will be framed as apolitical. Wish May luck, and fight her tooth and nail, in a riding the NDP could well win. My advice to Conservative critics, keep trying :) Does anyone really believe Conservative strategists were smiling when they heard the news? Exactly, and that's the only point in my mind.