Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Can't Have It Both Ways Jack

It seems a day of contradictions. Jack Layton running around, arguing that we need to take on entrenched interests, the "old boys" network, while he simultaneously reveals that he is establishment he claims to want to "take on". In fairness, many NDP supporters have reacted with complete consistency, but Layton's threat to pull out of the debates, to actively block May's participation, makes all his lofty rhetoric just that.

The NDP's chief claim is that it is different from the other parties, that it fights for the little guy, that it wants to stand up against the "status quo". Apparently, the "status quo" only implies if it doesn't directly affect the NDP's own aspirations, a fundamental contradiction, that undercuts the entire NDP argument.

The NDP is the party that wants more participation, argues for electoral reform. But, in clear terms, Layton's active denial of May, shows that the policies are only useful in a selfish sense, a convenient talking point, based on naked self interest. When some other entity demands the same, Jack morphs into an "old boy", part of the exclusive club, working against the very ideals that are supposedly so pure.

Jack Layton is the establishment, despite the protests. You don't get it both ways, and when the opportunity arose to actually apply the ideal, the NDP revealed itself as nothing particularly unique.

Apparently, this decision came up during Layton's campaign appearance today, a voter asked him some pointed questions. I expect this issue to haunt the NDP to some degree, throughout the election campaign. Why? Because this issue cuts to the chase, Layton can't reconcile the contradiction, it's so plain to be seen and it drains to the deep roots. The anti-establishment little guy from the entrenched establishment actively squashing the little girl. Yep, that works:
Some NDP supporters at a Monday night rally in Vancouver expressed shock at the party's stand.


RuralSandi said...

Joe Comartin, who I USED to respect said that it would be too many at the debate. Huh?

If the Greens won, say, 10 seats, and the NDP say 15 seats - too many for the next debate in the next election....so you get to pick choose who can't get in?

How lame.

Oxford County Liberals said...

There were 5 party leaders in the debate back in 2000. That's a specious argument.

(Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, NDP, BQ, Reform)

Anonymous said...

Why is Layton taking this stand? He is turning off some potential NDP voters, both on principle and on looking like he is supporting Harper. Not good. In the debates, Layton would have some control and he knows what May will say about his platform (criticism on not supporting a carbon tax) and he can respond however he chooses. In other words, he has a lot of control over whether he loses voters during the debates. I just don't see the position Layton is taking as being a useful one for winning votes.

By contrast, Harper benefits a lot provided Layton gives him cover. He is unlikely to lose voters based on the principle. I don't see many potential Conservative supporters upset that May is excluded. It is difficult to push the bully angle, with Layton acting the same way.

Seems to me that all Layton is doing on this issue is helping Harper keep more votes.

Anonymous said...

I have been an NDP supporter all of my life, except for the first election I voted in, where I supported John Turner way back when.

Layton's joining the conspiracy against May has made it certain for me that I will vote Green.

No wonder why they are all so terrified of the Green party - they are the only legitimate threat to the corporate-elite status quo that needs to be held up to much more scrutiny and accountability.

Scott in Montreal said...

Layton's FlapJack moment?

Debra said...

I guess Jack Layton only believes in proportional representation in principle.

Steve V said...

It's easy to sit on the sidelines, where you can promise this and that, frame yourself as different, never actually having to make decisions or govern. Here, we have a rare practical application, and Layton looks like a hypocrite, and a fundamental one at that.

Anonymous said...

Layton and the NDP says it's because it's not "democratic" for May to endorse a couple of Liberal candidates.

I disagree....if she believes these candidates would be the best against other candidates in a certain riding - why not.

Afterall, she has a right to choose who she feels is best...isn't that more principled as opposed to endorsing someone that's not up to the job?

Unknown said...

The NDP believes in proportional representation in law. We ain't got it yet so let's not pretend that the debate issue and PR are the same thing because anyone who knows politics knows that isn't the case.

If Dion is so principled in all this, why isn't he refusing to debate unless May is allowed to participate. He is being duplicitous, pretending to support May so he can curry favour with green voters but leaving to hang out to dry.

Anonymous said...

Joan Bryden from CP gets it:

OTTAWA _ Elizabeth May says she won't endorse Liberal Leader Stephane Dion during the current election campaign.

There's no need. Long before the election writ was dropped last Sunday, the Green party leader had repeatedly touted Dion as her choice for Canada's next prime minister.

Yet she professed surprise when Prime Minister Stephen Harper effectively vetoed her participation in the televised leaders' debates on the grounds that she'd be little more than a stalking horse for Dion.

And she was outraged by Harper's prediction that she'll endorse Dion before the campaign is over.

``I wonder how Mr. Harper can predict what I'm going to do, which I don't intend to do, and have that count against me,'' May fumed.

``I know he does employ a clairvoyant who also is his stylist but unless he's relying on crystal balls, this is nonsense to say `I expect her to do something.' Ask me. I'm not going to do that.''

But Harper likely based his prediction more on May's past behaviour than any clairvoyance about the future.

In April 2007, when May and Dion sealed a non-aggression pact _ agreeing not to run candidates against each party's leader _ the two issued a joint statement.

``We recognize that a government in which Stephane Dion served as prime minister could work well with a Green caucus of MPs, led by Elizabeth May, committed to action on climate change,'' they said.

May went further in subsequent interviews:

``Yes, Stephane Dion would like to see me in the House of Commons and I think that he should be prime minister,'' she said, adding with a laugh: ``Of course, I'm my first choice for prime minister but he'd be very good as second choice.''

May also vowed to defend Dion's record and character, calling him a man of ``deep integrity and extraordinary character.''

``I admire Stephane Dion enormously. ... I think it would be despicable to hide the truth from Canadians when I think Stephane Dion's a fine person.''

May now says she's not endorsing Dion, just being realistic about her chances of winning the top job herself.

``I haven't endorsed Mr. Dion. I've consistently said that I am my first choice for prime minister,'' she said in an interview Tuesday.

``I also believe _ and this is something that's so novel in politics that people don't know what to do with it _ that I should be realistic and truthful.''

So, if the election is realistically going to come down to a choice between Harper and Dion, May added: ``I consistently say a minority with Stephane Dion as prime minister, with enough Greens to keep us on track for positive change ... is the honest answer.''

That may not constitute an endorsement as far as May is concerned, but Harper isn't the only one who's failed to appreciate her fine distinction on that point.

Her warm praise of the Liberal leader has caused some internal grumbling within Green party ranks. It was particularly loud when longtime Green member Briony Penn announced her decision to run for the Liberals, citing May's praise for Dion as the inspiration for her defection.

``What Elizabeth May is implying is that yes, we should vote strategically for the Liberals if necessary and that Dion is green enough,'' former Green deputy leader Andrew Lewis said at the time.

Indeed, May explicitly made the case for strategic voting to stop Harper during the past two elections. She was part of a coalition of environmentalists and social activists who urged voters to ``think twice.''

During the 2007 Green leadership contest, rival contender David Chernushenko accused May of having actually asked some Green candidates to consider withdrawing from the 2006 election to avoid splitting the centre-left vote and thus helping the Tories.

May rejected Chernushenko's characterization of her actions but acknowledged that she did speak to some Green candidates one week before the 2006 vote.

``I was calling them in desperation to say, `What could we do?' Could you for instance interest the Liberals if they were interested in talking about proportional representation? Was there room for a coalition there?' ''

Steve V said...

I must say, the rationale is just plain lame. May endorsed Dion for PM, because there are only TWO choices, and she prefers him. Who does Jack prefer?

I heard an interview, and May said that she was just being honest, there was no way she can become PM, so she answered honestly.

And, I seem to recall Jack saying he admired Dion too :)

Gayle said...

"Who does Jack prefer?"

He says he prefers himself. What he means is, this time around, he prefers Harper. That way Jack can stand as the stark contrast in the hopes that next time around he will win.

Steve V said...


If the main criticism of May is that she isn't delusional, like some others, it's pretty thin.

Anonymous said...

"May endorsed Dion for PM, because there are only TWO choices, and she prefers him."

Well then why does she even belong to the Green Party and why is she running any candidates? As long as her party has candidates on the ballot, it will get votes and those votes would presumably otherwise go Liberal (or NDP). If May wants Dion to be PM then the logical conclusion is for her to fold her party and tell everyone to vote Liberal. She was probably planning on making that announcement in the leaders debate - but she had been foiled.

Steve V said...


Maybe Jack should stop running candidates in those 270 odd one's he finished third in last time out. May just knows she won't be PM, that doesn't preclude wanting Green MP's.

It's so simple. Does Jack really believe he will be PM? No, if he doesn't, then Canadians should question his mental state. That leaves, no I won't be PM. The only question left Jack, who would you prefer Dion or Harper? May answered, Jack changes the subject. I suspect somewhere, he wants Dion too, but can't let that slip out, what with having to play the role and all, can't admit that. Boohoo.

It's just nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Every poll shows that Layton runs ahead of Dion when it comes to "best person for PM". So why doesn't Dion drop out and support the only person who can actually compete with Harper!!?

Polls are already starting to show the gap between the Liberals and the NDP is a lot smaller than the gap between the Liberals and the Tories - so what happens when this trajectory continues and the Liberals drop behind the NDP? I wonder whether all these Liberal advocates of "strategic voting" will suddenly start telling everyone to vote NDP to "Stop Harper"?

Anonymous said...

NDP polling closer to the Liberals than the Conservatives? What planet did these pollsters survey, because the only place I can see such numbers coming from is Uranus.

The argument that if any party leader expresses a preference for one rival over another that said leader is endorsing that preference is ridiculous. Given a choice between being shot in the head and being burned at the stake, I'd rather be shot thanks, but that doesn't mean I actually want either.

Why is such a simple concept beyond so many people?

And then this idea that if you don't have a reasonable chance of winning you shouldn't run in the first place.. that's simply anti-democratic. I'm rather ashamed to hear that from any Canadian, and somewhat surprised to hear it from someone who seems to support the New Democratic Party. However, given Mr. Layton's recent actions, perhaps less surprised than I really should be.

May should be let into the debates, period. What she may or may not say has nothing to do with it. It has to do with her being the leader of a party that receives my tax dollars to support them, and is running candidates across the nation.

If Harper or Layton can't defend themselves from Liberal policies or ideas, it won't matter if there's one or two people espousing them there, and if they can, then again, it doesn't matter.

Hell, I like the Greens, and I figure if May gets put into the debates they'll actually lose support because of her, but keeping what little democracy we have intact is more important.

Unknown said...

Maybe folks should read the criticism of the May/Dion deal by a former GPC strategist:


Unknown said...

Maybe folks should read the criticism of the May/Dion deal by a former GPC strategist:


Anonymous said...

Latest Angus Reid poll says the Liberals are at 24% and the NDP at 21%. The tipping point is getting closer. Will all these Liberal advocates of strategic voting start telling everyone to vote NDP the moment the NDP surpasses the Liberals?