Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May Contradicts Herself Completely On Clean Air Act

Green conflicts of May

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday April 3, 2007


Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

- George Orwell

Will federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May come clean on why she completely contradicted herself on the proposed Clean Air Act in just nine days?

May must be wishing she had thought twice before saying the Conservative government's Clean Air Act should die on March 22 - because she was forced to praise it on March 30!

May called proposed opposition amendments to Bill C-30, the Clean Air Act, "a pointless exercise" in a March 22 news release. She urged the Parliamentary committee considering amendments to stop, saying the legislation was unnecessary anyway and should "rest in peace."

"Bill C-30 - the so-called Clean Air Act - was dead on arrival at its first reading last year," Green Party leader Elizabeth May said. "Ongoing attempts to breathe life into the corpse are a waste of time."

And she dug in deeper: "Ms. May said that Bill C-30 is not only bad legislation, it is also unnecessary. "The government already has all the legislative power it needs to reduce air pollution and meet Canada's Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction targets."

But just days later May rejoiced over the pre-Easter resurrection of the Clean Air Act.

Her March 30 release states: "Green Party leader Elizabeth May today praised members of the Legislative Committee on Bill C-30 for their efforts to rewrite the fatally flawed Clean Air Act legislation ... adding that the 'New' Clean Air Act looks uncannily similar to the Green Party's proposed amendments."

Hmmmm. Dead on arrival, MPs foolishly breathing life into a corpse one week and the next week, it's alive and well and thank God for those amendments!

And those "Green Party amendments" - who exactly would be proposing them in the House of Commons when her party doesn't hold a single seat?

In fact, New Democrat, Bloc Quebecois and Liberal party MPs in a rare moment of unity forced the changes on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government.

And while NDP leader Jack Layton and Liberal leader Stephane Dion each claim credit, both parties' news releases state that they put aside "partisan differences" to fight climate change together.

But that proved May's earlier position that amendments were "pointless" and actually needed to be quickly recycled.

May has courted trouble before. My 24 hours colleague Sean Holman reported last year that May planned to continue undertaking national speaking tours funded by non-profit groups while also attending Green Party functions. That prompted Elections Canada to state such funding would be regarded as political contributions. Whoops!

Elizabeth May is green, alright; so green at politics that she isn't ready for prime time.


Anonymous said...

I guess in the end it all depends on what Harper decides to do as to whether the whole exercise turns out to be pointless. It’s true the Clean Air Act was DOA as Cullen put it and it is also true that the EPA was more than capable of doing what the CAA did.

And it could have been done months ago if the NDP hadn't broken ranks and rescued the CAA forcing the others to abandon the use of the EPA and to unite again months later with a much recovered Conservative Green Agenda that could still include scuttling the CAA in favour of some focus group friendly green initiatives that are more palatable to Harper’s sensitivities.

That May would want to praise the tardy unanimity of the opposition and the rewritten CAA seems hardly strange given her expressed desire for anyone including the Conservatives to do something and to do it now. By supporting the opposition in a positive way and not expressing again her fear that it would all be pointless (something the opposition still seems worried about also) she is trying to give it the maximum public chance for its survival.

She is not contradictory just true to her expressed desire that something be done now and frankly she doesn’t care by whom.

Anonymous said...

Referring to the point you made about her running afoul of Elections Canada as proof that she is not ready for prime time. The conservatives ran afoul of elections Canada by not claiming party delegate fees as political donations while all the others properly did. By your standard the conservative's must not be ready for prime time also.

I just stumbled upon this column so I don't know where you are really coming from but it appears to me that you are on an exclusive hot house fault finding mission. It just seems a little unfair to me but like I say I really don't know you so I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt by taking the time to reply to you. I'm not a blogger so I will tell you that my first name is Paul and I live in Alberta and I am 57 - that anonymous thing seemed a little cold and yes I did the first post also.

Christopher Harborne said...

So the fact that the committee was accomplishing nothing in mid March when she spoke about it being a useless exercise means nothing? As well, the Act before it was amended as much as it has been as of late, was COMPLETE trash. All you have to do is look at it's reference to intensity-based targets.

Given the new additions to the bill, she now supports it.

If you're complaining about this, I would dare say the Income Trust reversal and the fact that the Conservatives completely ignored the poorer Atlantic Provinces in the budget should rank a lot higher than this.

But, since you reference an opinion piece that hasn't been touched by any other media, your bias is blatantly clear.

Disclaimer: I am a Green, so if that invalidates my argument and doesn't allow my comment through moderation, my point has been made even more clear.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks to the above for their comments - all comments but libelous ones are welcome on this blog.

But the fact remains very clear - Elizabeth May said "kill the bill" and expressly said "amendments were useless" - then when other political parties ignored her bad advice and actually got the job done - she had the nerve to say it was her idea!

I don't disagree that the Conservatives and before that the Liberals have "run afoul of Elections Canada" - and that has been widely reported, while the Green Party foibles have not.

Lastly, the fact that this story hasn't been reported in other media means I got it first!

In fact, if you check http://www.bourque.com/ you will find it prominently featured in the national news service Bourque Newswatch.

Anonymous said...

Also submitted to 24 Hours Online's website...

As an environmental lawyer who helped draft the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 1987 (it passed in '88), Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party has substantially more expertise in the issue than any of the MPs on the C-30 committee. The request for Elizabeth May to appear as a witness was rejected. The Act as tabled by Rona Ambrose was actually dangerous and eroded federal authorities to regulate GHG and air pollution. The NDP's decision to assist The Conservatives and rescue the Bill last October was troubling. Nevertheless, Elizabeth attended nearly every meeting of the C-30 committee and ensured all members had the Green Party's suggested improvements. The last shoe has not dropped on this. The bill has passed committee. What form will it take if Prime Minister Harper brings it back to the House for a vote? The Green Party has been consistent and accurate in staying on top of this issue, unlike your inaccurate correspondent.

Guy said...

Great piece, Bill, and to the point regardless of some of the comments here.

To Anonymous, Christopher and Camille, it is pretty obvious that you have limited knowledge of parliamentary procedures and strategy.

1) Anonymous suggests that the exercise could be pointless if Bill C-30 doesn't pass the test. Duh! But passing a Bill to enforce stricter environmental standards is the best tool opposition parties have in a minority government! Bill C-30 is now a very good piece of legislation, that will be adopted by the majority of the House through the Libs, the BQ and the NDP. If the Conservatives oppose on a matter of confidence, they will bear the onus of launching an election after having defeated an positive environmental initiative.

2) Regulations and the work of agencies is directed by the government in council and the ministries. Opposition parties have no power whatsoever over agencies like the EPA (except to protest their work at Question Period). Opposition parties have no power over which regulations are adopted, amended, dropped...

3) So the NDP initiative of reworking the Bill to Committee was the only measure that was apt to provide concrete results. Christopher, the amendment process was well on its way on March 22 when the Greens' press release was written. If Elizabeth May was really present during committee work (like her press secretary is telling us), she would have known what these amendments were. That she would find them to be bad on March 22, and good on March 30 after the NDP started to get praise is opportunistic at best, and pure leeching at worst.

Mark Richard Francis said...

Another point raised a long time ago by Elizabeth May is that the existing law allows the minister to create regs to handle all of this. This exercise of going through Parliament is a time-waster. Even with the proposed changes to the Bill, the law is weakened.

We have yet to see what will happen in the next round. These ammendments are not final. The question is, will Jack accept some watering down of the ammendments by the Conservatives in order to alienate the BQ, Libs and Greens and claim responsibility for the C-30 changes all for himself?

camsax@gmail.com said...

I'd like to respond by stating that the two media releases from the Green Party are both very clear on the subject. They are very appropriate for the time they were released on and are still very much valid statements. They can also be read on the Green Party website by clicking here.

The Green Party is above letting partisan ties blind them from the path to real progress. They are about action and not just words, and the Green Party is ready to be in government, with a solutions oriented platform and policies on all issues.

Bill, I understand that you were Communications Director in the B.C. Premier's Office under Glen Clark of the NDP. Is there a chance that your opinion is biased and that this negative story you've written is partisan in nature?

Let's work together to find solutions to our problems, rather than point fingers and label people as too green for politics. Come to think of it, that's a compliment, but with decades of political experience and leadership I assure you that Elizabeth May knows how to get the job done.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the posting Cameron, and from other Greens, official or otherwise - you truly are welcome to comment on this blog and take whatever shots you wish at my own articles.

I make no secret of my past political history or that I generally support the NDP. I also make it clear that I criticize the NDP when I feel it is warranted, as you can see elsewhere on this blog or in 24 hours newspaper or in other media.

And I am not a reporter, I'm a columnist and I take strong positions and invite debate with my readers, left, right and centre.

The reason I have a column and commentate elsewhere is because of my political experience and knowledge.

But when it comes to this particular column on Elizabeth May, I suggest that going after me as the author is counterproductive to your cause.

Address the facts - May blew it on the Clean Air Act and I've quoted her words extensively here.

If she hadn't done so, I would have had nothing to write about.

Had May actually said when she saw the amendments really made a difference "Boy, was I wrong - amending the Act was possible to make it work" she would at least have got credit for being honest and learning a lesson.

Instead she tried to unsuccessfully claim credit and make her earlier "rest in peace" comments disappear.

camsax@gmail.com said...

Hi Bill,

I understand that you're a columnist and not a reporter. I suppose columns are allowed to be biased. It's not 'taking a shot' to state that you might have a biased opinion based on your past affiliations.

Regarding the rest of your reply above, did you read Camille Labchuck's previous post? It explained that Elizabeth was very much hands on with the rewrite and the end product was something that included most of the Green Party's recommendations.

Thanks again for posting these comments.

Anonymous said...

I would guess you arn't the only person figuring the Green's arn't going anywhere soon. Dr. Brioney Penn is about as green as they come yet is a candidate with a good chance of winning in Saanich and the Islands. I'm no Liberal, but I do vote and not green

Budd Campbell said...

In all of these Elizabeth May/Green comings and goings a person needs to keep in mind that the complete separation of policy and politics is not a habit only average voters engage in. Political activists, both in parties and in NGO advocacy groups, are just as capable of this kind of seemingly irrational behaviour.

The reason of course is that declaratory policy and real interests are two quite different things.

May and Suzuki and the Suzuki organization have been praising Dion since he was the Environment Minister, and couldn't care less how weak his record was. Check the Suzuki organization website. Do a search on "Dion" and read some of the fawning, back-scratching rubbish.

Suzuki helped to support May's run for the Green leadership to position her as a major Liberal Assist Weapon against the hated NDP and the Conservative Govt.

Don't expect any intellectual honesty and consistency from grasping NGO politicos. They are on the warpath to protect and promote their own interests, and Mother Nature will just have to wait till these rippers get satisfaction they crave from a new Liberal Government.

Unless of course the polls show Dion going down hard and Harper headed for victory, in which case May and Dion will be dropped like hot potatoes. Interests, old boy!

susansmith said...

Bill, people can't hold doublethink for long. So congitive dissonance and protecting a carefully-crafted public self image - as 'we do politics different' as the non-partisan crusader of 'the environment now'- better explain May's flipflog.

Just stick a 'sunflower with a green field background' on the cleaned-up air act, and viola, May can praise and be the saviour of the environment.

Rebranding at its worse and most blatant partisan move.

Anonymous said...

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