Green Party Leader Elizabeth May speaks with CTV's Question Period on Sunday, March 18, 2007.
Green Party leader to take on Peter MacKay
Updated Sun. Mar. 18 2007 12:20 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The leader of the federal Green party has declared her candidacy in the Nova Scotia riding currently held by Conservative MP Peter MacKay.
Elizabeth May made the announcement Sunday afternoon on CTV's Question Period in Antigonish, which sits in the northeastern Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova.
May is facing a steep battle in her effort to unseat MacKay -- Harper's minister of foreign affairs who has represented the riding since 1997 and whose father Elmer held it from the early 1970s to the early '90s.
"Are you crazy?" Question Period co-host Jane Taber asked the Green Party leader, adding why she wouldn't run instead in B.C., or a vacant London, Ont. riding, where polling shows she would have a significantly better chance of victory.Crazy as a Fox. This is a brilliant political play. Her high profile as Leader of the Greens offsets their poor showing in this riding last election. It forces out Mackay to actually return home and fight for his seat.
No longer the other 'leader' of the Conservatives, Peter MacKay the quisling who as the last leader of the Progressive Conservatives destroyed that Grand Old Party by merging with the Republican-Canadian Alliance of Harper.
He lost the leadership bid against Harper, then he lost his girl friend and leadership opponent Belinda Stronach. As Foreign Minister he has been a loser, a puppet on the strings of Harper. He is toast.
May always spoke about her intentions to go back to her Maritime roots, and sure enough she has followed through. She will make MacKay work to win his riding, that means he will spend more time at home then on the road.
She will unite Liberals, NDP, and yes progressives who are conservative behind her. And by running against MacKay she can make the Green Party stand out on issues other than the environment. As she did in her very successful London, Ontario by election bid.
Yes I have been critical of May, because I don't think she is a socialist. Though she is a progressive and a social democrat, more so then many in the Liberals. She is an advocate for the Distributism of Rev Dr. Coady of the Antigonish movement.
"I'm from here and I want to run where I'm comfortable," she added. "I want to represent a region that I care about, and this place where I'm standing, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, is known for the Antigonish movement -- a local economic development approach that was about sustainability -- before they used that world. "I want to take that message nationally and relaunch the Antigonish movement."
As I said here before the Antigonish Movement is a form of distributism, developed by the left wing social reformers in the Catholic Church. It is their version of the Social Gospel as advocated by CCF founder J.S. Woodsworth and members of the NDP like out going Bill Blaikie.
These six principles were later endorsed by Dr. Coady.
- The Primacy Of The Individual
This principle is based on both religious and democratic teaching: religion emphasizes the dignity of human beings, created in the image and likeness of God; democracy stresses the value of the individual and the development of individual capacities as the aim of social organization.
- Social Reform Must Come Through Education
Social progress in a democracy must come through the action of citizens; it can only come if there is an improvement in the quality of the people themselves. That improvement, in turn, can come only through education.
- Education Must Begin With The Economic
In the first place, the people are most keenly interested in all concerned with economic needs; and it is good technique to suit the educational effort to the most intimate interests of the individual or group. Moreover, economic reform is the most immediate necessity, because the economic problems of the world are the most pressing.
- Education Must Be Through Group Action
Group action is natural because people are social beings. Not only are people commonly organized into groups, but their problems are usually group problems. Any effective adult education program therefore, must fit into this basic group organization of society. Moreover, group action is essential to success under modern conditions; you cannot get results in business or civic affairs without organization.
- Effective Social Reform Involves Fundamental Changes In Social And Economic Institutions
It is necessary to face the fact that real reform will necessitate strong measures of change that may prove unpopular in certain quarters.
- The Ultimate Objective Of The Movement Is A Full And Abundant Life For Everyone In The Community
Economic cooperation is the first step, but only the first, towards a society that will permit every individual to develop to the utmost limit of her/his capacities.
Distributism has both a left wing and a right wing in Canada. The Antigonish Movement was its left wing, Social Credit, also a form of distributism, was its populist right wing. As a Catholic alternative to socialism when in the hands of right wingers it degenerated into Corporatism.
What they share in common along with the old CCF and the United Farmers of Alberta, since all these movements began in the 1920's, is that they are advocates not for the working class but for producer movements.
They are advocates for farmers and fishermen's cooperatives,their class arises from the peasantry but in North America became a producer class, neither workers nor businessmen, but a section of the petit-bourgeoisie that were landowners, or owners of their own means of production such as fishing boats. What they and the CCF and other forms of Cooperative Socialism is that arose from Proudhonism and the idea of a cooperative commonwealth, producer, and worker cooperatives as an alternative economy to big corporations and banks.
Distributism then fits well within the current Green Party ideology that melds a social moral and political progressivism with a classical liberal utilitarian economic agenda. Where the old Antigonish movement and other forms of progressive producer movements advocated for that class, the Green Party appeals to the later industrialized mass base of Canadians who do not identify themselves so much as workers but as consumers and citizens. If you read the Antigonish statement in this light, it is the core of Elizabeth May's ideology, if not the Green Party's.
With this she can appeal to fiscal but socially progressive conservatives, to Liberals and Dippers. And she can effectively challenge Peter MacKay who is the scion of the old family politics of Central Nova, having been coroneted as the local MP after his father.
She challenges that old Conservative family compact, and their failure to deliver the goods for Atlantic Canada. As she so correctly pointed out, not a single Conservative slush fund give away announcement in the past two weeks has been about Atlantic Canada.
She can make social issues the focus of the Green Party campaign, and this will make her run against MacKay formidable. A serious challenge and it will give her and the Greens much needed national news coverage. Already in her interview today she challenged the Conservatives on their attack on social programs, as well as their failure on the environment, and their warmongering foreign affairs policy.
I would say that if there ever was a case for Strategic Voting, this would be it. Yes I know heresy, however while the Green Party vies for popularity with the NDP between elections, they have not been a serious threat to the party in elections as they have been to the Conservatives as we saw in the London by election when May ran .
For this pragmatic reason I believe May will seriously challenge MacKay. And as she showed in London she has the election machinery to do it. Beating him is a long shot but a strong second place is worth the run. She knows that, and has made a strategic decision that benefits all progressive voters in that riding , regardless of party affiliation.
There is another riding that the Greens should focus on and encourage strategic support for; Wild Rose in Alberta where they came in second place last election. With a national mobilized campaign and priority publicity the Greens will focus on taking on the big blue machine in Alberta, garnering them more publicity.
Elizabeth May put Atlantic Canada in play today, and that will mean that forgotten region of Canada will get more coverage in the weeks, and months to come, including when we have an election. On that day, Central Nova will be in the news daily and not just as an after thought.
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