Warren Kinsella has an excellent article on Elizabeth Mayâ€™s use of time lately. The Green Party leader missed her first question period in the House of Commons and then logged onto Warren Kinsellaâ€™s website to defend her decision to miss her first chance to appear in the House.
To be fair, I prominently posted Mayâ€™s response on my website. My commenters, of all stripes, didnâ€™t buy it. One regular Tory commenter, Gord Tulk, wrote: â€œYour partyâ€™s very first chance to rise in the House and ask a question as its very first elected member, and you go into a lock-up? You are a poster child for poor political judgment.â€
Others felt likewise.
May, turns out, had been lurking the Internet ether, and had decided to respond. â€œI am leader of a grassroots party,â€ she wrote. â€œI attended lock-up with the Green Party finance critic and two staff. We needed consensus in response and I needed to read the whole budget to handle media.â€
Hereâ€™s why: May, like every other member of Parliament, gets about $300,000 a year to hire staff and run their offices.
In Mayâ€™s case, she would also be able to draw upon her partyâ€™s budget since she leads it. For years, the Green Party has raked in millions from individual donors as well as the Elections Canada vote stipend. May could have easily afforded to hire a staffer or two to attend that budget lock-up and crunch the numbers. That way, she could have attended both question period and been available to chime in on the budget.
On Parliament Hill â€” as Michael Ignatieff learned during the leadersâ€™ debates when Jack Layton went after him on his attendance record â€” itâ€™s the little stuff that will kill you. Political graves are dug with small shovels.
Liz, hereâ€™s a free tip: You complained for years that you belonged in the House of Commons. The good people of Saanich-Gulf Islands agreed. They â€” and we â€” now expect you to show up for work. Not lurk in Internet chat rooms.
I am not a big fan of the Green Party leader. Actually I think she has terrible political instincts but even the most tone deaf of politicians should have known that leaving a comment on Warren Kinsellaâ€™s (or any other political) blog would come back and haunt her. These missteps seem to define her (remember the train tour across Canada which no one paid any attention to). Under Elizabeth May, the Green Party has moved from an environmental protest party to a party focused on getting her elected. Her political judgement seems to undermine both efforts and many of her decisions are, as Kinsella said, weird.
As someone who is concerned about climate change and the environment, having an engaged Green Party being part of the debate on those issues is important but since Ms. May has become leader, I have heard a less about those issues and more about May herself. Since many of those involve missteps, thatâ€™s not a good thing.