As we go into the upcoming English Leaders Debate, there are many things that we will be looking for. But one of the things that I will be looking for will be the approach taken by Green leader Elizabeth May, who she will go after and the tone of her comments. Ms. May has tried to pitch herself as this leader who is above politics and beyond making personal attacks on her opponents.
She’s tried to put this idea out there that she is somehow above the fray and as a result better. And honestly, if that was actually the case, I’d find it rather admirable because who wouldn’t want to see that, right? It would be refreshing if it was the case. But time after time Ms. May manages to show that she is not above it all, doing so with her own words. Tonight I came across a clear example of this hypocrisy from her, one that is as insulting as it is easy to disprove:
Well, lets look at those comments from Ms. May about NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, the ones that she says she makes without trying to be condescending. She says that Mr. Singh “doesn’t have a lot of Parliamentary experience” and that “it may not have occurred to him” to talk to the Conservatives. Let’s start with the most basic of facts here. Firstly, Ms. May was elected for the first time in May of 2011, giving her two terms as an MP in Ottawa. But Mr. Singh was elected for the first time in October of 2011, to the Ontario Legislature, where he served most of two terms, and then got elected into the House of Commons in February of this year. So on that score, Ms. May and Mr. Singh have at least equal experience.
But there is another level to this that Ms. May conveniently ignores. Ms. May was elected in two majority governments and has never, ever served in a minority government. But when Mr. Singh was elected for the first time to the Ontario Legislature, it was as a part of a minority government in which the party of which Mr. Singh was a part of, the Ontario NDP, held the balance of power. In that situation, the NDP was able to extract policies out of the Ontario Liberals, ensuring that the 40th Legislative Assembly of Ontario actually lasted more than two and a half years, much longer than the normal 18 months that minority governments survive. So when you look at it on that metric, Mr. Singh has a greater deal of actual experience than Ms. May on these matters, while hers all seem rather theoretical as she has never actually served in a minority government.
Personally I like Ms. May, and my interactions with her have always been pleasant. During my last three years on Parliament Hill, her office was right across the hall from mine and she would pop into our office from time to time to say hello. But that history doesn’t change the condescension that came flowing from her backhanded comments about Mr. Singh. She not only tried to completely dismiss the man has having no experience, she actually has as much legislative experience as him and far less experience working in a minority government. It’s one thing to have an approach and a belief about how you should conduct yourself in such a situation, but to try to run down someone who disagrees with your approach as inexperienced and naïve is just wrong, ugly and something that is unbecoming of any leader, especially one who likes try to be above the fray and better than that. I’d like to say I am surprised by this but Ms. May has had a habit of doing this towards Mr. Singh in this campaign so far, not to mention others. Heck, she just said this on Twitter about all of the other leaders who will be on the stage with her tomorrow night:
Yeah, that’s really being better now, isn’t it? Wow. Of course she said it was a joke afterwards, but it’s pretty clear she didn’t see just how that wouldn’t be funny. Anyway we’ll see if she tries taking this same approach again with Mr. Singh or any of the other leaders on Monday night. It will be one of the things to watch during this big debate.