During an election campaign it can be very difficult to get the medias attention, especially for smaller parties. It’s hard to get your “message of the day” covered, to get the cameras attention on you and when you do get it, you want to make the best of it. Those are the facts of life for small parties, like the Green Party of Canada.
The Greens have had a very rough year, let alone the last few months of internal fighting in the most spectacular way (you can read my most recent piece on this saga right here). That civil war that has involve all kinds of accusations, the deflection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals, threats of leader Annamie Paul’s removal from her position, even the removal of her membership in the party, the freezing of campaign funds, the party going broke and the party suing the leader in court, for the right to remove her.
Needless to say, that conflict has drawn a lot of attention from the media, with next to none going to anything else. You’d think that after going through months of only getting media attention for effectively lighting themselves on fire in the public square that they might want to stop that and change course. Yesterday’s campaign launch by Ms. Paul in Toronto offered a good chance at that, but then she said something that was really on the only thing that got into the media video loop by the end of the day:
Ouch, that’s an error that hurts. That one smarts. One could be forgiving of the rookie leader at her first federal campaign launch, and just leave it there. Everyone makes mistakes, even those Constitutional in nature. What Ms. Paul was suggesting is impossible under law and under our democratic set up. It simply isn’t legal, period. So afterwards I would assume that someone spoke to her, cleared that up and that would be that. Right? Right?…. Right? Let’s flash forward to this afternoon to verify that:
On my, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Seriously, first time could have politely and generously been excused as a rookie mistake. But doing it a second time, the very next day, in plain view of the media that is following your campaign? Nope, sorry there’s no excusing that at all. That’s just political malpractice and just bad on so many levels.
As a leader who is trying to win her way into Parliament for the first time in three tries, you’d think that you wouldn’t just be throwing crap like this around, especially given the circumstances. I agree with the sentiment that Parliament should have been reconvened to debate what is happening in Afghanistan and Canada’s response to it. This Parliament had a lot of governing left to do, and this is a prime example of that fact. But as soon as the Governor General signed off on dissolving Parliament, that became impossible. That’s why it was so important for this election did not to happen now. You can’t wish that away with some well-intentioned thoughts to a GG who can’t legally do anything.
That’s why I would have given her a pass the first time, because the intent was in the right place. But to say it again, after she was ridiculed by the national press following her campaign and pointing out it wasn’t legally possible, that pass must go away too. Because now this isn’t a matter of intent or good wishes, it’s a matter of basic understanding of our democratic system. Surely that might be inside baseball for a lot of Canadians, but if you’re a party leader, this is part of what you’re paid to know.
Heck folks, she’s a lawyer by profession, which makes this piece of constitutional ignorance that much worse the second time. This tells me one of two things are true here; either someone isn’t telling her this can’t be done, or they are and she isn’t listening. There aren’t any other explanations that make sense and honestly, both of those possibilities seem totally plausible to me. But regardless of the explanation, this is that much more bad news for the Greens as the squander some of the meager attention that they’re likely to get on this campaign, basically tilting at unconstitutional windmills. Add another strike against this Green campaign, one that already didn’t have any to spare. Its one thing to struggle with internal fighting and money issues, but it’s another to create such a self-own completely out of thin air. If you wanted to show that you’re not ready for prime time, either as a party leader or simply trying to be the MP for Toronto Centre, these are the kinds of things you would do. And when you do that, you better believe the media will notice that. This is the kind of attention you don’t want for a reason, just sayin’.