Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On misrepresentations

In her Globe and Mail chat today, Jane Taber highlights just why the "backroom" nature of the Lib/Green deal matters, as it was Elizabeth May herself who gave public assurances that no such deal existed when she declared her intention to run in Central Nova:
I wrote about this for Friday's paper, mentioning that Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May were to enter into this agreement. In that first article I noted that I interviewed Elizabeth May on CTV's Question Period in mid-March. Ms. May had declared on the show, which I co-host with CTV's Craig Oliver, that she was going to run in Central Nova against Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay.

I asked her at the time whether she had made any deals with other political parties, simply because this was an odd choice for a riding. Leaders usually run in ridings that they can win; this riding, given the MacKay's hold on it for so many years, seems unattainable for Ms. May. Anyway, she told me at the time that there were no deals. I mentioned that in my story.

Well, Ed Broadbent, the former NDP leader, read the story and called me the next day. He was incensed about her declaration about not being involved in any backroom deals. He made the point that she had been speaking to Stephen Lewis, the former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, about trying to set up a telephone call with NDP Leader Jack Layton about making some kind of deal.
In sum, the issue is once again one of basic honesty. At the same time that May was proclaiming that there was no backroom deal in the works, she had at least made efforts to secure exactly that kind of deal. And while it's not entirely clear whether or not her deal with the Libs had been finalized at the time, it seems entirely likely that May's choice of riding was influenced by at least the possibility - if not the outright guarantee - that the Libs would be more willing to step aside in Central Nova than elsewhere.

Of course, that side of the story hasn't received much attention with the Libs' propaganda machine revved up fully in May's defence. Which may itself have been another motivator for May all along.

But it's clear that if Layton is indeed declining to speak with May, her basic untrustworthiness may have an awful lot to do with it. And based on May's eagerness to make public statements which were misleading at best and outright false at worst, there's all the more reason to think that the Greens offer nothing more than politics as usual at their worst.

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