(Forgive me while I pretend to be a tabloid journalist for this post… I actually was quite close to a career in the news media!)
After almost three weeks of speculation… still no official annoucement. But with each passing day, Elizabeth May, the former executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, seems to be getting closer to formally joining the pack of… one other declared candidate for Green Party of Canada leadership thus far - David Chernushenko.
May has been playing cat-and-mouse, will-I-or-won’t-I PR games with the media since the middle of April. Is she honestly hesitant to vie for the Green Party leadership, or is she employing a strategy for gaining attention that might very well appear in her new book, How to Save the World in Your Spare Time? (Oh dear, how cynical politics have made me!)
May is an interesting potential candidate. On one hand, she has an absolute wealth of connections spanning the globe, has received an Order of Canada, has written four books, has been awarded two honorary doctorates, and has served as an executive director – as well as being heavily respected for being a level-headed activist (a hobby-come-profession that most people are mocked for engaging in). She’s well spoken, has a gift for persuasion, and comes across are fairly moderate and practical – especially for an environmentalist.
In short, she’s someone with a strong and controversial message, but with enough finesse to as to capture an audience’s attention.
On the other hand, as even (potential) rival candidate Chernushenko has argued, May’s history as an activist and serving for the Sierra Club may harm the Green Party’s goal of being associated with more than just environmentalism, doing harm to recent moves to display the Greens as a multi-issue party with policy depth (rather than as an one-issue fringe party of hardcore environmentalists).
Personally, I’m not sure if I would prefer May or Chernushenko. Both are good orators, and both are fairly moderate. While Chernushenko’s correct about May’s environmentally-dominated past, Chernushenko has seemed a little hokey himself at times, especially his participation at a pro-Tibet rally during a recent Chinese state visit.
Very interesting is how May has scoffed at criticisms leveled at current outgoing leader Jim Harris that he’s shifted the party too far to the right. For all of Harris’ failings, he was both moderate and pragmatic, and surely this had something to do with the large increase in support for the 2004 election. He appealed to mainstream Canadians in ways that a raving and aggressive environmental crusader could never do, and that sort of mass appeal is what I think the Greens need to continue with. And May seems to agree with this approach.
Yet Chernushenko was (and technically still is) Harris’ number two, and thus he’s likely not all that opposed to Harris’ supposedly conservative policy ideas.
May, being a very touchy-feely sort of person who needs to dip her proverbial toe in the water before making a plunge, was at former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s recent “green” award ceremony, and used the event to network and to gauge support for her potential Green leadership bid. Things sound promising thus far. That, and the fact that the position will be a hole waiting to be filled (rather than another incumbant person who will need to be overthrown), and that her 14-year-old teenage daughter requires much less doting from her mother than in years past, makes the proposition of joining the leadership contest mighty tempting for May.
Hot leadership gossip! (hey, if the Liberals can…)
While May publicly mulls over whether or not to enter the leadership contest, the Green Party’s Gareth White registered two internet domain names a few weeks ago:elizabethmay.ca and elizabethmay.org. Hmmm!