Don’t be surprised if May abandons Greens for the Liberals

The Green Party leader’s opposition to BDS, and frustration with her party’s position against Israel, leaves her with little option

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may greens liberalsTORONTO, Ont. Aug. 16, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Is Elizabeth May going to abandon the Green Party of Canada?

Ever since her party adopted the controversial message of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement during its recent policy convention – which she opposed – the longtime leader has been strongly tilting in this direction.

May told the CBC on Aug. 12, “I think it is wrong-headed for the party. It’s a very polarizing and divisive campaign … I need to talk to my family and ask them what they think I should do.”

I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised if she abandons the Greens.

It’s one thing to debate public policy, and quite another to oppose the leader’s wishes. Party members opted to thumb their noses at May (which is their right), and she’s turned her nose against a policy she believes is politically harmful (which is her right). If May can’t defend it, she can’t continue to be at the helm.

Who could blame her, really?

BDS is a radical campaign that calls for economic and political sanctions against Israel. The movement claims its goal is to aid Palestinians and improve human rights. At the same time, it’s been described as “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Zionist” in many quarters for targeting and defaming the legitimacy of one nation.

Canada’s two major political parties are fundamentally opposed to BDS. A Tory motion in February condemning this campaign, and Canadians who participate in it, was largely supported by the Liberal government. (Although the NDP doesn’t have an official position on BDS, they claimed its opposition to the motion was largely due to a perceived crackdown on freedom of expression.)

The Green Party is a different political animal. Some former and current party members reportedly subscribe to conspiracy theories about the Holocaust, 9-11, vaccines and water fluoridation. (God knows what they think about the international banking community.)

It’s obviously not fair to tar and feather all Green Party members. Some are genuinely committed to the environmental movement, and want to protect the planet. But the screwballs standing on their soapboxes and frothing at the mouth are sucking up all the air in the room.

May, to her credit, isn’t like this.

I’ve met her on several occasions. She’s intelligent, well-read and a passionate advocate for various ideas and causes. May has condemned anti-Semitism and, while occasionally critical of the Israel government, told Canadian Jewish News editor Yoni Goldstein during a Sept. 25, 2015 interview, “We stand very firmly in support of the right of the State of Israel to exist and defend itself.”

The Green Party leader’s opposition to BDS, and frustration with her party’s position against Israel, is clear evidence of this.

What would May do if she leaves the Greens?

She told the Globe and Mail on Aug. 6, “I love being a member of Parliament. I don’t love politics. I don’t love being Leader of the Green Party. It is not really something I’d recommend to a good friend. It’s not fun. Politics is awful.”

If she stays, May wouldn’t join the Tories. The NDP seems like a stretch. Being an Independent MP makes little sense. Smaller political parties wouldn’t be an option.

What about the Liberals?

Remember, she supported then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s coalition during his political coup d’etat in 2008 against Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There was some mild chatter that May could join the Senate, or become a cabinet minister, but that ended when the coalition fell apart.

Would Prime Minister Justin Trudeau consider reopening this piece of unfinished business?

That’s hard to say. Dion is one of Trudeau’s most trusted cabinet ministers. It also wouldn’t be difficult for the PM to shuffle Environment Minister Catherine McKenna into another post, and bring in May to take her place.

If this were to happen many Green Party members would have red, flushed faces.

Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Michael is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.

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