Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Elizabeth May Steps in It, Tracks Into the House

Poor thing. She's the victim of "inflamed rhetoric"

One of the well-known facts about history is that, occasionally, it repeats itself.

On May 10, 2006, Bob Rae, then a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal party, compared the then-recent Canada/US agreement on softwood lumber to the Munich pact. In the following days he was accused of comparing George W Bush to Adolf Hitler, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Neville Chamberlain.

Almost a full year later, it's happened again, and effectively to the same party.

On April 29, May gave a sermon at a London, Ontario United Church, wherein she insisted that the Conservative party's Green Plan "represents a grievance worse than Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazis."

Also mentioned in her sermon were evangelical christians. "They are waiting for the end time in glee and they unfortunately include (U.S.) President (George W.) Bush," May announced. "[Some] believe Joan of Arc was Noah's sister."

Since then, the proverbial shit has hit the proverbial fan, and a bewildered May can't seem to figure out why.

May has insisted that her comments were distorted "in order to create a firestorm of controversy designed to distract attention from their failure to live up to Canada's Kyoto protocol commitments."

May -- who recently cut a deal with a party that failed to live up to Kyoto commitments that it itself made -- has defended her comments by noting she was quoting George Monbiot. Monbiot recently identified Harper, Bush and Australian Prime Minster John Howard as an environmental "axis of evil".

The Canadian Jewish Congress condemned May's comments as trivializing the Holocaust. May countered that she "wasn't referring to the Holocaust". Merely Hitler, of whom the Holocaust was his brainchild. Swift one, that Elizabeth May.

Chattering with glee in the midst of all this must be the Green Party's disavowed candidate for the Vancouver-Kingsway riding, Kevin Potvin, who declared the Green Party "not ready for prime time politics" following his removal as a candidate over his outrageous comments regarding 9/11. No sooner has the media firestorm -- a well-earned media firestorm at that -- died down than May has provoked a similar one herself.

Elizabeth May declared she had "irreconcilable differences" with Potvin over his offensive comments. One wonders whether or not she will now have irreconcilable differences with herself. Likewise, one wonders if demands for Kevin Potvin's removal as a candidate will now be replicated in the form of demands for Elizabeth May's resignation as Green Party leader.

On a statement released on the Green Party website, May came close to expressing some genuine regret, writing, "I deeply regret that the inflamed rhetoric around this issue has caused pain or offence.”

Of course, there is one question that May has yet to answer: if comparing another party's environmental policy to the appeasement of Hitler doesn't qualify as "inflamed rhetoric", what does?


  1. It's clear to anyone who was in the audience (myself included) that Elizabeth was not referring to the holocaust. At the time of Chamberlain's Munich accord, very few people saw that particular horror coming. What I find truly offensive is the way her comments have been twisted for political gain (not to mention by politicians who have made their own Chamberlain analogies).

  2. When one asserts that the Conservative party environmental policy represents "a grievance worse than Chamberlain's appeasement" (the appeasement, of course, of Hitler) what, per se, is May referring to?

    The Holocaust naturally being the first thing that most people think about when they think about Hitler, what else did May expert her statement to draw comparison to?

    While May seems to have not mentioned the Holocaust explicitly, the implication is clearly there in her comments, and is clearly intentionally so.

    But perhaps you'd like to tender a response to my concluding question: if comparing another party's environment policy to appeasement doesn't qualify as "inflamed rhetoric", what does?


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