UPDATED: May-Day in Saanich-Gulf Islands
[UPDATE: See below for additional background.]
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is being challenged by a member of her own party for the nomination in her chosen riding of Saanich – Gulf Islands, BC.
May will have to deal with newly-declared candidate Stuart Hertzog of Victoria, a Greenpeace activist who has been involved with the Green Party in Alberta and British Columbia since 1983, and who is the publisher of the website GreenPolitics.ca.
In a blogpost published late yesterday entitled "Why I am standing as a nomination candidate", Hertzog says he became involved in grassroots activism because "Secret decisions were made behind closed doors, in cabinet or at private meetings with corporate CEOs and lobbyists," that could only be fought by winning the war for public opinion. However, unfortunately he has seen that "the same tendency towards anti-democratic centralisation has become dominant in Canada’s Green parties".
Hertzog says he disagrees with the decision of the Green Party of Canada's Federal Council to make electing the leader its overarching priority, saying that:
"[T]he ‘leader’ of a Green Party is supposed to be a spokesperson, not a dictator. The cult of leadership and its promotion by the corporate media is not Green. I believe that getting the leader of the Green Party elected won’t change anything, except to guarantee the flow of funds to central party coffers and reduce the Green party to being seen as just another bunch of untrustworthy politicians that make self-serving deals...."In my experience, it is unprecedented for the leader of a major political party to be challenged for the nomination in their chosen seat by a member of their own party. Perhaps any reader with a previous example of this could add it to the comment section below, and refresh our memories.
"By desperately trying to become a mainstream political party, Green parties are in danger of losing their vision, and soul. It has been said that: 'Without vision, the people perish.' I say that without principles, politics is an empty charade...."
"Parachuting the leader of the Green Party into a foreign bioregion and pouring in the money, will not change Canadian politics by one iota."
"This is why I am standing as a nomination candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands, in my Island bioregion."
But the move strikes me as particularly significant because it comes from the left of the Green Party (Hertzog once worked within the Green Caucus of the BC NDP and ran under that banner in 1991), whereas May's most public critics to date have emerged from the right of the party.
And have no doubt, Saanich – Gulf Islands *is* May's chosen riding; the announcement of that decision, scheduled for September 8 in the campaign office already rented for her, is a mere formality by this point, and already widely known on the ground out there and elsewhere.
UPDATE: Hertzog's criticism of May's leadership style and his impending nomination challenge may have been presaged in his early August review of her last book, "Losing Confidence", in a blogpost Hertzog titled "Losing Confidence in Elizabeth May". In it, Hertzog praised her analysis of the problems with Canadian parliamentary democracy, but went on to say that May:
"... provides no practical suggestions as to how this mess can be cleaned up and a genuine democracy established. She knows the rules, but fails to grapple with the nature of the game...."So, Saanich – Gulf Islands will be living up to its billing as a "riding to watch" in yet one more election. Many observers have already noted that May must win a seat in order to forestall her critics from the right-wing of the party, who are planning a leadership challenge by former Ontario Green Party leader Frank de Jong at the next mandated party convention.
"Although she lays out clearly exactly what’s wrong with Canada’s parliamentary system, May’s thinking falls short in three vital aspects. First, her strategy for returning order to parliament is simplistic and ineffective; and second, while pointing her finger at elected politicians of other parties, she fails to realise that the same democratic deficit she describes in parliament, exists inside her own political party."
"Finally, does Elizabeth May and the federal council of the Green Party of Canada really believe that getting one or two Green MPs elected to a dysfunctional parliament in a far from democratic political system, will fundamentally alter the nature of Canadian politics? If they do, they are collectively dreaming in technicolour. Saving the Earth from the worst aspects of self-centred humanity will require bringing about an eco-centric and not an ego-centric, global culture."
But now to get even that far, May will first have to contend with a nomination challenger from the other wing of her party. How she does so will determine to a large extent her ability to carry on as party leader past the convention and the next federal election, the exact ordering of which remains unknown.