Several pundits, friends, members of the Green Party itself, even Brian Mulroney have questioned Elizabeth May's choice of ridings in which to run the last three times out: Central Nova in 2008 , the London North by-election in 2006, and of course in Saanich-Gulf Islands in this 2011 election. Many, but especially journalists, have questioned, too, her decision to concentrate on winning her seat in BC and doing what she can nationally rather than conducting a full-blown national campaign. Chantel Hebert, for example, said flatly, arrogantly, I would say, on the CBC the day May was excluded from the TV debates, that she wasn’t worth paying attention to because she wasn’t running a national campaign. Most of Big Media has pretty much followed Hebert's lead now that the debate story is no longer in the news. This is the politics of exclusion plain and simple, and now that the NDP are rising in the polls, no on in Big Media even mentions the Greens let alone Elizabeth May. All that matters is who might win the election and where might the other three contenders be positioned by it.
The answer to the question of riding choice and her prioritizing campaigning in her own riding are quite simple when one remembers that May, above all, is all about integrity and believes strongly in citizen-driven government: principle, moral or otherwise, before politics. Democracy Watch has just reported, for example, that the Green Party of Canada has scored best on the issue of promised government ethics, a result that is no surprise to those of us who know May and her citizen-driven positions on all matters. May chose Central Nova in 2008 because that is where she lived at the time and Saanich-Islands in 2011 because that is where she lives now, not necessarily because these are ridings which she could win. That would be politics over principle: you run in the community in which you live to represent the people in your community. And she chose to run in the London North by-election because that was the only opportunity available for a possible seat in the Commons at the time, and as he leader of the Green Party she felt it was her moral duty to try for that seat in order to have the Green Party's voice heard in Parliament. With the next regular election, had she won London north, she would have run where she lives. And that motive is the same one that has led her to prioritize her own campaign in Saanich Islands -- to have a voice for genuine democracy in Parliament, to bring civility, cooperation, and dialogue to the commons.
Such integrity cannot be said necessarily of the other three mainline parties or leaders, who scored Fs in Democracy Watch's analysis. Even Jack Layton's NDP has not, surprisingly, pushed electoral reform or government ethics in the current election, and I suspect potential voters are embracing Layton not necessarily because of any particular policy or even Layton's personal appeal, but because it's a practical way for voters to coalesce a rejection of the two big mainline parties, the Harperites and the Liberals. The movement to the NDP would seem to be, then, both a backlash against those two parties and a let-try-something-different one, not a genuine endorsement of the NDP. May 2 is shaping up tobe a far more interesting day than anyone could have anticipated, especially if the NDP gains significant seats and Elizabeth May also gets elected. Will citizen-driven democracy finally get a chance in Parliament?
Why Vote for Elizabeth May This video yields a good example of May's expressed integrity.