My Critics Favour “Truthiness” Over Fact
I don’t know Mr. McCullough, but in reviewing his blogs he seems to have embraced the weary cynic style of punditry. The strange attack on me as a pointless entity, “The Stonehenge of Canadian politics” as he would have it, is riddled with the kind of errors that favour “truthiness” over accuracy.
For example, he says I have been on the political scene for almost a decade. Which is true if you think seven years as leader of the Green Party is almost 10 years. And I have been an MP for less than two years. If we are thinking in centuries, it is a rounding error. But in terms of Canadian political reality, it’s just wrong.
Even more bizarre is his assertion that “part of the reason she’s even famous in the first place is because she once sat on some UN environment committee chaired by Maurice Strong.” Well, it wasn’t a UN Committee; it was the Earth Charter Commission and included a number of former prime ministers, presidents, and thought leaders from around the world.
It was co-chaired by Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev. I was appointed to it in 1997, when I had been a prominent part of Canada’s environmental movement for more than two decades. I did not “win” the Order of Canada as McCullough would have it. I was honoured to be named an Officer of the Order of Canada for decades of work. It is not something one “wins.”
The strangest thing about the blog is the assumption that the Green Party and I are the same. As though the Green Party, incorporated in 1983, simply wouldn’t exist if I had never been born. McCullough even insults the entire party, and me for good measure, by suggesting the Green Party of Canada is a personal “vanity vehicle.”
I am the ninth leader of the Green Party of Canada. Former Leader Jim Harris did an amazing job of getting the party better known. In both 2004 and 2006, he led a full slate of 308 candidates in the federal elections. We continue to be a party operating from coast to coast, and ran in over 300 ridings in both 2008 and 2011.
After the 2006 election, I joined the Green Party for the first time and resigned after 17 years as Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada. McCullough is quite wrong to assert that I find Stephen Harper “personally frightening.” I have never said any such thing. He is not the least bit personally frightening. It’s his policies that are frightening, My concern for what would become of decades of environmental law and policy under his rule is what caused me to leave the Sierra Club to run for the hotly contested leadership of the Green Party in 2006.
We need a Green Party in Canada precisely because none of the other parties are consistent in raising the spectre of the climate crisis, nor in advancing solutions to avert its most serious threats. Nor do other parties pay any attention to the way in which Harper’s administration is dismantling the respected Canadian civil service and policy-making within it.
Contrary to McCullough’s uninformed rant, Green principles actually reject the leader-as-boss model of other parties. Our governance is based on a national elected council. Under our Constitution, the powers conveyed by the Elections Act to every party leader to approve candidate nominations are constrained by insisting that three quarters of Council approve any decision to refuse a nomination.
We will have more MPs and when we do, Canadians will see what happens when a party respects Westminster Parliamentary democracy and does not whip votes or insist on mindless solidarity on every vote and issue.
More and more Canadians are shifting their allegiance from the old line parties to the principled and viable Green Party of Canada. Our policies are available in Vision Green on our website. We have a full platform for economic well-being and making a transition to a low carbon society, with social justice and accountability.
Canadian Democracy is healthier for us being part of it. No mystery there.
Originally printed in the Huffington Post.