Speaking at the annual press gallery dinner on Saturday night, the Green Party leader Elizabeth May gave what was described in the Hamilton Spectator as “a rambling, profanity-laced speech.” And after what witnesses described as a “bizarre and awkward” performance, an unsteady Ms.May, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, had to be led from the podium by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, before Ms. May could embarrass herself further.
Speeches by senior politicians at this annual shindig are intended to be non-partisan, light-hearted and somewhat self-deprecating with usually a joke or two at the expense of media members. Ms. May, however, reportedly went on at length in speech not at all in the spirit of the event and capped it off by using her cell phone to play the theme song from the old TV show, Welcome back Kotter. Then, just as Raitt tried to usher her off the stage, Ms. May yelled into the microphone that Omar Khadr has “more class than the whole fucking cabinet.”
Since then Elizabeth May has used virtually every lame excuse in the book to justify her behaviour to the media.
“My funny speech wasn’t funny … I apologize that I made an attempt to be funny and edgy. …and it didn't work,” are a couple of quotes I got from Toronto media. She also claimed: she was just getting over the flu; she had put in a 21-hour workday on Friday. She mentioned she’d been taking the cold medicine Nyquil but then said, “I’m not one of those people who wants to use the ‘I was on cough medicine’ excuse.” Yet she is, apparently, one of those people.
But my favourite excuse is this one. Ms. May acknowledged she drank wine before taking the stage, but insisted she wasn’t drunk: “I didn’t have a lot of wine, but it may have hit me harder than I thought it would.” Hmm …
All this is so typical of Elizabeth May who, as many of you readers know only too well, has a penchant for hyperbolic comments, which she later disavows or for which she makes excuses.
Speaking at a town hall in Nanaimo, B.C. on April 13, 2014, the Green Party leader called the PMO “a $10-million-a-year partisan operation filled with ruthless, cutthroat psychopaths.” May claimed later she made the comments “in jest,” according to a Metro article.
In the early days of Stephen Harper’s government, Ms. May made a nasty reference to history judging the prime minister “more culpable than Neville Chamberlain.” She later tried to justify her words by claiming she was quoting someone else.
Then there was the 2007 interview on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin during which Elizabeth May called Canadians “stupid.” Later she blamed her tendency to talk too fast and a faulty microphone for her words.
And when Ms. May responded on her blog to accusations that she had called Canadians stupid, she wrote: “I reviewed all this on TVO with Steve Paikan [sic] more recently and he confirmed that no one in the room thought I had said Canadians are stupid.” But TVO’s director of corporate communications quickly rebutted that and wrote a letter to the Green Party setting the record straight by saying “that at no point … did Steve Paikin express such a personal opinion,” and asking that May’s “blog posting be corrected.” So, apparently, truth is not Ms. May’s long suit.
Aside from what seems an inability to control her tongue, Elizabeth May is a hypocrite. She has spoken out often about breaches of decorum in the House of Commons, even small ones, yet she calls PMO staff “ruthless, cutthroat psychopaths,” and uses the “F” word to insult the entire cabinet. Even if she cannot respect the individual members of cabinet, she should, at least, be able to respect the offices they hold. She is after all an MP and party leader.
Moreover, Elizabeth May is a coward because, having made several intemperate remarks over the years, she resorts to obfuscation, claiming her comments were in jest or misunderstood, or implies they were caused by over-work, cold medicine or perhaps a bit too much wine. Someone worthy of the office of party leader would simply take ownership for her gaffes and apologize without the mealy mouthed excuses.
Ms. May’s political judgement appears often to be clouded by animus towards Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government. An animosity which seems to transcend mere political partisanship to a more visceral level that, to this observer at least, looks a lot like malice and spite.
I get the impression that, as a single-issue zealot, Ms. May will malign anyone who has a marked disagreement with the aims of her international Green movement. Her “truth” is the only one with any relevance. And anyone who does not wholeheartedly embrace her belief system becomes a target for her derision.
Inexplicably, though, Ms. May seems to have become a darling of the Toronto media establishment and gets far more attention paid to her views and causes than she deserves.