Puget Sound Radio / The Political Front / Kinsella: Log off Lizzie!
Posted by: newsman, June 13, 2011, 7:27pm
Elizabeth May, log off
By Warren Kinsella , Published: Sunday, June 12, 2011
The Green Party leader came by to post a comment on my personal website the other day. I’ve never had a leader of a federal political party do that before. It was really weird.
I mean, I figured — like you do, perhaps — that the leaders of political parties have lots of better things to do with their time than lurk in weblog chat rooms. But there was May, chatting away.
Like I say, weird.
There are three types of folks who hang out in web chat rooms. First, there are the regular commenters I get on websites like mine — Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, the undecided. The ones I get, I like. They tend to be smarter than me and I often find myself relying upon their analysis when I’m thinking about a political issue.
Second, there is a less-intelligent group who pop by, too. We call them “trolls.”
They use false names and fake e-mail accounts and they regurgitate all kinds of hate and dirt. I don’t ever approve their comments.
Finally, there is a third group whose presence we feel online, but don’t often see: The lurkers. They skulk in the background, but never really offer any comments. They just lurk.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, I assume, is a lurker, which is kind of weird. I didn’t even know she was aware of my existence, let alone my website. But there she was this past week, earnestly attempting to explain why she had missed the very first question period on the very first day question period was taking place in the new Parliament.
It’s true. I had penned a column about the federal budget and noted in passing that May hadn’t bothered to come to QP.
“Despite having insisted for years that she deserved to be in question period, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May didn’t bother to show up,” I wrote. That’s it.
May didn’t like that. She tweeted on Twitter the next day: “As you know, it was a tough call between QP and budget lock-up. I opted to read the budget.”
To be fair, I prominently posted May’s response on my website. My commenters, of all stripes, didn’t buy it. One regular Tory commenter, Gord Tulk, wrote: “Your party’s very first chance to rise in the House and ask a question as its very first elected member, and you go into a lock-up? You are a poster child for poor political judgment.”
Others felt likewise.
May, turns out, had been lurking the Internet ether, and had decided to respond. “I am leader of a grassroots party,” she wrote. “I attended lock-up with the Green Party finance critic and two staff. We needed consensus in response and I needed to read the whole budget to handle media.”
Here’s why: May, like every other member of Parliament, gets about $300,000 a year to hire staff and run their offices.
In May’s case, she would also be able to draw upon her party’s budget since she leads it. For years, the Green Party has raked in millions from individual donors as well as the Elections Canada vote stipend. May could have easily afforded to hire a staffer or two to attend that budget lock-up and crunch the numbers. That way, she could have attended both question period and been available to chime in on the budget.
On Parliament Hill — as Michael Ignatieff learned during the leaders’ debates when Jack Layton went after him on his attendance record — it’s the little stuff that will kill you. Political graves are dug with small shovels.
Liz, here’s a free tip: You complained for years that you belonged in the House of Commons. The good people of Saanich-Gulf Islands agreed. They — and we — now expect you to show up for work. Not lurk in Internet chat rooms.