What drama we witnessed. Our beloved Liz May seemingly coming off the rails at an Ottawa based evening event and causing a national uproar. For several days it appeared as though there wasn’t any other news. Every news panel from here to there chatting thru the so called spectacle. So what really happened in this infamous moment, why did Liz May get such a national beat down?
Why might I, uniquely amongst others, have any legitimacy in writing this post. Some context is required. I am the ED of an Industry group whose members all reside in Elizabeth’s riding of Saanich Gulf Islands. I’ve had multiple conversations with Elizabeth regarding business development for the region. Elizabeth has been instrumental in helping to solve a key business driver for Peninsula manufacturer’s, that being the lack of Workforce Housing inventory on the Peninsula. I was a fundraiser for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ campaign last November. I therefore had firsthand experience witnessing the political mobilization of the 25-40 year old demographic, a key component of a Green renaissance on the West Coast. My younger daughter has had firsthand experience with the Green Party, both locally and nationally. Thru those connections and activity I have come to know Elizabeth in both a professional and personal capacity.
Certainly what we witnessed that evening appeared painfully out of character. It’s evident to those of us who know her that the speech did not represent Elizabeth May. It was a mis-guided attempt to fit into the spirit of that evening. This much we know. Clearly that won’t happen again, she will be better prepared organizationally and personally. Strong leaders learn from their ways and Elizabeth May and the Green Party organization will adapt and grow from this. Nonetheless, let’s break down some of the so called “miscues” and measure their validity.
The issue of swearing. For fuck sakes can we please settle down over this. I have been a serial entrepreneur and political organizer since the early 80’s. Swearing & cursing, despite the public disdain, is a common and fully accepted conversational variable that everyone I know uses regularly. In fact, in many of these circles, swearing has become and is a so called “rite of passage” type behaviour to being taken seriously and legimately. Everyone knows this! So fuck you to all of those criticizing Liz May for swearing, y’all know that the moment was not an exception to the rule.
The issue of content. Last I checked we live in a society where we can say what we want and when we want to (within legitimate legal context of course). If you don’t like what Liz May said, frankly too bad, turn the TV off. But to criticize her for saying the wrong thing, sorry, but that simply doesn’t work. Although you may disagree with her viewpoints, she can stand up on any stage and say what she wants, anyway she wants to say it.
So what really happened and why the seemingly public uproar? Two main reasons. First, the Green Party platform and policies are undeniably starting to pick up traction, voter appeal and attracting voters from other parties. This reality is pissing off the Mainstream parties and they’re angry about it. How could this upstart party do this to us? This situation is causing panic amongst the old school, Ottawa based political party organizations, specifically the NDP. Therefore, when the Green Party leader seemingly slipped up, why not gang tackle her and take her down. Their gleefulness could barely be contained and ultimately became superficial. Secondly, there continues to be a political and business bias towards strong, outspoken female leaders. Despite the fact that we’ve elected numerous female Premier’s amongst the provinces, we continue to have chauvinistic barriers to entry for women in both political and business circles. This is a very real issue that rarely gets talked about or dealt with. Elizabeth May is fundamentally changing this status quo and ultimately threatening old school thinking. Once again, when Liz May seemingly slipped up, it was convenient for status quo thinker’s to unleash a collective media and political barrage to help magnify embarrassment and consequence.
So here is what will happen. The reaction to this incident has galvanized the voting public. I am a West Coast voter and damn proud of it. As already stated above, I will say what I want, how I want and when I want to. Don’t fuck with me on this. Elizabeth May represents this spirit. We are entering an age of new, out of the box thinking that just might solve some of my communities challenges. For those of you who don’t agree, by gang tackling Liz May, you’ve helped expedite your eventual, perhaps now imminent demise.