greens in liberal cast offs

The Green Party of Canada is ready to go to court, if that’s what it takes to get Elizabeth May included in televised leaders’ debates…

The Green Party of Canada is ready to go to court, if that’s what it takes to get Elizabeth May included in televised leaders’ debates during the upcoming election.

The party claims it is eligible for inclusion in the debates because it now boasts a member of Parliament.

Greens are excited about their new MP. Former party leader Jim Harris blogged that, “It’s the day we’ll tell our grandchildren about. … I imagine it’s like being in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall fell. It’s like being in South Africa when Nelson Mandela was liberated from jail.”

The Green hero in question is one Blair Wilson, member for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

Wilson has been sitting as an Independent since December 2007, when he was booted out of the Liberal Party after a probe revealed that he had failed to report a past plagued with financial and legal woes.

At the time, Wilson was being sued by his father-in-law for non-payment of a business loan. He was reportedly in default on a $2.1-million bank loan.

His past includes two appearances before the BC Employment Standards Tribunal for failing to pay employees, and two lawsuits for failing to pay contractors.

Wilson was easy pickings. Banned from running again as a Liberal, he hadn’t a snowball’s chance of winning the riding as an Independent.

Come to that, if he’d had a strong chance of winning as a Liberal, he’d still be one. So now that Elizabeth May has come home from the parliamentary rummage sale with this old Liberal cast-off, how well does he fit?

Nothing in Wilson’s background suggests an interest in environmental issues. A chartered accountant by trade, he was briefly the Liberal finance critic.

As an Independent, he recently voted in favour of the Conservatives’ regressive biofuels bill. While his personal website boasts that he’s “deeply committed to the issues facing the people in his community”, the only political issue he specifically mentions having worked on is the fight to bring the 2010 Olympics to Vancouver.

His Facebook page makes no mention of the environment, and even his press release explaining his jump to the Greens cites only “strong leadership” as a reason.

To all appearances Wilson is an opportunist, stamping himself with the green brand in an effort to hold onto his job. Considering that the Greens snatched him up, controversial background and all, only days before an imminent election call, it looks like a pretty good fit.

But marriages of convenience are not uncommon in politics. Opposition members cross the floor to secure cabinet positions, old provincial premiers switch parties for a shot at leadership, why should the Greens be any different?

The problem is, Wilson’s not just an opportunist: he’s also a lame duck. Parliament is no longer sitting, and Stephen Harper is determined to see that it doesn’t convene again before an election, so the Greens’ first MP will almost certainly never sit as a Green. In all likelihood, he will never sit in Parliament again.

It would be good to see May in the leaders’ debates. There, she might explain her confusing stand on reproductive rights — what exactly did she mean when she called a woman’s right to choose “frivolous”?

Or she might be called to account for her syrupy endorsement of Brian Mulroney — the prophet of the container-ship economy — as “Canada’s Greenest prime minister.”

The televised debate would be a great place for other leaders to challenge May and Stephane Dion on the coziness of their non compete agreement in 2007, or how it came about that they released practically identical environmental policies on consecutive days.

May might even take the opportunity to tell us who benefits from the entry of another liberal party onto the field.

If nothing else, May’s presence at the debates would make for better TV, but she needs to get there by legitimate means.

Snatching up discarded MPs may be acceptable behaviour in some political quarters, but it doesn’t make you a leader.