On Friday the announcement was made that the Liberal Party of Canada will not field a candidate of in the riding of Central Nova, to make room for Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. The ridding is currently held by Conservative Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay. In exchange the Green Party will not field a candidate in Liberal Leader Stephan Dion's riding. This also creates a de facto endorsement from the Green Party that they believe Stephan Dion is the best candidate for Prime Minister.
The spin on this story is fairly simple. The environment has emerged in the past year as a very important issue to Canadians. Dion has wrapped himself in the flag as the champion for the environment. An endorsement from the Green Party (who Canadians feel is the true champion of the environment), locks up his credibility to this claim. He is willing to sacrifice the best interests of his party for what is best for Canada. Dion also gets the added protection from a non-existent threat of the Green Party costing him his seat. The Green Party has been climbing in the polls mainly squeezing out support from the NDP. An endorsement from the Liberals that they deserve a voice in the House of Commons gives the legitimacy. This could help further erode support for the NDP, enough for the Liberals to pick up a couple of seats from the split votes.
In November, May finished second behind the Liberal in the by-election for the riding of London North Centre. May was asked why she choose to try to take down one of the highest ranking members of the Conservative Party. This is contrary to the long standing Canadian tradition of party leaders running in safe ridings. May responded that McKay has been singled out because of the governments foreign policy. Did you know that the Green Party had a foreign policy? They want to cut the defence budget by 50%, withdraw from Afghanistan and be a full supporter of all U.N. resolutions. They were also very critical of the governments support for Israel during last year's war in Lebanon. In the last election McKay beat out the 2nd place NDP candidate by 3273 votes. The Green Party candidate managed to beat out the last place Marxist Leninist by only 547 votes. Combining all of the Liberal and Green Party votes from last election would still leave them in 3rd place 2841 votes behind the NDP. May has absolutely no chance of winning this seat. Her decision to try to take down McKay will destroy any opportunity for advancement of her party that this deal could have brought.
It would seem that the Liberals traded an unwinnable ridding for some political clout. There are those out there that feel that this is evidence of a true leader who can put his own personal agenda aside for the good of the nation. Dion has conceded that any environmental policy the Liberal Party puts forward cannot not be as good as that of the Green Party. How is he going to explain to voters? He is going to ask voters to vote for the party that in his opinion has the second best environmental policy. You just can't do that with your number one priority. Taking it one step further in the unlikely event of May winning and Dion becoming the Prime Minister, he would have no choice but to maker her Environment Minister. Would he be as willing to strip her of her post for disagreeing with other Liberal policies as Dion has done to other members of the Liberal Party.
This deal is political suicide for Dion. Once again he has been outsmarted for political points. It is too bad that May has bitten off more than she can chew. She has missed a tremendous oppurtunity to make a political breakthrough for her party.