Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Fifth Voice for the Fourth Estate

I didn't realise until this morning that my blog was contributing to an incorrect conceit. Yesterday I implicitly attacked the assumption that voices from the four main political parties could suffice to determine the boundaries of the national dialogue for the coming election. I questioned the value of a campaign debate that elevated the tax on home heating fuel to the fore of our common consciousness and decried the short shrift given to weightier matters, among them the future disposition of arctic lands. While the substance of my argument was valid, the argument itself was rendered impotent by omission. I neglected to include in my analysis an essential fifth voice in the discussion: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

I pointed out yesterday that environmental issues, such as the use of arctic lands, cannot be relegated to the periphery of our thoughts. In the arctic, which has received little attention since Pierre Trudeau's government in the early 1980s, we see stark proof that environmental issues are intimately connected to national security and the health of Canada and the world. We ignore the arctic and allow those rugged individualist cowboys down south to do as they please in Canada's most northern territories at our own peril, and to the likely detriment of everyone on the planet.

I believe I am not overstating the importance of arctic lands. This issue certainly has greater bearing on our future than any tax on home heating fuel. If this is so, my omission of Ms. May from yesterday's blog is a serious oversight. It reveals a conceit that North Americans can no longer afford to cultivate. In my personal bias and in our collective ignorance, we propagate a hubris that is injurious of ourselves and our planet.

We need to listen to Elizabeth May. I am certainly not alone in stating this. A Globe and Mail poll released only hours ago reveals the extent to which G&M readers agree with my assessment.

As of 5:20 EDT this morning, 61% of G&M readers believed Elizabeth May should have been given a slot in the federal election leaders' debates. The poll reveals a popular wisdom that should not be ignored. Elizabeth May represents a crucial fifth voice, and a sensibility that must be given our fullest consideration.

I am under no illusion that the Green Party will be able to assume a leadership role in the governing of Canada, at least not in the foreseeable future. But the Green Party can play a central role in the debate, and can influence staid and jaundiced people (like me!) by reminding us of the importance of issues we need to address. If I could vote, my ballot would be cast for one of the more traditional, progressive parties. But I would feel much better about that vote if the party of the candidate receiving my support acknowledged and asserted its intention to take to heart the environmental issues that are critical to Canada's future.

March 30, 2011

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