Is Elizabeth May Still a “Useful Idiot”?

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May gestures as she makes an announcement at the National Press Theatre, in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Marco Levytsky, National Affairs Editor.

As the federal New Democratic Party slips in public opinion polls, a lot of that support is being picked up by the Greens.

In a December 26, 2018 column entitled “Really, finally, truly, 2019 could be the year Elizabeth May’s Green Party breaks through”, National Post commentator John Iveson noted that while Green support hovers between 7 and 10 per cent, “there are signs that suggest their support has room to grow.”

“Most promising was a question in a Nanos Research poll on the party voters might consider at the next election. It suggested that one in three voters would think about voting Green, up from one in five before the 2015 election. Green leader May is also outpolling NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on the question of who voters prefer as their prime minister.

“Party fundraising, a key measure of support, is up 19 per cent in the first three quarters of the year, albeit from a small base.

“David Coletto, a pollster at Abacus Data in Ottawa, said he thinks the political environment is opportune for the Greens. Concerns about climate change are growing, the Liberals are vulnerable on the environment after buying a pipeline, the NDP is in retreat and voters are looking for something different, he said’,” according to Iveson.

All of which means it is time to draw attention to May’s position on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, which, frankly, is simply a regurgitation of Russian propaganda.

During the House of Commons debate on the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade agreement on March 20, 2017, Elizabeth May made the following statement:

“I appreciate that it is a badge of honour for the minister (Chrystia Freeland) personally to have been singled out by Vladimir Putin for sanctions, but on the other hand, the situation in the region is one in which we do not want to let things devolve into black and white. Crimea is clearly culturally different and it is Russian in its makeup. Solzhenitsyn, even as the USSR was falling apart, asked what would be done for Russian nationals who had been distributed through all of these other states. There is a complexity here that I do not want us to lose so that we can play a diplomatic role.

“While I agree in large measure with what the minister has said, I remain concerned that (Ukrainian President Petro) Poroshenko came to power initially through what looks a lot like a coup.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland responded stating the invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea was clearly illegal and “that is why the world community has been united in opposing them, and that is why our government is proud to oppose them clearly and unambiguously.”

At that point, Conservative Defence Critic James Bazan entered the fray and blasted May for regurgitating Russian propaganda.

“To hear the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands talk about a coup, she is completely discrediting the students, the citizens of Kyiv, the citizens of Lviv, the citizens right across Ukraine who took to the streets to protest against the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovych and everything that he stood for,” said Bezan.

“That was not a coup. It was not orchestrated by anyone in the west. This was a citizens’ revolution of dignity on the Euromaidan that took place in Kyiv and across Ukraine. We must never, ever forget that. For anyone to come in here with fake news from RT television, Russia Today television, I can say upsets me, as members can tell, to no extent of my better judgment,” he added.

In its March 30, 2017 editorial, the former Ukrainian News called May a “useful idiot”, a term attributed to Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet totalitarian dictatorship, which has often been used to describe Western politicians who took Communist propaganda at face value and defended that totalitarian state.

As the only difference between the Soviet dictatorship and the current Russian one is that Vladimir Putin has abandoned any pretence of economic equality that the communists may have paid lip service to and, instead, has steadfastly maintained all the repressive elements of what Ronald Reagan termed the “evil empire”.

Mindful of the Green party’s current rising fortunes, New Pathway-Ukrainian News sent an email to May’s office asking whether she still maintained that position. When a week had passed, we sent another only to receive an automatically-generated reply confirming it has been received, but again no reply to the question itself.

Yet, just a couple of months ago, May played a pivotal role in getting the Canadian government to allow Russian scientist and Kremlin critic, Elena Musikhina, and her family to stay in Canada.

“Without intervention by the Canadian government, Dr. Musikhina and her husband, Mikhail, would have faced jail or much worse if sent back to Russia for having publicly stated that Crimea must belong to Ukraine, and that Russia should not have absorbed the contested region,” stated a November 26 Green Party press release.

What is ironic is that Dr. Musikhina’s position on Crimea is exactly opposite the one May took during the House of Commons debate.

So, where does May really stand? It would help if her office bothered to reply to media queries.

Nevertheless, while the federal election is nine months away, this is a point that must be raised with May by members of our community both before and during the campaign.

Russian propaganda has no place in Canadian political discourse and any politician who would publicly spout such nonsense must be brought to task.

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