Compared to Thomas Mulcair and the New Democrats, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are easy to work with, according to Elizabeth May.
The Green party’s leader and lone MP was talking about her experiences with the two parties ahead of the conclusion on Sunday (April 14) of the Liberal leadership race, which is expected to be won by Trudeau.
“Over the last two years, I found Justin Trudeau to be collaborative and friendly,” May told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
For the Saanich–Gulf Islands MP, collaboration is important. During the Green party’s convention last summer, she received a mandate to seek cooperation with the NDP and the Liberal party to defeat Stephen Harper and the ruling Conservatives.
Her experience so far with New Democrats has been “discouraging”. Last December, she wrote to NDP and Liberal MPs on the subject of electoral cooperation.
“It was a personal and confidential letter, but the NDP made it public and attacked me for sending it,” May recalled. “And Tom Mulcair prohibited his members from answering my letter.”
Although Mulcair and Trudeau have both stated they are not interested in the idea of an electoral alliance, the Green leader believes she may have a better chance of success with Trudeau.
“I think he’ll be much more open to cooperation…at least with the Greens, than will Tom Mulcair,” May said.
Survey results released in February indicate that the 41-year-old Trudeau has emerged as a serious contender for prime minister.
Forty-one percent of respondents in a Forum poll said they’d vote for a Trudeau-led Liberal party. Thirty percent would go Conservative and 20 percent NDP.
With the exception of the management of the economy, an Ipsos Reid survey released this month shows that the Quebec MP beats Harper on every leadership attribute. One of these characteristics relates to representing the values
In January, Vancouver Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry declared in an interview with the Straight that she’s supporting Trudeau for leader because the Grits need someone who can “actually win and bring the Liberal party back”.
In a new interview, Fry noted that the recent polls back up her view.
“The person who can bring it back to being a strong party and who can take it to win the next election is Justin,” Fry told the Straight by phone. “There is no other person even close to being able to do that.”
With a winnable alternative to Harper and Mulcair’s lack of interest in cooperation, Fry doesn’t see why the Liberal party needs to seek an alliance.
“Who are we going to cooperate with? The Greens? The Greens have one seat,” Fry said.
According to Fry, the Liberals are open to forming coalitions with other parties, but only after they’ve won an election.
“Liberals have always cooperated in the history of this country in times when we have minority governments,” Fry said. “We did it with [Paul] Martin. We did it before with [Lester] Pearson.”
The Greens’ May isn’t giving up. There are a couple of years between now and the 2015 election. Various grassroots organizations are campaigning to promote the idea of a one-time alliance to defeat the Conservatives and then reform the winner-takes-all voting system.
But she needs to work on getting better access to Mulcair. According to May, she’s sat down for a meeting with Mulcair only once since he became NDP leader last year.
“Maybe…because they’re the third party and smaller and sit near me in the House, but I find it very easy to get a meeting when I ask for a meeting with the Liberals—the House leadership or the Liberal interim leader when it was Bob Rae,” May said. “And I found it extremely difficult to get meetings with
As for Trudeau, “we sit near each other in the House, and we have things to chat about,” May said.
The Green leader hopes their warm relationship persists. “It may change if and when he becomes leader,” May said of Trudeau. “It may be that he becomes surrounded by gatekeepers and it’s very hard to get time with him. But my sense of him is that he’ll continue to be [accessible] because we have a basis of personal friendship. Let’s see.”