OTTAWA — With three months until Canadians vote in the next federal election, Green party leader Elizabeth May says her big hope for the final result is a minority government over which she can exert some influence.
In fact, May thinks that influence could even get the Conservatives to drop their dyed-in-the-wool opposition to carbon taxes if it means the difference for them between governing or spending more time in opposition.
“People change their minds when they see the dynamic of a way a Parliament is assembled and maybe think, ‘Killing carbon taxes isn’t such a good idea if the only way I get to be prime minister is by keeping them,’ ” May says.
It would be unprecedented for the Greens to hold the balance of power at the federal level but it has happened provincially. In British Columbia, the Greens’ three seats are keeping NDP Leader John Horgan’s minority government in office. In New Brunswick, the minority Tory government can turn to either the Greens or the righter-wing People’s Alliance for support on confidence votes.
In Prince Edward Island, the Greens formed the official Opposition after the spring vote, the best finish the party has ever had in a Canadian election.
Federally, May says she could support a minority government of any party but only if that party is serious about acting to stop climate change.
“We will negotiate with anyone, we will talk to everyone, but we won’t compromise on climate action,” she says.
On a multi-city, pre-campaign tour of the country that began last winter, May was found last week bumping along rural roads in Ontario south of Barrie, Ont., driven around in a Tesla owned by a local party volunteer. She won’t call the events Green party rallies — they are “community matters” meetings, even though in almost the next breath she talks about how cool it is to be greeted by throngs of people waving Green signs and shouting “We love you, Elizabeth!”
Those greetings are new to her, even though this is the fourth national campaign for the 65-year-old, who in 2011 became the first Green MP elected in Canada.
She says this campaign feels very different, with a “groundswell” of support, and she is holding out hope this one won’t end with Green backing collapsing on voting day as Canadians turn to parties with better chances of winning.
Nik Nanos, founder of Nanos Research, says that is always a risk, even though the Greens are polling better than ever.
“The challenge for the Greens is that they might be a safe haven for disgruntled progressive Liberals and NDP voters,” he says. “If there is the chance of a Conservative win, Green support, even with the goodwill for the party and the leader, may swing back to the Liberals to block a Conservative win.”
Nanos says the “best scenario” for May and the Green party is that Canadians don’t think anyone will form a majority and they want more Greens in the House of Commons.
May doesn’t say it quite as directly.
“I think it’s really important to communicate with Canadians how our democracy works and that a minority Parliament is the very best thing, if, and this is a big if, you have parties and MPs in Parliament who are committed to working together,” she says.
And by “working together” she specifically means to slow climate change with policies that drastically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, don’t build any more oil pipelines and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy as fast as possible.
But even within her own party, there is a dispute erupting about how fast that can happen.
The head of Quebec’s Green party, Alex Tyrrell, launched a petition about three weeks that has drawn signatures of provincial and federal Greens, including several whose names will be on the ballot for the party in October. That petition says May’s plan to continue to use Canadian oil for years, and even invest in upgraders so bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands can be turned into gasoline at Canadian refineries, is nowhere near the aggressive climate action needed.
Tyrrell says he will still vote for the federal Greens this fall but he is disappointed in May’s position.
May dismisses Tyrrell’s criticism entirely and denies any of the petition’s backers are running for the federal party — although she is wrong about that.
Cass Romyn, who is the Green candidate in the Edmonton-area riding of Sturgeon River-Parkland, signed it. Romyn says not to read too much into the petition, though, saying the Greens are a true democracy and differences of opinion are not a bad thing.
Romyn also says that with more Canadians feeling the heat of climate change in their own backyards, the growing interest in the Green party should not be surprising.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Huawei executive’s defence team alleges Canadians were ‘agents’ of the FBI
VANCOUVER — A defence team for a Chinese telecom executive is alleging Canadian officials acted as “agents” of American law enforcement while she was detained at Vancouver’s airport for three hours ahead of her arrest.
In court documents released this week, defence lawyers for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou point to handwritten notes by Canadian officers indicating Meng’s electronics were collected in anticipation of a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.
The notes show the RCMP asked the FBI if the U.S. was interested in Meng’s luggage and that a Canada Border Services Agency officer wrote down Meng’s passcodes, while another questioned her about Huawei’s alleged business in Iran.
This happened before she was informed of her arrest, the defence says.
“The RCMP and/or CBSA were acting as agents of the FBI for the purpose of obtaining and preserving evidence,” alleges a memorandum of fact and law filed by the defence.
“The question that remains is to what extent and how the FBI were involved in this scheme.”
The materials collected by the defence were released ahead of an eight-day hearing scheduled for September, in which the defence is expected to argue for access to more documentation ahead of Meng’s extradition trial.
The Attorney General of Canada has yet to file a response and none of the allegations have been tested in court.
Meng’s arrest at Vancouver airport has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China and drawn international scrutiny of Canadian extradition laws.
She was arrested at the behest of the U.S., which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges in violation of sanctions with Iran.
Both Meng and Huawei have denied any wrongdoing. Meng is free on bail and is living in one of her multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver.
The RCMP and CBSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the documents but have said in a response to a civil claim that border officials only examined Meng and her luggage for immigration and customs purposes.
Meng extradition trial won’t begin until Jan. 20, but the court documents shed light on her defence team’s planned arguments that her arrest was unlawful and for the benefit of the United States.
“These are allegations of a purposeful violation of a court order and the abuse of important Canadian legal norms for improper purposes, namely, to further the objectives of the requesting state,” the defence says.
They plan to argue that the U.S. committed an abuse of process by using the extradition proceedings for political and economic gain. Parts of the defence are comments by U.S. President Donald Trump that he would intervene in Meng’s case “if necessary.”
The seizure of electronics and questioning of Meng by border officials in Canada also follows a pattern of how Huawei employees have been treated at U.S. ports of entry.
“This targeting has included the apparent abuse of customs and immigration powers to search and question Huawei employees at various U.S. ports of entry,” the documents say.
The defence accuses officers of intentionally poor note keeping that obscures what exactly happened, including why the arrest plan apparently changed.
The documents suggest that Canadian officials initially planned to arrest Meng “immediately” after she landed, by boarding the plane before she got off. Instead, three CBSA officers immediately detained Meng when she disembarked the plane while two RCMP officers stood nearby and watched, despite their knowledge of the warrant calling for her “immediate” arrest, the defence says.
The defence argues spotty notes kept by the CBSA officers constitute a “strategic omission.”
“When assessed together, a clear pattern emerges from these materials: the CBSA and the RCMP have strategically drafted these documents to subvert the applicant’s ability to learn the truth regarding her detention,” the defence says.
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
Three confirmed dead in fiery Alberta crash with semi trucks, passenger vehicles
CEREAL, Alta. — A Saskatchewan man says a well-timed pit stop may have helped him avoid getting caught in a fiery 10-vehicle crash in southeastern Alberta that killed three people.
Dore Germo and his wife left Kelowna, B.C., on Monday after a holiday visiting friends and, after a night in Calgary, were on their way home to Warman, Sask., on Tuesday.
They stopped for gas and a break in Hanna, Alta., about 80 kilometres from where seven passenger vehicles and three semi trucks collided on Highway 9.
The couple could see smoke as they continued east, but they thought it was just a grass fire.
Then they saw flashing lights and heard sirens and a police officer was running down the middle of the road yelling, “Get out!”
Germo says they were directed to a rural side road to get around the crash, and from there they could make out a tanker truck and burned vehicles amid the smoke.
“It was quite a sickening kind of empty feeling once you realized that — yes — those are people just going about their day and travelling somewhere,” Germo said in an interview Wednesday.
“It kind of looked like a bomb had gone off because there were these burnt out vehicles and it was very eerie.”
He said he’s praying for those involved.
“The first thing you think of is those poor families.”
RCMP confirmed Wednesday that three people were found dead at the scene of the crash between the small communities of Chinook and Cereal, about 300 kilometres east of Calgary. Ten people were injured, two critically.
One of the semi trucks that was carrying fuel ignited, causing several vehicles to catch fire, and another truck was carrying butane.
A stretch of Highway 9 was expected to remain closed until about mid-day, while crews clear the collision area and recover dangerous goods in one of the trucks.
The RCMP’s victim services unit is providing support to people involved in the crash.
“The investigation into this collision remains a lengthy process given the nature of the crash scene,” RCMP said in Wednesday’s release. “It is anticipated that it will take several weeks for the collision analyst to complete the investigation.”
— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
The Canadian Press
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