I called a friend on Salt Spring Island today – which is in Elizabeth May’s riding. After catching up, we got to the Elizabeth May press gallery speech incident and she cried out, “It was us!”
“She was with us on Friday night. She spoke at our event. She mentioned she’d just come in from Ottawa, was still on Ottawa time; had gone to bed at two, was up at six and she was with us. After our event, she missed the last ferry, so she went to Sidney by some kind of private boat – on her way back to Ottawa.” We speculated she’d probably grabbed the redeye on to Ottawa, thence to the press gallery dinner that evening. That’s a lot of flying in two days.
Definitely physical overkill. But no doubt trying to not let anybody down.
Probably wrote that bit on the plane.
And it was a schtick. It was quite subtle, perhaps too subtle for the conservative press gallery news folk to grasp after they’d had a few drinks. She began by outing them for not mentioning that they were standing on First Nations territory with her acknowledgements — in two First Nation languages — and an apology to the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations,Perry Bellegarde, who was in attendance. Good on her.
She moved into a complicated kind of thing about her continued exclusion (“I’m honoured to be here, among my colleagues, allowed to speak…”) in the election debates by the other leaders. It included a little pirouette about hair: you know how commentators always talk about women politician’s hair and makeup. May did some commentary on the hirsutian managment machinations of Harper, Trudeau, and Mulcair which was wrapped around a little bit about Freud and envy.
She seguéd into the climax, just as Conservative Cabinet Minister Rait came and tried to stop her because she was going over-time and literally tried to drag her off. Had she been, as accused, “drunk,” I’d love to know how she managed to keep talking while Lisa Rait was hands-on trying to move her off the mike, while May simultaneously manipulated her cellphone so it would play the Welcome Back Kotter theme while simultaneously doing a little derringdo play on words around ‘Kotter,’ and delivered her zinger that Omar Khadr has more class than the whole effing cabinet … all the while being yanked by Rait.
Then, May was onstage singing a few minutes later, so the drunk thing seems a pig in a poke. The whole speech, that the news sticks in Ottawa called “awkward” was playful. It was a bit.
On the video it looks like a fair bit of physical effort was put into trying to end May’s speech before she would bring up Khadr.
I think it was an edgy bit that bombed.
Had it been someone like Dane Cook trying out a bit that didn’t work, there’d be no issue whatsoever. And yes, May is not a professional comic, but the press gallery dinner is an event where politicians are encouraged to try to be comics for the night, to step out of their day to day parliamentary roles.
Very disappointed at the way one NDP MLA in BC and another former candidate dog-piled May on Facebook with their pejorative comments.
Apparently some are actually calling for her resignation over this.
I wish May hadn’t felt the need to apologize, but I think I understand why she felt she had to explain to the uninformed how the press gallery evening works and do some damage control, given how judgmental so many have been.
Wish she could just have pulled a Nellie McClung: “Never explain, never retract, never apologize. Just get the thing done and let them howl.”
But perhaps she feels there is too much of that attitude coming out of Ottawa already.