She obviously realized that taking Warren Kinsella aboard for the campaign would not sit well with many Greens. That's why the announcement came wrapped in excuses and unconvincing assurances.
After months of hand wringing and negotiation, the Greens have hired Kinsella to set up a “situation” room for them. His principal task, according to party sources, is to “protect” Elizabeth May from the kinds of attacks that are now routinely made on political leaders, on social media and by other parties.
“Lying and personal attacks in politics have become the new norm,” Green Party deputy-leader Jo-Ann Roberts told The Tyee.
“Elizabeth had to admit that she does not have the sophistication it takes to deal with this stuff. We can play to her great strength, climate change, but only if we don’t let other people take her apart at the knees. Kinsella knows the dark world much better than we do. By hiring him, we are sending a message to other parties: we will not just let ourselves be attacked.”
But there is a risk in putting Kinsella on the team, even if it’s only on a fixed term contract.
The Greens have pitched themselves as a party that does politics differently. That has always meant a firm prohibition against ad hominem attacks on the party’s opponents. Kinsella is a person who has earned his chops as a political bar room brawler, someone who never let diplomacy stand in the way of landing a good shot.
In fact, he’s made it plain that “negative politics work” and proudly bills himself as “the Prince of Darkness” in Canadian politics. One former ally, deciding Kinsella’s methods posed too big a risk for clients, reportedly calledhim “a human shrapnel machine.”
May has not responded to a request for an interview, but she clearly understands that although there is a clear advantage to hiring Kinsella, there is also a risk. This is what she said to her inner circle after the decision had been reached to engage Kinsella:
“People will accuse us of swimming with the sharks, but we have to keep reminding them we are dolphins.”
There is more to those words than an amusing aside. The Tyee has learned that under the terms of the agreement reached with Kinsella, his job is not to be the “wolf” attacking detractors and political opponents, but to “protect” the leader.I can accept that May lacks the "sophistication" to deal with attack politics but does she really think she can put a jackal on a leash? This guy's obsessive vendetta with Trudeau is inescapable even for Unsophisticated Liz. Does she really imagine that he won't exploit his position to advance his personal cause?
People will rightly accuse May of 'swimming with the sharks.' What she needs to realize is that sharks aren't too fussy whom they bite when it suits them. Ask Ignatieff or Olivia Chow.