Skip to main content

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she is dismayed the federal Conservatives would try to deflect opposition criticism by suggesting she compared their climate-change plan to the Nazi Holocaust.

For three days, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of his caucus have returned Liberal attacks by castigating Ms. May for saying their environmental plan was a "grievance worse than Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazis."

When Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion asked yesterday about contradictory statements given by Conservative cabinet ministers over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, Mr. Harper replied: "I just have to go back to the contradiction I pointed out yesterday. Since the Leader of the Opposition now acknowledges that Elizabeth May's comments are completely inappropriate, since she will not retract those comments, why does he believe it is still appropriate that she would be his candidate in Central Nova?"

Ms. May has been a target of Conservative censure since the Liberal Leader agreed he will not run a candidate against her in the federal election in Central Nova.

Ms. May responds that there is no reason to retract what she said. In a telephone interview from Nova Scotia yesterday, she said she was simply quoting George Monbiot, a respected British journalist and author, who she says compared the Conservative climate-change plan to the appeasement efforts of Chamberlain.

The former British prime minister's moral failure means he is synonymous with taking the easy way out, she said.

"If you can't make a comment about the Second World War without immediately being charged with having said something about the Nazis and the Holocaust, then we really do impoverish the dialogue and our own historical set of references," Ms. May said.

"But I would never draw a comparison between Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust and any current threat or evil."

To do so, she said, "would do violence and damage and is hurtful to people for whom the memories are too fresh. And none of us should forget. And none of us should treat anything about the Holocaust as a frame of reference for any political purpose. And I didn't."

As for making comparisons to Mr. Chamberlain, Ms. May would appear to be in good company. Federal politicians have made the analogy a well-worn accusation.

Dawn Black, the NDP Defence Critic, has said she is regularly subjected to taunts by Conservative caucus members who call her Mrs. Chamberlain for her party's call for a pullout from Afghanistan.

Mr. Layton once said former Prime Minister Paul Martin "makes Neville Chamberlain look like a stalwart in standing up to a crisis" because of his inaction on climate change.

Mr. MacKay said last year, during a discussion of Afghanistan: "I do not expect members of the NDP to understand this. I fully expect that the Neville Chamberlains of the 21st century in the NDP do not want to be part of an effort that is aimed at elevating the lives of the people of Afghanistan."

And when he was running for leadership of the Canadian Alliance in 2002, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day argued for more military spending by saying: "To have peace in the world, we do need to show that we are strong. It is not time for Neville Chamberlain. It's time for Winston Churchill."