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EDITORIAL: Elizabeth May ever Green

Elizabeth May
Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May could have taken the easy way out. The national leader of the Green Party had plenty of reason.

She suffered a stunning personal defeat earlier this month when a party policy convention voted to support an Israeli boycott over the Palestinian issue — despite her strenuous objections. It was an unusual issue to fracture a party so closely associated with environmental concerns.

But May, a British Columbia MP, had options. She could have resigned and run for the leadership of the federal NDP. Or, even more tempting, crossed the floor to join the Liberals.

She then could have played a major role implementing the Paris agreement on climate change and guided environmental policy for the nation for another six or seven years. She could have wielded a powerful influence on electoral reform.

But she didn’t. That’s just not her.

She opted to stick with the Greens and her principles — even though her position as leader is damaged and her 10 years as head of the party is likely to end sooner than was previously anticipated.

May described the boycott decision as heartbreaking and went on a Cape Breton holiday to consider her future.

It would have been calamitous for the Green Party to lose its leader. May gave it instant credibility when she resigned as executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada to run for the leadership 10 years ago.

But the timing of the fracture is terrible. May is a member of a special Commons committee dealing with electoral reform. The Liberals have promised to move forward on that, and if proportional representation is adopted, it would give the Greens an increased presence in the Commons.

May has a long history of accepting high-profile challenges. She ran against Conservative heavyweight Peter MacKay in Nova Scotia and battled Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime bills. Her 17-day hunger strike on Parliament Hill in 2001 forced the federal Liberal government to finally take action on the Sydney tar ponds.

She is considered the social and environmental conscience of the nation. She has inspired the electoral successes of David Coon in Fredericton and Peter Bevan-Baker in P.E.I.

But she is a reluctant politician. In a recent candid interview, she admits she loves Parliament, where fellow MPs regularly vote her best orator, hardest-working MP and best MP. But she hates politics, dislikes being Green leader and detests the lack of decorum in the Commons.

She is 62 and is openly musing about stepping down as leader in a year or so even though she received nearly 94-per-cent support in a leadership review this year.

May believes in the basics — that all Canadians deserve clean water and air, and a safe environment in which to live and raise their children.

And few would fight her on that.

 

 

She suffered a stunning personal defeat earlier this month when a party policy convention voted to support an Israeli boycott over the Palestinian issue — despite her strenuous objections. It was an unusual issue to fracture a party so closely associated with environmental concerns.

But May, a British Columbia MP, had options. She could have resigned and run for the leadership of the federal NDP. Or, even more tempting, crossed the floor to join the Liberals.

She then could have played a major role implementing the Paris agreement on climate change and guided environmental policy for the nation for another six or seven years. She could have wielded a powerful influence on electoral reform.

But she didn’t. That’s just not her.

She opted to stick with the Greens and her principles — even though her position as leader is damaged and her 10 years as head of the party is likely to end sooner than was previously anticipated.

May described the boycott decision as heartbreaking and went on a Cape Breton holiday to consider her future.

It would have been calamitous for the Green Party to lose its leader. May gave it instant credibility when she resigned as executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada to run for the leadership 10 years ago.

But the timing of the fracture is terrible. May is a member of a special Commons committee dealing with electoral reform. The Liberals have promised to move forward on that, and if proportional representation is adopted, it would give the Greens an increased presence in the Commons.

May has a long history of accepting high-profile challenges. She ran against Conservative heavyweight Peter MacKay in Nova Scotia and battled Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime bills. Her 17-day hunger strike on Parliament Hill in 2001 forced the federal Liberal government to finally take action on the Sydney tar ponds.

She is considered the social and environmental conscience of the nation. She has inspired the electoral successes of David Coon in Fredericton and Peter Bevan-Baker in P.E.I.

But she is a reluctant politician. In a recent candid interview, she admits she loves Parliament, where fellow MPs regularly vote her best orator, hardest-working MP and best MP. But she hates politics, dislikes being Green leader and detests the lack of decorum in the Commons.

She is 62 and is openly musing about stepping down as leader in a year or so even though she received nearly 94-per-cent support in a leadership review this year.

May believes in the basics — that all Canadians deserve clean water and air, and a safe environment in which to live and raise their children.

And few would fight her on that.

 

 

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