Sunday, August 27, 2006

Elizabeth May - Green Party

May: `We will have influence. We will exert power ...'

Facts about Elizabeth May, just-elected Green Party leader:

Age: 52

Born: June 9, 1954, Hartford, Conn.

Education: Dalhousie Law School, Halifax, graduated 1983.

Career: Executive director, Sierra Club of Canada, 1993-2006; executive director, Cultural Survival Canada, 1989-1994. Author of numerous books and articles on the environment. Appointed officer of the Order of Canada, 2005.

Political Experience: Senior policy adviser to Tom McMillan, then federal minister of the environment, 1986-1988.

Political views: Says climate change is the single greatest threat to Canada's future; wants new strategies to protect jobs in remote, one-industry communities. Says growing number of poor and homeless in Canada must be addressed. Maintains Canada's foreign policy is becoming too similar to that of the U.S.

Famous for: 2003 hunger strike to protest continuing contamination of neighbourhoods around Sydney, N.S., tar ponds.

Quote: "We will have influence. We will exert power, but to be a majority government, as the mark of whether or not we're successful, is the wrong goal. It's not that it's unrealistic; it's the wrong goal because the issues are too pressing."


May wins vote to lead Greens
Aug. 27, 2006. 01:00 AM

OTTAWA—The new Green Party of Canada leader is Elizabeth May, a firebrand environmental activist who is promising to haul the party into the same public spotlight where she's spent much of her high-profile career.

She also is vowing that Canadians could see some kind of "parliamentary presence" of the Green party as soon as the Commons returns next month..

"I'm expecting that when the House returns on Sept. 18, you'll already notice a difference, in that the Green party will be present and effective in parliamentary democracy, even before we win a seat in the next election," she told reporters.

..She wouldn't elaborate on how that was going to happen, but May has proved to have a knack for publicity and networking with people of influence, so few will be surprised to see the Greens' voice more amplified in the halls of power.

"It should not go without notice, gentlemen and ladies of the press, that the upholstery in the House of Commons is already green," she said.
"And we are the only party that matches the upholstery."

The Green party voted in favour of pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement at its convention this weekend and May bluntly declared it was because the agreement is no longer working for Canada's best interests, especially on softwood lumber.

"The government of Canada under (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper has just signalled if you push us hard enough, we'll finally say uncle," May said, to wild cheers from delegates at the leadership convention in Ottawa.
The Harper government is in the midst of concluding a softwood-lumber agreement with the United States that was met with controversy by the industry in Canada because it allows the U.S. to keep a share of duties it collected in violation of repeated NAFTA rulings.
May said it's clear now NAFTA has become a "one-way ratchet down on labour rights and the environment" for Canada.

Similarly, she says Canadians have to start speaking up more against the policies of George W. Bush's administration, with which Harper has been trying to cultivate more friendly ties.
"The reality is that policies of the U.S. president imperil us here," May said.

…She also had some strong words for Harper's governing style overall.
"My impression of Mr. Harper is that he is a man who takes primarily his own counsel. I think it's dangerous. I think he's a person who rules with one-person rule within his government, approving every single speech that any of his ministers give. I lived and worked in Ottawa for two decades and I've never seen anything like it. It's repressive and it's not healthy and I would urge Mr. Harper to open up and listen to other people."

…Her victory signals how badly the Green party is looking for clout, influence and an electoral breakthrough. The leadership had mainly been a contest between May and Chernushenko. The two had almost no policy differences, except on NAFTA; the race came down to a question about what was the best winning formula for the Greens.

May's panache won out over Chernushenko's organizational clout, even though he was the candidate apparently with more money and contributors.

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