Saanich-Gulf Islands MP May ambiguous on party leadership

Green Party convention in 2018 could answer questions.

Elizabeth May is perfectly comfortable leading the Green Party into the 2019 federal election.

She says she’s also comfortable if she’s asked to move over to make way for someone else to lead the party prior to the next election.

May is in her riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands this month and was scheduled to have a town hall meeting in Sidney last night. Her tour hits Saturna Island tonight (Sept. 7) then travels to other Gulf islands and is in Saanich Sept. 14 for a climate change consultation at the University of Victoria.

Last month, May expressed concern over her party’s controversial support of an organization that has criticized Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. She even suggested she would re-think her leadership of the party as a result. After a short vacation, May returned in her role and the party agreed to revisit how it addresses policy change.

Now, she’s turning her attention to her constituency work — and a 2018 party convention that could conceivably turn into a leadership contest. Something May says she’s OK with.

“I guess I’m an anomaly in politics,” she told the PNR recently. “A love being a parliamentarian, representing Saanich-Gulf Islands in Ottawa. But I’m not clinging to the position of leader of the Green Party.”

May agreed that such statements could lead some to think that as a leader of a federal party, she’s in a weakened position.

“Probably,” she said, “but a lot of people know me by now. I joined the Green Party when I was 52 and I’m 62 now. I had a life before this, and I will have a life after.”

While obviously displaying a relaxed position in such a high-profile job, May said she’s still honoured to serve as an MP.

“Of course I still want to do my best, as an MP, for the Green Party and among my family.”

Her attitude, she said, was bolstered in the immediate aftermath of her public thoughts on remaining leader of the Greens.

“I received hundreds of messages of support, from across a wide variety of areas,” she explained. “That level of support and concern was just overwhelming.”

Support from inside and outside of her party led to her decision to stay on as the leader of her party — for as long as they would have her.

May became the first Green MP in Canada in 2011. She was re-elected in Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2015. As leader, she has played a role in that party’s national success and seen the ups and downs in Green support between the last two federal contests.

During this month’s town hall meetings in the riding, May will address electoral reform with federal Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef at the Sept. 7 Saturna Island event.

For more about the town halls visit elizabethmaymp.ca/town-halls or call the constituency office in Sidney at 250-657-2000.