Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has announced that she will be stepping down as leader of the party she has led since 2006.
May announced on Monday that she wanted to step down when the party had momentum, saying, “I have to look at what’s the best interest for the party,” to the media.
Jo-Ann Roberts, the current Deputy Leader of the party will take over as interim leader.
While notable, the news was expected, as a week earlier, May announced that she was planning to step down “within the next four years,” though she had announced at the time that she would continue to serve as MP for Sannich-Gulf Islands.
Elizabeth May nearly doubled her vote since 2015, leading to one new Green MP being added to a caucus of two.
Alongside her resignation, May confirmed previous suspicions with a caveat by announcing that she would make a bid for the role of Speaker of the House after the next election.
While she has resigned as leader, May will stay on as an MP, will be leader of the party in the House, and continue to work with the Green Party.
The newest Green MP (Fredericton, New Brunswick) Jenica Atwin says she will not run for the leadership.
“I really need to focus on my constituency, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in Fredericton, and I just don’t think it would be right for me to focus on leadership at the moment,” said Atwin at the press conference.
“I mean, audacity, bravery, the same qualities that I would use to describe Ms. May and the leadership style she’s had over the last ten years. It’s just about continuing to maybe change the language, to reach further beyond our current support base and to encourage others to join us in this fight. To be strong and fearless and much of that work has already been done,” Atwin continued.
According to May, the Greens will hold their leadership convention on October 2-4, 2020, bringing with it a new long-term leader.
“I want to encourage people who voted Green to get involved… speak up for what you want to see in the next Green Party leader of Canada.”
During the 2019 election, May criticized Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer for still holding his American citizen, believing she had “renounced” hers when becoming a Canadian. Immigration lawyers specializing in U.S. citizenship told The Post Millennial May is almost certainly still an American, too.
Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer thanked May for her public service as a politician on Twitter.
“Thank you @ElizabethMay for your many years of service to Canadians as Leader of the Green Party, and I wish you well as you continue to serve your constituents in Saanich-Gulf Islands.”
May has said controversial things in the past, including saying at a press gallery dinner, “Omar Khadr, you’ve got more class than the whole f—ing [CPC] cabinet.”
Elizabeth May is out as the leader, but the Green party certainly isn’t stopping.
According to a recent report from the CBC, Jo-Ann Roberts is considering recruiting former Liberal Cabinet Minister and now independent MP, Jody Wilson-Raybould to the party’s top job.
Wilson-Raybould is the only Independent in the House of Commons after she was kicked out of Liberal Party by Justin Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Then, attorney general, Wilson-Raybould said she was bullied and pressured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his office to spare the SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec engineering firm with Liberal ties from prosecution.
The federal government has blocked almost all genuine investigation into the matter, with the RCMP even facing difficulties when it comes to having confidentiality waived on key witnesses.
Although hopeful, Jo-Ann Roberts has not reached out yet, as she believes former party leader Elizabeth May will take the lead on recruiting, given her close relationship with Wilson-Raybould, and the close working proximity on the hill.
May has previously attempted to recruit Wilson-Raybould, following the SNC-Lavalin affair, offering her the leadership even back then.
While the interim leader has stated her hopes to recruit Wilson-Raybould, she has also stated that her party is actively looking at other strong candidates who could join the leadership race.
After years of Elizabeth May saying that she would never run outside of Nova Scotia, the Green Party Leader packed her bags and moved to Vancouver Island. The Green Party apparatus, in those days composed of hippies and homeopaths, believed vehemently that the island would be the epicentre of where a “green wave” would be triggered; the faultline of where their leader would change Canada forever.
Pundits happily bought into these prophecies. And so, for the next eleven years, the Canadian public was subjected to the shaky, crackpot premonitions of commentators and May. This wave never materialized, and now in 2019, May has resigned as the leader of the Green Party with the hope (God forbid) of becoming the speaker. In retrospect, it is perfectly obvious why the climate Christ never delivered on these expectations.
This becomes clear through a brief glance at the Green’s results. In 2008, for example, the Green party failed to win a single seat, despite winning their largest share of the popular vote. Or take 2011, where the Green’s vote was sliced in half, although this time the compost crusader actually managed to win her seat. The only “breakthrough” that ever occurred was in 2019— for the first time ever, a Green MP was elected east of the Rockies, 13 years after May first became leader.
May, naturally, celebrated the results of the 2019 election in the style of Justin Trudeau: jubilant and utterly lacking in any circumspection. The other Green MPs were refreshingly contrite. Jennica Atwin, for instance, told The Post Millennial that she “was surprised more than anything else, I thought there were a few ridings that were guaranteed … it would have been nice to have a bigger caucus.”
Some point to the Green’s results as a symbol of May’s dogged determination. It is far more grounded, however, to dig up that rather overused cliche about madness: “trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” At the very least, it is evidence of the party’s stagnation.
May’s failure is especially poignant when considering the background of the 2019 election. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians had marched on the streets of our cities to demand better environmental policy, and Greta Thunberg received deafening and entirely unscrutinized coverage. Even in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30 percent of those asked stated that the environment was their top priority in the election.
In an age like this, it is remarkable that May’s Green Party failed to convert any significant number of these people into Green voters. May has naturally shrugged off responsibility for this, pointing the finger at our “unjust” electoral system. But surely, in one of the most environmentally conscious countries on the planet, the Green Party leader should have achieved more than three elected candidates.
The Green Party’s failure to capitalize on this lies squarely at the feet of their leader. May would have us believe that it is first-past-the-post that stunted the Green’s development, but it is difficult to blame the electoral system for the public’s total refusal to accept the Greens as a serious party.
Much of this derives from May’s willingness to accept candidates anywhere along the spectrum of dangerous to deranged. Take, for instance, her enthusiasm for allowing a holocaust denier to run twice for the party. Not one to relent, in 2019, May permitted a Quebecois separatist candidate to join the rank and file.
May’s outrageousness has also contributed to their reputation of wackiness. “Waging a war against wifi” and presenting 9/11 truther petitions to the House of Commons are hardly ways to endear yourself to the Canadian public.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to accept that May has contributed to the building of the environmentalist movement in Canada. Although, it has become overwhelmingly clear that the Greens would never cement themselves as a viable alternative so long as May was at the helm.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has said she is “interested” in becoming the next speaker of the house, according to CBC. May has served as the Green Party leader since 2006.
May also said that she would’ve liked to pursue the job after the 2015 election, however, she failed to turn up for the vote because she was attending an environmental conference in Paris.
May spoke to the CBC about the speaker role, stating, “It would be wrong to say it hasn’t interested me for a very long time.” After the election, May has been vocal in her intention to step down as the Green Leader, and has previously stated her intention to step down in the next four years.
As well as this, May promised to step down as Green leader if Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Liberal attorney general, chose to run as a Green. Speaking to The Post Millennial, the Green MP for Fredericton, Jennica Atwin, also mentioned her desire for Raybould to join the party.
During the campaign, May criticized Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer for still holding American citizenship, but immigration lawyers say her claim that she “renounced” her American citizenship when becoming Canadian is legally incorrect, meaning she likely is still an American as well.
Washington Post columnist J.J. McCullough has kept a record of some of the more outlandish things the Green leader has said in the past.
The 2019 federal election had a great deal of uncertainty. Up until the polling stations had closed, Trudeau’s Liberals and Scheer’s Conservatives had been level on points, with the other parties scrambling for third place.
However, it soon dawned on Ottawa’s broadcasters that nothing of any interest had occurred. The Liberal’s had won their minority, the Conservatives had failed to convince anyone of their competence outside of the Prairies, and the NDP was, unsurprisingly, swept away in Quebec.
Perhaps, the only early-night surprise moment of the election came from the Green Party. Despite Elizabeth May failing to capitalize on the growing environmental consciousness of Canadian citizens, the eagerly anticipated green wave hardly drenched the beaches of Canadian politics. Nevertheless, the election of Jenica Atwin, the first Green Party candidate east of British Columbia, created some excitement for the party.
Atwin is a young, gregarious candidate, who has spent much of her life campaigning for indigenous rights and environmental protections. This election, despite being expected to finish in third place, she took Fredricton by storm, winning by 791 votes.
To discover more about this breakout star, The Post Millennial sat down with Atwin to understand her background and her political influences, as well as what she hopes the Green Party can do to remedy Western alienation and the courting of Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Q: How did you get into politics?
Atwin: In High School I was my grad class president so that’s kind of where it started. I studied political science at university. I started my undergrad with the hopes of being a lawyer because I recognized that many politicians were lawyers and judges. I’ve always been setting the stage to get involved at some point in my life. I began working with aboriginal youth, which really lit a flame inside of me to really step up my involvement. I had my second child, and I was on maternity leave, and there was an upcoming provincial election and the timing was right.
Q: You finished fourth in the provincial election, was it at all nerve racking to run again federally?
Atwin: Provincially, I knew that it was very difficult to win. It was more about having a breakthrough and understanding what it took to win. We doubled our vote count so it was a success. Things were aligning nationally, and in the city of Fredericton the timing seemed right. I wasn’t nervous about getting the vote. I knew that we would have an excellent shot. Even before we had a candidate selected, people were speculating that it would be a three-way tie.
Q: You were originally ranked third before your upset, when did you realize you actually had a chance of winning?
Atwin: There was a lot of momentum. We knew there was a protest vote out there, and we knew there was an appetite for voting outside of the traditional red and blue. However, it really started to change after we put out our ground game. The canvassing was huge for us, we knocked on thousands of doors.
Q: Did you always want to get into Green politics?
Atwin: As a young voter, I was always a Liberal. Even on social media I had been Liberal for quite a long time as a status on Facebook. When it comes to indigenous issues, we knew the Liberals were the better option. It was really in 2015 that it became very clear to me that the Green’s really rose above the others on Indigenous issues.
Q: Are you disappointed by the Liberal’s approach to Indigenous issues?
Atwin: Yes, I had such high hopes. I clearly remember watching the Tragically Hip’s televised concert where he put the spotlight on Trudeau. I was so hopeful that he really was going to live up to his expectations. I believe that their intentions were good. I have to believe that, but they just didn’t engage with indigneous voices enough. At a town hall, for example, [Trudeau] said we have to be patient with indigenous communities while they figure out what [reconciliation] means. That is absolutely the wrong direction to take. It is the settlers, the colonials, that have the responsibility to make steps towards reconciliation.
Q: How has your community be impacted by climate change?
Atwin: Through the flooding of the St. John river. So many people were affected. Climate change was real for them. They could no longer pretend it didn’t affect them. It was in their homes, it was costing them $20,000 a year— people are now worried about what’s going to happen next spring.
Q: In the Green Party manifesto, it talks about its disapproval of the TMX pipeline. There is a sense of alienation in western Canada. Is the Green party willing to risk possible separation and further alienation?
Atwin: We definitely don’t want to alienate Alberta, and they feel attacked when we talk about moving off fossil fuels. We’ve always included aspects of retraining and including those voices to make sure they’re not left out. Their skills are so transferable and we are not going to leave them behind.
Q: The Green Party’s proposals are quite aggressive with the 2030 deadline. To achieve your goals, the government would have to seriously infringe on people’s lives.
Atwin: Our role as MP is to bring people along for this ride. We have three MPs so it’s not really feasible, anyway.
Q: Well, you may have a vote pact with the Liberal Party, in which case some of your environmental policies may be mandated.
Atwin: I always think it goes back to positive reinforcement and incentives rather than negativity towards people. But you have to be aggressive and go after these things in a way that is strong. It’s a fine balance. It’s about our leadership being aggressive, our rhetoric being aggressive, it’s about having real concrete steps forward that people can take pride in.
Q: Under May’s leadership, there has been talk of a green wave. Although there has been an improvement of one seat, the green wave never really happened. Were you surprised that there weren’t other Green MPs.
Atwin: I was surprised more than anything else, I thought there were a few ridings that were guaranteed. I was very hopeful for a few more spots in the maritimes as well. I still see it as a victory, we doubled our popular vote. But it would have been nice to have a bigger caucus.
Q: There was a lot of talk about Jody Wilson-Raybould joining the Green Party, would this be something that you encourage?
Atwin: She’s an inspirational woman and leader. What happened with SNC shows her personal integrity. So if she wants to come, I would be more than open to that. I would love the opportunity to work alongside her.
Q: May has said she will step down as party leader in the next four years, are you thinking at all about running for the leadership?
Atwin: It’s interesting how many times this has come up over the past seven days. I’m not thinking about it at all. Even hypothetically. I just can’t entertain it at this time. I think it might be something that Paul [Manly] would consider more than myself.