ECOSPECTIVE: Elizabeth May – born to be Green


02/05/2008

Daniel O’Neail and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
LondonTopic.ca columnist Daniel O’Neail talks to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, during her stop in London Monday (Feb. 4).

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada.

I listened to her talk to an intimate group of supporters and soon to be supporters at the UWO Student hall.

In the council chambers May spoke to the subject of Canada’s role in Afghanistan, stressing the need to not pull the troops out right away, but to change the plan of action from a NATO one to that of the UN, and to return Canadian troops to the role of peace keepers, instead of combatants, returning the Canadian military to their long standing role of world-respected peacekeepers working with the citizens of that country to maintain order.

She spoke to the farmers on the need for re-evaluation on our farming practices, and the need to respect the roles that family farms place in our economy. May said the healthy production of food should take presidence over the new profiteering atmosphere that has invaded this interracial pillar of our economy.

In French and English she spoke of encouraging more women into political roles. She was asked a question on this topic in both languages and easily switched back and forth between the two, providing the whole audience with details on how Canada has one of the lowest female representations in parliament – less than 25 per cent – compared to most governments around the world.

She spoke on Canada’s healthcare crisis, and the need to review pharmaceutical practices before installing a Canadian Pharmacare to complement our healthcare, addressing not only the need to cover these medical expenses, but the need to address the reasoning behind certain drug treatments costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Native affairs, tax shifting, GST, lowering income tax, economic reform, and the corporate realization that going green is profitable regardless of the economic-collapse, fear mongering perpetrated by our current administration, were all covered by May within two hours, demonstrating that the Green Party has platforms far beyond just the environment, as so many people believe, or would have us believe.

Later she spoke to a packed house at the Philip Aziz studio, attended by the nominated London Green Party candidates and their supporters.

After a plethora of candidates spoke, and May touched on the importance the Green Party already has in governing our nation, she and Jim Harris, former leader of the Green Party, introduced the Order of the Green Scarf, where anyone willing to contribute $400 or more to a local candidate would be awarded a beautiful, green scarf in recognition of their contribution to the party.

After the ceremony I asked Elizabeth what was the pivotal moment in her life that brought her to environmental awareness.

“I think I was born to it,” she said. Her mother told her that even as a child she demonstrated a concern for the environment.

“At three I used to say I didn’t like airplanes because they scratched the sky,” referring to the vapor trails that crossed the sky.

“My mother was a peace activist, fighting against nuclear weapons, so I was raised in a family that was socially and environmentally conscious,” May said.

At a young age she read the book Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, making her aware of the concerns of pesticides, and went on to become one of Canada’s most famous environmentalist, leader of the Sierra Club of Canada, and eventually leader of the Green Party of Canada, where she placed second in the by-election vote in London North Center in 2006. That was the sharpest rise in support ever seen in Canadian politics.

“What if you were to win?” I asked. “Let’s say that in the next Federal election there is a massive sweep of Green support, and you were elected Prime Minister, what would you like to see change for the future?”

May went on to describe Canada’s future, one in which Canada would rise on the world stage by aggressively pursuing the issue of climate change, becoming a world leader in addressing these issues, instead of being the only country in the Kyoto Accord that has purposely reneged on it’s obligations and commitments.

She described a Canada with reformed taxes, and a reformed electoral system that would put far more power back in the hands of the public.

May sees us actively working towards addressing child poverty in our nation, instead of paying lip service to the cause, adding that our current and past governments generally only put as much commitment into a project as is necessary to prevent public censure, and has not actually taken the time or made the effort to truly address not only the issues, but the causes and sustainable cures.

“Change the political climate in government,” May has said many times, so that people will take the time to vote not only on what they want, but to vote as they think their children would want.

The Green Party Platform can be read online (see link).

— — — —

Daniel O’Neail is a London political figure, environmentalist, and public speaker. Opinions are those of the author. Contact Daniel by e-mail (see link).

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