It’s time for Elizabeth May to go

Scott Gilmore explains why the Green party needs a new leader

Green Party leader Elizabeth May, speaks to volunteers, campaign staff and supporters, after finding out she's been re-elected during election night at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, B.C., Monday, October 19, 2015. (CHAD HIPOLITO/CP)

Green Party leader Elizabeth May, speaks to volunteers, campaign staff and supporters, Monday, October 19, 2015. (CHAD HIPOLITO/CP)

Elizabeth May has to go, and I feel horrible saying it.

By most measures, May is a remarkable politician. She is trained in both law and theology and has written eight books. As the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, she was awarded an Order of Canada for her leadership in the environmental movement, and that was even before she became the Green party’s first member of Parliament.

In Ottawa, May has been far more noticeable than most MPs. She was responsible for the passage of at least one bill, and has been a consistently constructive voice of the opposition. Her critiques of the outgoing Conservative government were typically sensible, in contrast to the often melodramatic hysterics from the Liberal and NDP benches. And she led the charge against Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act. Nonetheless, May should resign. And, again, I feel terrible pointing this out.

May is one of the most congenial figures in Canadian politics. She is well-liked by members of all political parties. In fact, MPs voted her “Parliamentarian of the Year,” “Hardest-working MP” and “Best orator” at this magazine’s annual award galas. But still, May should quit politics.

When she took over the Green party in 2006, it was nothing more than a fringe political association. The party had held neither office nor the attention of the public. She began to change this. By the 2008 federal election, almost a million Canadians voted for the Greens, a 40 per cent increase over their 2006 numbers. But, three years later, even though May herself was elected to Parliament, Green support plummeted back to its pre-May numbers, and that’s where it has stayed.

Related: It’s all about May (Anne Kingston, 2008) 

In 2006, under their former leader Jim Harris, the Green party attracted 664,000 votes. In 2015, after nine years of May’s leadership, this has shrunk to 606,000. As a proportion of the popular vote, this is a drop from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent, the party’s worse showing in more than a decade.

It is not all bad news. May has tripled donations to her party, surpassing $3 million in contributions last year. Unfortunately, regardless of how much more money was raised, it did not translate into votes.

Worse, May has done an equally poor job as the most prominent leader in Canada’s environmental movement. In that capacity, she has been omnipresent for the past nine years, making speeches, giving interviews, writing books, all to promote the Green party and the issue of climate change. The result? The public has actually become less interested in both the issue and her party.

Related: Welcome back, Elizabeth May (Paul Wells, 2015)

Last month, The Environics Institute released a public opinion study on climate change. It found that Canadians have become significantly less concerned about the issue since May took over the Green party. In 2007, 67 per cent of the public was either “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about climate change. This number has declined every year since, and is now reduced to only 50 per cent of Canadians. Meanwhile, scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information in the U.S. just revealed that 2015 was the hottest summer in 4,000 years. And yet, Environics reports that the number of Canadians who are “not at all concerned” has doubled in the last decade.

It would seem unfair to blame Canadians’ stunning indifference on May. Correlation is not causation. But, at the very least, as Canada’s most prominent environmental advocate, Elizabeth May has been unable to reverse these trends. While her party has languished, so, too, has the movement it is meant to champion.

And perhaps it’s not entirely May’s fault that Green party support has leached away during her term as leader. Party spokesman Julian Morelli pointed out to me that, in 2008, when May was permitted to participate in the widely televised consortium debates, support spiked. This year, as support collapsed, she was only able to join two of the five debates. But even if the party is the victim of circumstances beyond its control, at the very least, we must acknowledge that its leader was unable to overcome this handicap.

May is a remarkable person. She has done great things. Everyone who meets her likes her. But charm and a good CV is not what the Green party needs in a leader. It needs someone who can take the movement to a new level; someone who can effectively compel the Liberals (who have a very poor track record on this file) to honour and exceed their climate change promises. It needs someone formidable, who can succeed in spite of the unfair political landscape.

May has spent nine years trying to be that leader, and has failed. No matter how obvious this is, I still feel terrible having to say it out loud: It is time for her to go.

Scott Gilmore is a Conservative appointee to the board of the International Development Research Centre and he’s married to a newly elected Liberal MP. His full disclosures can be read on his LinkedIn page. 


It’s time for Elizabeth May to go

  1. With all the racist/sexist/general idiots there are in Canadian politics,,,,,,,you decide to pick on harmless May?

  2. And just who do you suggest replace her? David Suzuki? Just stirring the pot

  3. Yes! Time for someone who could have inspired supporters to check their brains at the door and vote Green despite knowing their vote would count for nothing(or worse) in our FPTP system!

  4. Why do you people in the media party keep Fawning over this one person Fringe party???

    • “…Fawning….”
      ‘So, if you can allow me a moment to fawn over your crappy little party going nowhere fast under hopeless leadership…’
      Comment boards across the land are full of the ravings of Conservatives foaming from acute Hostile Media Effect, but that just may be the best example yet.

  5. To Scott Gilmore, RE: “Elizabeth May has to go, and I feel horrible saying it”… I don’t believe you.

  6. I find your suggestion outrageous. Elizabeth May is a national treasure who needs to be consulted as we go forward with a new environmental strategy. She would be valuable as a Liberal, but says she doesn’t want to cross the floor. She had no hope of building interest in her party while Harper stifled debate and couldn’t possibly increase her seats in an election where Canadians adopted strategic voting to turf Harper. Now is her time to shine and I have no doubt that she will. Trudeau has already indicated he is open to consulting with her.

  7. You couldn’t be more wrong. People didn’t vote Green because they wanted Harper out and had to vote strategically. If our out dated electoral system changes I guarantee you see more Greens elected. I personally liked our Green candidate in our riding but couldn’t vote for him because I wanted Harper out more. Time for change. Glad to see Trudeau including May in climate conference.

    • You get a ‘thumbs up’ from me for that comment.

    • Hear! Hear!

      (Sort of amazing Scott Gilmore couldn’t work this out for himself…..but maybe he was on a deadline and had to write SOMETHING.)

  8. Scott Gilmore has to go and I don’t feel bad saying that at all.

    • Totally agree. This is sloppy, partisan journalism and Macleans should be ashamed. The main-stream media has a lot of credibility to build after the endorsement debacle. This is not the way to go about it.

  9. Nonsense. You know as well as I that the reason for the decline in her numbers this election was the desire of all of the rest of us to dump Harper, and Trudeau was was our instrument of choice. By that logic, you should have written a column about Mulcair having to go before you got to May because neither was it anything about Mulcair’s competence that the NDP tumbled.

  10. As other commenters have also noted, May and the Greens have been the victim of the FPTP system and Canadians’ desire to be rid of Harper. Just as happened to the NDP this election.

    If we have some other, more representative voting system come the next election, I fully expect the Green percentage to rise – possibly significantly, if the number of people I know who say “I’d vote Green if it wasn’t a wasted vote” put their X where their mouth is. And I may well be one of them – as I think May is possibly the best leader of all the parties.

    • Don’t include the NDP in FPTP this election – Tom ruined it – simple as that.

      • A lot of ABC voters were torn about where to cast their vote until near the end, when momentum was for Trudeau.

        As an example: For most of the election, I had planned to vote NDP as I consider C-51 treasonous and was very loath to cast my vote for a party that backed it. However, it became plain that, in my riding, the NDP couldn’t win and my best chance of defeating the CPC incumbent was to vote Liberal. So I held my nose and did so.

        That’s in no way an indictment of Mulcair and every bit a vote cast against my own preferences due to the inadequacies of the FPTP system. And I know a good many who did exactly the same. So yes, the drop in NDP support was – at least in part – due to strategic voting necessitated by FPTP, in order to get rid of a hated regime.

  11. that’s just like saying “I think it’s Scott Gilmores time to go” . . .

  12. Not sure if Scott Gilmore knows what he is talking about here. Elizabeth May is the only MP on Vancouver Island to have won a majority of votes in their riding. Support here has grown. All the parties had decreased support nationally this election, except for the liberals. Maybe Scott Gilmore should leave Green Party leadership decisions to the Green Party.

  13. Elizabeth May and the Green Party are victims of our First Past the Post system. The Green popular vote would undoubtably increase if voters knew they weren’t throwing away their vote.

    • This is certainly true. In New Zealand, the first green party on the planet (the “Values Party”) peaked at 5% of the vote in the 1970s. First Past the Post is stoney ground for any but the two established parties in any riding.

      But after proportional representation was introduced in New Zealand in 1996, Greens have steadily increased their share of the vote. In the 2014 election they got 11% of the vote and that gave them 14 seats in the 121 seat New Zealand Parliament. This is what will happen in Canada is Canada ever becomes real democracy and adopts proportional representation. Canadians would then be able to vote FOR what they want, instead of being forced to vote against what they don’t want as they now must do.

  14. Wow, thanks, Scott. We Green Party members really appreciate members of the “Conservative base” (as you described yourself last week) to tell us when we should dump our leader. Elizabeth May is intelligent, principled, cooperative and willing to stand up for what she believes. She tries to work the system, not game it. We need more parliamentarians like her.

    Democracy is not supposed to be a hockey game; to be won or lost. It’s supposed to be about providing representative government, something that the other parties seem to have forgotten.

    Maybe instead of attacking her, you should rejoin the Conservative Party and persuade them to find a leader with the same qualities as May.

  15. Sorry, but you are just plain wrong.

    May has raised the profile of the environment at a time when people became foremost concerned about the economy, due to an evangelical spin put on this election that failed miserably. The dying words: “only we will lower your taxes”. Indeed, how arrogant to think that Canadians don’t deeply value anything greater! Just as in 2011, the environment would have entirely been ignored if it weren’t for May. She has brought the issues of the economy, international trade, health care, poverty, security, and education, all of which are closely linked to the environment, intelligently into the fold. And a lot of Canadians are grateful for that.

    May must remain leader because she is elected, she is a champion for a national energy strategy in the context of addressing climate change whilst saving the economy, and most of all, WE WANT HER there as leader. I am sorry, but you have no room to opine about a party you don’t understand. When you sit outside of the Green Party’s principles, you fundamentally fail to understand that May is bolstered up onto her platform by all of us through our grassroots efforts.

    And if you are politically conservative, you obviously wouldn’t understand how important is the Green Party’s bottom up approach to leadership. Maybe you now can see that a top down approach like the one we have endured over the past ten years is nothing short of a recipe for failure. Epic failure.

    We are entering a new era of governance. Electoral reform in Canada will change the face of both politics and governance for the better. And when that happens, within the next four years, we will likely see the end of majority governments and finally allow the Green party to take its rightful place in the House of Commons, representing all Canadians that identify with Green values.

    Most of us want May to be the one to lead the way. Goodness knows she deserves it.

    • The rumour is that Justin Trudeau may want her to be his envionment minister,what is your answer to that?

      • I don’t think much of that all because political rumours are not worth the paper they are wrtten on, especially when it is started by the Green Party itself.

      • I could have been interesting precedent, something many Canadians deemed was worth petitioning for based on what we all saw. She is unquestionably the best person for the job among parliamentarians, but I never much thought of it until I learned this week that it looks like this author’s wife just got the portfolio herself for Justin’s cabinet.

        Hmmm… I wonder if this guy just deliberately sounded off to try and inflict some damage on May’s leadership capabilities, only to be flatly rejected and told where to go himself by about 98% of the commenters here.

  16. This man is confused. He spends most of the article saying Elizabeth is an amazing politician and sites all that she has accomplished. Then blames her for Canadians’ apathy towards the environment and says Elizabeth should leave politics for that reason alone. Scott Gilmore should come to Vancouver Island, where the environmental movement is alive and well.
    “…since May took over the Green party. In 2007, 67 per cent of the public was either “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about climate change. This number has declined every year since, and is now reduced to only 50 per cent of Canadians. ”
    He doesn’t even mention Harper, C-51, attacks on scientists and systematic intimidation of NGOs as a possible reason for Canadian’s so-called apathy. It’s all Elizabeth’s fault.
    “In 2006, under their former leader Jim Harris, the Green party attracted 664,000 votes. In 2015, after nine years of May’s leadership, this has shrunk to 606,000.”
    Of course, this ‘investigative’ journalist does not attribute the drop to the main-stream, Conservative-endorsing media’s systematic attempts to silence Elizabeth in the election debates either. Oh no – it’s just all her fault. In 2006, she took part in all the debates. In 2015, she took part in 1 national debate. What would have happened if she had been in those debates?
    I don’t suppose it could be that his wife – a new Liberal MP – asked him to write this article and he reluctantly did so? No. A principled journalist would never do such a thing.

  17. What a ridiculous and insulting notion. Elizabeth May is an exceptional, inspiring politician and leader…this country is beyond fortunate that we still have her in Ottawa, and so is the Green Party. Had May not been successfully marginalized out of the leader’s debates, and had many excellent Green candidates not been thrown under the bus by strategic voting designed to rid us first and foremost of the Harper regime, the numbers would not have been so tragically skewed. Where I live on the westcoast, for example, the biggest hope among those with a guilty conscience is that Trudeau will follow through on his promise to ensure that 2015 will mark the last of FPP federal elections.

  18. This seems to be a modern trend that drives me nuts: people who employ themselves in telling other people what they should do or even what they must do; as the old quip goes ‘who died and made you king?’. Last time I checked, it’s up to parties and their leaders to decide who their leader is and even that is nominally a democratic process, not the monopoly of some know-it-all scribe. It’s also sad that ‘going negative’ is such a popular activity; when Ed the Sock says ‘if you can’t say anything good, say it often’, it’s a joke, not advice to journalists, or politicians. Green is a tough sell … we get that, particularly when so much political coverage is devoted to handicapping and personalities and very little time and effort goes into investigating and elucidating issues. Even most of what passes for coverage of issues digresses to regurgitation of political platforms, leaving politicians free to concoct any ersatz issue they feel could have popular appeal. The Green’s unenviable job and/or self-inflicted burden is to attempt to deal in real issues – if we’re not listening, that’s more our problem than theirs.

  19. It is absolutely unfair to blame Elizabeth May for the failure of the Green Party to secure votes. I would have voted Green, but because I knew that my riding would be a tight race between the liberals and conservatives, I had no choice but to vote liberal. Strategic voting was stronger than ever this election because of the strong opposition to Harper, and had nothing to do with the appeal of Elizabeth May. If Trudeau lives up to his promise to change the electoral system, and if she is not barred from the debates, we will see vastly different results next election.

  20. I disagree. It’s not about party, it’s about intelligence and honesty and she has it spades. The Climate Change thing is going to go nowhere as long as the threat is 50 years hence. “Don’t bother me about it now, call me then” is the common attitude.

  21. You’re looking at the overall %age of votes the greens got as signs of success, but under previous leaders, the greens never got any seats. May is the first one to ever actually win a seat! But yeah, horrible performance! She’s got to go! In this FPTP system, the overall %age of votes really doesn’t indicate the party’s popularity. Lots of people want to vote green, but won’t, because it’s useless to in their riding, because of the other dominant parties like the Libs/Cons/NDP. I stopped voting green once I lived in a riding where I cared about the outcome. When the choices became between Bloc and NDP. Maybe one day I’ll vote green again, because maybe come next election I’ll live in a riding where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, or god-willing: The next election happens under a proportional representation system.

  22. I agree to a point Scott. I think Elizabeth May’s work with the Green Party is done. But now I want her to work with Prime Minister Trudeau. As the environment minister? Maybe. But we need her there in some capacity. I would further say that maybe the Green Party’s days are over, albeit not their mandate. Ideally, their objectives should be absorbed by the Liberal party.

  23. Are you fricking kidding me? The only reason why less votes in 2015 is because everyone was so damn afraid of Harper getting in again! The NDP were knocking on doors telling people on Vancouver Island if they didn’t vote NDP, Harper would be re-elected! Little did they realize if they had voted Green and they got say 4 more seats on the island, the outcome would have been the same! Liberals still would have won and the NDP would have 4 less seats in Ottawa!
    Elizabeth May has probably done more to help this country in the last 9 years then the damn Conservative party has! Harper was on a clear path to destroy this country! Elizabeth May is a wonderful leader and I don’t think we could get another one better!!! She will be the strongest voice for the Canadian environment at the Paris Climate Summit next month!!

  24. Lizzy the Lush needs to go to rehab.

    • @LESPAUL – May you choke on that puerile comment.

  25. “Scott Gilmore is a Conservative appointee to the board of the International Development Research Centre and his married to a newly elected Liberal MP.” threatened by the Green Party, there is no other justification for his article. the Cons and Libs obviously have more supporters, more of a following, yet he said “It found that Canadians have become significantly less concerned about the issue since May took over the Green party. In 2007, 67 per cent of the public was either “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about climate change. This number has declined every year since, and is now reduced to only 50 per cent of Canadians. Meanwhile, scientists at the National Centers for Environmental Information in the U.S. just revealed that 2015 was the hottest summer in 4,000 years. And yet, Environics reports that the number of Canadians who are “not at all concerned” has doubled in the last decade…. But charm and a good CV is not what the Green party needs in a leader. It needs someone who can take the movement to a new level; someone who can effectively compel the Liberals (who have a very poor track record on this file) to honour and exceed their climate change promises. ”

    What a load of crap. If you are part of the Liberal Party, if you voted for the liberal party, it is your responsibility to compel the liberals. And same goes for the conservative party and conservatives voters. they represent the majority of canadian voters, but want to lay blame on the leader of the smallest party who has to constantly fight to be heard? let me repeat: “Scott Gilmore is a Conservative appointee to the board of the International Development Research Centre and his married to a newly elected Liberal MP.” So go look at your own parties and fix them!! and don’t blame the Greens for your own incompetences!

    • No other justification for this article, except maybe that his wife just got the portfolio for Minister of Environment. The guy sure has some temerity.

  26. Clearly Scott Gilmore is just trying to rattle the cage and see what falls out. Well good luck Scott! Your backhanded partisan challenge of Elizabeth May’s leadership has actually made the case of why she must stay.

    At a time when a majority of the electorate swashed back and forth, desperately looking for the sure bet to unseat king Harper, Elizabeth May, representing a party that had no hope of forming government, received a resounding endorsement from her constituents. In a riding that was dominated by the conservatives before she won her seat in 2011, she inspired 80% voter turnout and received almost 55% of the vote.

    As leader of a party and a champion of issues that remain suppressed by self proclaimed pundits like Scott, Elizabeth May has earned the respect and support of Canadians across the political spectrum, from coast to coast to coast. Her vision of of a bold and inclusive Canada, that leads on the world stage, acts responsibly to protect the interests of future generations, and rekindles the humble pride of our Canadian identity, has captured the hearts of the nation. On October 19th, the only major party that tuned into that vision was swept to power.

    Elizabeth May is a national treasure not only because she is an intelligent, courageous and principled parliamentarian but because she is real people committed to representing real people. Her unrelenting dedication to and love for parliamentary democracy, as a forum where we can bring the best minds to the table, makes her the perfect leader to inspire a party committed to addressing the real challenges of the 21st century,

    Ms. May represents a real threat to the status quo as is evidenced by the fact that Harper and Mulcair colluded to shut down the national leaders debate even though that decision likely secured their defeat in this election. That debate would have provided an audience of over 10 million Canadians and, as it did in 2008, would have greatly increased the profile of the Greens and their policies.

    The Green Party of Canada is fortunate to have Elizabeth May as their leader and Canada is a better country because the people of Saanich Gulf Islands have asked her to continue to lead by example and captivate our collective imagination in parliament.

  27. Strategic voters only have themselves to blame. If people voted for what they actually believed in instead of voting for anything but Conservative, the Greens would have fared much better.

    • FPTP is to blame for strategic voting. It’s a system that only works when you only have two parties.

  28. Scotty is bought and paid for and virtually all his articles are Con propaganda. He wrote this because his employers don’t want anyone talking about that Climate Change thingy, for them, it’s annoying. The Green Party lost votes because of strategic voting period and will benefit immensely when we get rid of the undemocratic FPTP. In spite of Scotty’s council, voters got rid of a pile of crappy Parliamentarians and kep one of the best.

    • I vote for Scott Gilmore to resign from, at least, Macleans.

    • “Pretty much sums it up.”

      Pretty much lies.
      When even the links (eg “She believes in “chemtrails.””) demonstrate the claim is false, you need to learn how to lie better.

      • No, buckwheat, you need to get out more. Everything there is verified and documented. The woman’s a nut bar, and the same Ottawa press gallery that never saw a human foible in a Conservative that didn’t rate being run up the flagpole and feted with a brass band, cannons, and fireworks instinctively loses their command of the keyboard when one of their lions of the left shows signs of being crazier than an outhouse rat.
        Left on her own, Lizzie’d be hard pressed to get a job putting together heroes down at the Subway.

        • Sorry.
          The author of your website is lying, which is quickly demonstrated by their own links.
          As I said above, they claim, “She believes in ‘chemtrails'”, but link to a discussion on electoral reform in which someone else lists a whole number of issues(including chemtrails) they are concerned about and May responds that those issues and more are ignored without electoral reform.
          Claiming this as evidence that “she believes in ‘chemtrails” is a flat-out lie.

          All is not lost – we have seen sufficient evidence that Bill Greenwood is a credulous twit who’s happy to believe anything he reads if it agrees with him.

          • Dude- take a half hour break from your video games and read the links. Any dozen of the 77 are evidence that the woman is as far from parliamentarian as you can get.

          • Sure Bill, once you read lies the thing to do is keep digging to try and find something that’s true.

            But yeah, nothing says “as far from parliamentarian as you can get” like being voted Parliamentarian of the Year by a bunch of, uh, Parliamentarians.

  29. Scott points out the Green Party performance issues, then says May is not at fault and proposes she step down. To be replaced by who better? To do what? What could May have done differently to produce a different outcome? Really, just another empty article. How about a little substance! The fact is that nobody could have done better. The Green party’s major problem is the First Past the Post electoral system and the resulting undemocratic strategic voting. When that goes, then we can start evaluating the performance of party leaders, but until then, I suggest Scott concentrate on the underlying systemic problems that plague not just the Greens, but us all.

  30. My God this is horrible. The logic and assertions in it are so flawed I don’t know where to begin to refute it.

    I can see this as a post on some highly partisan “Conservative” blog but in Macleans? Sheesh…

    I hope you are embarrassed Macleans, you should be. This is garbage.

    • Perhaps, we deserve a sensible and believable response from Macleans.

  31. I must say I vehemently disagree with this article. I created an account for this website just to voice my disapproval. As a long time supporter of the Green Party and Elizabeth May, even I was close to strategically voting this time around. Honestly, if my riding had any chance of going anything other than Conservative, I certainly would have. I would have voted that way in the expectation that our FPTP election system would be dismantled as a result. That would give the Green Party a chance at getting the amount of representation that they deserve. The strategic vote destroyed Green Party support this election as it did last. So, to pin that on Elizabeth May is 100% incorrect. She is not perfect, but she is the leader that the Greens need and is the leader that is helping to recruit the increasingly impressive quality of Green candidates across the country. It must be an incredibly difficult job that she has, but she has my full support.

  32. Yikes! Mr. Gilmore is quickly experiencing the wrath of daring to question a sacred Canadian cow.
    Wait, not to suggest Ms. May is a cow! Or that there’s anything wrong with being a cow!!

    But really, it’s a fair question Gilmore poses. Even if what people don’t seem to like is that he went ahead answered it on their behalf. The Greens do need to decide if they want to to grow the party, channel their voice through one effective MP, or exist as a personality cult. I don’t suggest the three are mutually exclusive, but party strategy would certainly change depending on what was declared as a priority.

    May is probably the most respectful and respected MP in the House. She’s been outstanding.

    If I were to offer any criticism of the Green Party and by extension Ms. May, (and here Mr. Gilmore I will provide you some small reprieve from your onslaught as it will shortly be directed towards me), I’d suggest they have fallen to a similar trap, albeit not remotely to the same degree, as the Conservative Party of Canada. That is, conceding the scientific high ground. I’d like to see the Green Party absolutely own that space. It could be a natural pairing. But from their curious flirtation with GMO-hysteria, to their WiFi wackiness, to their fluoridation of drinking water ban, to their frequent public displays of cancer confusion, this is simply not a party stepping forward to differentiate itself on the scientific front.

    There. I said it. Now I’ll brace for the onslaught.

  33. I agree – stay on as a wonderful MP, quit as leader. Even if Elizabeth May’s strategy HAD worked and she got her 16 MPs on a 5%* national vote, this would only serve to prop up FPTP, not end it. *Sixteen ridings won with 35%, three hundred with about 3% and the rest around 8%. She is a great environmental movement leader but not a politician as she has frequently – if quietly – admitted.

  34. May has certainly not grown her party very effectively, and often feeds the perception that the Green Party is just a vehicle for her personality (please, please, please stop whining about the debates). But with a new electoral system on the way and a Liberal government that is likely to disappoint on the Greens’ signature file, new opportunities may open up. The best leader for the Greens is a version of Elizabeth May that understands and is willing to address some of her glaring problems.

  35. Correlation or causation?

    Let’s look at some other correlations over the period that Environmental consciousness has declined:
    * Canada backs out of the Kyoto Accord
    * Canada muzzles its scientists
    * Canada abandons the census
    * Canadian economy shrinks (which will inevitably take focus from other issues)
    * Canada creates two-tier citizenship
    * Canada increases subsidies to Oil

    Maybe causation?

    There were, at most, two green seats in parliament. Is the article blaming those two seats instead of the majority government that ignored her? Like, did I understand the article correctly? The article is saying May isn’t good enough as leader because she couldn’t persuade Harper to go against his own priorities?

    Is this The Onion?

    • Canada subsidizes oil? How many moons does your planet have? You do realize that the energy industry generates some $50 BILLION per year in tax and royalty revenues to various levels of government in this country, don’t you? Do some basic research instead of swallowing the lefts talking points hook line and sinker.
      Show me a lefty, I’ll show you a low information voter.

      • Bill, you are a lunatic. No one cares what senseless drivel you spout. You need to look up the definition of “oil subsidy” and actually answer your own question. Or did you get all your lessons on how to engage in dialogue from Paul Calandra?

        No one mentioned anything about royalty revenues and energy as an industry constitutes far, far more than just oil.


  36. Any fool can see May has been hobbled by a dysfunctional Parliament under essentially one person rule. A person, I might add, who finds every plank of the Green platform repellant. I applaud her for maintaining hope and dignity over the last decade. Finally, she has the chance to spread her wings. So go, Elizabeth May, go forward and make a difference and know that you’ll be followed.

  37. Elizabeth May, as you have correctly pointed out, is a remarkable politician and there is no reason for her to go. I would suggest that the poor showing for the Green Party in recent elections has much more to do with the way in which we elect our MP’s – first past the post rather than proportional representation. I would predict that when we move to proportional representation as Justin Trudeau has promised to do, and if Elizabeth May is allowed to participate in all the debates and if she is not ignored by the media, which has largely been the case, the number of votes which the Green Party receives will go up dramatically.

    • All PR does is entrench a leftist element within Parliament. The problem with that is that the left imposes socialism upon those who do not subscribe to socialism. The people who pay for socialism, are usually not exceptionally avid supporters of socialism. Those who support ever greater levels of socialism tend to be those who aren’t actually paying their share of the cost, thus the social imbalance of socialism. FPTP ensures that the rights of those who are pressed into paying the, for some reason, incessantly increasing costs of socialism will at least have some level of protection. Proportional representation deeply and dangerously erodes that protection.
      Few socialists are willing to accept that socialism always falls back on forced adherence backed by the implied violence of state authority. If a socialist wishes to live as a socialist in Canada, he/she is ultimately free to do so by seeking employment at any number of state agencies, or even living off the avails of the state. Ironically, that person will also be free to negotiate monetary compensation in the manner of an unfettered capitalist by withholding services from those who are not able to purchase said services from competing agencies, or withhold payment for non-provision of said services.
      Meanwhile, those who choose to live as capitalists, have no measure of recourse against the confiscatory powers of a socialist state. Any measures taken by an individual to resist or reduce the burden of confiscation will eventually be met with force.
      Therefore, the moral imperative of the state lies with protecting those who would choose less imposition of the confiscatory powers of the state over those who would choose to to confiscate more of what does not belong to them. Proportional representation is more than fundamentally undemocratic.
      It’s anti-democratic.

      • Let’s deconstruct this a little. You start off with “all PR does is entrench a leftist element within Parliament.” The rest is just a screed about socialism. PR doesn’t “entrench” anything. It’s simply a voting mechanism, used all over the world. Now if your problem is the fact that 60-65% of Canadian voters choose a party other than the Conservatives and you deem those parties “socialist,” then it looks like you have a problem with democracy in general.

        Considering that the Liberals won 54% of the seats with less than 40% of the vote, I’d think you would want to look at alternatives.

        • The problem with your rebuttal is that proportional representation has done exactly what I am opposed to every where that it has been instituted. You either fail to grasp that adding a permanent leftist “rump” aspect to any parliament is ultimately destructive, or choose to ignore it.
          Shrinking or limiting government infringes upon no citizen. No one is deprived of a liberty when government is held in check. But, the entrenchment of socialist parties represents a real deprivation of the rights and liberties of those who are less inclined to socialism. Just because those who believe in greater government involvement in their lives are not always represented in their legislatures does not mean that they are being short changed. Ultimately it is the voices of those being asked ( ordered) to make the tangible sacrifices of liberty and property for the sake of others whose voices MUST be heard.
          An individual who receives that which is not earned, seized from those who have earned it, is not actually deprived if that transfer does not take place or is caused to cease. The provider of that benefit is lessened by that transfer.
          The left likes to use high minded terms such as “sharing” when talking about the transfers of wealth and the expansion of the coercive and confiscatory powers of the state, but that ignores a hard reality: that “sharing” is always a one-way deal, and it is always- ALWAYS- backed up by the threat of state sanctioned violence.
          If I “choose” not to “share”, and actively reist all attempts to make me “share”, at some point armed agents of the Crown WILL deprive me of Liberty and property.
          Lacking the armed power of the state, a socialist is still free to be a socialist, and if I choose to share my earned wealth with those who have no means or even desire to earn it, both I and the socialist (leftist) are free to do so without the implied and socially corrosive effect of state violence.

          • Again with the first paragraph somewhat related to the subject at hand, followed by a
            libertarian soliloquy that’s not.

            Look, I don’t really have a strong opinion about PR, although FPTP clearly has its limitations in reflecting the popular vote. A balanced system would include some sort of PR component. But your problem with PR seems to be your belief that it would result in Parliament containing a certain percentage of reps that you deem socialist, whether that’s what voters want or not. A certain proportion of the population will always vote that way, just as a certain percentage will always vote the other way. There will be rumps on every side, just as there are in places where PR is the norm. Maybe the Freedom Party could get a parliamentary seat.

            Meanwhile, FPTP seems better at giving unchecked power to the “socialists” that you dislike. Look at Alberta. The Tories got 28% of the vote and 11.5% of the seats. They had a higher proportion of the popular vote than Wildrose and ended up with ten fewer seats. Meanwhile, the NDP gets a majority and power to do whatever with 40% of the vote. Does any of that make sense?

  38. It is hardly surprising that the number of votes for the Green Party has fallen over the past two elections. Strategic voting kills existing marginal parties and also prevents parties like the Green Party from arising in the first place, delivering all the spoils to the big three which would eventually become the big two.. After all where will their votes come from if people are voting strategically rather than for the party or candidate they believe in? Electoral reform (as proposed by our new prime minister and much beloved by the media) will make the situation even worse.

    Whether or not you like the Green Party, the Reform Party, the Bloc Quebecois, or the NDP, the fact is that our current system allows these parties to gain traction but only if this is the will of enough voters. Each of these four parties has influenced our political landscape in a positive way even though they have not formed a government (although Reform came closest).

    Frankly I would never personally vote for Elizabeth May or her party but enough voters have voted that way in the past that she was able to influence the way the environment is included in government policy. She deserves to stay. She did not let the cause down – voters did!

  39. Scott Gilmore, this piece is a crock.
    You have failed to make any convincing connection of cause and effect to show that the falling support for the Green Party is in any way due to something that Elizabeth May has done or not done. It isn’t very compelling to imply that it must be her fault because she was there. As a corollary of that, you haven’t said anything about what a replacement leader might do differently to boost the demonstrated support for the Greens.

    As many others have pointed out in these comments, there are many external factors that have led to their declining support, some of which are attributable to Stephen Harper’s policies of suppression of scientific evidence and disabling of environmental protections. The fact that Elizabeth May had a large part in showing up the destructive policies of the Conservative government was a significant factor in the decline of the Conservative Party. That would be cause and effect. Your own allegiance to the Conservatives and what Elizabeth May has has done to that party might better account for your baseless diatribe.

  40. This is the dumbest most illogical article I have ever read in Macleans. Get a grip buddy May is the best leader there is, better and Trudeau or Muclair.

  41. Lots of angry Green partisans here. Here’s a thought. I’ve never voted Green. If you want to me and presumably others to consider voting for your party, don’t elect a leader who thinks wifi is a menace. I stopped listening to her after that.

  42. this is a stupid article. ever heard of ‘correlation does not equal causation?’

    canadians less interested in environment is a direct result of the fear factor put in place by the recession… and being told constantly they are lucky to have a job at all.

    a drop in votes from the greens this past election is due to folk terrified to vote by principle, and as such ‘strategic voting’ in spite of their true desire to follow may.

    Very bad article. indeed.

  43. As far as trends go, the recent fall in support has little to do with May and a lot more to do with Harper. Canadians interviewed after the election frequently stated that they would have voted Green, except the priority was to rid Canada of Harper and his damaging and divisive approach to governing. I am confident that if Canadians decide to withdraw support from the Liberals in the future, the tide swell experienced in this election is unlikely to be repeated.
    Further, if the Liberals make good on their promise for some form of proportional representation during this term in office, I would bet the house that a significant increase in Green support would result. The biggest thing this last election proved is that Canadians are not as stupid as Harper and his Conservative campaign team thought. And, if we believe our vote will increase the good in Canada, we will do what is necessary to create the changes we want.
    May should hang in for at least the next term.

  44. I disagree with the conclusion. But it’s a good piece that raises some good issues for talking.

    I believe the number one factor in the demise of the Greens is strategic voting. Which in the current system is a necessity sometimes to choose bad over worse. Secondly I believe it is simply due to the Greens trying to work the system. They can’t change to proportional representation with only one seat so you change your entire campaign strategy in order to win seats. This leads to decline in popular vote. They came very close this year with soem strong second and third place finishes. If there would have been a cbc/ctv debate that included her I’m sure they would have won two more seats. And this year unusual circumstances added to the mix liek in Victoria. 2012 By-election where Greens come in second to the NDP with 37% vs. 34%. This would have been s strong contender if it wasn’t for strategic voting and the fact the liberal suddenly dropped out giivng all these strategic votes to the NDP.
    Anyway I do not see Elizabeth May as a source of the dmeise of popualr Green votes. One argument that cane be made is that in her riding she is very strong and people like her for her as an MP. If she would step down as party leader she would still get elected. Whoever becomes party leader will have a better shot at getting another seat due to the high profile. But then again, who? May is an incredibly talented and knowledgable MP/leader who given better circumstances or different electoral system will bring the Greens further than anyone else I can think of now.

  45. May is a champion. The #pleaseexplain #failtoperform notice should go to the First Past the Post voting system. By splitting the non-Conservative votes, Greens, NDP and Liberals helped guarantee a Harper government for 10 years. Through that whole time, the Conservatives didn’t break 40% support among voters. It’s true to say the higher the green vote was, the more Tories we got.

    This isn’t May’s fault. It isn’t Mulcair’s fault. It isn’t Trudeau’s fault. It isn’t Harper’s fault.

    Canada needs proportional representation yesterday. That’s the only way the Greens or any other party can contest and election on a level playing field where all votes equally result in representation no matter where you live.

    Don’t blame May.

    It’s kind of sad that it’s 2015 and people like Scott Gilmore STILL can’t see the wood for the trees in electoral matters.

  46. Elizabeth May was a useful clown for the Laurentian establishment and the Liberal Party when she was attacking Harper, but now that they are back in power, they have to “shut the b#$%#” up, because she will be criticizing them, since carbon emissions actually didn’t increase under Harper’s tenure, while they exploded during Chretien’s and Martin’s tenure.

    Hence the “get lost” Elizabeth that is now almost a meme in the mainstream media.

    • What dropped emissions under Harper? The world financial crisis – from which Liberal policies under previous governments largely protected us.

      Emissions prior to and coming out of the recession have been going straight up under Harper, so know your facts before you spew and make yourself look like an idiot.

      Then get lost yourself.

  47. Thought former leader Jim Harris had common sense May seems to attract the “pixie dust and unicorn” crowd.

    • Right… like former provincial Environment Commissioners, Nobel Prize winners, Companions of the Order of Canada, Aboriginal leaders, and award-winning journalists?

      Total fairy dust.

  48. A deliberately provocative article. Count my household among those who would have voted Green based on a growing appreciation for Elizabeth May, but did not do so because Thing One was to free Canada from Stephen Harper.

  49. A left-wing unity party should be created. One of the problems for the Ndp was their approach to other parties. There was never a sense of inclusiveness about them, or at least very little. Time to have the Greens, Ndp, and disenfranchised Liberals (like me) come together.

  50. I’ve support her before and will again. She’s the one politian who looks beyond the next election cycle.

  51. If you are going to talk about causation perhaps its worth to note that concern for the environment began ranking lower after 2007…when the recession hit and everyone was more concerned with jobs! And perhaps support went down this election because everyone was too scared to vote Green and risk another Harper rein of terror. If Trudeau follows through with electoral reform and we can all vote for who we really want I imagine Green votes surging! Elizabeth May is the one to get the party there! IMO

  52. About 2 years ago I handed my business car to Elizabeth May. Upon it I wrote; “If you would like to be responsible for the creation of the largest annual fundraising effort for environmental organizations in Canada, please contact me.” Upon my card it mentions that I am a volunteer. I am still waiting to hear from Elizabeth May. She is a very good talker, but IMHO that is about it!

    • Why don’t you email her? I guarantee she will respond. Give her a break, activist. The woman is pulled in all directions and works up to 21 hours a day. She likely receives untold amount of business cards.

      Say the word and I will give you her personal email.

  53. Scott is a Conservative appointee married to a Liberal MP… that explains a lot. Methinks you’re being a troll, Scott. I don’t think you’ll get any traction for your harebrained idea. Elizabeth is the crown jewel of the House.

  54. I think you missed a BIG point when you assume Canadians are becoming blase about the Environment. Let’s not forget the most important issue in this election for most Canadians was getting that Fascist Harper out of government. Unfortunately, with all the strategic voting going on, the Greens got lost in the shuffle. They were never going to form a majority of their own, so I’d say many of the conscientious votes that under non-Harper circumstances would have gone Green went Liberal. I for one would have liked to have seen the Greens do better, but of all the elections I’ve participated in, you CANNOT blame Elizabeth May, or anyone of the Green party, for falling to the side of ANYONE BUT HARPER sentiment.

  55. Scott Gilmore is an idiot if he thinks we need more refugees in the country bleeding our economy. We bring in so many that the people who have been in this country for all their lives are not receiving what we give these bloodsuckers off the get go. He and our government have to quit buying votes by bringing in more refugees as we cannot even look after our own seniors, people that do require assistance and have already paid the dues,single mothers, people having lost jobs as our economy is in trouble and those less fortunate because of to many reasons to mention. Our polititians do not go without when times are tough why should the rest of us?

  56. I so have to disagree with Scott Gilmore assessment that Elizabeth May has to go. Voting Green in a previous election had the nasty back bite of helping get the conservatives in power by splitting the progressive vote…Canadians learned that now is not the time to vote Green while we have a first past the post electoral system. The stakes are too high for what we lose when there is one conservative option and three flavours of progressive values. And if Canadian’s concern in Climate Change is diminishing, I wonder if that was due to the success of the Harper government silencing scientists, shutting down debate, controlling media scrums… When CBC broadcast commercial messages about how green pipelines were, I could see how the Harper strategies were working for their preferred industry. In fact I was appalled how media failed miserably to really grill the conservatives for the issues that Elizabeth May was championing. I sometimes wondered if private media wasn’t a trumpet for the conservatives, which was affirmed when I learned 95% of Canadian editorial endorsement was for the conservative party in the 2011 election. Eliminating Elizabeth from a majority of the public debates in this election compounded media’s culpability in diminishing the environment in political discourse.

    Voting for Green has dropped because Canadians could not risk another Conservative term. If voting is reformed as Trudeau promised, and if that would mean proportional representation, people can vote knowing their vote will count. It would not surprise me to see the Green surge to 6-10% representation, once people are confident their vote can really count.

    Elizabeth has nothing to do with the drop in votes, and she continues to be one of the most eloquent and sensible voices on Parliament Hill. Did you see the petitions with tens of thousands of Canadian signatures urging May to be Trudeau’s Minister of Environment? Elizabeth’s is a voice we need in our politics. And a Trudeau government so open to working together for a better future will undoubtedly pay attention to her voice of reason and passion.

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