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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.