Elizabeth May's 2017 end of year letter to supporters
From the desk of Elizabeth May
Dear Green Party supporters,
I am so grateful for your commitment to my work and to the Green Party of Canada. I can almost feel the loving energy sent my way by supporters across Canada. Still, sometimes, sitting alone in Parliament, it is easy to wonder if I am making a difference.
But then something will happen that reminds me of the impact we are making together. I will get an amendment made to a piece of legislation or we will help a movement larger than the Green Party, such as the fight against the Energy East pipeline, contributing to the withdrawal of the application. And some days I am overwhelmed as I realize I have literally managed to save the life of a refugee.
Speaking of supporters, one such affirmation came completely out of the blue last June as I sat in my far corner in the House of Commons. And that loving statement of support came from such a surprising source, Liberal MP Arnold Chan. He was struggling with cancer as he rose to make this statement:
I am not sure how many more times I will have the strength to get up and do a 20-minute speech in this place, but the point I want to impart to all of us is that I know we are all honourable members. I know members revere this place, and I would beg us to not only act as honourable members but to treat this institution honourably.
To that extent I want to make a shout-out to our colleague, the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands. This parliamentarian, who despite the fact we are not in the same party and despite the fact that we may disagree on some substantive issues quite vehemently, I consider to be a giant, not simply because she exhorts us to follow Standing Order 18 [prohibiting heckling] but more importantly I have observed in her practice that she reveres this place.
She is dedicated to her constituents. She practices, both here and in committee, the highest standard of practice that any parliamentarian could ask for. Despite strongly disagreeing, perhaps, with the position of the government of the day, she does so in a respectful tone. I would ask all of us to elevate our debate, to elevate our practice to that standard.
In the House that day, I was overwhelmed by Arnold’s generosity. It was (as he feared) his last speech in Parliament. I miss him every day.
My approach is not unique - it is the Green way. It is absolutely how New Brunswick Greens Leader David Coon, MLA, conducts himself. So too, PEI Green Leader and MLA Peter Bevan Baker, who is devoted to selfless public service. And in British Columbia, the three Green MLAs are extraordinary. BC Greens Leader Andrew Weaver has now been joined in the BC legislature by my own MLA Adam Olsen – the first indigenous person to represent the WSANEC Nation – and water protector and local hero Sonia Furstenau.
Together, individually and collectively, they have shown Canada how a caucus of Greens conducts itself. With the key three seats to determine which of the larger parties would form government in BC, the Greens did not negotiate to seek power or advantage for themselves. The question they had to discern was: "What is in British Columbia’s best interest?" When media asked Adam Olsen how he felt about holding the "balance of power," he replied, "we do not have the balance of power; we have the balance of responsibility."
Electing a Green Caucus in British Columbia wasn’t easy. Winning 17% of the popular vote is a tribute to Andrew Weaver’s leadership. It also had a lot to do with a profound case of SVRS – "strategic voting regret syndrome."
In the last federal election, an unfortunately large number of Green supporters decided, at the last minute, to vote for some other party and candidate. Faced with the possibility – in many cases a non-risk – of a Conservative MP taking the riding in which they lived, about half of our supporters decided, in the last seven days of the campaign, not to vote Green. NDP and Liberal strategists were masterful in using the fear factor to reduce our vote.
Many friends of mine suffer from SVRS. Wade Davis, a brilliant and world-renowned author and anthropologist, had abandoned his support of the Green Party when Justin Trudeau persuaded him to introduce and endorse the Liberal leader at the event in Vancouver to launch the Liberal environment platform. Wade will never do so again. The approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Squamish LNG plant at the head of Howe Sound were profoundly anti-environment decisions, taken in defiance of the evidence.
Another SVRS victim is David Suzuki. In endorsing the BC Green Party in the spring election, David spoke at rally after rally. His message was clear. In 2015, he voted "strategically" for the first time in his life. He voted Liberal believing Trudeau would bring in fair voting. Effective voting means the world to David, especially as Japanese-Canadians were denied the right to vote for so long. He told rallies "I really regret not helping Elizabeth in 2015. I will never vote strategically again!"
Across the country I hear the same words from recovering victims of SVRS: "If we want Green policies, we have to vote Green!" We are now less than two years from the next federal election. Imagine a minority parliament where a Green Caucus holds the balance of responsibility. Now is the time to ramp up. I hope you will stand with me and continue to support us as you always do.
Elizabeth May, Leader
Green Party of Canada