May goes coast to coast
FREDERICTON (CUP) – Moving from the Maritimes to Sidney, B.C. was the hardest thing Elizabeth May has ever had to do.
The Green Party of Canada leader moved to the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding this past month, where she will reattempt what she tried to do in the last election: unseat a long-standing Conservative candidate.
“Once you’ve been dealing with politics for a little while, you’re going to get attacked no matter what you do. Well, I’m still convinced I could have won there and we did really well. We got 32 per cent of the vote, and came in second,” May says.
May, who previously represented the Central Nova riding in Nova Scotia, says she took her time deciding that Saanich-Gulf Islands was her best bet. She says what ultimately made the decision for her was the support in the area for the Green Party in the polls. May has also spent time in B.C. working on campaigns, and got to know the area fairly well before she made the move.
“It’s different to consider moving to a place because of politics. It felt very odd to me,” she says.
The federal leader of Canada’s Greens says it was painful leaving her home in Nova Scotia.
“I’ve lived in the Maritimes since 1973,” she says, “and my family still lives in Margaree Harbour. My dad, my brother and sister-in-law are still in a little village on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, and my home base for years has been New Glasgow.”
Politics in BC, she says, are different from anywhere else.
“The electorate in BC is much more volatile. Politics there do tend to be a little different. The biggest difference I see there is that people are wide open to change.
“I used to describe my boss when I worked in the Brian Mulroney government as a genetic Tory. I couldn’t figure out why he was a Conservative at all; we seemed to agree on everything. If you grow up in the Maritimes you find that certain families are Liberal families, certain families are Conservative families.”
She says this attitude is not prevalent in her new riding, as many people have moved from other places; their families haven’t lived in the same place for generations.
“Because the politics in B.C. can be so volatile, it means voters do move around. Which is good for us,” May laughs.
Having lived in Nova Scotia, May has advice for a greener future for the Atlantic region.
“For the Maritimes, we’re looking at energy efficiency, expanded renewables and a long term future for our natural resource industries – for fisheries, forestry and agriculture.”
She says that none of the “current industrialized, globalized business models” will keep our natural resource industries afloat.
The Department of Agriculture, May says, is currently too focused on cheap food and globalized agribusiness. She says if nutritious food is made the number one goal, policy would be changed in such a way as to support local agriculture.
May says that Canada needs to “make sure that Canada has the ability to grow enough food for Canadians, and export on top of that.”
She also focused on the importance Maritimers attach to community, suggesting that they use their sense of community in such a way as to support local farmers.