September 20, 2015 1:18 pm

Elizabeth May wouldn’t have much to say to Harper if Tories win minority gov’t

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May talks to Tom Clark about her political future and the possible role of the Green Party in a minority situation.

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Elizabeth May says “it’s very unlikely” she’d have much to say to Stephen Harper if the Conservative leader found himself in need of Green Party votes to hold on to power come Oct. 20.

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May, outspoken leader of the Greens since 2006 and currently her party’s only elected MP, told The West Block’s Tom Clark that she’d be open to negotiating with the major federal parties should they find themselves in a minority situation, but that “I think it’s very unlikely there’d be anything to talk about” with Harper.

“We know where he stands on climate issues. We know where he stands on (controversial anti-terror legislation) C-51. We know where he stands on tankers on our coastlines,” May said.

Still, she mused, if her vote, or the votes of two or three elected Greens, were indeed to make the difference as to who forms government, the Conservative stance on these issues “might be more malleable.”

As for backing the Liberals or the NDP, May said, negotiations with either party to get the Greens onside wouldn’t necessarily be smooth sailing, either.

“We need to have the clout to say we’ll work with you, we’ll have your back, you won’t lose a confidence vote but we really need to repeal bill C-51. We really need to get rid of first-past-the-post. We need a real climate plan. And by the way, this is going to be a tough one for any of the other parties: We need to take apart the power of the Prime Minister’s Office and restore the principle of supremacy of Parliament. We need to restore civility, respect and cooperation in Parliament but we really need to dismantle the PMO brick by brick.”

The need for direct negotiation with a minor party like the Greens is not without precedent. After Australia’s 2010 federal election, the Labor Party and the Liberal/National Coalition each won 72 seats and the Australian Greens party earned one. Along with a small group of other independents, the Greens found themselves holding the balance of power, and eventually backed Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“We won’t know how influential the Greens are going to be in a minority Parliament ‘til we see the seat counts for everybody else,” May acknowledged.

As Green leader and incumbent MP in the B.C. riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, May has fought hard to be heard during this historically long election campaign. After participating in the Maclean’s leaders’ debate, she was excluded from the federal leaders’ debate on the economy hosted by the Globe and Mail. Undaunted, May inserted herself into the discussion via Twitter and live-steamed video responses.

“What’s frustrating is that there’s a lack of coverage or awareness of the fact that these little sideshow debates that are being organized privately, (and) may end up replacing the debates that reached, in the last election, 10 million people in the English language,” May said. “That really worries me.”

Low voter turnout and disengagement with the political process in general are also major concerns for her personally, she added.

So what might the future hold for the Green party’s tenacious leader?

“I want to get back into Parliament with a much bigger caucus and I see the incredible group of people around me, and think it would be great to let somebody else take the reins,” May said. “You know, I’m 61. I don’t see myself leaving Parliament for a really long time. I love being a parliamentarian but I’m not addicted to being political party leader. I’m much more committed to remaining the Member of Parliament for Saanich Gulf Islands for a long, long time than I am of staying leader of the Green party for a long, long time.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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