After having led the party for 13 years, May announced her departure from the role during a press conference Monday.
Deputy leader Jo-Ann Roberts, who is taking on the role of interim party leader, told Global News that her task now is to expand the vision and reach of the Green party through the race to replace May.
“And I see my task as interim leader to build the party as we search for a new leader, and I see that search as something that’ll allow Canadians who voted Green in this past election to say, ‘Hey, we could have a say in this,'” said Roberts.
“I think Canadians will have a real chance, especially Greens, to hear the visions of possibilities for leader and then make a choice, so I see this as a real chance for us to grow the party, but also grow the vision.”
May’s announcement comes in the wake of a federal election that won the Greens three seats in the House of Commons — the highest number of seats ever won for the party.
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In her resignation speech Monday, May indicated that she will still have a role in the party as parliamentary leader of the Green caucus, but also expressed hope that her departure would spur increased momentum for the party.
The interim leader
After being named as interim leader by May on Monday’s press conference, Roberts will be at the party’s helm until the Greens’ scheduled leadership convention in October 2020 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
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A former journalist with the CBC who has spent over 20 years working in TV and radio, Roberts left her job in 2014 to run for a seat in Victoria as a member of the Green party, according to her campaign website.
A candidate who left her job to “fight for social justice, protect our environment and start the transition to a green economy,” Roberts would again run in the 2019 election as in her Halifax riding, coming in third place after losing to Liberal incumbent Andy Fillmore.
Roberts ultimately hopes to capitalize on the 1.1 million Canadians who voted Green in the October election, as well as her roots in the Maritimes and May’s base on the west coast, to spread the Greens’ influence.
“We have the ability now to attract people from right across the country for leadership, so that’s another element that I’ll be stressing as a party that has strength,” said Roberts.
The Green leadership race
October’s election saw two other elected Green members of parliament head to Ottawa: Jenica Atwin, who ran in Fredericton, and Paul Manly from Vancouver Island.
Both did not express any outright interest in running for party leadership, with Atwin even going so far as to tell reporters that she doesn’t intend to seek the position.
Aside from the two Green MPs, several other contenders have been touted as possible leadership options for the federal party.
Quebec Green party leader Alex Tyrrell, Prince Edward Island’s Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker and the New Brunswick Green party’s David Coon have been seen as potential names to go up to bat at the leadership plate.
Bevan-Baker and Coon, in particular, already have provincial experience in their respective legislatures.
Another name to consider is Jody Wilson-Raybould, who shares close ties with May. The single Independent MP from Vancouver had mentioned potentially joining the Greens prior to the election, and might make a move now that May is out of the fold.
“There’s no doubt in Canadian politics that parties benefit from the momentum from the leadership race, and I think the timing is right for us,” said Roberts.
“We had a great diversity in our slate of candidates in this election. We want to give … some of those candidates an opportunity to say, ‘What would your vision be moving forward?’ and to bring that to a leadership race.”
— With files from the Canadian Press