Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, spoke to a packed auditorium in UVic’s David Strong Building on January 23 for what she described as “part of my responsibility as the Member for Parliament for the Saanich-Gulf Islands.” She added, “regardless of how you voted or how you think you might vote. This is a non-partisan meeting and I am just here to let you know what has been going on in Parliament and in the riding.”
May gave the audience an overview of what had been happening in parliament, including what programs had been implemented or changed as a result of the Conservative government’s omnibus bills, namely Bill C-45 and the 400-page budget omnibus bill, Bill C-38. Included in these bills is a new requirement for foreign tourists to request permission from the Department of Immigration by an electronic form in order for anyone from outside the country to enter Canada for any reason. In the past, people from Europe, Australia, Great Britain and many other countries didn’t need a visa to enter Canada on vacation, but this has changed.
May answered questions on several topics: the Idle No More movement, the Conservative government’s investment treaty with the People’s Republic of China and the exemption of pipelines from environmental legislation, the use of future Canadian Forces deployments in Africa and around the world, spending on anniversaries and celebrations as opposed to environmental and scientific research centres, and the dismantling the Canadian cultural exchange program worldwide. When asked about the current issues and problems with the F-35 fighter program, May said, “No one had thought to actually ask what the Department of National Defence actually wanted in a fighter aircraft. All they were allowed to say was that the F-35 filled their needs.”
Additionally May said she had the best attendance of any MP in the House of Commons, having only taken two days off to recover from hip replacement surgery. To achieve unanimous consent for motions in the House, the Conservative and New Democrat Parties have either asked her for her support or have tried to pass amendments to bills and motions when she was out of the House of Commons.
When asked if she thought that her time as the sole Green MP was difficult, May said, “The only MP I would trade places with is Stephen Harper. Nobody tells me how to vote except you guys. Nobody tells me what to say, and I’m able to get a global sense of everything that is going on.”
May had a frank appraisal of the “Harper Administration,” as she called it. “[As a single MP] I can see patterns and trends and see what is happening in criminal law, what’s happening in environmental law, what’s happening in immigration law, right across a lot of different disciplines. I see trends, so that’s a perspective I have. From that, what I would say from what I have witnessed in the House of Commons is that Stephen Harper is very good at destroying things, but he hasn’t built anything yet. … And I think he is destroying Canada.”
May ended the evening with an appeal to any citizen who wanted to take action to write letters to their local newspapers and news services about any errors on any environmental piece that was unfairly or inadequately covered in the press. “The only thing that will change the media and politicians is continuous action from you and voting in large numbers in provincial and federal elections.”