Canadian Green Party leader set to challenge MacKay for seat

Monday, March 19, 2007

Elizabeth May at the Green Party of Canada leadership debate on June 21, 2006.

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May announced Sunday that she will seek the party's nomination for the seat of Central Nova in the next federal election.

The riding is represented currently by Conservative Party MP Peter MacKay, who has held the seat since 1997. MacKay is Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. MacKay was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and completed an Arts degree and Law degree in the province.

His father, Elmer MacKay, who was with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, had been re-elected six times in the riding. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney also held the riding in 1983. Elmer resigned in order to give Mulroney a seat in Parliament.

As a teenager, May moved from the United States to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. In her press release of March 18, 2007, May explained that she began her vocation as an activist and political campaigner in Nova Scotia. "It is entirely fitting that I now come back here to launch my first full campaign as leader of the Green Party of Canada", May stated.

May ran recently in a federal by-election, held on November 26, 2006, in the Ontario riding of London North Centre. Although May came in second behind Liberal Party candidate Glen Pearson, the Green Party had increased their vote by 20% over the previous election. If May won the seat of Central Nova in the next election, she would be the first ever Green MP in the Canadian House of Commons.

On her choice of Central Nova, May suggested in her press release that she had to "follow [her] heart" and felt compelled to "run in Nova Scotia and that challenging a prominent member of the government will enable [her] to keep a strong focus on why Nova Scotia and Canada cannot afford another government led by Stephen Harper.”

In the latest federal election of January 23, 2006, MacKay took the seat of Central Nova with 41% of the vote. In that election, the Green Party candidate, David Orton, came in fourth with under 2% of the vote.

In the latest national Strategic Counsel poll, conducted for CTV News and the Globe and Mail, the Conservatives are at 36%, the Liberals 31%, the NDP at 15%, and the Green Party at 10%. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.