Elizabeth May elected leader of Canada's Green Party

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Elizabeth May has been elected leader of the Green Party of Canada today, winning the position with 2,145 votes or 65.34 per cent of ballot cast. She beat her nearest rival, environmental consultant and Green deputy leader David Chernushenko by a margin of almost 2 to 1. Jim Fannon, the third candidate, finished far back with only 29 votes. The new leader will replace Jim Harris, who stepped down after holding the position since 2003.

In her acceptance speech, May called on the federal government to give notice that Canada will withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement in order to force the United States to renegotiate the treaty.

May, a long-time environmental activist and former executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada takes over the party which received 4.5 per cent of the popular vote in the last federal election, enough to secure over $1 million a year in federal funding but not enough to elect any of its candidates to the Canadian House of Commons. Chernushenko won the highest vote percentage of any Green candidate in the January election winning 10% of the vote in Ottawa Centre.

"We draw pretty much equally from across the entire political spectrum," Jim Harris told CBC News. "If you were a Progressive Conservative, as I was, where do you go? The Green party supports Kyoto. We were opposed to the war in Iraq and yet at the same time we're fiscally responsible. This is something that's attractive to people."

"What we need to do is clearly build a method and a platform so that they are not voting for 'none of the above' but so that they are voting for 'all my dreams,' " said May after her victory.

The race has brought new people to the party with membership rising from 5,517 to 8,694 in recent months.