Elizabeth Evans May, OC, MP (born June 9, 1954) is an American-born Canadian Member of Parliament, environmentalist, writer, activist, lawyer, and the leader of the Green Party of Canada. She was the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada from 1989 to 2006. She became a Canadian citizen in 1978. May's permanent residence is in Sidney, British Columbia. Her family home is in Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island. On May 2, 2011, she became the first elected Green Party Member of Parliament in Canada, defeating the incumbent, Gary Lunn.
May was born in Hartford, Connecticutto a British father and American mother; she has a younger brother named Geoffrey.Her mother was a prominent anti-nuclear activist and one of the original founders of the peace group SANE, while her father was Assistant Vice President of Aetna Life and Casualty. May's godfather was actor Cliff Robertson. May attended Renbrook School and the prestigious Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. Her family was rooted in the Welsh Congregationalist tradition of free thinking on religious beliefs.
In 1980, disillusioned with the federal election sparked by the loss of confidence vote on Prime Minister Joe Clark's budget, May launched a political party to raise environment and anti-nuclear issues. The party, dubbed "the Small Party" and based on the ideas in E.F. Schumacher's book, Small is Beautiful, ran 12 candidates in 6 provinces, in the 1980 federal election. They made no pretense of attempting to win seats, calling the effort a “beau geste” to raise awareness. May, at the time a 25-year-old waitress, ran against the former Deputy Prime Minister, Allan J. MacEachen in Cape Breton Highlands—Canso. She placed fourth in a field of four candidates receiving 272 votes.
- Leader of the Green Party of Canada
On May 9, 2006, May entered the Green Party of Canada's leadership race. On August 26, 2006, May won the leadership election on the first ballot. In the fall of 2006, London North Centre Member of Parliament Joe Fontana announced he was resigning his seat to run for Mayor of London, Ontario. Prime Minister Stephen Harper scheduled a by-election for that seat on November 27, 2006, and May stood as the candidate for the Green Party. She shocked some analysts when she finished second to Glen Pearson of the Liberal Party, ahead of the Conservative and New Democratic Party (NDP) candidates. At the time, May's showing in this by-election was the best result, in terms of percentage, ever achieved by the Green Party of Canada. She received 9,864 votes, about 26% of the total votes cast.
May ran as the Green Party candidate and won in the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, in British Columbia. She faced Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn, who had held the seat for the preceding 14 years.May had considered the Ontario riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound where the Green Party received over 27% of the vote in 2008,and the riding of Guelph, where the Green Party received 21% of the vote.This election has become marred in controversy following allegations of widespread voter fraud involving robocalls directed at Liberal, NDP and Green Party supporters to the benefit of the Conservative Party of Canada. Elizabeth May's home riding is said to have been influenced by such calls. Elections Canada and the RCMP are investigating.
May lives in Sidney, British Columbia with her daughter, Victoria Cate May Burton (born 1991). She is studying theology at Saint Paul University, and describes herself as a practising Anglican. She has indicated that her path towards becoming an ordained minister with the Anglican Church does not clash with her role in the Green Party of Canada, and sees a clear separation between religion and politics.
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