Canada Elects Its First Green Member of Parliament

On May 2, 2011, voters in Saanich-Gulf Islands made history by electing  Canada’s first Green Member of Parliament. Elizabeth May, who has been Green Party leader since 2006, finally won a seat in parliament after her third attempt (she previously ran in London North Centre in a 2006 bi-election and ran in Central Nova in the 2008 General Election).

Elizabeth May was running against Conservative incumbent and Cabinet Minister Gary Lunn. Ms. May won almost 50% of the vote in the riding (47.6% as of 9:00pm PST), putting her about 13% ahead of Mr. Lunn.

At her victory party, May thanked her supporters and volunteers. She also emphasized the need for Canada’s members of Parliament to work together in a cooperative fashion for Canadians, rather than supporting one political party or ideology. Responding to critics who said that the Green Party was up against a lot of experience and tradition, Ms. May said: “Amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”

With Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, candidates need to win the most votes of all candidates in their geographic riding in order to get a seat in the House of Commons. The Green Party received 6.8% of the votes in the 2008 election, but did not win any seats because its support was spread across the country. In the 2011 election, the Green Party received less than 4% of the popular vote, likely because of voters flocking to parties they hoped would beat a Conservative candidate (some did, some didn’t).

Elizabeth May, who many say won the televised all party debates in 2008, was denied participation in the 2011 debates when the media consortium that runs the debates decided it would only allow parties with sitting members in the House of Commons to participate.

Now, Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada will finally have a voice from inside our official institutions.

Related Posts:

Canada Has Voted and It Isn’t Pretty

Canadian Media Consortium Excludes Green Party Leader From Debates

Germany Has Its First Green State Governor

Canada: Coalition Is Not A Dirty Word

Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

Photo credit: Gordon McDowell on flickr

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Christine Morehouse
Chris Gauthier4 years ago

@Jami Winn,

that is exactly the point Elizabeth was making when she made the comment about the Ark & the Titanic...She is drawing a comparison between the Greens ("amateurs" as in, new - just getting started) & the other more established "professional" political parties.

Jami Winn
Jami Winn4 years ago

"Amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic." umm not to be rude but didn't the ark last for 40 days and nights while the titanic sank on its maiden voyage ... just a thought is all

Jacobo V.
Jacobo Van4 years ago

I would be grateful to get constant feedback on her efforts and successes,. Care2 please assist.

Marjaana V.
m y.4 years ago

LOL @ uroosa!

well, i'm very pleased, ms may will rattle some cages, yes....!

Michael O.
Michael O.4 years ago

Congratulations Elizabeth! The Green Party finally has a voice in the House of Commons!

Unfortunately this good news was bittersweet in that environmental issues are probably going to take a back seat for the next five years. With a majority in Parliament, Harper is going to pay even less attention to the environment than he did before, if that's even possible...

Ian F.
Ian Fletcher4 years ago

The greener the better
Well done!

Michael MacDonald

@Sherri O.
how many elections do we have to lose until people like you realize that the only way we're ever going to win is by working together on the left wing.
After giving away a harper majority.. I thought at least canadians would learn.
Please stop contributing to the political divide.

Michael MacDonald


Michael MacDonald

We didn't win the election, but we can still hold Harper accountable.
Please sign this...

honestly though. I'm sick of this kind of thing. We're all split up on the left wing and that's why harper's dominating our polls. We need a damn coalition and to chance our election system to a popular vote on federal elections..
Until then.. all your doing by voting green is helping harper maintain his majority. Not saying anything bad about the green party. Just saying that our election system is broken and you can't win with it like this.

Please encourage your green party to be for a coalition if the chance ever comes up.

Yvette T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Yes!!! More green leaders world wide!