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.
Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.
Photo credit: Gordon McDowell on flickr