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Elizabeth May gives political insights during Prince George stop

 

Green Party leader Elizabeth May speaking at UNBC Friday. Bill Phillips photo
Green Party leader Elizabeth May speaking at UNBC Friday. Bill Phillips photo

BY PAUL STRICKLAND

Special to the News

Encouraging people to vote for Green Party candidates does not result in taking votes away from worthy major political party candidates or indirectly electing the wrong party, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May said in Prince George on the weekend.

Green Party candidates standing for public office draw more people who might otherwise have stayed at home during an election to take the time to actually go out and vote. They bring new people into the election process and, in general, do not take votes away from traditional major parties, May, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP, told more than 140 people at ArtSpace Friday evening.

“There is a higher voter turnout when Greens are elected,” she said.
She warned about the “increased ‘presidentialization’ of our election campaigns” with more and more vitriolic name-calling and negative ads degrading the quality of debate.
“We are a constitutional monarchy with a Westminster parliamentary system,” she said. “I’m not interested in politics as a blood sport.”
Watch for ageism in the 2019 election as major parties employ a strategy of promoting young new talent and discredit her as too old to continue as an effective party leader, said May, 65.
The Westminster parliamentary system in Canada is being weakened by the party discipline tactics of the major political parties, she said. They encourage dedicated community leaders to run for office, but once they are elected as MPs, they learn they can do almost nothing on their own for their constituencies.
“Newly elected MPs go to what’s called ‘boot camp’,” she explained. “MPs are given lists of voting directions. Once you become a Member of Parliament, you do what you’re told. You aren’t even supposed to read through the bills you are asked to vote for or against.
“It’s a criminal waste of talent,” she commented. “All MPs are supposed to be equal. We don’t want people to have to check their brains at the door.”
May was recently named the hardest-working MP. “That’s because I read all the bills. I need to read them to decide what constituents want and need. I hold 18 townhall meetings per year.”
The public should not be discouraged by what, in the era of U.S. President Donald Trump, appears to be lack of meaningful action in the face of increasingly evident climate change.
She advised her listeners to learn from the ultimate success of the abolitionist movement in the 1860s. Slavery undergirded the North American economy and North Atlantic trade, and during the early 19th century, it supplied most of the energy of manual labour for production. The system seemed well established and unmoveable, she noted.
“They stopped slavery with moral argument,” May said. “We should use moral argument concerning climate change. Be persistent and indefatigable.
“It’s disturbing that people put odds on a possible reform before supporting it,” she continued. “What measure of moral courage do we, privileged Canadians, require?”
She confirmed her opposition to investor-state agreements, under which an individual country’s legislation disputed by a multinational corporation can be referred upward to a international investor-dispute panel dominated by corporate representatives.  The panel can invalidate that country’s legislation, such as environmental laws, without the possibility of appeal to a court in that nation.
May had been in Prince George during the day for climate talks held at UNBC.

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