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Head of national Green Party delivers warning in Courtenay

Introduced as the hardest-working MP in Ottawa, Elizabeth May took the stage at the Filberg Centre on July 19 and delivered a fistful of information, anecdotes, ideas, plans and a warning.

May is the Leader of the Green Party of Canada; MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and the first elected Green MP in Canada.

She has years of experience in Ottawa – as senior policy adviser to then-Minister of the Environment Tom Miller during the Mulroney Conservative government and then as the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.

She delivered a punch or two about the current dysfunction of the Westminster parliamentary system in Canada under the current Conservative government.

May described several of her initiatives during her first year in Parliament.

These included introducing several amendments to the omnibus Crime Bill C-10, introducing private members' bills, and of course, working with all the Opposition parties to raise awareness and alarm about what was stuffed into the Budget Implementation Act — Bill C-38.

May recognized that as a single Green in Parliament, she would have to know the rules better than anyone else so she carries the tome with her everywhere and directs her staff — interns and volunteers stuffed into her office in shifts — to study and use it as well.

Injecting a little humour into the evening, May noted that the media first wrote her off when she was excluded from the leaders’ debate during the 2011 election; then predicted she couldn’t win because she wasn’t running a campaign across the country (while she traveled ceaselessly) and then, when elected, that the country wouldn’t hear another thing from her.

May has risen and spoken in the House of Commons more than any other MP and has spoken to thousands of Canadians — in person and through the media — to let us all know what is happening to our democracy and our future.

Her report card of the first year of the Conservative majority under Stephen Harper includes: Abuse of democracy, erosion of Charter rights, undermining collective bargaining, excessive control of information and lack of transparency, evidence-free decision-making and an assault on the natural world.

Another strong theme that arose during the question-and-answer that followed her presentation was the trend of voter absenteeism — rather than, as many describe it — vote-splitting. More eligible voters did not vote at all during the 2011 election than voted for the Conservatives to give them their majority.

Her final message was admittedly partisan — she stated categorically that it was only those who had voted Conservative that could stop the current trajectory. She urged the audience members to find those voters and ask them if they were happy, or even, content with the direction Mr. Harper is taking our country.

— Vancouver Island North Greens

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