ELIZABETH MAY, LEADER of the Green Party of Canada and the first member of the party to sit in the House of Commons, is coming to the University of Ottawa to speak to students on March 5. The University of Ottawa Greens, who organized the event, invited May to answer the question, “Is Canada failing the world?” The Fulcrum spoke to May about her belief that Canada is not living up to its international reputation.
“My message is that we have to act now,” said May, referring to the need to reinstate Canada’s good name. “We have to be engaged and we have to mobilize. Making a difference includes writing letters to the editors, [and] exposing what is going on. It is demanding that Canada behaves in a way that we can regain the reputation that we are losing.”
May said the current government’s policies, specifically on the environment, have led to a decline in Canada’s international reputation. May plans to deliver this message to students and challenge them to take action.
“We have always seen ourselves as a country that has punched above our weight,” said May. “We’ve been known as a country that defended biodiversity, the global climate negotiations, democracy, support for a vigorous healthy society, women’s rights, [and] indigenous rights … That is why American kids used to sew Canadian flags on their backpacks.”
Ghaith Hannibal El-Mohtar, president of the U of O Greens, told the Fulcrum the presentation was organized as a way to find common ground between students regardless of political stripe and introduce Green Party ideas.
“A lot of people are getting the sense that Canada is performing poorly on an international stage and that we are losing our identity as a country,” said El-Mohtar. “This event seeks to introduce attendees to the Green Party and Elizabeth May, while looking at the problems and the solutions.”
The invitation to the talk was extended to all political party clubs on the U of O campus with the belief the issues May will address transcend party lines.
“I don’t work for the Green Party,” said May. “I work for the people that have elected me. I espouse Green values and I want to build the Green Party across the country, but I don’t have any group of spin doctors telling me what to say.”
May is trying to convince students to become politically aware. According to her, students have the most at stake but yet are voting the least.
“The real message I hope people take away is democracy works best when the maximum number of people are engaged and involved,” said May. “If I can convince only one person who previously wasn’t interested in politics or didn’t vote, then I’ll be thrilled.”
May also wants Canadians to realize its not too late to take action. She explained that Canada is not out of the Kyoto Protocols yet and that we’ve only put forward our intention to withdraw. She hopes to explain to those attending that despite a current majority government, pressure can still be applied to create change.
“We need to continue to mobilize and say ‘Your time’s up’,” said May. “You [the Conservatives] are doing too much damage to this country.”
Elizabeth May will speak on March 5 in Desmarais 4101 at 7 p.m. The event is open to all but space is limited. Reservation is optional and can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.