Leader, Green Party of Canada
MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Elizabeth May is the Leader of the Green Party of Canada and its first elected Member of Parliament, representing Saanich-Gulf Islands in southern Vancouver Island. Elizabeth is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer, who has a long record as a dedicated advocate — for social justice, for the environment, for human rights, and for pragmatic economic solutions.
Born in Connecticut, she moved to Nova Scotia with her family in 1973. Elizabeth grew up working in her family’s small business, a restaurant and gift shop on the Cabot Trail. She first became known in the Canadian media in the mid-1970s, through her leadership as a volunteer in the grassroots movement against proposed aerial insecticide spraying on forests near her home on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Her efforts helped prevent aerial insecticide spraying from ever occurring in Nova Scotia.
Years later, she and a local group of residents went to court to prevent herbicide spraying. They won a temporary injunction in 1982 to hold off the spray programme, but after two years, the case was eventually lost. In the course of the litigation, her family sacrificed their home and seventy acres of land in an adverse court ruling to Scott Paper. However, by the time the judge ruled the chemicals were safe, the export of dangerous 2,4,5-T herbicides from the U.S had been banned. The forests of Nova Scotia were spared being the last areas in Canada to be sprayed with Agent Orange.
Her early volunteer work also included successful campaigns to prevent approval of uranium mining in Nova Scotia, and extensive work on energy policy issues, primarily opposing nuclear energy.