When Elizabeth May won a seat for Saanich Gulf Islands in the 2011 election, she became the first Green Party member in North America to win a seat in federal government. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper won a majority government with a minority of votes amid widespread allegations of voting fraud. Since then, one of the few things our elected representatives have been able to agree upon was to name May "Parliamentarian of the Year" in 2012, as determined by a free vote of all MPs.
A lawyer and long-time activist, May has written seven nonfiction books including Losing Confidence: Power, Politics And The Crisis In Canadian Democracy and How to Save the World in Your Spare Time. On Thursday, Oct. 17 at 5 p.m., she will give a free public lecture at UBC's Cecil Green Park House as part of the Utopia/Dystopia: Creating the Worlds We Want lecture series organized by the Creative Writing Program http://creativewriting.ubc.ca/ and Green College. As youth political participation plummets and a troubling cynicism towards democracy mounts, May will discuss what can be done to reverse a slide into "elected dictatorships."
The Tyee recently corresponded with May. Here is what she had to say.
On what Canadians should know about Stephen Harper:
"Stephen Harper remains something of an enigma. He is a highly disciplined individual. He is essentially an introvert and a loner, but is capable of forcing himself to appear in ways to enhance a 'likeability' factor that eludes him. Stephen Harper comes from none of our traditional Canadian political roots. Neither comfortable in the Progressive Conservative tradition nor Manning's populist Reform roots, he is essentially a libertarian. As Don Martin once commented in the National Post, 'He is a control freak with a mean streak.'"
Re: "When governments lie, how do we respond?" April 13.
Thanks to the writer for clearly setting out one of the most recent outrages by the Harper government. His question is one many citizens have asked many times over the last year.
With this government, the trashing of our democracy is really cause for despair. Stephen Harper does not seem to respond to anything citizens say or do to show lack of support for his policies. The only response I can see is to work as hard as we can to bring about a system of proportional representation.
Under the current electoral system, Harper can be re-elected with 40 per cent of the vote, while the progressive parties remain divided.
Makes one wish that the NDP had chosen Nathan Cullen as leader. It was his expressed view that we won't recognize our country if we have a second term with Harper. To prevent another Harper government, we would need co-operation between the more progressive parties to pick one candidate to represent them.
I guess more ridings will have to do what we did in Saanich-Gulf Islands when so many of us crossed party lines to work for Elizabeth May.