My primary concern involves perception. The Party is more than just about the environment (it would be ridiculous to join a one-issue party, no matter how strongly you feel about the issue) but this doesn't seem to get across very well. May addresses this somewhat in an article from the National Post and has said in the past that she plans on making it a priority.
Considering that the bulk of her popularity stems from her environmental work, I hope she's able to follow through. She does bring have a bit of an edge to her that I believe will be refreshing for many people. Best of luck, new leader!
OTTAWA -- Environmental activist Elizabeth May has won a decisive victory for leadership of the federal Greens with a promise to broaden the fledgling party's appeal and finally get a toehold in the House of Commons.
May won with 2,145 votes, or 65.34 per cent of the valid ballots cast, party officials announced Saturday at a national convention before 400 cheering delegates.
May, 52, former director of the Sierra Club, called for party unity and said it must build a strong platform well before the next election. She said some voters have chosen the Greens only as a protest vote.
"What we need to do is clearly build a method and a platform so that they are not voting for `none of the above' but so that they are voting for `all my dreams,' " May said.
The party, launched in 1983, has run full slates in the last two federal elections but has not come close to winning a seat in the Commons.
The new leader said she would run in a Cape Breton riding unless there is a by-election somewhere else first. May said she will be in the gallery in Parliament during Question Period and will talk with the press.
"Since (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper isn't giving interviews, maybe some of you have some free time," May joked to reporters after her victory speech.
During the speech, May criticized the recent deal on softwood lumber between Canada and the United States, saying it demonstrates why the North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be renegotiated with the U.S. and Mexico.
"In signing this deal, Mr. Harper has said, `If you push us enough we will say uncle.' We're not against trade but trade must be fair and carbon neutral."
May said she would also push for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
"We must stand up to the big lie that Canada cannot meet its Kyoto targets," she said.
To give the party more visibility, May said she is already talking with supportive senators and parliamentarians about creating a "green caucus" on Parliament Hill.
The Greens garnered 664,000 votes in the January election, or 4.5 per cent of the vote. That was only a slight improvement on its showing in 2004, when it won 582,000 votes or 4.3 per cent.
A Decima Research poll of 1,004 Canadians released earlier this month suggested the party currently has seven per cent support nationally, perhaps helped by a leadership campaign that increased party membership to 8,694 from 5,517.
Surveys since the 2004 federal campaign suggest a third of Canadians would consider voting Green, compared with 40 per cent who said the same of the NDP, he said.
"The party is particularly strong with voters under 40, and could make inroads in the west Quebec and Ontario."
May said she will make a special effort to reach out to youth, and noted the sector was important for her leadership victory. Acknowledging her French needs improvement, she said she hopes to take intensive lessons.
"I plan to be fluently bilingual by the time of the next leadership debates," May said.