Sidney, British Columbia , Canada
|| June 09, 1954
Apr 12, 2020 06:07pm
|Info||Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist, and lawyer in Canada. She was the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada from 1989 to 2006. She is currently running for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada. |
May lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her daughter, Victoria-Cate, born in 1991.
May was born in Connecticut to affluent parents. Her mother was a prominent anti-nuclear activist and one of the original founders of the peace group SANE. May attended the prestigious Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. Her family moved to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in 1972.
Once in Cape Breton, her family suffered a reversal of fortune due directly to involvement in protest against an environmental abuse. May waited on tables for eleven years to put herself through university. She graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1983. She began work as an environmental lawyer advising Tom McMillan, Brian Mulroney's Environment minister. She resigned from her post after learning of the government's plan to grant permits for the Rafferty-Alameda Dams in Saskatchewan without performing environmental assessments.
In 1989, May became the founding executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.
May sits on the boards of the International Institute of Sustainable Development and Prevent Cancer Now! She is also a former vice-chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
In 2001, May went on a 17 day hunger strike to protest the government's failure to clean up the Sydney tar ponds in Cape Breton. As a result the Federal government pledged to relocate people living nearby to a safer location.
After that, May was involved in lobbying Paul Martin, Minister of Finance, and apparently was instrumental in convincing him that GDP was not a viable measure of economic performance, a position Martin clearly advanced in public in Canada through 2003.
When Martin became Prime Minister of Canada in late 2003, he was however circumspect on this point, and his replacement in Finance, Ralph Goodale, was concerned mostly to cut Canada's debt to GDP ratio, which was already the lowest in the world. May rallied and repeated her conversion feat, and by February 2005 Goodale announced "the greenest budget ever" with May at his side, representing the Green Budget Coalition.
May was also involved in international lobbying. She said that the Montreal Action Plan (which came out of the 2005 UN Climate Change Conference) was "a set of agreements that may well save the planet." She counts Bill Clinton, who attended the Montreal Conference in 2005 at her request, among her contacts. She was the person, reputedly, who invited Clinton and convinced him to come. Clinton's presence was instrumental in getting the US to agree to talks on climate change for the first time.
May resigned as the Sierra Club's executive director in April 2006, intending to step down in June 2006. As one of her last major acts in this post she participated in a poll of experts that determined that Brian Mulroney was Canada's "greenest" Prime Minister, due in part to his influence over the US on acid rain. This was May's last public nonpartisan announcement.
On May 9, 2006 May entered the Green Party of Canada's leadership race. She announced her intent to make the Party "a force" and "would have influence" and "rock this country's politics in a way no other party ever has". She cited the "major planetary catastrophe" and "climate crisis" and the "crisis of democracy" as primary issues. "I find myself despairing when I see four men in suits engaging in a debate where nothing important is said… if the voters get to hear a whole bunch of really exciting new ideas, they might like them… instead of trying to do a calculation of who they hate the least."
While May had no prior political party affiliation, she did publicly endorse New Democratic Party leadership hopeful Bill Blaikie in the 2003 leadership contest which was won by Jack Layton.
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