Elizabeth May aims to reprise ‘great Surrey breakthrough’

The federal Green Party leader spoke at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel April 2

Elizabeth May made Canadian political history in 2011 when she became the first Green Party candidate to win a seat in the House of Commons.

Speaking in Surrey on Tuesday, she said she hopes to reprise another Canadian first with her fiance John Kidder in the next federal election on Oct. 21.

“I’m particularly fond of precedents that were set in Surrey,” May told an audience of about 80 people in Guildford on April 2.

This was at the Surrey Board of Trade’s second free “town hall” meeting, where attendees had a chance to ask her questions. It was held at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, at 15269 104 Ave.

“There’s a political precedent which matters to me of which you might not be aware, and that is that in 2004 Surrey became the first place to have a married couple as members of parliament representing them, when Gurmant and Nina Grewal both represented you.”

The Grewals were the first married couple to serve as MPs at the same time. Both were Conservative MPs, with him representing Newton-North Delta, and her, Fleetwood-Port Kells. May will run again for MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, while her fiance John Kidder has his eyes set on Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.

“I have ambitions to repeat the great Surrey breakthrough,” she grinned.

May has lived a storied life not only as an MP but also as an environmental activist, writer and lawyer. She became active in the environmental movement in the 1970s, was a senior policy advisor to federal minister of environment 1986-88, and served as executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada from 1989 to 2006, when she stepped down to run for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada, to be elected in 2011 and again in 2015.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said the purpose of the “Business Town Halls” is to “create a unique opportunity for Surrey’s business community to interact with leaders of each of the political parties that are wanting to make economic decisions effecting our everyday lives.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was the first federal political leader on deck, on Feb. 1.

READ ALSO: Andrew Scheer says Conservatives have ‘comprehensive plan to make Canada safer’

A Nanos Research survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted in February scored May as the most ethical federal party leader, with 23.2 per cent choosing her, 21.4 per cent choosing Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, with Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau coming third with 16.9 per cent followed by the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh with 6.1 per cent and Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, with three per cent.

May tackled many topics at the event, with highlights including preparing for a four-day work week, a “fully costed” budget, eliminating post-secondary tuition, setting up a guaranteed income for Canadians, and of course, protecting the environment as Canada’s climate changes at a rate twice that of the rest of the world.

“What we need is a grown-up conversation in this country about how we stop relying on fossil fuels,” she said.

She does not believe that parties should dictate individual MPs vote.

“We will never whip votes,” she vowed. “We don’t believe in the idea that smart people get elected to parliament and then have to check their brains at the door and do what their told. We believe that members of parliament work for the communities that elect them.”

“The norm is suck it up, vote the way you’re told,” she noted. “On every single vote in parliament, every single day, I’ve watched as the pages who serve MPs are given by the different party whips – that’s a good title, whip – pages hand out on every desk how they’re voting today. I’m the only person I know in parliament that reads all the bills, and I decide what I’m going to do about them based on what I think is good for public policy for Canada.”

Asked how, if elected prime minister, she would deal with the U.S. president, May replied, “Very carefully.”

“I think as Canadians we have to hang together when we’re dealing with our largest trading partner, a very important strategic partner in foreign affairs, no matter what we may think of the individual who occupies the White House, I think we have to hang together as Canadians and try to be unified in dealing directly with the United States.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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