CONTRIBUTION · 5th June 2011
Green Party Canada
As of May 30th at 1:16 pm, Canada has its first elected (and sworn in) Member of Parliament! The ceremony was brief and efficient with the Clerk of the House, the impressive Audrey O’Brien, presiding.
Gathered with me were some dear friends and family. My father, brother and sister-in-law in Margaree Harbour, Cape Breton Island were unable to make the trip, but my kids (three out of four!) made it and my nephew and family who live in Ottawa and many who have supported me for decades were in the room.
Parliament Hill feels like home to me. It has for a long time due to my work when I was in government. And I am especially fond of the rooms occupied by the Speaker of the House—so it was meaningful to give my oath in one of them. In the struggle to save South Moresby, former Speaker of the House John Fraser played a significant role.
In those long gone days, when Parliamentary conduct was more respectful and when non-partisan cooperation was the norm, Fraser would host gatherings of British Columbia environmentalists who were in town to lobby for the protection of the incredible ancient forests of the southern third of Haida Gwaii. And routinely, Fraser would invite my boss, Progressive Conservative Environment Minister Tom McMillan, to confer with the NDP Environment Critic Jim Fulton and the Liberal former Environment Minister Charles Caccia in his office.
The Speaker has the use of a series of rooms along the rear north corridor of Centre Block. So I recall dinner meetings in the small dining room, more formal gatherings in the larger salon, and intense strategy sessions in the speaker’s office under the large photo of Winston Churchill, one taken by Yousuf Karsh in that same office.
On Monday, I was in the middle of the media scrum in the room where MPs are sworn in trying to describe to reporters how I intend to go forward—how I believe that one Green MP can change Parliament—when I remembered an event in that very room.
It was when a number of environmentalists and Haida leaders were in Ottawa in 1987. The reception was more formal and John Fraser made his remarks in welcome. He said of our non-partisan collaboration: “We are part of the conspiracy to save the planet.”
And so that is my goal. The voices of the past, of greater people in public life, of Churchill’s and of Pearson’s; of Fraser’s and of Caccia’s, of men like Jim Fulton who turned his office into a beehive of green activism, these voices still echo for those with keen ears to hear. We still see their vision, those of us with eyes open and aware to the world of possibilities and not shuttered by the blinkers of fear, greed and self-interest.
One Green MP is the beginning of a new era in Canadian political life. Without your help and support this would not have been possible.
Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P. Saanich Gulf Islands, Leader GPC