The House

Elizabeth May makes limiting PMO powers the key to securing her future support

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May could hold the balance of power if a minority government results from the Oct. 19 election, and limiting the powers of the Prime Minister's Office would be her key requirement to any agreement to keep another party in power, she tells CBC Radio's The House.

Green Party leader scould be a kingmaker if election produces a minority Parliament

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says that without limiting the powers of the Prime Minister's Office, 'it's debatable whether Canada will remain a democracy other than in name.' (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May could hold the balance of power if a minority government results from the Oct. 19 election, and limiting the powers of the Prime Minister's Office would be her key requirement to any agreement to keep another party in power.

"We must reduce the excessive and illegitimate powers exercised by the PMO," May told host Chris Hall in an interview on CBC Radio's The House.

"If we don't make this change, it's debatable whether Canada will remain a democracy other than in name. An elected dictatorship punctuated by elections is not a healthy democracy. It's a one-man rule."

May was quick to note that the Green Party isn't ruling out an agreement with the Conservatives in a future Parliament, nor does she think Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is the only one responsible for what she called a "truly scandalous" increase of control by the Prime Minister's Office.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May explains why she feels a coalition government would work for Canada. 3:18

"He didn't start this trend," she said. "It was started in 1970, to even imagine that there was an entity called the PMO — this is not part of our Constitution."

The Greens became the first party during the campaign to release a fully costed platform earlier this week. The 44-page platform focuses on tackling climate change and reducing fossil fuel use, and projects a $1.9-billion surplus this fiscal year, which would gradually climb to a $13.1-billion surplus in four years.


Listen to The House

Green Leader Elizabeth May joins host Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House, Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio One, and on SyriusXM Ch. 169.

Also, watch CBC's The National Friday for Peter Mansbridge's one-on-one interview with May, at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and on CBC Television at 10 p.m./10:30 NT. Read more about the Mansbridge interviews with the four main federal leaders here.


May said balancing the books wasn't a must-do for the party.

"We strive to balance budgets, but we're not ideological about it," she told Hall. 

One way the Greens say they will pay for their promises is through legalizing and taxing marijuana, something May called "a nifty revenue stream."

Raising the corporate tax rate to 19 per cent would be another source of funds.

"We'd keep the nine per cent small business tax rate, but raise the tax rate on the largest corporations to what it was in 2009, to 19 per cent," May said. "That brings about $7.5 billion more into our revenue stream."

"We go after off-shore tax havens, we cut subsidies for fossil fuels, and we also expand where we can find revenue and we cut some government spending," she added.

Greens with NDP on C-51

It's not just May's stance on raising the corporate tax rate that puts her party in alignment with the NDP. 

The Green Party supports repealing Bill C-51, the controversial anti-terror legislation, as well as introducing a national $15-an-hour minimum wage. 

"We absolutely are on the same page as the NDP" on those issues, May said. 

But the Green Party's main focus continues to be on the intersection between the environment and the economy, she said.

"The more that we act now to move Canada into clean technologies, clean and renewable energy, these are all smart things to do and they put people to work immediately."

As the only party leader not invited to next week's debate on the economy, May said she will find a way to talk about the economy at a separate Green Party event in Victoria.

"The fact that they're excluding the only party with something different to say about the imperative of acting on climate change as an economic issue — it's distressing to me, not because I'm not there, but because in a democracy, it's deeply worrying," she said.

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