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Elizabeth May: no spray, no way

The Story

Except for the spruce budworm, Elizabeth May has become the worst enemy of the Nova Scotia forestry industry in 1978. Armed with charts, statistics and her own deep convictions, May has run a successful campaign to ban pulp companies from spraying the province's forests with a pesticide that would kill the ravenous spruce budworm. In this profile from CBC-TV's The Fifth Estate, a 23-year-old May says she's had to develop a thick skin to endure the personal barbs thrown her way by her opponents.

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: Feb. 21, 1978
Guest(s): Kingsley Brown, Vincent MacLean, Elizabeth May, Frank Reed, Gerald Regan
Reporter: Bob Johnstone
Duration: 13:20
Film excerpts from Kingsley Brown and Nova Scotia Forest Industries.

Did You know?

• Elizabeth May's first crack at public office was in 1980, when she formed a new political party, the Small Party, to bring attention to environmental issues in six provinces. She placed a distant fourth in that year's federal election. 

• After graduating from law school at Dalhousie University, May worked as a policy advisor to the minister of the environment in the Mulroney government. She resigned in 1988 over the government's decision to permit a Saskatchewan dam project without an environmental assessment.

• In 1989 May became president of the Canadian arm of the environmental lobby group the Sierra Club. She held the post until 2006, when she resigned to run as leader of the Green Party of Canada.

• May ran for a seat in Parliament in a 2006 byelection in London, Ont., but placed second. In the 2008 election she decided to run in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova.

• The spruce budworm is an insect that, in its caterpillar phase, strips fir, pine and spruce trees of their new needles, eventually leading to their death. For more, see the CBC Digital Archives topic What's Eating Canada's Trees?


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