British Columbia·Q&A

Elizabeth May on Vancouver Island's Green revolution

Elizabeth May reflects on how British Columbia — and Vancouver Island in particular — is fuelling the Green Party's political clout.

All three provincial Green Party members and May come from the south part of Vancouver Island

Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May weighs in on the success of the provincial Green Party in the B.C. election. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

In politics, Vancouver Island is the epicentre of all things Green.

B.C.'s three elected Green MLAs, Party Leader Andrew Weaver and soon-to-be new MLAs Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen, all hail from the island.

Rounding out the set is longtime MP and Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May who represents the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands in Ottawa.

May, who is also a member of the British Columbia Green Party, said the 2017 election results have the potential to create momentum for the Greens across Canada.

She spoke with host Gregor Craigie on CBC's On the Island.

How closely were you watching the election in B.C.?

Very, very closely. I'm a British Columbian. I'm a member of the British Columbia Green Party. I now have a Green MLA, Adam Olsen, and I'm a huge fan and friend of Sonia Furstenau, and, of course, Andrew Weaver.

I was very enthusiastic in supporting them and this is a tribute to the great campaign that Andrew Weaver and his team put on.

What do you think made the difference for the provincial Greens on the Island?

The Green party in B.C., ever since Adriane Carr was leading, has been included in those leader debates trying to make the breakthrough, and we made a breakthrough with Andrew's election in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Let's face it, he's been a spectacular MLA. Hardworking, producing legislation, seeing some of that legislation pass into law, being a voice of conscience and reason.

It makes a difference to be in the legislature where people could see Andrew Weaver making a difference in Victoria.

Then, they fielded a group of tremendous candidates. Not just on Vancouver Island, but in Kamloops, for instance, and in the Lower Mainland and right across the province.

What effect would electoral reform have had on the election?

They won a 17 per cent popular vote in a first-past-the-post country. It smashed records in B.C. and right across Canada.

I'm thrilled to see what the B.C. voters have done. Essentially, the majority of B.C. voters just voted to get rid of first-past-the-post.

We're looking at an opportunity for British Columbia, once again, to take the lead.

You really can design a voting system which allows you to have local representation and know that you don't run the risk that a party that has a minority of public support can get all the power.

If the Greens end up holding the balance of power, what do you think will be their top environmental concerns?

Well, first off it's easily misinterpreted that I have some role in telegraphing what the B.C. Greens are going to insist upon. I don't.

But Andrew Weaver is a climate scientist. He's not  going to compromise on climate.

If you look around the world, the Greens' goal is to advance a healthy, grassroots democracy on a healthy planet. You don't cut corners on things like whether your kids have a livable world.     

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.