Politics

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray runs for Green Party leadership

Following months of rumours, former Ontario politician and ex-Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray is running for the leadership of Canada’s Green Party.

After months of rumours, Murray enters a crowded field of candidates

Glen Murray was mayor of Winnipeg from 1998-2004 and an Ontario MPP from 2010 to 2017. He has served as the director of the Pembina Institute and is now a strategic adviser with Emerge Knowledge Design. (Submitted by Glen Murray)

Following months of rumours, former Ontario politician and ex-Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray is running for the leadership of Canada's Green Party.

Murray was Canada's first openly gay mayor before moving on to Ontario politics and being elected as an MPP in Toronto. He was a member of the provincial Liberal cabinet and served in the role of environment minister, among others.

Murray told CBC News today that he believed he had left politics for good in 2017. He said his partner of over 25 years, Rick Neves, convinced him to get back in.

"He said, 'You gotta do this. The Green Party really needs someone with your experience and the kind of things that you have done,'" Murray said.

Even after he resigned as Ontario's environment minister in 2017, Murray never stopped working on environmental issues. He was chosen to head the Alberta-based environmental think tank Pembina Institute and subsequently worked with a number of businesses with a green focus.

A diverse leadership race

Murray said he first got involved in politics after losing more than 40 friends to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. That experience, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, served as a "reminder of how fragile our planet is, how fragile and vulnerable our ecosystems are," he said.

Murray is the most high-profile candidate in the Greens' leadership race so far and the only one to have been elected to public office.

The list of candidates is quite diverse and includes one black woman, Annamie Paul, and a non-binary contender, Amita Kuttner. Murray said the candidates offer a good representation of Canada.

"I think this is the most exciting slates of leadership candidates I've seen for leadership in a long time," he said. "They represent a much more energized set of ideas than you see in the Conservative Party, put it that way."

Murray said he hopes to attract a more diverse membership to the party itself, something he said he did while representing Toronto Centre, a provincial riding that's home to several universities and many newcomers.

One thing that might set him back is his French. Murray, who is from Quebec, admits his French is not perfect but he said it's functional.

Campaigning on a Green economic boom

Murray said he will campaign on creating a "green recovery" as Canada's economy climbs out of the pandemic crisis. That means retrofitting homes and commercial buildings and investing in electric vehicles and high-speed rail — policies he said he feels "passionately about."

"This is just the time to get things done."

Those policy positions might run him up against other candidates, like Dimitri Lascaris and Alex Tyrrell, who see a party that's become too comfortable with big business. Both candidates have called on the party to take on a more "eco-socialist" bent.

The Green Party announced recently its leadership race would continue despite the pandemic, with debates and voting happening online. The Conservatives suspended their leadership race after the pandemic hit.

The Green Party leadership race began in February after Elizabeth May announced in November that she would step aside.

The other candidates who have declared they're running for the leadership are:

  • Judy Green, a former candidate for the Greens in West-Nova, N.S.

  • Amita Kuttner, a former candidate for the Greens in Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C.

  • Dimitri Lascaris, a former candidate for the Greens in London West, Ont.

  • David Merner, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, B.C.

  • Annamie Paul, a 2019 candidate for the Greens in Toronto Centre.

  • Dylan Perceval-Maxwell, who ran multiple times as a federal candidate in Laurier—Sainte-Marie. Q.C.

  • Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec.

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.

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