Elizabeth May is the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada and a lifelong environmental activist. She is also a lawyer, educator, writer, and mother. Her most recent book, coauthored with fellow Canadian activist Maude Barlow, is Frederick Street: Life and Death on Canada’s Love Canal.

Monday, 7 Aug 2000

OTTAWA, Ontario

Today, being a holiday in Canada, saw most of my compatriots at their cottages or barbecues. But, as usual, I had an “activist” weekend. I was a keynote speaker at the national Green Party convention in Ottawa this weekend. It was a nice contrast to the Republican convention in Philadelphia where those awash in oil money and fresh from business deals with the brutal dictatorship in Burma (Dick Cheney, for instance) paraded their “morality” for the American public.

The Canadian Greens are not yet a political force. Unlike the Greens in Europe, they lack the advantage of proportional representation and a chance to elect members of Parliament from a party that may receive 10 percent of the vote across the country but lack a simple majority in any one riding. And unlike the U.S., the Canadian Greens lack a high-profile candidate of the stature of the incorruptible Ralph Nader.

But the Canadian Greens do not lack commitment, energy, or dedication. The Greens’ national leader, Joan Russow, has just announced that she will challenge Stockwell Day, the leader of Canada’s farthest right political party, the Alliance, in a Sept. 11 by-election in which Day hopes to (and most likely will) win his first federal seat in Parliament. With five national parties sitting in the House of Commons, it’s hard to find the political space the Greens need. But as Jean Chrétien is the most anti-environmental prime minister in living memory, we have to find some way to make environmental concerns feature in the election widely expected for spring 2001.

Back home, the email screams for help on press releases on our completely pathetic federal legislation on endangered species and pleas for assistance fighting mega hog farms in New Brunswick. Meanwhile, I review a proposed federal plan for “strategic” assessment of the environmental impacts of trade deals (FTAA, GATS, etc.). And time is running out to stop seismic exploration along the east coast of Cape Breton Island for oil and gas, as we demand the permit be rescinded.

But, being a holiday Monday, I also redid my nine-year-old daughter’s bedroom and tackled housework — even eco-warriors have to tidy up sometime!