Will the election of Elizabeth May make a difference in Canada’s environmental politics?
It will because:
The Media Scrum that follows each day’s sittings of the House will allow her to present her views on environmental issues directly to the Canadian people.
Both the NDP, as the official opposition, and the Liberal Party, because it is seeking to re-establish itself as the best choice to the Conservatives, cannot ignore environmental issues and default this subject to Ms. May.
As the economy recovers, and the deficit is tamed, the environment should rise in the concerns of voters. The Conservatives will be facing a member who will constantly highlight policy failures and omissions.
As a party leader she will participate in the Leadership Debates at the 2015 election. See the Green Party’s statement on the 2011 election.
It won’t because:
The Green Party does not have official status. Ms. May will be a token member of a Party that has seen its share of the popular vote decrease significantly in the 2011 election.
Ms. May will participate in Question Period, but only on certain days, so she cannot count on her questions dovetailing with breaking environmental issues.
The NDP will benefit from her presence in the House of Commons: she will ask the questions but the NDP can present itself as the party committed to change, but moderate in their solutions to environmental issues.
Yes, her election will make a difference. First, Green Party voters are pleased with her success, and will be encouraged to continue their support of the Party. Second, the environment almost disappeared from the radar scope in the election, so her presence can only improve its visibility.
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