The Salt Spring Green Party office opening ceremony featured bags of buttery popcorn; it was also the launch party for a short film about our MP, Elizabeth May.
Why make a film about Elizabeth now? As Elizabeth explained, for many Canadians, she is known mainly as one of Ottawa’s ablest politicians. But to really understand her political life, you need to know that she is first and foremost an activist. Politics is the vehicle she saw she needed, to get to where we need to go now.
The 24th of August, she remembered, “that was the anniversary of when I was first tear-gassed”. Elizabeth’s mother was working to quell the nuclear arms race and had gone with her 14-year-old daughter to support the election of the anti-war candidate, Eugene McCarthy, at the Democratic national convention. Eventually, her family moved to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where Elizabeth became heavily involved in efforts to prevent the spraying of the pesticide agent orange on local forests. Even though that particular struggle resulted in May’s family losing their land as a result of a lawsuit, the pesticide spraying was stopped, and Elizabeth has kept on with other struggles. These include working to prevent offshore oil drilling, to protect the ozone layer, to clean up the Sidney tar ponds, and protecting what became Gwaii Haanas (South Moresby) National Park Reserve.
Elizabeth’s book telling the story of Paradise Won is freely available now that McLelland & Stewart no longer have the copyright. “The strategies and tactics that worked to save Gwaii Haanas from the chainsaw are needed once again to fight climate change and to protect fragile ecosystems from coast to coast to coast,” explains Elizabeth.
Salt Springers can feel honoured that it is one of our own, Michael Strumberger, who is Elizabeth’s 2019 campaign manager. For him, supporting the Green party makes sense, “because Canadians are hungry for a new way of doing politics. […] Elected Greens everywhere are already changing the game by demonstrating what earnest collaboration, authenticity and honesty look like in politics. Integrity matters. Without it, there’s no trust.”
Michael spoke to the anxiety and hopelessness some feel, as we witness the earth’s life systems under threat. Fires are raging in some of the wettest and coldest places on earth and people are losing faith in our political systems. “The best antidote” said Michael, to generous applause, “is action”.