Green Party makes history: Elizabeth May wins seat
Published Monday, May 2, 2011 9:58PM PDT
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May made history Monday night, defeating longtime Tory cabinet minister Gary Lunn in B.C. to achieve her party's first federal election victory.
Speaking to hundreds of supporters after her victory was declared in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, the first-ever Green MP credited the victory to her more than 2,000 volunteers who "desperately want to make history" by campaigning for her.
"I stand here today as the first elected Green MP in the history of Canadian politics," she yelled above the crowd chanting her name.
"And I stand here today and I remain committed, as all of us are, to rejecting the politics of fear, and bringing respect back to our House of Commons."
Election insiders predicted the horserace would be too close to call.
"It's always been a two-way race in this riding," May said, adding that Lunn phoned her to send his congratulations. Lunn, who has represented the riding since he was elected as a Reform MP in 1997, was most recently the Minister of Sport for the Conservatives.
Calling it "desperately needed," May said she will fight for proportional representation when she takes her place in the House of Commons.
"Because The [Conservative] party has won a majority while not representing the majority of Canadians," May said.
May said the Green Party has not been affected by the NDP "orange tide" that surged across the country because her party has always shied away from participating in attack ads and name-calling.
Mario Canseco, pollster for Angus Reid Public Opinion, said the party's success can be credited to getting the votes they needed "in the right place to make it happen."
"This had never been done before and the idea of toppling a minister seemed almost impossible only a few days ago," he told ctvbc.ca.
May captured about 47 per cent of the popular vote, compared to the Green showing of about 10 per cent in the last election when the party placed third in the riding.
Lunn had about 34 per cent of the vote, compared to his win in 2008 with 43 per cent.
Voting this morning with her teenaged daughter Victoria Cate, May said she was cautiously optimistic she could beat the Conservative incumbent to become the first elected Green Party MP in Canada.
May said her success was always dependent on whether all of her supporters would come out and vote.
"I'm so proud of all of our young voters like my daughter who voted for the first time today," she said.
While May won the leadership of the Green Party in August 2006, she has yet to hold public office.
She finished second in a by-election to Liberal Glen Pearson in the riding of London North Centre three months after taking the helm. May came in second again in 2008, losing to then-defence minister Peter MacKay in Central Nova in the federal election.
Some had suggested that May would be forced to step down if she was unable to bring any Green MPs into the House of Commons in her third election campaign as leader. Despite the election win, May will still face a party leadership review.
The Green Party only once briefly had a seat in the Commons due to an MP crossing the floor.
May and the Greens have struck a note with environmentalists across the country, as well as several prominent Canadian artists, including Vancouver Island songstress Nelly Furtado.
Furtado endorsed the candidate in a post on her Twitter page, saying she was confident that the Green party would keep the Gulf Islands "gorgeous."
Bill Henderson, the lead singer of the 1980s band Chilliwack, also penned a musical ode to May with the help of Randy Bachman.
It features a rhyme-heavy refrain: "Elizabeth May, she's got a better way, so let's vote today."