Former Green Party leader Elizabeth May. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Surrey Greens say party wants younger leader

Federal Green Party must choose new leader now that Elizabeth May, 65, has stepped down

The Green Party of Canada will probably seek out a leader who’s a little greener now that Elizabeth May, 65, has stepped down.

The MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands has served her constituents since 2011. She announced Sunday that after a 13-year run steering the party she’s stepped down as its leader but will lead its three-MP caucus in Ottawa in this minority parliament.

Beverly Pixie Hobby, who ran for the Greens in South Surrey-White Rock in this past federal election, has an impressive CV, having practised environmental law since 1988. She also worked with Environment Canada to bring into effect the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), develop an International Convention on Climate Change, and served as counsel to Environment Canada’s Pacific and Yukon Regional Office.

Asked if she’s considering a run at the leadership, Hobby suggested the party’s membership will more likely be looking for a sapling than an older-growth tree.

“Everybody was sort of suggesting Elizabeth was getting on in years, and the truth of the matter is I’m two years older than she is, so I don’t think they would want one ‘old lady’ replaced by an even older ‘old lady,’ even though I don’t feel like an old lady by any stretch of the imagination,” Hobby told the Now-Leader. “I think what they’re looking for is somebody younger that will be around for a few years. I think I’m good for another 20 years, and then after that I’ll be 92 or something like that and by that time they’ll want to put me in a little box and feed me to the orcas or something.

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Beverly Pixie Hobby

“This is the dilemma, because a lot of younger people don’t have the experience,” Hobby said, “like Elizabeth and I have both been practicing environmental law for over 35 years and so we really know our stuff, and some of the young people don’t have that.”

As for a potential successor for May, Hobby said, “I only know the B.C. crowd, and basically the people from the Lower Mainland, and south of the Fraser, and some people from the Island I’ve met, but I haven’t met anybody from outside B.C. yet.

“We’re having a convention next October in Charlottetown and I’m definitely going to that. But even before then, I will be having a chance to speak to a lot of people who are in a position where they could really take this on. But even before then, I will be having a chance to speak to a lot of people who are in a position where they could really take this on.”

Tanya Baertl was the Green candidate in Fleetwood-Port Kells. “It’s sad to see Elizabeth May move on,” she said. “I really enjoyed working under her, she’s such a positive person, and truth-speaking. Looking to the next leader? There’s some people in the back of my mind that I saw run in the federal election but I feel like it’s almost too early.

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Tanya Baertl

“I see her reasons for stepping down now,” Baertl said of May.

“I see her reasons for stepping down now,” Baertl said of May. “She’s wanting to set up a leader well in time for it, in case there’s an early election. Her stepping down is not a surprise, but it may be a little sooner than we were thinking, but definitely not a surprise.”

John Werring ran for the Greens in Surrey Centre. He says he hasn’t given thought to who should be leader but won’t seek the position himself.

“I’m sure there will probably be a full slate of people who would like to step forward,” Werring said. “I think they’re going to be looking for fresh blood, new blood, younger people, younger ideas, moving forward. I think it would be a healthy thing, actually.”

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John Werring



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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