Elizabeth May steps down as Green Party leader

Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has stepped down as party leader.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa Monday, May said that she is leaving the post she has held since 2006, effective today.

The B.C. MP said she felt comfortable stepping aside from the role now because the party is in a good position after a solid performance in the recent election campaign.

“We achieved more than one million votes for the first time ever,” May said. “As I look around the world … there is no other country with first-past-the-post that has achieved what we’ve achieved.”

May said she will continue to sit as a member of Parliament and will be the party’s parliamentary caucus leader. She said she promised her daughter that the 2019 election would be her last at the party’s helm.

After suggesting last week in an interview with CBC News that she would consider running to be Speaker of the House of Commons, May said today she would not run and will remain on the opposition benches.

She said her two caucus mates wanted her to stay on as an MP to help hold the Liberal government to account.

May said she’d push the Liberal government to make “massive” and “transformative” changes to climate policy in the coming Parliament. She also said instituting a national pharmacare plan should be another top priority.

After years of May as the lone Green MP in the Commons, the Green Party caucus grew to three members in last month’s election.

While the party achieved the best electoral result in its history last month, some observers had predicted the Greens would pick up even more seats given how many voters were saying climate change was a major issue for them.

When asked if she should have stepped aside sooner, May said she remains a “popular leader” and claimed the party faced head winds in the last election because of unspecified “dirty tricks.” May has accused the NDP of spreading misinformation in fliers handed out across Vancouver Island.

The 2019 election was the party’s second-best showing under May’s leadership. The party achieved 6.5 per cent of the national vote, marginally less than the 6.78 per cent the Greens won in the 2008 campaign.

Former journalist Jo-Ann Roberts will serve as the party’s interim leader. May said the party will hold a leadership vote in October 2020 at a convention in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

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