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Riding move to BC could net Greens first MP: May

* This story was updated at 2:30 pm, Friday, July 3

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May is considering making British Columbia her new political home.

At a book signing on Salt Spring Island earlier this month, May was overwhelmed by the crowd asking her to run as the candidate for the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.

She replied that she had already considered it, saying that she wants to run in a riding where she can win and land the Greens a seat in the House of Commons.

In a recent interview with Island Tides, May discussed the possibility of moving west and running as a parachute candidate to squeeze her way into the House:

I have been very reluctant to run anywhere that wasn’t a home-base, like Nova Scotia is. Now, when I ran last time in Central Nova, I staged a high-profile campaign against Peter MacKay and, I promise you, I had every intention of getting elected...

Every single day people come up to me and say, ‘We need you in the House of Commons, please run where you can get elected. And I’d have to share with everyone involved, regardless if it’s Saanich-Gulf Islands or another riding that becomes the choice of the party, that there’s has been an evolution in my thinking—that I really owe it to the million people who voted Green in 2008 to be their voice in the House of Commons.

After moving from London, Ontario, to be closer to her 84-year-old father, May was defeated in last year’s election by Conservative MP, Peter MacKay, in her riding of Central Nova, Nova Scotia. She received 32 per cent of the vote, up from about two per cent in 2006.

Yet, despite saying Central Nova was “sensible” and that she intended to run there again, May now claims that by the end of the next election she intends to sit in the House of Commons.

The party is looking at other ridings as well, but the progressive mindset of the Gulf Islands is attractive, despite the 2008 election result where the Green Party won only just over 10 per cent* of the riding's votes.

Central Nova is actually quite similar to Saanich–Gulf Islands communities: dependence on fisheries, a lot of seasonal employment, very little heavy industry.

What I look at in uniting an area and what appeals to that the perspective of people outside major urban areas is getting lost in some of the other parties. Other party leaders are all from urban centers.

One of the things that defines a community where you have people come in from ‘away’ is that people are not necessarily as entrenched. They are more fluid in their voting. The fact that people are open-minded in Saanich–Gulf Islands is certainly an advantage.

Read the full interview between Elizabeth May and Island Tides editor Christa Grace-Warrik here.

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee

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