Now that we have entered into November and with a couple of weeks before the Liberals name their new cabinet, the parties are starting to put the pieces back together. They are looking ahead at the next Parliament and asking a lot of questions about their own performances, their future directions and of course, leadership. There has been a lot of talk about leadership, potential changes and what could happen on that front. Well today we finally saw the first shoe drop on the leadership front, one that will be interesting to watch:
Green leader Elizabeth May has decided to step down as the leader of her party, ending the longest leadership tenure of any party in the House of Commons. As I mentioned on Election Day, the future of her leadership was one of the things I was watching for and honestly, her resignation is less of a surprise to me and more of what seems very natural. Being the leader of any party for over a decade is tough on anyone, let alone when you spent almost all of that time as a party of one. So having reached her mid sixties and recently having gotten married, it felt like unless some big breakthrough came that she would take a step back.
Taking that step back became all the easier when you saw their results during this campaign and that major break through failing to materialize. There was serious talk about the Greens getting into double-digit seats, sweeping Vancouver Island and maybe even getting official party status. In the end, they only added one seat, getting their first outside of BC in New Brunswick. And given all of the scandals and candidate problem they had in this campaign, it became clear how much of a disappointment their campaign became.
And really when you watched Ms. May in the last few weeks of this campaign, you got the feeling that this was someone having their last run. In what they said and how they acted, that was an impression that came across to me for sure, one that we’ve seen before in other leaders in their last campaigns. Also, when you add the strange post-campaign “campaign” to become Speaker, complete with her boasting about being the “least partisan MP” (something that you’d never think you’d hear the actual least partisan MP ever say), it was clear she wanted to move on.
Now for the Greens they will move into a leadership campaign sometime in 2020 and it will be interesting to see what it brings. There are no natural successors for Ms. May because, lets face it, this has been the Elizabeth May Party as much as the Green Party during her leadership. Sure there are now other elected Greens in Ottawa and in some provincial capitals, but are any of them ready or able to not only take on this leadership role, but to even match the attention or ability that Ms. May showed? That is a seriously open question, one that if I were to answer it today I’d say “No”. There are not really any names of note who you would expect to take a run at this leadership, so that feels like a safe answer right now.
But there is a potential wild card in this story that could make things interesting; none other than the Independent MP from Vancouver-Granville, Jody Wilson-Raybould. The connections between the Greens and the former Liberal cabinet minister have been there for these many months and we know that Ms. May offered to give her the leadership if she wanted it. In the end we all know what decision she made, staying Independent and getting re-elected that way. Will she have a change of mind on that score now? That will be something that will be interesting to watch because right now she would seem to be the only thing close to a name of note that could take on this position.
Over the next couple of months, I would expect that we’ll hear more and more speculation about who will try to become the next Green leader but for this party, they are truly at a crossroads. What will they look like going ahead, what direction will they go in and will this be the high point in their history? There are a lot of open questions but by making one big decision today, Elizabeth May has put her party on a path to answer them.