Tag Archives: elizabeth may

International Women’s Day

Green Party calls for renewed focus on equality on International Women’s Day

OTTAWA – The Green Party is celebrating International Women’s Day and calling for a renewed focus on achieving equality for women in Canada.

“The situation for women has improved immensely over the past century, but there is much work to be done. Women still earn only about 70 percent of what men take home,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “Unfortunately, the situation has been made worse by the regressive actions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has done more damage to issues important to women in two years than many of us thought possible. Last year, Canada slipped from 14th to 18th place in terms of women’s equality.”

Ms. May noted that the Harper government has eroded progress towards women’s rights in Canada by eliminating the word “equality” from the mandate of Status of Women Canada, prohibited advocacy activities of women’s organization funded by Status of Women and canceled the Court Challenges program, which was accessible to promote Charter rights. The Harper government has also killed federal-provincial child care agreements and failed to create new child care spaces.

“The Green Party considers it crucial to implement the recommendations of the Federal Pay Equity Task force, something the Conservative government has failed to do,” she said. “We also recognize that women’s access to education and participation in the workforce is necessary to achieve equality. But equity will never become reality unless we can ensure adequate maternity benefits and full access to affordable childcare, among other measures.”

Ms. May also said Canada must work toward increasing the representation of women in Parliament.

“Women represent over half of the population of Canada, yet less than 21 percent of Parliamentarians are women,” she said. “We rank a dismal 50th in the world in terms of women’s representation in Parliament. In countries with fair voting systems, more women are elected and the Green Party will continue to support electoral reform as a way to better represent women in Parliament.”

“The Green Party is proud to have a woman, Elizabeth May, as leader,” noted deputy leader Adriane Carr. “We are currently the only federal party with a female leader. On behalf of all Canadian women, we urge legislators of all stripes to renew efforts to attain equality.”

Green leader attends local rally

Elizabeth May at Chris Tindal RallyFrom The Mirror

Local candidate has integrity, decency: May

March 7, 2008 03:55 PM

Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May dropped by Toronto Centre to promote local byelection candidate Chris Tindal at an election rally Thursday night. Dozens of Green supporters turned out to the rally, at the Pantages Hotel and Spa, cheering on party luminaries such as May, Tindal and Willowdale byelection candidate Lou Carcasole.

May spoke highly of Tindal and his role within the Green Party. As a second-time candidate, and one who increased party support greatly during his last campaign, Tindal is a member of May’s shadow cabinet as the Green Party’s democratic reform critic.

“Chris is a shining, bright example of Canadian youth, and he’s a fantastic asset to this party,” May said. “He’s always open to new ideas and has the ability to bring people together around ideas.”

May said Tindal’s integrity and decency made him an ideal representative of the Green Party, taking a swipe at the Conservatives by noting that the Greens were happy to have their candidates speak out on issues in their own words.

“You look at the way (Stephen) Harper fired (former Toronto Centre Conservative candidate) Mark Warner for being outspoken and passionate about strong issues,” she said. “We want people like Chris who can and will be themselves. They know what the party stands for and they got involved because they share those ideals.”

May also took the opportunity to critique the Conservatives’ recent budget, calling it “a budget that militarizes Canada” and “a Big Brother budget.”

She warned that the budget does little to address pressing issues such as the environment in favour of more so-called security measures.

“There will be more policing along polluted waterways, not cleaning it up,” she said.

Former Green Party leader Jim Harris addressed the assembled Green supporters by noting that the party has grown from roughly 700 members in 2003 to over 10,000 members across Canada today. He added that the budget Tindal’s campaign in Toronto Centre was more that twice as large as the entire Green Party’s federal campaign budget in 2004.

“There’s a huge opportunity in this riding for the Green Party,” he said. “We have more than 100 volunteers working on this campaign alone.”

Tindal added that support in the riding has been far greater than ever before and, though he offered a tip of the cap to his high-profile Liberal opponent Bob Rae, he said he has noticed a desire for change in the riding.

“(Rae) speaks very passionately about his vision for Canada,” Tindal said. “But in this byelection, we have a unique opportunity where we’re not choosing the government; we’re choosing one MP. If we vote in another Liberal, another Conservative, another NDP, then we’ve changed nothing, but if we make history by electing the first Green MP, then we’ve changed politics in Canada forever.”

The byelection will take place on Monday, March 17.

It’s the Green Party, and you’re invited

While some other leaders are avoiding Toronto Centre, Elizabeth May is in town tonight to rally support for our campaign with less than two weeks to go before March 17th. It’s going to be a fun evening (with free food!) and all are welcome. I’ll even be so bold as to predict that some notable Toronto Centre personalities will be making an appearance. I’d love to see you there.

Thursday March 6, 6:30pm – Rally with Elizabeth May at Pantages Hotel, 200 Victoria Street (map) (pdf) (facebook)

Dangerous Governance

I spent the evening with Elizabeth May as she addressed an event at Upper Canada College. On the way over, we chatted about (among other things) the unbelievably disturbing situation unfolding with regards to the CNSC and our government. Namely, not only do we no longer have an independent nuclear safety watchdog in Canada, but the independence of all arms-length governmental organizations has been undermined. What’s even more unbelievable for me is that every single party in the House of Commons rolled over and let this happen. Just another example of why we need Green MPs now.

I asked Elizabeth if I could share the following email with you, which I received from her just an hour before she arrived at Union Station. (So from what I can tell, she wrote this off the top of her head on the train.) It represents what is possibly the most comprehensive and damning overview of what’s going largely unreported and why it’s so disastrous not only for our safety, but for our democracy.

We have taken very clear positions on this issue. First, you need to know we have done our homework. Here’s a crash course in the fiasco.

1) The NRU reactor at Chalk River is over 50 years old. It is operated by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, a Crown Corporation. Closing for even routine maintenance should not have occurred without a contingency plan, alerting the other manufacturers of medical radio-isotopes that they should be prepared to boost production.

2) The reactor closed on November 18 for routine maintenance without any contingency plan. Then the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, discovered that the reactor was operating illegally, having ignored license requirements for emergency back-ups for additional pumps. CNSC told AECL they could not re-open until they met license requirements. AECL still did not alert the government that it needed to make contingency plans. Why not? I speculate here, but MDS-Nordion is the “for profit” operation that was once part of AECL. I think that Nordion and AECL did not want to have reduced profits and a loss of market share. No one informed the Minister of Health of a looming crisis until December 5. For reasons of profit and market they gambled on holding Canadian patients hostage to avoid meeting the regulatory requirements. They won. The President of the CNSC lost.

3) Chalk River’s NRU reactor makes Molybdenum 99. It makes about 40% of the world’s supply. The other 60% comes from facilities in Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, France and Germany. The isotope used in diagnosis is technetium-99m (t-99m), which is derived from the Molybdenum 99. While the t99-m has a very very short half life, 66 hours 6 hours, the Moly 99 lasts much longer and could have been stockpiled. A few ounces of M 99 provides enough t 99m for thousands of treatments and diagnostic tests.

4) AECL mismanagement: Everyone has known the NRU reactor will have to close eventually. It is way past its “best-before” date. AECL promised to have two reactors up and running dedicated exclusively to making radio-isotopes. That was more than ten years ago. Maple 1 and 2 are pretty much finished at Chalk River. We know they were budgeted at $140 million. They are way over budget and they cannot be opened. AECL cannot figure out what is wrong, They were supposed to have a “negative power coefficient of reactivity (PCR)” — meaning that the nuclear reaction in the core was supposed to slow down as power increased. This is a safety feature. Instead of slowing down, the reaction speeds up. The handling of this project is one of the items the Auditor General reported as a deficiency in her fall report to government, released this week.

5) How safe is safe enough? The NRU reactor, like all nuclear installations, has a very small risk of a very catastrophic accident. That is why they have back up systems. There is a current dispute between AECL, CNSC and Lunn — and it is much larger than the NRU issue. The former President of CNSC is chairing some international nuclear safety committees. The CNSC communicated to AECL that if it plans to build any new reactors, they must meet international safety standards. AECL has protested that is unnecessary. Lunn takes AECL’s side. (After all Harper and company want nuclear reactors to speed up exploitation of the tar sands….)

The Green Party does not accept that the regulator should have been over-ridden. This, plus removing Keen as President, has set a very dangerous precedent. Now the nuclear industry knows that if it is operating illegally and cutting corners, the Harper government will rush to their defence and shoot the messenger. The emergency legislation passed did NOT have any independent expert advice. I am not referring to the fact one expert was chair of a Conservative riding association. The lack of independence is that both witnesses to Parliament had long-standing ties to AECL. We believe the other political parties were too scared of angry cancer patients to be capable of thinking clearly.


1) WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE IF WE’D BEEN IN THE HOUSE? The Opposition Parties should have contacted every manufacturer of Moly 99 around the world to ascertain whether they could meet demand, and over what time frame. ONLY if it was clear (which it is still not clear to us) there was no way to keep supplies of Moly 99 at acceptable levels, should the bill to re-open the NRU have gone ahead. We would have insisted on re-writing Lunn’s emergency Bill to instruct CNSC to allow the reactor to open on a temporary license, with all safety issues over-seen by CNSC. The bill, as passed, puts AECL in charge of its own operation. An impossible and dangerous precedent of nuclear fox watching over radioactive chicken coop.


We are demanding a full public inquiry. There has never been a public review of AECL. One was promised by the Joe Clark government, but the government fell before it could take place. Billions of dollars in subsidies have gone to AECL with nearly zero accountability.

We are demanding Lunn’s resignation. His interference with a quasi-judicial regulator is a firing offence. The Harper government does not understand the rule of law.

We are exploring whether the conflict of interest between AECL being within Natural Resources would be reduced by placing nuke issues in Environment Canada… this is a position being taken by some prominent NGOs…


As we discussed the contents of this email, we listened to an interview with Dr. Tom Perry, a Professor at the University of British Columbia and a physician at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, who struggled to understand how any lives could have been threatened as the Conservative government has claimed. During the whole time Chalk River was down, he and his colleagues failed to notice any health crisis.

In other words, there’s much more going on here than we’re aware of. We need an inquiry. Thank goodness we have in Elizabeth May the only party leader with the courage and credibility to press for the truth.