October 2019 – Making Waves

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1173482

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Page 56 of 71

Q OCTOBER 2019 BCBUSINESS 57 Questions range from the meaning of climate emergency, use of fossil fuels, nuclear power, pipelines and electric vehi- cle rebates to a request for help finding out what's happened to a petition and criticism of May travelling in airplanes and cars. She listens carefully and responds to all of them respectfully and thoroughly—as National Post columnist John Ivison has written, "She never uses a sentence when a paragraph would do." In the same column he also writes, "She is a decent, smart hard-working politician who actually reads legislation and makes sensible interventions." In his 2016 book Not My Party: The Rise and Fall of Canadian Tories, From Robert Stanfield to Stephen Harper, Tom McMillan, environment minister in Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government dur- ing the 1980s, complains that, among other issues, when May worked for him as an adviser and link to environmental groups, she overshared confidential information. He also acknowledges that "she combines high intelligence, a powerful work ethic, a strong commitment to populist causes, expertise and credibility on a broad range of issues, a mellifluous tongue, and a non-threatening and approachable persona....Her popular appeal...extends well beyond the minority of electors who are passionate about envi- ronmental issues." Her diligence comes up often. May has been voted Canada's hardest-working MP by both the Hill Times and Maclean's/L'actualité. When asked for a comment, former federal attorney general and minister of justice Jody Wilson-Raybould says that their involve- ment was limited to some legislation she her- self was responsible for, but May was always very thoughtful about her input and incred- ibly hard-working. "I think the constituents of Saanich–Gulf Islands are well served by her," adds Wilson-Raybould, now an Inde- pendent candidate for Vancouver Granville with a new book on Indigenous reconcilia- tion (see p.18). "Where she and I seem to con- nect in a real way is around our approach to politics, and around our approach to work- ing collaboratively across party lines." On a mission Elizabeth May has strong activist and politi- cal roots. Three of her ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence. Before her family moved from Connecticut to Cape Breton when May was in her teens, her mother campaigned against nuclear weap- ons testing and for civil rights. Her first of eight books was Budworm Battles: The Fight to Stop the Aerial Insecticide Spraying of the Forests of Eastern Canada. She has a law degree from Dalhousie University and was executive director of the Ottawa-based Sierra Club Canada Foundation from 1989 to 2006. Now 57, she's the longest-serving current federal party leader in Canada. May says she never thought when she became leader in 2006 that she'd be in the same position in 2019. "I'm going into my fourth national general election leading the Green Party, and certainly I feel as though the tenacity has paid off, because we're in a better position than we've ever been," she declares. "I've had many moments when I've thought, I've got to find someone younger. I am very committed to succession planning. I'm not one of those people who wants to cling to leadership till I'm not popu- lar. I'd like to go out when things are good. Certainly things are looking very good now." Paul Manly, representing the Green Party of Canada in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, was elected to Parliament this spring, becoming the party's second MP. During the summer, some polls showed the Greens vying with the NDP for third place. Still, growth for the party isn't May's priority. "All I want is sen- sible climate plans from all levels of govern- ment, and I don't care who gets the credit," she says. "But it must be done if we're going to preserve a livable world for our kids." Hers include an adult daughter, Cate May-Burton, and several stepchildren and grandchildren. "In terms of business, we also need a livable world, for the sustaining of a prosperous society requires that we're not in a constant state of massive crisis, which we can avoid if we act now," May maintains. Should enough Green Party members be elected in this month's vote to form or influence government, they'd take measures to ensure that Canada does its part under the 2016 Paris Agreement to hold the global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees higher than before the Industrial Revolution. Because then human civilization and our way of life survive, May says. "It won't be pretty. It's not like it stops forest fires, it's not going to stop all sea-level rise, it's not going to stop unstable severe weather events. But we get through it. At 2 degrees we don't." May doesn't mince words, but her mes- sage is positive and her tone upbeat. She says the good news is, we have the necessary technology, and it's economically possible to achieve that goal. The problem is an absence of political will. "If it's an emergency, that means that we have to stop having idiot debates in Parliament and act like grown- ups and figure out what needs to be done and then do it," May argues. "The evidence is terrifying, but I don't think we're cooked." Mission: Possible aims to reduce Cana- da's greenhouse gas emissions to 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to zero by 2050. This would require rapid reductions in fossil fuel activity (no new pipelines or fossil fuel infrastructure, banning fracking, eliminating government fossil fuel subsidies and imported oil; shifting bitumen from fuel to feedstock for the petrochemical industry); decarbonizing the electricity grid and connecting it nationwide; switching to electric cars and biodiesel for agricultural, fishing and forestry equipment; retrofitting buildings to be energy-efficient; and plant- ing lots of trees. "We appreciate what Ms. May and the Greens are trying to do," says Dan Baxter, director of policy development, govern- ment and stakeholder relations with the BC Chamber of Commerce, noting that her plan includes ideas his organization sup- ports, like a revenue-neutral carbon tax and getting electricity moving better across the country. But Baxter questions whether some 475,000 jobs in Canadian oil and gas production alone can transition to other sec- tors. Instead of either developing our natural resources or going 100-percent green, why not do both? If we want to really tackle the "If it's an emergency, that means that we have to stop having idiot debates in Parliament and act like grownups and figure out what needs to be done and then do it. The evidence is terrifying, but I don't think we're cooked" —Elizabeth May

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