A Candid Conversation with Elizabeth May

Publication Source: Saanich Voice Online
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Author: Judy Barlow

Elizabeth May, mother, author, orator, activist, environmentalist, theologian, lawyer, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, National Green Party Leader, and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, was apparently born lacking one thing most people have – the “give-up gene”. She’s been knocked down a lot, with more than her share of defeats. But she always gets back up.

“That’s a very good way of putting it,” she laughs. “You probably hit the nail on the head. Maybe I was born without the ‘give-up’ gene. Whatever it is, it’s pretty ingrained in my personality. Who knows if it’s genetic or if it’s the way I was raised …”

Ms May explains. “… My mom [a prominent anti-nuclear activist and founding member of SANE] was a big influence. She never admitted to defeat. She never gave up … She got involved in trying to stop nuclear weapons testing. She wasn’t an expert, just a housewife. She read somewhere that experts were concerned that it increased the incidence of childhood leukemia and she thought, ‘Well that can’t be right. I can’t let the risk of leukemia go up.’ So she threw herself into it and seemed to have an intuitive understanding of grassroots organizing. So I was raised with the idea that if there’s something in the world that you think is wrong, get busy and fix it. And besides,” she adds, “I’m pretty hard-wired toward optimism … I think a big part of my hard-wiring is my faith.”

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