Guelph was the place that Sylvie Lemieux, a former Lt. Colonel in the Canadian Forces and accomplished civil engineer, launched her campaign to succeed Elizabeth May as Green Party of Canada leader last Saturday.
The setting was the backyard of the home of Bob Bell. Bell, the locally acclaimed candidate for the Green Party in the next federal election, who was hosting a barbecue get-together for local Greens. Lemieux made her announcement as the clock winds down on an August 2nd vote by party members on constitutional changes that would stymie the requirement for a leadership contest before the end of 2010. This is the fourth year of May’s four year term as leader of the Green Party of Canada, but with the near constant spectre of a federal election, May has been advocating that now’s not the time for a potentially divisive leadership contest.
“There are several people who will run for leadership when there is a leadership race and by far the numbers of people who want to run for leadership don’t want to have a leadership race before the next election,” May told the Globe and Mail. “They don’t think it will be in the best interests of the party.”
Lemieux, obviously, disagrees. ““This is not about running against Elizabeth May,” Lemieux told the Globe. “This is about creating a better option for Canadians by building the party into a true contender that's more attuned to Canadians from coast to coast.”
At Saturday’s barbecue, Bell, our local man in Green, was noncommittal, but believed that the party needed to look at their leadership situation head on. “Elizabeth has been the leader for four years, so it’s time to ask the question, and Sylvie is doing so,” Bell said. “There’s been this possible impending election for a year and a half and I believe that’s why our leadership issue has been pushed back.”
Still, it’s interesting that Lemieux would choose Guelph to make her declaration of interest in heading the Green Party. Our sorted little berg has long been considered a possible “breakthrough” riding for the party, and in the past two elections (the 2007 Provincial and the 2008 Federal) the Green candidate finished third. As for that elusive next Federal election, Lemieux says don’t worry because Prime Minister Stephen Harper “has no incentive to get into an election before .”
For the sake of my political sanity I'm banking on their not being both a Federal and Municipal election this fall.
Read the Mercury story here.
Read the Globe story here.
Photo courtesy of the Guelph Mercury.