Elizabeth May has stepped down because the leader of the Green Party of Canada, effective immediately.
Jo-Ann Roberts, the party’s deputy leader, will likely be the interim leader.
May, who had served because the leader of the party since 2006, made the announcement Monday. The 65-year-old told reporters she promised her daughter three years ago that the 2019 election could be her last as party leader — though not necessarily her last as a member of Parliament.
“I used to be working seven days every week. I only had one break day per 30 days and sometimes I lost that break day,” she said.
“I don’t feel that I’m actually leaving,” May added, saying she intends to remain engaged in federal politics, particularly issues related to climate change.
May took aim on the climate policies of major federal parties through the news conference, saying there isn’t a party that is supplied to handle the challenge.
“None of them seem to grasp that we’re heading toward an abyss.”
A proper leadership contest for May’s substitute will likely be held in October 2020.
“I would like to encourage individuals who voted Green to get entangled … speak up for what you ought to see in the subsequent Green Party leader of Canada,” May said.
Neither of the opposite two Green MPs elected last month — Jenica Atwin in Fredericton and Vancouver Island’s Paul Manly — were tapped for the interim job, ensuring they’re eligible to hunt the everlasting job.
Atwin, nevertheless, told reporters she doesn’t intend to hunt the position.
Including May, three Green MPs were elected last month, essentially the most in its history but far shy of the 12 needed to realize official party status.
May hinted recently that she could also be curious about running to be Speaker of the House of Commons but ruled out doing so within the short term because Manly and Atwin asked her to stay within the caucus.
Roberts, who’s a former journalist, told reporters she is looking forward to taking up the duty of interim leader. She added that the Greens are grateful for May’s contributions to the party.
May became the primary elected Green MP in 2011.
“This can be a woman who got here in with a bunch of political activists and created a national party that might hold its own on the national stage,” she said.
“I do know that Green Party members are perpetually grateful but I do imagine Canadians are perpetually grateful.”
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Roberts said she doesn’t intend to be a “substitute” for May and can give attention to overseeing the leadership race.
Those outside the Green Party also paid tribute to May’s time as party leader, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“.@ElizabethMay, you’ve been a champion for the environment for a long time, and your leadership on the climate crisis has helped push our country forward,” Trudeau tweeted.
“I do know you’ll proceed to encourage Canadians of all ages & political stripes to fight for a greater & cleaner future.”
Conservative Leader thanked May for her service, writing, “Thanks @ElizabethMay to your a few years of service to Canadians as Leader of the Green Party, and I wish you well as you proceed to serve your constituents in Saanich-Gulf Islands.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote: “Elizabeth May has worked hard for her constituents, her Party and within the House of Commons. Congratulations in your leadership of the Green Party – glad to listen to you plan to proceed serving because the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.”
Former justice minister and current Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould also sent well wishes to May.
“To my dear friend, @ElizabethMay… Gilakas’la 4 your service because the leader of the @CanadianGreens,” Wilson-Raybould tweeted.
“I do know your passion, determination & thoughtful advocacy on the environment, true reconciliation w/ Indig. peoples & dem. reform will likely be ever-present.”
— With files from the Canadian Press