08/05/2015 07:33 EDT | Updated 08/05/2016 05:59 EDT

Federal Election 2015: 5 Things That Will Help Elizabeth May Succeed In Thursday's Debate

Here are five keys to success in Thursday night's leaders' debate for Green party Leader Elizabeth May.


TORONTO — Five keys to success in Thursday night's leaders' debate for Green party Leader Elizabeth May:

1. Make the environment the main ballot box issue. The election campaign is in its infancy but the conversation has so far largely focused on the economy. What draws voters to the Green party is its environmental policies, said McMaster University political science professor Henry Jacek. May will have to be dramatic in telling voters about the dire threats to the environment while positioning her party as the best one to handle them.

2. Draw on her experience. May is the only leader who can say she's squared off against Stephen Harper in a live election debate before. She has said Harper is her main opponent so she will likely spend a lot of time focusing her attention on him, says former Green strategist Camille Labchuk. May comes across in debates as likeable and intellectual, and has shown she can hold her own against the prime minister, Labchuk added.

3. Distinguish her party from the Liberals and NDP. All three parties are left of centre and all three have called for action to combat climate change. May has to tell voters how the Greens' environmental policies differ from those of the other two parties, Labchuk said — particularly on issues like pipelines, renewable energy and oil sands.

4. Inject herself into the conversation. Mulcair and Trudeau will likely join May in focusing their jabs at Harper. The Conservative leader, when not trumpeting his own track record, can be expected to attack Mulcair and Trudeau, particularly on their economic policies, while largely ignoring May. The Green party leader will have to be vigilant to avoid letting the conversation happen without her.

5. Remind people that the Green Party is more than Elizabeth May. She needs to talk about her roster of local Greens, such as star candidate Gord Miller, the former Ontario environmental commissioner who is running in Guelph, Ont., said Jacek. As the party hopes to expand beyond the two seats it held at dissolution, May will need to remind voters about her entire team.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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