Though it’s only November, Monday marked the last day of May.
Of the current federal major party leaders, Elizabeth May has served the longest. She announced Monday she was stepping down as head of the Green Party of Canada after 13 years — a promise to her daughter following last month’s election.
Former CBC journalist Jo-Ann Roberts will serve as interim leader until the party votes for a new one in October 2020. While May will remain as the party’s parliamentary leader — heading up its largest caucus ever of three MPs — her decision marks the end of an era in Canadian politics.
From pushing hard to get into the federal leaders’ debate during the 2011 election to making some truly iconic memes, her impact won’t soon be forgotten. Here are some of her most memorable moments as Green leader.
The first French-language debate of the 2015 election started as many do, with the federal leaders meeting in the middle for a friendly handshake.
But then, as the leaders turned away, May glanced over her shoulder, right into the camera. A smile crossed her lips as she flashed a peace sign, and the sassy Elizabeth May meme was born.
Upon rewatching, my favourite part of the video might be the look Trudeau gives May when he realizes what she’s doing. A true chef’s kiss moment.
Speaking of Trudeau, he notably did not attend the first debate of the 2019 federal election, hosted by Maclean’s. But May was there — and made another meme-worthy moment when she went to shake hands with the absent Liberal leader.
She also spoke in the direction of the empty podium, saying “Nice to see you” to the man she definitely could not see.
With May no longer leading the party, here’s hoping another federal leader steps up in terms of meme generation.
“You’ve got more class than the whole f***g cabinet”
A parliamentary press gallery dinner is meant to be a night of light-hearted jabs and political inside jokes. But in 2015, May made headlines for a winding speech that included an f-bomb, a dig at the Conservative government and the theme song to the ’70s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter.”
WATCH: Elizabeth May’s 2015 press gallery dinner speech. Story continues below.
While she made some obligatory jokes about other leaders — Is Stephen Harper’s hair real? Why are the Liberals squashing Justin Trudeau’s luscious locks? — May’s big moment came at the end with a shout-out to Omar Khadr, who had been freed on bail in Edmonton that week.
“Omar Khadr, you’ve got more class than the whole f***g cabinet,” May said, as Conservative MP and transport minister Lisa Raitt tried to usher her off the stage.
She then played the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme song from her phone into the microphone.
“Who knew Kotter was spelled k-h-a-d-r,” May shouted as Raitt pulled her away.
May later apologized for the crassness of her speech.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was less than respectful for the people with whom I work,” May said. “I apologize that I made an attempt to be funny and edgy … and it didn’t work.”
[Rihanna voice] Make you feel, like you’re the only girl in the world
The House of Commons passed a motion last spring declaring climate change a national emergency. May was the only federal leader present during the debate.
“Procrastination has left us where we are right now. There’s no time for incrementalism anymore,” May said.
She issued her speech to a largely empty room, as most other MPs only showed up later to vote for the motion.
May’s long been an advocate against climate change, and even got arrested last year protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
WATCH: Greens’ Elizabeth May arrested. Story continues below.
If you smelt it, you dealt it
Even though she is no longer leader, May will continue to represent Saanich-Gulf Islands in the House of Commons, where she will almost certainly maintain her flair for parliamentary decorum.
In one memorable exchange in 2016, she called out Conservarive Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel for using the word “fart” while addressing the house.
“Why does this government treat Alberta like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge,” Rempel had said.
“I heard her say a word that is distinctly unparliamentary and I think she may want to withdraw it,” May responded. “The word was f-a-r-t.”
Last week, May expressed interest in one day holding the title of Speaker of the House. Now that’s she’s no longer a party leader, that dream — of rules, documents, order in the House — is closer to her reach.
It’s time to see whether the grass is greener when you’re no longer leader.
WATCH: Elizabeth May won’t let Michelle Rempel’s ‘fart’ comment pass.