10/03/2012 08:15 EDT | Updated 12/03/2012 05:12 EST

Elizabeth May: A One-Woman Opposition Party


After her first year in Parliament, Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich--Gulf Islands (BC), is already being hailed by English-speaking media as the real opposition leader. A trend which does not particularly sit well with NDP Leader, Thomas Mulcair, much better equipped in terms of staff compared to the former head of the Sierra Club of Canada.

In 16 months, Canada's "hardest-working" MP, a term coined by journalist Susan Harada for the prestigious magazine The Walrus, has shown unwavering determination and leadership, rising far above what many thought a single MP could do, even managing to build a team that resembles a "small OLO" [Office of the Leader of the Opposition] in the process. At least according to political journalist Laura Ryckewaert from the Hill Times Online, a national media specialized in current affairs at the Parliament of Canada.

When we look at our institutions filled with Conservative backbenchers, who are as quiet as they are ignorant of high profile national issues -- a small brotherhood of automated partisans manipulated by the government of King Stephen Harper I -- we can only rejoice at the sight of Elizabeth May ploughing away with ease outside the traditional trappings of conflicts of interest where the Conservative majority has taken up residence.

Her impressive record speaks for itself, but please be my guest and judge for yourself. During her first year in Parliament, Elizabeth has:

• Spoken in the House of Commons over 500 times;

• Tabled three private member's bills;

• Seconded or co-seconded 40 additional private member's bills and motions;

• Tabled 140 petitions;

• Submitted over 300 substantive amendments to Bill C-38 alone;

• Voted in 441 out of 455 recorded votes; and

• Done all of that, and yet claimed less than 2/3 of the allowable limit for personal expenses.

Looking at this extraordinary, disciplined and honest report card, we can understand better how the Canadian population has come to resent the parliamentary sightseeing practised by the governing party, not to mention the rash of patronage appointments to the Senate, which Harper once vowed to abolish.

The infamous case of 34-year-old senator Patrick Brazeau, who was so seldom seen in our Upper House that it became easier to tally how many times he had actually shown up since his "appointment," speaks volumes. Brazeau is not one to be caught working himself to death, that's for sure. If he manages to hold on to his seat until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 years old, the youngest senator ever appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have earned -- and I hope you are all seated, dear fellow taxpayers -- more than nine million dollars in salary!

It's a high price to pay to see him take the occasional beating in the ring.

Luckily, behind May, the Green Party of Canada has built a strong team of dedicated and competent people, steeped in integrity and firmly focused on the future. This team of visionaries is hard at work building Canada's future while the present government is focused on selling vast portions of our country to the highest bidder.

Important by-elections will be held this fall throughout Canada, including those in Victoria (B.C) and Calgary-Centre (Alberta). In each of these ridings, stellar candidates will be ready to repeat the extraordinary feat accomplished by Elizabeth May and shake the foundations of this agonizing and at times foul-smelling Parliament.

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