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Elizabeth May denies her job is up for grabs

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is shown in Toronto on June 18, 2010.

Sarah Dea/Sarah Dea/The Globe and Mail

A Green Party member wants to make a run for Leader Elizabeth May's job.

But Ms. May says the party's governing council has already decided there should be no leadership race until after the next federal election.

Sylvie Lemieux, a retired army lieutenant-colonel, announced at a party event near Guelph, Ont., this weekend that she wants a chance to lead the Greens. The Guelph Mercury reported that she intends to put forth a motion at the party's annual convention next month in Toronto calling for a leadership contest before the end of 2010.

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According to the party's constitution, Ms. May's four-year term expires next month.

But Ms. May said Monday the Green Party council decided seven months ago that the rules around leadership needed to be changed and it made no sense to set four-year terms with no consideration given to election timing.

The rules "were developed in a sort of a purist isolation," she said in a telephone interview from Pictou, N.S., where she was attending an event to protest offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

"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. They don't think it will be in the best interests of the party," Ms. May told The Globe.

Someone else who wanted to run for the leadership raised the matter of the fixed-term with the council last November, she said. That person, who she declined to identify because his leadership aspirations may not be widely known, said a political party would look "bush league" if it held a leadership race immediately before an election.

There is much speculation among political observers that a federal vote could be called this fall.

Ms. May, who has abstained from any council vote on leadership issues, said the party decided that the constitutional requirement for a fixed term should be amended to say that the leader's performance will be examined after every federal election and that the leader must obtain the support of 60 per cent of the party's members at that time.

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Members of the party are currently voting on that amendment electronically and by mail in the lead-up to the Toronto convention. Those who attend the meeting will vote at that time. If the council's proposal fails then a leadership race will be held.

A party lawyer has also pointed out that the financing rules of the Canada Elections Act make it all but impossible for a standing leader of a political party to stay on in that position during a leadership race. That would mean Ms. May would have to step down and there would be no mechanism for reinstate her in the case of a snap election call.

"I think it is probably the most critical issue before the convention," Ms. May said. "But there isn't a leadership race until the members decide that there is one."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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