It won't be much of a summer vacation for Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
The renowned environmentalist and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands is deciding whether to resign as party leader after members voted to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
"I think it is wrong-headed for the party," she told CBC in a news story posted Friday morning. "It's a very polarizing and divisive campaign."
The vote is fracturing the greens. At least two of the four greens currently elected to federal or provincial office have publicly opposed the position. B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver declared BDS to be "polarizing and ineffective." May has long opposed the BDS movement, yet despite her entreaties, a majority of Green Party members voted to support the campaign at their biennial convention in Ottawa last weekend.
The move has forced May to consider resigning, along with other ways to get the party to reconsider its stance. If she steps down as leader, the party will be able to revisit the topic at its next meeting in 2018 or at a leadership convention.
"I need to talk to my family and ask them what they think I should do," May told CBC. "You're talking to a broken-hearted person who is trying to figure out the best way forward."
Elizabeth May would be a "great loss"
May won't be the only person who is broken-hearted if she resigns. Deputy party leader in Quebec Daniel Green said her resignation would be "great loss" not only to the Greens, but the environmental movement in Canada at large.
While he wouldn't divulge which way he voted on the subject during the convention, he said he would like to find a way to reach a party consensus and keep May as federal leader.
"I’ve known Elizabeth May for 25 years," he told National Observer. "In 2006, when Elizabeth inherited the Green Party, we were insignificant in the political landscape of Canada. Thanks to the leadership of Elizabeth May, the Green Party now is the little mouse that roared."
May is famous for leading the charge against former prime minister Stephen Harper's controversial anti-terrorism bill, C-51, and her bold criticisms of the environmental policies of both Conservative and Liberal governments. She recently achieved a 94 per cent approval rating from her party members in a leadership review earlier this year.
"It’s impressive what she has accomplished," said Green. "My preference would be to see how to keep this leader that has done incredible work for the party and has made the green party what it is today."
He pointed out the irony that while the Greens are advocating for a proportional representation system of government at the federal level, they voted on the BDS movement using a majority-rules system. May has said on the record that she doesn't believe the party's stance reflects the "genuine will" of its members, and Green himself said he would have preferred to take a more consensus-oriented approach to the tricky political policy.
“I believe if we were given a bit more time, we would have crafted a resolution that could have satisfied everybody, but we just didn’t have the time," Green explained. "A political party should try to figure out a way to have a consensus in its party structure so we can move forward."
B.C. leader Andrew Weaver opposes BDS
Andrew Weaver, an elected MLA and leader of the party in B.C., recently issued the following statement:
“BDS is a politically motivated movement that damages any attempt at peace in the Middle East by assigning blame to one party. It risks increasing tension and does not represent a responsible or thoughtful approach to a difficult international issue. I think it is worth noting that Elizabeth May, as Leader of the Green Party of Canada, has also been speaking strongly against BDS as a polarizing, ineffective and unhelpful movement in the quest for peace and security in the Middle East."
Neither May nor Weaver could be reached for comment on this story. David Coon, leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South was likewise unavailable for comment.
May has been at the helm of the federal Greens for a decade, and has said that even if she steps down from leadership, will continue to represent her B.C. constituents until the next federal election in 2019.