Lifetime Achievement
Elizabeth May headshot
Clean50 Lifetime Achievement Award Logo

Elizabeth May

Member of Parliament, Saanich-Gulf Islands - Parliamentary Leader of the Green Party Caucus, Parliament of Canada, Green Party of Canada

Has there ever been a more consistent and well-informed voice pressing for climate action in Canada than that of past Green Party leader Elizabeth May? Following her graduation from Dalhousie, Elizabeth worked as an environmental lawyer in Halifax before moving to Ottawa in 1985. In 1986 she was named Senior Policy Advisor to the Environment Minister in Brian Mulroney’s PC government, and in that role was deeply involved in the negotiation of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer. She resigned on principle from the position in 1988 over permits for construction of a dam granted without environmental assessments, and later determined to be illegal. In 2006, after building the Sierra Club into a nationally effective organization, Elizabeth won the leadership of the Green Party of Canada, and in 2011, she became the first member of the Green Party of Canada to be elected as an MP, representing the Saanich–Gulf Islands riding, re-elected in 2015 and in the 2019 federal election, she took 54% of the vote! May resigned as Green Party leader in 2019 but remains an MP and Green parliamentary leader in the House. An officer of the Order of Canada since 2005, she has been named by the United Nations as one of the leading women environmentalists worldwide, and by fellow MPs as Parliamentarian of the Year 2012, Hardest Working MP 2013, and Best Orator 2014. Despite always being in opposition, she’s played a critical role in pushing all federal governments to consider the environment, with a record of successfully amending legislation to strengthen environmental protections, amendments to the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, put forth bill banning the keeping of whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity, Canada’s first legislation to consider the well-being of individual animals. Away from Ottawa, she’s been active at COP 23, 24, 25, assisting the Canadian government to advance global negotiations, aided by her links to elected Greens from around the world. She’s marched in Calgary and Montreal, and even been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience March 2018, while making it clear the Kinder-Morgan pipeline was a major threat to climate, environment, and indigenous rights. In short, the greenest politician our country has ever had. With a lifetime of achievements.