First week parliamentary wrap-up

Elizabeth May

It has been a very busy week. Monday, September 18th was the opening day of the House of Commons after Summer Recess -- and the Green Party was there. I had asked the Speaker's Office for an assured spot in the Diplomatic Gallery looking down on the House, and the Hon. Peter Millikin was very helpful. In order that the Green Party leader (me) and Senior Deputy to the Leader (David Chernushenko) did not have to wait in line with all the tourists and visitors and risk missing out on a seat, we were escorted by the security guard to seats in the front row of that gallery.

If you have never been to Question Period, it is worth a visit when you next come to Ottawa. It is, at its worst, bad theatre. On the other hand, I have actually witnessed it when it has been inspiring. This week was bad theatre.

As the MPs filed in and found their seats, a number looked up and waved at me, mouthing "Congratulations!" (among those were Monte Solberg, member of Harper's Cabinet, Alan Tonks, Liberal and former chair of the environment committee, Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture, and former Liberal minister John Godfrey...the Bloc and NDP members were tucked below our perch and had trouble seeing us at all -- and vice versa).

The Monday session was infused with sadness: four Canadians killed in Afghanistan, recent grief from the Dawson College shooting, and the recent death of Bloc MP, Benoit Sauvageau. There were numerous tributes and moments of silence. The questions were primarily about gun control, the war in Afghanistan and towards the end a few on softwood lumber. The Conservatives met every volley against gun control and every pro-war statement with bellicose cheering, standing
ovations and roars of approval for the team. The lack of women in
the government benches was noticeable.

I managed to leave QP, say hello to PM Harper, who was avoiding the media, and go down the Prime Ministerial staircase to land right in front of all the cameras for MP scrums...A number of cameramen gave me a mischievous thumbs up, so I decided to give it a try and pronounce on the day's events.... at which point I was gently escorted out by a representative of the press gallery. I do know the rules and was happy to comply. The press gallery at least knew I was there and some reporters followed me out to interview me outside.

By the next day, the press gallery had decided I could use a little alcove, just outside the foyer for media interview. Glad to have found it before the snow flies!

Wednesday, we did a press conference on Darfur calling for Canadian action to support the May peace accord and the African Union peace-keepers. (see release on this site) and Thursday, spent the morning sitting in on the House Environment Committee hearings on CEPA.

The media coverage is remaining steady. Internal party work in preparing for the next federal campaign is also ramping up. We have to be ready!!

I spoke in Toronto on Thursday night at the Canadian Institute for International Affairs on a panel with Thomas Homer-Dixon and Financial Post columnist, Peter Foster. It went very well and I met many Green Party supporters in the reception which followed. This weekend is the Green Party of Ontario AGM in beautiful Lion's Head in the Huron peninsula.

Next week will be dominated by environment in the parliamentary agenda with the release of the report from the Commissioner for the Environment on September 28th and the release of the Green Party Green Plan on Wednesday, September 27th! Watch for it!!