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FLARE Questionnaire: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

On the eve of #elxn42, we asked the party leaders for their takes on the issues that matter to you—including access to abortion, sexual violence, the wage gap and more. Read on to find out where Green Party leader Elizabeth May stands before you hit the polls on October 19

elizabeth May


Canadian women get paid 75 cents to every dollar men make. What would your government do to close that gap and ensure equal pay for equal work?
It is a black mark against Canada that Canadian women earn, on average, $8,000 less per year than their male counterparts for doing the same jobs. Within indigenous and racialized communities, the pay gap is even worse.

To ensure equal pay for equal work, the Green Party is ready to pass proactive pay equity legislation, as recommended by the federal Pay Equity Task Force. This legislation will require employers to work with employees to close the gender wage gap, to ensure pay equity for all Canadians. Greens will also immediately implement full pay equity for women employed in the federal sector and will develop tax incentives for companies to meet the highest standards of gender and pay equity. 

Millennials are now the biggest generation in the Canadian workforce, but they face an increasingly precarious job market. What will you do to address that instability?
When young people finish school, they face pressure to take unpaid work. The Green Party will introduce legislation to ban unpaid internships in federally-regulated industries and work with the provinces to cease the practice altogether.

Many young people just getting out of school face a Catch-22: they cannot get hired in new jobs because they lack experience. But unless they get that first job, they’ll never have experience. Greens will create a national Community and Environment Service Corps, which will provide $1 billion per year to municipalities to hire Canadian youth to do work that needs to be done.

What will you do to increase political engagement amongst millennial women?
We need to elect more women to public office. This will show young women that politics is not an old boy’s club anymore; that women’s voices have the respect they deserve.

Before we have gender equity in our representation, we need to encourage all young Canadians to take political action. We need to empower everyone, especially women or minorities, and we can do this by modeling authenticity, respect and listening in politics. This means putting forward solutions based on the views and needs of young women, minorities, First Nations people, those with mental illness or disabilities, etc. We must also make space in our internal processes for young women.

How do we get more women into Parliament?
People who run for Parliament should receive financial compensation from their political parties for expenses that fall outside the range of typical campaign expenses, i.e. beauty products and childcare. Right now, such expenses are a personal cost that disproportionately affects women candidates.

One of the most effective ways to increase the number of women elected to parliament is to change our voting system to some form of proportional representation [a type of electoral system first introduced in Belgium that awards seats in Parliament based on the number of votes each party receives]. The evidence from all around the world is that more women are elected in countries with some form of PR. One explanation is that politics becomes less toxic and more cooperative under this model.

Surgical abortions are not available in Prince Edward Island; instead women must travel at their own expense to Moncton or Halifax. What would you do to improve access?
The Green Party proposes that the federal government make transfer payments [provide federal funding via the Canada Health Transfer] to provinces contingent on their provision of abortion services.

Sexual assault and harassment—especially in the workplace—has been one of the biggest issues to emerge in Canada in 2015. What policies would you implement to curb this?
We need to take sexual harassment and assault seriously. We must acknowledge the difficult reality that, for nearly all Canadian women, offensive comments and inappropriate advances are still part of their day-to-day in the workplace.

It is shameful that Canada has no comprehensive strategy to address sexual assault and harassment. The Green Party supports a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, which must bring together all levels of government and stakeholders to strategize, educate the public, boost funding for sexual assault support centres and women’s shelters, recognize the unique impacts and risks for indigenous women, ensure appropriate services for those impacted by domestic violence, increase penalties for domestic violence and establish a national housing strategy.

Similarly, consent was a major conversation across college and university campuses in 2015. Do you believe that consent education should be mandatory at post-secondary institutions?
Consent education should have a prominent place in sex education curriculums for high schools. As education is under provincial jurisdiction, we would look for collaboration with provinces to determine the particulars and strategies to implement it.

There is a shockingly high number of murdered and missing indigenous women in this country. Will you call for a national inquiry? If not, why not and what will you do instead?
The Green Party unequivocally supports a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women. The violence faced by indigenous women and girls in Canada is a national disgrace. That the Harper Conservatives have refused to even open an inquiry compounds our shame. We must confront and undo the legacy of racism and colonialism that underpins these acts of violence. Indigenous communities in Canada have called for this inquiry and it is the duty of the federal government to open it.

If elected, what’s the first thing you’d do to combat climate change?
The first thing Greens will do is restore Canada’s role as an international leader and help forge an ambitious, meaningful deal at the Paris climate talks in December.

Our plan is to move to the virtual elimination of fossil fuel use in Canada by mid-century. We’ll immediately implement a Carbon Fee and Dividend to reduce our emissions, make polluters pay and return all revenues equally to all Canadians. Our short-term target for greenhouse gas emissions is a 40 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2025, while we are calling for 80 percent reductions below 1990 levels by 2050. These are ambitious targets, yet the scale and urgency of this challenge demands nothing less.

Many young women have no idea how crazy expensive daycare is—and how hard it is to obtain a spot in the first place. How would your government make childcare more accessible and affordable?
The Green Party will work with the provinces, territories and indigenous communities to establish accessible, convenient, enriched and affordable child-care spaces for any Canadian family that seeks it. We will support women re-entering the workforce whenever they choose after having children.

The Green Party believes that workplace child care has many advantages, including enhanced parenting time and access to children through the work day, increased availability of breast-feeding opportunities, improved employee productivity and improving the convenience of public transport when parents and kids share their morning destination. Tax breaks to employers for the creation of child-care spaces is one tool among many we will use to ensure that families have the [care] they need.

More on #elxn42: 
#elxn42: The Party Leaders Take Our FLARE Questionnaire
Prime Minister and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s FLARE Questionnaire
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s FLARE Questionnaire
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s FLARE Questionnaire