GREEN Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May (MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands) announced on Thursday that federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has accepted her offer of the “leader’s courtesy”, which means the Greens will not run a candidate against him in the upcoming Burnaby South by-election.
“The leader’s courtesy is a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the legislature by allowing him or her to contest a by-election unopposed,” said May.
The Green Party said it believes it is right to step aside to allow the leader of an important part of the political spectrum to serve in parliament.
“Every party leader deserves a voice in the House. My record as a parliamentarian clearly demonstrates that the Green Party of Canada will always act in the interests of a stronger democracy by striving to make our parliament work more effectively for all Canadians,” said May.
“Our parliamentary democracy is stronger when traditions are respected and civil debate supplants partisan bickering. I applaud Mr. Singh for graciously accepting this courtesy in the spirit in which it was offered and I look forward to welcoming him as he takes his seat as the head of his party in the House.”
May herself received the leader’s courtesy in 2008 when then Liberal leader Stéphane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in Central Nova.
Newly elected leaders of political parties who stand in by-elections are often not opposed so that they can enter the legislature. In 2002, the Liberals and Conservatives stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a by-election held shortly after he became leader of the Canadian Alliance.
The courtesy was also extended to Conservative leaders Robert Manion (1938), George Drew (1948), Robert Stanfield (1967) and Joe Clark (2000) as well as Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien (1990) and Alliance Leader Stockwell Day (2000).
This will now be a test of how graceful Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will prove to be.
Will they be petty-minded or will they be big enough to emulate May’s gesture?