News at the University of New Brunswick

Green Party leader Elizabeth May delivers 2019 Viscount Bennett Memorial Lecture

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Feb 15, 2019

Category: myUNB , UNB Fredericton

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada and its first elected Member of Parliament, delivered UNB Law’s Viscount Bennett Memorial Lecture on Feb. 14. Her well-attended lecture entitled, “One point five to stay alive – How we find hope and honesty in dangerous times,” explored the potentially devastating effects of climate change and how we can act to make positive change now.

An environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer, Ms. May graduated from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in 1983, and began her career working as the Associate General Counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. She has significant experience working with Canadian First Nations, was the first executive director of Cultural Survival Canada from 1989 to 1992, and served as executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada for 17 years.

“I’m enormously honoured to be invited here to the law faculty to speak on a topic that is on my mind constantly. And that is climate emergency,” said Ms. May at the lecture. “We have this one chance to ensure that we stop relying on fossil fuels. We have to plant forests and transform our economy that depends on fossil fuels into something else. Everywhere you look in society there are replacements for fossil fuels.”

Ms. May began her career in politics in 1986 when she became Senior Policy Advisor to federal Environment Minister Tom McMillan. Over the next two decades, she took on a variety of environmental initiatives, including the negotiation of a number of new legislations on pollution control.

In 2006, Ms. May became leader of the Green Party of Canada, and in 2011, made history when she was the first Green Party candidate elected to the House of Commons.

“We can get through this,” said Ms. May. “None of us should be prepared to walk away from this challenge. It will take time and hard work. The world has changed and we must respond as people without partisanship. We’ve got solar panels to put on our roofs, trees to plant and some big oil to shut down.”

“Ms. May is well known across the country for championing environmentalism on the national political stage through her activism and her background as a legal professional,” says John Kleefeld, dean of law at the UNB. “We are very pleased that she was able to deliver this year’s Viscount Bennett Memorial Lecture.”

Media contact: Hilary Creamer Robinson