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Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, addresses a press conference in Vancouver BC, March 30, 2011, to comment on being barred from the election leaders debate by TV companies. (Don MacKinnon/AFP/Getty Images)
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, addresses a press conference in Vancouver BC, March 30, 2011, to comment on being barred from the election leaders debate by TV companies. (Don MacKinnon/AFP/Getty Images)

Ousted nuclear watchdog backs Elizabeth May in B.C. battleground Add to ...

Canada's former nuclear watchdog is endorsing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May as a candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

Linda Keen, who was fired by the Conservatives as the head of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in 2008, said Thursday she wasn't seeking revenge against Gary Lunn, her former boss and Ms. May's Conservative rival in the Vancouver Island riding.

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Mr. Lunn was the natural resources minister who ousted Ms. Keen after she refused to back the reopening of the Chalk River, Ont., nuclear reactor that produced crucial medical isotopes, because Atomic Energy of Canada had not performed safety upgrades.

Mr. Lunn, who has held Saanich-Gulf Islands since 1997 and won the riding by 2,621 votes in 2008, was later demoted to minister of state for sport.

"I think Mr. Lunn was shown, by his demotion, as not being able to handle the task of being minister of natural resources," Ms. Keen said in an interview from her Ottawa home, saying she believes the Prime Minister's Office had more to do with her dismissal than Mr. Lunn.

At the time, Mr. Lunn said he fired Ms. Keen because the government had lost confidence in her and accused her of a "lack of leadership."

Ms. Keen was sanguine by the conflict on Thursday: "As a scientist, I tend to be more pragmatic than most people about things."

Ms. Keen said Ms. May contacted her after the firing to offer support, and that the two have kept in touch over the years.

"She has so clearly impressed me in terms of just not only what she knows, but her respect for people," Ms. Keen said.

Ms. Keen lived in the Victoria area in the 1980s and said she would be endorsing Ms. May by conference call on Friday, with respect for the views of voters in Saanich-Gulf Islands, who will cast their ballots on May. 2.

"She's very respectful of people's views. She listens to you. I hope people will pay attention to that, and give her a good listening," Ms Keen said of Ms. May.

Ms. May is locked in a tough fight in the Vancouver Island riding, vying to gain a seat for the Greens, who have yet to elect an MP.

Follow on Twitter: @ianabailey

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