As Green Party Leader Elizabeth May heads into her first vacation since last Christmas, she is preparing to make a decision she never imagined she would be faced with on her summer holiday.
Ms. May will be taking her week-long break in Cape Breton, N.S. to decide whether she will continue in her post, less than a week after party members voted in favour of a controversial resolution supporting sanctions against Israel. Ms. May openly opposed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) motion at the party's biennial convention in Ottawa last weekend.
"I never imagined [last week] … that I would be taking my week off to consider whether I should step down right away or not," Ms. May said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. "I have to consider all options. To do that, I need sleep. I need to be with my family. I need a week off."
The Greens are the country's only federal party to endorse the BDS movement, a policy some Jewish groups denounced. Earlier this year, Parliament voted by a wide margin to condemn the growing international BDS movement. Ms. May abstained from that vote, but has made it clear she does not personally support the movement.
Ms. May said she does not think Green Party members actually embrace the BDS policy. She blames the motion's passing on the party's move away from consensus-based decision-making to the Bonser method, a colour-coded voting system that determines which resolutions are priority ahead of the convention.
Last weekend's convention marked the first time the party used the Bonser method. The membership voted to debate the BDS motion at a convention workshop, where there was little discussion. It then passed on the convention floor.
"Any debate where the leader of the party doesn't get a chance to explain why she opposes the resolution is a bit deficient in having a full debate," Ms. May said. "It was a flukey, weird set of circumstances that I think undermined our core values because achieving consensus is a part of who we are as a party."
Ms. May acknowledges the party made a mistake abandoning consensus-based decision making at its conventions and that the BDS policy is a consequence of that. She says a number of "single-issue people" joined the Green Party just to vote to support the BDS movement.
Going forward, Ms. May said there are three options for reconsidering the BDS motion. First, the party could revisit the motion at its next convention in 2018, where a member could table the resolution for reconsideration. With the proper support as outlined in the party bylaws, a general meeting could also be called to discuss the BDS policy.
Finally, she could step down as leader, triggering a leadership race, which ends in a convention. Since policy resolutions can be brought forward at conventions, a member could change the BDS motion there. Ms. May said she would rather remain as leader at this point.
"I would prefer to remain as Leader of the Green Party of Canada because I passionately believe that our voice in politics is necessary. The Greens need to be strong. I'm the best option for leader," Ms. May said. "I hate the idea of leaving."
On top of her 10 years of experience as leader, Ms. May also received nearly 94-per-cent support from party members in a leadership review earlier this year.
In an interview with The Globe last week, Ms. May said she is currently mentoring a number of people who could replace her. However, she wouldn't name any prospective replacements, as she didn't want to put public pressure on them.
Regardless of whether she stays on as leader, Ms. May said she intends to run in the 2019 federal election. She said her priority has been and always will be representing the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.
"I love being a parliamentarian, even though I don't like being a politician. I love representing Saanich-Gulf Islands in Parliament."