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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:03 pm ... hub=Canada

Greens' May to fight MacKay in next election

The leader of the federal Green party admits she faces an uphill fight to a seat in Parliament by trying to knock off Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay in his Nova Scotia riding.

Elizabeth May first made the announcement Sunday from Antigonish, which sits in the northeastern Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova, on CTV's Question Period. She made her intentions official a few hours later at a news conference.

"I think that it's a -- I like a challenging race," May told host Jane Taber, who asked May if she was crazy.

"I think that Peter MacKay is, no question, a popular local constituency MP. He's a very nice guy. I'm fond of him but he represents Harper government policies."

MacKay wouldn't appear on camera, but his office issued the following statement: "Peter MacKay ... has had the honour of representing his constituents for the last 10 years in Parliament. He looks forward to asking once again for their continuing support."

He won the riding by 3,300 votes in 2006, capturing more than 40 per cent of the vote. David Orton -- his Green Party opponent -- got the support of 671 voters, or 1.6 per cent of the vote. Second place went to the NDP.

MacKay has represented Central Nova since 1997, and his father Elmer held it from the early 1970s to the early 1990s.

May said despite the fact MacKay holds a senior cabinet position, the Atlantic riding he represents has been "neglected" in the Conservative government's recent spending sprees in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. May said she would bring "immediate economic returns" to Central Nova.

"I'm from here and I want to run where I'm comfortable," May added. She moved to Cape Breton from Connecticut as a teenager. The riding of Cape Breton-Canso is adjacent to Central Nova.

"I want to represent a region that I care about, and this place where I'm standing, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, is known for the Antigonish movement: a local economic development approach that was about sustainability -- before they used that world.

"I want to take that message nationally and relaunch the Antigonish movement."

May also ran for Parliament in 1980 when Antigonish was part of a different riding.

A 'serious miscalculation'

May said she is also looking forward to taking on a high-profile member of a party she says has abandoned its progressive roots and made a "serious miscalculation" when it merged with the Canadian Alliance.

MacKay was the last leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada before he and then Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper agreed to a merger -- forming the Conservative Party of Canada.

"That's a very significant legacy that Peter will have to deal with," May told Question Period.

Still, a former NDP leader thinks May is making a big mistake.

Nova Scotia MP Alexa McDonough said she was pressured to run against then-Liberal MP Sheila Copps in a 1995 byelection.

"She would have cleaned my clock," McDonough said. Instead, McDonough ran in Halifax in the 1997 general election and won.

There have been rumours the Liberals will go soft on the Central Nova fight to help May, but both May and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion deny that.

"We don't have any deal. But that's not saying that I haven't talked to many of my friends in this riding who traditionally support the New Democrats and traditionally support the Liberals, and I know that locally there are people who will want to help me win this riding," May said.

The Green Party doesn't hold a seat in Parliament. But recent polls suggest support for the Greens is either tied with, or just slightly behind, the New Democrats.

May finished second in a federal byelection last fall in the Ontario riding of London North-Centre, placing second with 26 per cent support. Green support has been strong in portions of B.C..

In the January 2006 election, the Greens picked up 4.5 per cent of the vote, giving the party valuable federal funding.

May, a longtime environmental activist, became leader of the Green party last August. The party was launched in 1983 and has run full slates in the past two federal elections.

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