The Green Party headquarters received good news this past Wednesday. The broadcasters’ consortium, comprised of Canada’s top news media outlets, had made their final verdict: the party’s leader, Elizabeth May, will participate in the national debates. Her rivals, fuming over the possibility of her presence in the political spotlight, were eventually silenced as all contention was put to rest. The bold decision to welcome May to the public forum was a response to the fierce outcry that ensued when she was initially excluded. Her legion of supporters—as well as outraged citizens at the sidelines and a growing support group on Facebook—united in protest. The native Nova Scotian has built a career around environmental and social activism; when she heads to the debate podium, all eyes will undoubtedly be fixed upon her.

While support for the Greens has grown incrementally over the years, the party has yet to gain sufficient representation in Parliament. May’s 2006 leadership takeover has boosted the Green Party’s appeal and bolstered its flagging votership. By putting forth policies that integrate environmental sustainability and energy reform into economic considerations, May has prioritized domestic issues like the climate crisis and poverty. Some don’t agree with her hard-line stance on the environment, and perhaps they have a right to be concerned—Canada has never seen a mainstream politician put so much emphasis on “greening” our economy. In a time of economic uncertainty, with a government that has consistently placed global warming concerns on the backburner, it would be foolish to dismiss this candidate. May brings progressive ideas to the table. While one can choose to accept or reject her platform, she should be granted the opportunity to present her positions on the national stage and express her views.

It’s been awhile since Canada had a prominent female politician run for head of government. Memories of Kim Campbell’s short term as Prime Minister are still fresh, but many are looking towards a new female leader. The percentage of female political representatives in Parliament hovers around the low 20s, and minority candidates are even scarcer. While parties have made strides towards including women in the political arena, individual nominees struggle with prejudices within their ridings. For too long, national affairs and policy handling has been male-dominated. The inclusion of Elizabeth May in our dialogue, along with the Green Party platform, marks a turning point in our history and the ongoing struggle for gender equality.