Elizabeth May resigns from Sierra Club

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Thurs., April 6, 2006

Elizabeth May is stepping down as head of the Sierra Club of Canada, a shocking move that's sparks curiosity among some environmentalist.

"We had a brief discussion a few months ago," said Bruno Marcocchio, Atlantic campaign director for the national advocacy group. "It's obvious she's been thinking about other things. She didn't really make it clear what those other things were, and we're all curious about that."

In spite of some hinting, Marcocchio said May's decision, reluctantly accepted by board members Tuesday, came as a surprise.
  • November 2005 - Elizabeth May receives the Order of Canada for her environmental work.
  • May 2005 - It's announced that Sydney's cleanup plans will undergo a full panel review, as lobbied by the Sierra Club of Canada.
  • March 2005 - Elizabeth May delivers 4,000 signatures to Ottawa opposing incineration of PCBs at Sydney's tar ponds.
  • May 2001 - Elizabeth May holds a 17-day hunger strike demanding that the federal government permanently relocate families living near the tar ponds.

May fought for panel review of tar ponds plan

May was in Costa Rica Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

"She was one of the preeminent environmentalists and through the last 17 years, has been at the forefront of quite a number of national campaigns," said Marcocchio. "It's fair to say that Sierra Club, under her leadership, became a national force due primarily to her exceptional talents and skills both working within the environmental movement and working effectively with government and the bureaucracy"

Marcocchio said he doesn't believe a change in government played a role in her departure, which becomes effective in June. "She's been pondering a move for awhile."

A news release published on Sierra Club's website states board members will miss May's leadership but they've been assured by her that she will maintain close ties with the group. "The board understands her decision to move on to face new challenges, and wishes her the greatest success as she tackles them," said Louise Comeau, board president.

Under May's leadership, the club has played a key role in convincing Ottawa to sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, enact a law to protect species at risk, and ensure a public panel review for the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds, among other accomplishments.

"Her 17-day hunger strike on Parliament Hill on behalf of the residents of Frederick Street, shows the kind of commitment she had to the issues we face here in our community," said Marcocchio. "It shows her willingness to put herself on the line to work for both environmental clean up and social justice issues that are so prevalent here in the cleanup of the tar ponds."