Read Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada by ElizabethMay Online


In this marriage of memoir and manifesto, Elizabeth May reflects on her extraordinary life and the people and experiences that have formed her and informed her beliefs about democracy, climate change, and other crucial issues facing Canadians. The book traces her development from child activist who warned other children not to eat snow because it contained Strontium 90 toIn this marriage of memoir and manifesto, Elizabeth May reflects on her extraordinary life and the people and experiences that have formed her and informed her beliefs about democracy, climate change, and other crucial issues facing Canadians. The book traces her development from child activist who warned other children not to eat snow because it contained Strontium 90 to waitress and cook on Cape Breton Island to law student, lawyer, and environmentalist and finally to leader of the Green Party and first elected Green Party Member of Parliament. As a result of these disparate experiences, May has come to believe that Canada must strengthen its weakened democracy, return to its role as a world leader, develop a green economy, and take drastic action to address climate change. The book also sets out how these goals might be accomplished, incorporating the thoughts of such leaders and thinkers as Rachel Carson, Jim MacNeill, Joe Clark, Chris Turner, Andrew Nikiforuk, and Robert F. Kennedy. The result is a fascinating portrait of a remarkable woman and an urgent call to action....

Title : Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781771640312
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada Reviews

  • Janet
    2018-11-24 06:32

    Full disclosure: I have known Elizabeth for over 40 years. She is a genuine, intelligent, wonderful woman. This story is of how she came to be head of the Green Party in Canada and an MP from the Saanich Islands in British Columbia. She details the jobs she has held and the connections she has made over the years to make her one of the most enlightened MPs on science and economics and one of the most respected MPs in Parilament. I cannot even express how proud I am of her . I had been with her when she went against the spraying of budworms in Cape Breton, and I campaigned with her in parts of Nova Scotia. She is a brilliant woman who will teach you so much about how one person can make a difference in the world.If you read this book, you will become a different person, a more enlightened person!

  • Brock Wilson
    2018-12-07 05:43

    An interesting book because it doesn't fit into any one genre. At first I don't think that it would work but the combination of personal anecdotes combined with political commentary is good. I'm pretty sure that the book did not start out this way/ wasn't intended to be a combination. The first part details how Elizabeth May ended up where she is. The second part is a stinging critique of our current government and political system followed by her prescription of what we need to do to get ourselves out of the mess that we are in. The last chapter was a breath of fresh air in comparison to any other politician today.

  • Luise
    2018-11-28 03:26

    smart, passionate, hard-working, caring, astute - if we had any collective sense, this woman would be running the country!Interesting upbringing with a fierce activist mother.Highly recommended!

  • Foggygirl
    2018-11-13 00:25

    A great read, both informative and educational.

  • C.
    2018-11-12 03:23

    Make no assumption that “Who We Are” is for Canadians or politic aficionados. If you have seen the need for something unjust or just not working, to change; you will learn what to do! If you do not know how politics work, what an eye-full this is. If you were not clear about, in simple details, what global warming is and why it is not an iffy topic to maybe decide to believe; is this ever educational! Published in 2014, before Justin Trudeau was elected, “Who We Are” is a font of intelligent information and a personal memoir. It is impressive that TWO Prime Ministers, from differing parties, endorse this book!Elizabeth May has a loving family. Mr. May passed away in 2014 and his wife in 2003. They were activists who knew Bill & Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth's Canadian law school recommendation was from him! Farley Mowat was her daughter, Victoria Cate's, Godfather! David Suzuki's wife is a friend; relationships forged through tough work. Elizabeth's parents protested nuclear testing. She started in Connecticut, when insecticide killed sheep loved by her & her brother, Geoffrey. They emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1972. Their parents gave up land to pay for a hearing against “Agent Orange”! Mrs. May hurriedly picked-up her daughter's law diploma!All this characterization illustrates that Elizabeth grew up caring about these things. This single Mom owned no car from 1980 to 2007! I adore the memory of holding Victoria Cate's hand to & from school, naming animals and plants. Her insight ranges from home life: advocating a 4-day work week, so kids aren't in daycare, with parents enduring commutes. How processed food reduced knowing how to cook and sharing one meal. She also explains data recorded by ice cores. Our air did not exceed 280 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in a million years. Rising in these 100 years of our lifetime, CO² content hit 410 PPM last year. There is a lot our United Nations can do. I am much better informed after reading Elizabeth's book.

  • Alexander Kosoris
    2018-12-07 03:34

    After reading Mulcair’s Strength of Conviction and Trudeau’s Common Ground, it seemed fitting to end my excursion into political memoirs with May’s Who We Are. (It would appear as though I have a glaring omission with no Harper book, but I suppose it’s hard to read something that doesn’t exist.) Where the Mulcair and Trudeau books are easy to compare, May’s is a different beast entirely. While she does delve into personal experience to explain how she got here and why she has certain beliefs, she does so much more, offering evidence and the opinions of experts to further buttress these beliefs.With Who We Are, May takes us on a journey through Canadian political history. She starts us off with her first forays into politics, expressing how things used to be, democratically, economically, and environmentally. She then shows how everything slowly began to fall apart, following Mulroney’s ousting, but especially after the Harper government came into being. No longer is Canada respected on an international stage; no longer do we have a robust economy; no longer do we even pretend to care about leaving a clean world with a stable climate to our children; no longer can politicians properly represent their constituents. In addition to angry-ing up the blood, May offers hopeful suggestions for us to work together to get Canada back on track, coming across as highly intelligent and by far the most genuine of the leaders.If writing prowess was the sole factor in determining who deserves my vote the most, then May would definitely be the standout winner there. In fact, if party policy or performance in a debate were such determining factors, she’d have my vote as well. With that said, it’s sad to think that the Green Party doesn’t even have a shot in hell to win this election. There must be something fundamentally wrong with our current system in Canada when I have no possible way of delivering my favourite candidate to the PMO.

  • Don Moman
    2018-12-07 07:27

    I love Elizabeth May. She's an inspiration. I already knew a lot of the information in this book from hearing her speak and from reading articles by her, but there was also a lot that I didn't know. I especially liked learning about how the Canadian government functioned in the 80's (since I was a child at the time). According to May, there was still some political nastiness, but there was also a willingness to set aside partisanship to craft legislation that was good for Canada--a willingness that appears lacking in politics these days. I had to set the book aside every handful of pages to rage internally for a bit at each new example of how our current government has undermined our democratic traditions and environmental protections.Still, I can't give the book five stars because it felt very disjointed... probably because it attempts too much. It is an autobiography, and a look at the values that make us essentially Canadian, and a polemic against the excesses of Stephen Harper and his cronies, and a policy book suggesting reforms. Unfortunately, May doesn't provide the sort of big picture look that could tie all of these threads together, so the book is more a loose collection of anecdotes.

  • Cathryn Wellner
    2018-12-05 07:33

    Elizabeth May takes us on an insider's tour of Canadian federal politics, not just under Harper's Conservatives but through the years. Hers is both a personal view and an aerial perspective. The result is not a pretty picture. Canada's reputation as a calm, rational government has been seriously eroded by party politics. While the Conservatives are the most egregious example of the loss of democratic principles, all three major parties have their heads "where the sun don't shine". They put party politics ahead of the good of Canada and the Canadian people - and of what we need to be doing to be environmentally and communally responsible in the world.May is one of the few independent voices on the federal scene. Although she is leader of the Green Party, she speaks for an approach to politics that is rational and well informed and responsive to all constituents, not just the minority who elect any one candidate. The book should be on the reading list of any Canadian, before the upcoming election.

  • Natassia
    2018-11-18 02:38

    While the narrative meandered a bit at the beginning, the message was clear throughout: we need to work together to reclaim Canada as the great country it once was and could be again. "We do not lack solutions. We lack only the awareness of our situation, the courage to choose the right priorities ... and the political will to embrace them," she argues. Well I'm up for a good fight!

  • Rebecca Jones-Howe
    2018-12-05 06:32

    I'm a bit of an E.May groupie, so my review may be a bit biased.This book is a little bit memoir, a little bit of a dummies guide to Canadian politics, but mostly a refresher of the goings on in Parliament since Harper came into power in 2006. It's striking, frustrating, but Elizabeth's writing is powerful and motivating, and gives me hope.

  • Blair
    2018-11-10 07:23

    Part autobiography, part history lesson, part political primer, and part a love note to Canada. This ought to be required reading in high school history classes. Not necessarily because of May's Green message but because her message is one of a positive and constructive government and political system.

  • Elaine
    2018-11-16 00:39

    A good read imbued with Elizabeth May's spunk, smarts, and spirit. We're lucky she wants to serve our country.

  • Katrina Sark
    2018-12-05 23:40

    p.5 – In 1955, Victor Lebow set out his prophetic prescription for a consumer society in the Journal of Retailing: “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever-increasing pace.” p.26 – “But if we’d told you then, you might not have gone – and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” (Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth) p.66 – Today, economic growth is the unquestioned touchstone of every debate. The assumption that every issue – health care, criminal justice, the environment – must defer to the “real world” of the economy is to entrenched that t remains largely unexamined. What kind of economy improves society? What economic theories help meet human aspirations? Which ones are only about accumulating wealth for the few without regard for the many? p.76 – Capitalism itself is not the problem. Human needs and the collective well-being of the country can be protected in any system. But capitalism must never be allowed to operate unfettered. Former governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney, now the British central banker, made the same point, “Just as any revolution eats its children, unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself.” A healthy economy requires government intervention. That’s why we don’t have child labour in Canada. That’s why we insist on safe working conditions. Those are government interventions into the free market and no one questions them. Measures taken at the end of the Great Depression had kept the financial system stable for over forty years, until the craze for deregulation nearly brought down whole economies. The 2008 crash may have started on Wall Street, but the contagion spread internationally. And while we still teeter with the aftershocks, no effective changes have been made to prevent speculative, non-productive high-risk trades from bringing it all down on our heads once again. p.80 – Diversified economies provide more jobs while ensuring that a nasty shock to one part of the economy will not derail all of it. Regulation of the financial sector is essential, but so too is ensuring that small and medium-sized businesses are given optimum conditions in which to flourish. The economic equivalent of a healthy ecosystem is a series of robust supply chains, with value added to every raw material, strong local economic transactions, and competitiveness globally driven by innovative and new ideas. p.82 – Another of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s observations about economics as the definition of socialism, capitalism, and fascism. He explained that socialism is when the government controls the means of production. Capitalism is when the private sector controls the means of production. And, according to Mussolini, fascism is when corporations control governments. As Mussolini put it, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” A healthy democracy requires that the concentration of corporate power be reduced and that the multiplicity of private enterprise, big and small, be promoted. Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship builds a healthier economy, one that looks more like an ecosystem. p.84 – “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” (John Kenneth Galbraith) p.106 – “There will be no more government monitoring of contamination to our oceans – not on the BC coast or any coast. We will have no studies of what kinds of pollution are reaching the ocean, nor how it impacts marine life. There will be no more research.” (Canadian scientist Peter Ross)p.119 – Mark Twain had it right: A lie makes its way halfway round the world while the truth is lacing up its boots. How does science survive once targeted my Big Carbon, with hundreds of millions of dollars in propaganda campaigns designed to undermine the research, to create doubt? p.120 – Kansas-based Charles and David Koch, brothers and owners of a vast fossil fuel empire, have donated tens of millions to propaganda campaigns to block climate action. Although most of their activity has been in the US, the Koch brothers have also made generous donations to right-wing organizations in Canada, such as the Frazer Institute, to promote their interests. The position of science advisor to the prime minister was eliminated in 2008. By 2012, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) was also eliminated. Although not a research body, it was the last government advisory body on science, nature, or sustainable economics. Ironically, after Brian Mulroney established the NRTEE, its existence was used as an excuse to eliminate the Science Council, the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council, and the Economic Council. When Harper killed the NRTEE, his environment minister, Peter Kent, said it had been rendered unnecessary by the advent of the internet. March 2012 marked the end of all funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (now the Canadian Climate Forum). The funds put in place in 2000, $110 million over ten years for autonomous research funding in Canada’s major universities, had been spent expanding our understanding of the climate crisis in its multi-faceted disciplines of inquiry. p.126 – “We only think we no longer have a state religion. We only think we have separated church and state, that we are a secular country. In reality, we have a state religion. It is complete with its own doctrine, catechism, set of rituals, liturgy, and priesthood. Our new religion is Econo-theism. We worship the economy. Nothing is allowed to offend the state religion. To question it is heresy. And its central organizing principle is selfish individualism – which all the great religions of the world teach us leads straight to doom.” (Peter Timmerman, professor of environmental studies at York University) p.133 – We are not running out of oil and natural gas, and, in fact, global estimates of available reserves continue to show adequate supplies for the economy to remain plugged into fossil fuels into the next century. This fact allows us to live in denial. But it does not take into account the availability of the resource of the survival of human civilization. We have run out of room in the global atmosphere for the wastes from burning fossil fuels before we have run out of coal, oil, and gas. p.135 – More than four hundred square miles of Alberta has undergone or is undergoing dee, open-pit extraction of bitumen. It is one of the world’s most extensive and damaging industrial projects. If the bitumen is found deeper than eighty meters, the in situ method is used. In this process, warm water is injected down deep into the ground to pull the bitumen out through the well shafts. This method uses even more energy per barrel extracted and also uses more water. The used water contaminated with a witch’s brew of toxic compounds is held in tailings ponds. The ponds themselves are gigantic, estimated in 2013 to cover over 170 square kilometers of northern Alberta. p.136 – As you can see, we are coming near the break-even point where it takes about as much oil to get a barrel of oil as you invest to get it. p.146 – Even the environment movement plays into Big Carbon’s hands when it exaggerates the economic lure of the oil sands. Economically, we have a lot of better choices. The myth of oil sands as the foundation of Canada’s economic future is as false as the notion that we can ignore the consequences of the desperate mania for their exploitation. p.147 – The more-money-than-brains mindset confuses two things. It treats money as an end in itself and knowledge as a mere means to an end. When we treat money this way, we sanction the kind of excesses that crashed the stock markets and damaged the economy. We encourage students to mistake low cunning and greed for intellect and skill. When we treat knowledge as mere means to an end, we create contraptions without regard for the consequences. p.158 – The number one goal should be to shut down coal-fired electricity generation. The coal plants in Alberta alone still produce more carbon pollution than the oil sands (although if oil sands development expands, it will eclipse coal soon). Of the Canadian provinces, only Ontario has shut down its coal-fired electricity. In addition to Alberta and Ontario, electricity in Saskachewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador is still based on fossil fuel. In much of the Territories, expensive imported diesel is the source of power. p.175 – I am often asked what has shocked me the most since I became a member of parliament. The biggest shock to me is that MPS do not read the legislation we are debating. p.176 – I have come to understand why MPS, in all parties, don’t read the bills. Why bother if you are going to be instructed how to vote and punished if you do not follow your instructions? I have always known there are things called “whipped votes.” I even knew that, occasionally, past prime ministers would use a whip to force votes a certain way in parliamentary committees. What I had not understood until I was elected was that every vote is now a whipped vote. p.181 – A prime minister in Canada has more power than the president of the US or the British prime minister. In the US, the president is restricted by a system of checks and balances created by revolutionaries deeply suspicious of abuse of power, and in the UK, the prime minister muse deal with a purer system of Westminster parliamentary democracy than in Canada. In contrast, a Canadian prime minister can be a virtual dictator. p.182 – The system by which Canadians elect their MPS was invented more than a thousand years ago. Of the modern democracies, only Canada, the US, and the UK still use first past the post (FPTP). All the others use some form of proportional representation.p.189 – We do not lack data, science, or technology. We do not lack economic solutions that will improve our overall prosperity. We do not lack policies. We lack the will to make it happen. We lack political will, from our leaders and from ourselves. We are distracted by shopping as our core ritualistic activity. We have allowed ourselves to be described as consumers, and only rarely as citizens. We are bombarded with advertising from dawn to dusk to tell us which beer or bottled water to drink, what new gadget to buy. We are swept up in a maelstrom of consumer enticements. And to some extent, we are addicted to them. The addictions (our coffee, our alcohol, our prescription drugs, our illegal drugs, our shopping habits) serve to anaesthetize us to the bigger questions: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of my life in particular? Will I make a difference?

  • Karen
    2018-11-23 06:33

    When I finished reading this book, I knew I wanted to re-read it. I'll let Elizabeth May's words tell you why:We think we understand time and history. Yet, our perceptions are always warped by the sense that the here and now is all there is. (p. 24)My days as a non-partisan environmental lawyer and activist were over. I had to jump into the partisan world of politics with both feet or watch from the sidelines as the first prime minister in history to actively loathe the environmental movement and all it cared about reversed our halting, limited environmental progress.The way change had happened in the past and the ability to influence governments of various stripes were gone. Protecting the environment through the steady and time-worn methods of building a case, launching a campaign, getting public support, and persuading people in power to change bad plans into good ones had become a Monty Python sketch. It was a Dead Parrot.All previous governments I had ever tried to influence ... had responded to public pressure. All previous political administrations had cared about public opinion. ... It was clear Stephen Harper would never be influenced by public opinion. (p. 92)Democracy should look a lot like the people who elected their government. And those in government should make decisions based on the best evidence available—not on focus groups and polls, but on empirical evidence, scientific understanding balanced and assessed in the public interest. (p. 101)Peter Timmerman is a professor of environmental studies at York University ... In a talk a few years ago, at a conference at the University of Toronto, he provided a key insight. It went (more or less) like this:We are convinced we are a secular society, but we are wrong.In fact, we only think we no longer have a state religion. We only think we have separated church and state, that we are a secular country.In reality, we have a state religion. It is complete with its own doctrine, catechism, set of rituals, liturgy, and priesthood. Our new religion is Econo-theism. We worship the economy.Nothing is allowed to offend the state religion. To question it is heresy. And its central organizing principle is selfish individualism—which all the great religions of the world teach us leads straight to doom. (p. 125)If these brief excerpts pique your interest, get hold of the book and read on.

  • Natalie
    2018-12-02 23:39

    I learned so much from reading this book. It was well written and easy to read, not overly dense with statistics or jargon. I don't think it will reach the audience that it deserves because politics are so divisive, but honestly, I learned so much about how government works! As a historian, I am aware of biases in writing, and it is a book written by the leader of the Green Party of Canada. But she has had an incredible life, and has been in the depths of Canadian politics since she was in her early twenties. She knows a lot, and she shared a lot of her personal experiences. It was eye-opening, and it upped the standard by which I think we should measure the effectiveness of a government.

  • Andrea
    2018-12-04 23:35

    After attempting to meet Elizabeth May at a Green Party Winter Solstice celebration in 2014, I was not impressed by her personality or her ignorance of the younger attendants at the party like myself. I would be interested to see her writing style because she does seem like an intelligent person. However, in light of the impending 2015 Canadian election, it was surprising that she brushed aside potential voters at the party.

  • Brian Gilchrist
    2018-12-03 00:27

    Is it a political manifesto? A telling of the lesser known aspects of where we have gone wrong? Bad gov't decisions? An autobiography? A bit of all, I would say. I think this is an important read, if for no other reason it seems to cut through some of the partisan rhetoric that clouds review of the Canadian political landscape in the Mulroney years to present.

  • Amy
    2018-11-24 06:47

    This book was written well and was easy to read. I abandoned it about half way through because it was mostly about politics and policies. I'm more interested in personal stories, feelings and decisions.

  • Bonnie Szirtes
    2018-11-17 06:34

    Why can't more politicians be this honest, this intelligent and this likeable. Too bad the Green Party will never make it to power in my lifetime. The conservatives are looking for a new leader...