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Who We Are

Reflections on My Life and Canada

Regular price $29.95 CAD
  • ISBN: 9781771640312
  • Tags: Biography & Memoir, Current Affairs & Politics, Elizabeth May,
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
  • Published On: 09/05/2014
  • 240 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781771641784
  • Tags: Biography & Memoir, Current Affairs & Politics, Elizabeth May,
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
  • Published On: 08/07/2015
  • 248 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781771640329
  • Tags: Biography & Memoir, Current Affairs & Politics, Elizabeth May,
  • Published On: 04/10/2014
  • 224 Pages

A Globe & Mail bestseller

Elizabeth May is without doubt the most impressive party leader in Canada today… Who We Are reminds us she is also a fine writer.” – Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

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. As a result of her disparate formative experiences, May believes that Canadians must rescue our threatened democracy, return to our traditional role as a world leader, develop a sustainable economy, and take immediate and decisive action to address the climate crisis. Who We Areis both a fascinating portrait of a remarkable woman and an urgent call to action.

Elizabeth May is leader of the Green Party of Canada, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands. She was formerly executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.


"In this highly readable book, Elizabeth May tells us of a life lived on the edge -- often the leading edge of big issues of the day -- but never at the margins. Others may complain it's not easy being Green, but May has passionately painted her personal and political life in that bold hue. Laced through the book are important warnings about the state of our democracy and our environment, which very much deserve to be heard."
-Susan Delacourt

Elizabeth May is without doubt the most impressive party leader in Canada today --superhumanly hardworking, dedicated, smart, witty, and fearless when speaking truth to power and to the public. Who We Are reminds us she is also a fine writer. May’s insider story takes us into her own remarkable life and her profound connection with the lives of others on this planet: great and small, human and not. A fascinating and inspiring book.”
-Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

"While some of the most readable parts of her memoir are those in which the personal and political events are closely woven together, the final polemical chapters, with the headings, How Canada Became a Petro-State and Engaging the Profit Motive to Fight Climate Change, are also compelling. Having been an architect of the glory days of Brian Mulroney's regime, Elizabeth May acutely feels the catastrophic decline of Canada's environmental standards and has provided a cogent paper trail to explain why."
-BC Bookworld

" …While I don't often expect to like books by political leaders – fearing them to be more advertising than prose – there was lots to like in…Elizabeth May's Who We Are.”
-Susan Delacaurt, award-winning Canadian political journalist

"Who We Are is a compelling, timely and relevant read."
-Winnipeg Free Press


From the Introduction


This book is about Canada, about who I am and who we are. It is about who we have become. Canada seems to have lost its sense of self. In the last number of years, the sense of who we thought we were has been shaken. We need to take stock and commit to being the best we are capable of being—as a people, as a nation.

This book is an argument for our future, the future of our children, and the future of our grandchildren and generations beyond. It is about how diminished democracy undermines our best hope to avoid the worsening climate crisis, which threatens human civilization itself.

It is a book about how we can make a difference, about how we can and must take back our country and steer a course to benefit the many and not primarily to advantage the few. It is an argument for change. In this sense, it is a vision.

My vision is not drawn from any tract or ideology, but comes from paying attention throughout six decades of living. My perspective was formed through decades of bearing witness to the ways in which bad public policy causes the innocent to suffer and how good public policy can transform societies. My vision comes from an unusually political childhood, an activist upbringing, and a deep love of democracy. It comes from knowing that working together changes the world. It comes from a single mom’s sense for problem-solving. It comes from being a member of parliament who understands that my “boss” is the people who elected me, not some backroom of political operatives.

Over my lifetime, I have witnessed the rise of corporate power and the shrinking of the public sphere, the commodification of everything and the dumbing down of society, and the degradation of every ounce of sacred creation, right down to our genetic material, into feedstock for the corporatist enterprise. As economist David Korten once put it, “This is no longer a clash between ‘isms’… It is the choice between Life and Money.”

When the rapacious behaviour of transnationals is supported or ignored by government, we are endangered. When the positive and transformational power of corporate leadership is engaged for the public good, we are inspired.

I look back through time, through historical and political periods connected to my childhood, through the stories of my elders. This word-of-mouth link leaves me feeling connected to times before my birth, times like the Great Depression, the Second World War, the American Civil War, and even the American Revolution. My family remembers its history. I grew up in the United States, and three of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence. As a teenager, I moved to Canada and absorbed Canada’s history, rewiring my brain to a Loyalist tradition.

My view of our role in the world is influenced by both my early years in the United States and my adult life in Canada, where I came to know and love my country with the intensity often found in new Canadians.