Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May announced Thursday that her party will not run a candidate in the upcoming Burnaby South by-election after NDP leader Jagmeet Singh accepted her offer of the “leader’s courtesy.”
“The leader’s courtesy is a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the legislature by allowing him or her to contest a by-election unopposed,” May said.
Singh, who does not have a seat in the House of Commons, announced last week that he would run for election in Burnaby South. He was elected leader of the federal NDP last year.
“Every party leader deserves a voice in the House,” May said. “My record as a parliamentarian clearly demonstrates that the Green Party of Canada will always act in the interests of a stronger democracy by striving to make our parliament work more effectively for all Canadians.”
“Our parliamentary democracy is stronger when traditions are respected and civil debate supplants partisan bickering,” she continued. “I applaud Mr. Singh for graciously accepting this courtesy in the spirit in which it was offered and I look forward to welcoming him as he takes his seat as the head of his party in the House.”
The leader’s courtesy has a long history that extends to parties on both sides of the political spectrum. In 2002, the Liberal and Conservative parties both stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a by-election shortly after becoming leader of the Canadian Alliance.
And May herself received the courtesy in 2008 when then Liberal leader Stéphane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in the Central Nova riding of Nova Scotia.
A Conservative party staffer told Victoria Buzz that they will still run a candidate in the riding, saying that the convention usually only applies to official opposition leaders, not to the third party.
Victoria Buzz has reached out to the Liberal party to confirm if they plan to run a candidate.
Currently, no date has been set for the Burnaby South by-election.