ISSUES & POLITICAL CONCERNS
Let's Walk our talk
Canada has no shortage of stated goals! Along with 193 other countries Canada committed to 17 laudable goals of the United Nations and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. The goals themselves are great...we just need to achieve them! Previous Canadian governments have made climate commitments, biodiversity commitments and lofty commitments on everything from peace and justice to the rights of women and girls. But do we walk our talk? We need a voice in Ottawa that will insist.
Goals are important, particularly when they align with the 2030 Global Goals the world promised future generations in 2015. These agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals are at the heart of the Green Party of Canada's platform for good reason. They are also the foundation of my political approach. There simply is no Planet B nor is there a global Plan B and they represent a global consensus. That is important in a globalized world. As an advocate my personal goal is to uphold and champion these collective global goals. The most important thing is to achieve these goals and that requires strategies and concrete planning. Most of all it requires action! So far Canada has been failing. Let us change that.
On climate change alone Canada has declared nine separate targets and achieved none of them to date. We need Green Party voices in Ottawa to hold government accountable and to implement strategies and plans not just talk about them. With Green MPs in Ottawa we will pull our weight and walk our talk. We need to make things happen as if time is of the essence... because it is! We need Green MPs in Ottawa that establish goals based on science and what is needed to solve real world problems and who stay committed to future generations. In this section you will read about the most pressing issues and concerns Mike Simpson will address in our riding based on our team talking with grass roots Green Party members in our riding. From LNG, poverty and housing to water, fisheries, old growth logging and indigenous rights each of these issues is both locally challenging and globally critical. It is the year 2021...the clock is ticking. Let's make the urgent decisions that need to be made. Mike Simpson has lived a life of action not promises. In this section you can read how we can live sustainably locally to change the world globally.
In all of its forms everywhere for everyone
Covid 19 has underlined how important it is to end poverty. Canada agreed to end poverty in all its forms by 2030 and made national commitments recently in a poverty reduction strategy. But talk is cheap. Our international commitments to tackle global poverty fall dismally short of our global peers. Three out of four Canadians think Canada can do better. After all it was Canada, under a liberal Prime Minister, that made promises to tackle poverty (0.7% of GNI) many decades ago. Despite strong Canadian public support to make the world a better place both Liberal and Conservative governments have failed. Covid 19 is a grim reminder of why we must end poverty... everywhere... for everyone. We are globally interconnected and poverty must end. The Green Party understands this global consensus. Quality of life in our riding is some of the best in the world but we still face the gripping issue of poverty. You can find out more about local strategies to reduce poverty here and read practical solutions to affordable housing on the Sunshine Coast here. We have solutions... we need political voices in Ottawa willing to implement them!
How is it possible that Canadian children are going to school hungry in the year 2021? Why is homelessness a growing fear for so many? The Green Party will tackle poverty head on and is calling for a guaranteed income. Mike Simpson has a proven track record tackling poverty, having worked in the most poverty struck conditions on the planet. We don't need more promises or studies or consultations on poverty. We simply need to end it.
The Stakes are High
On average our food comes from over 3200 km away. Local food security is inextricably linked to the global food trade, which in turn depends on a healthy environment. From organic food to local farmers markets the solutions are clear. My partner Stephanie is a certified permaculture practitioner and together we are establishing a permaculture operation on Gambier Island. The challenges farmers face are similar around the world. I have helped women's cooperatives get organic farming off the ground in Sierra Leone, farmers learn about organic composting in El Salvador and worked with indigenous leaders in Peru to promote sustainable local farming and genetic diversity. The challenges are surprisingly similar to what we face in our riding in the battle to maintain genetic diversity, keep food local, preserve soil and find ways to work with nature not against it as we produce food. Food is not the issue, the political system of the food trade and how it puts pressure on farmers is our challenge. As your local Member of Parliament you can expect me to stand up for local farmers and to make the link between food security and pressing issues like climate change.
HEALTH AND WELL BEING
For a Better Future
Health and well being, particularly the sub target 3.3 (which is all about reducing communicable diseases) has been in the forefront of our minds with the arrival of Covid 19. In Canada, we have been challenged to examine how we are treating our elders, particularly those in long term care. Indigenous People have also faced unjust challenges. Covid has revealed the inherent injustices marginalized peoples face when it comes to health and well being. There are obvious and direct links between poverty or homelessness and health which need to be tackled holistically. As a Green Party Member of Parliament I will be a strong voice to draw these links. As our climate changes, as we put more pressure on our environment, as global systemic shocks persist it is clear we will need to address the root causes of health care challenges and build a resilient society. In our riding this means clean energy not LNG investment or potentially dangerous tankers, it means organic food and local food security not pesticides or fish farms, it means affordable housing for seniors and low income families. As your federal representative you can expect me to make these a priority.
The key to resilience
We all know education is important! Although, like forestry, education is largely under provincial jurisdiction there are many, many ways a federal government can support education and an MP can be vocal. Supporting Capilano University and Quest University and on-going education programs, funding retraining programs particularly for workers who must transition out of unsustainable industries and helping newcomers and immigrants land in Canada are just some of the ways our federal government can be more active. As we "build back better" in our Covid recovery, education will be key. I have spoken at almost every post secondary education institution in British Columbia. As a former educator on media literacy for the Global Education program of the BC Teacher's Federation I had the pleasure of doing workshops in many elementary schools all over our province. I have seen first hand how educating children and working with youth is a critical step in social movements and creating long term change. If we want to achieve all of the other Sustainable Development Goals and tackle climate change, the largest fundamental threat of our time, then we must support education and offer free tuition for everyone. Evolving toward resilience will require changing minds and hearts. Education is the path.
When Canada convened the largest gathering of women ever on the subject of equality I chose to get involved. Having been raised by a strong feminist mother and having seen first hand how women change the world I am convinced this goal is key to delivering on all the other global goals, including in our riding. Women Deliver was a conference held in Vancouver two years ago. Men have a strong role to play in advocating for equality. In my case, I chose to support the holding of Longhouse Dialogues in partnership with local First Nations. We held over 30 workshops on gender equality issues and spoke to thousands of people in downtown Vancouver where we had erected longhouses along the waterfront. Having supported women's cooperatives, instituted gender equality programs in Nigeria and worked on gender equality in South America I have witnessed how important it is to address this issue. Despite a laudable "Feminist International Assistance Policy" the Trudeau government has not heeded the call for significant real concrete funding increases. Talk but no walk. As a Green MP I will be a loud and supportive voice on gender equality.
CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
We live in a rainforest
Is it ironic that we live in a rainforest and yet the Sunshine Coast and other nearby regions face water restrictions? It is a major political issue in our riding and the solution is clearly conservation. Investing in long term sustainable infrastructure and supporting locally based solutions like cisterns and water catchment as well as educating people about conservation are clear solutions. The federal government can play a key role as we "build back better". Federally Canada is blessed with water in a world of dwindling supply. Protecting watersheds, riparian zones and of course our Great Lakes are clearly Green issues. I am opposed, for example, to the establishment of radioactive underground repositories near the Great Lakes as currently planned. It is important that we view our water, including potable clean water for First Nations, from a "whole of society" approach. Understanding the interlinkages between climate change, deforestation or the other goals from the perspective of clean water and sanitation for all is something you an expect me to be vocal about.
AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
Renewables, renewables, renewables.
Wood Fibre LNG is a bad idea. To burn fossil fuels and brand this a "clean" energy is patently false and you can count on me to be outspoken in opposing it. We simply have way too many better options. To claim that it is "clean" is like smoking a lighter cigarette. We must transition to renewable energy and stop investing in fossil fuels as if our lungs were counting on us...because the lungs of planet are counting on us to quit fossil fuels. From co founding the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance to working overseas to found the Council for Renewable Energy in Nigeria to literally installing and teaching solar panel workshops from Sierra Leonne to Peru to Nigeria and El Salvador you can count on me to be a strong advocate for the only viable solution. I have lived off grid, done the first commercial grid inter-tie solar system with BC Hydro, raised wind generators and literally built my first hot water solar heater 40 years ago. I understand the political issues we face like feed in tariffs, perverse subsidies and how to forge a federal path forward to quit our addiction to fossil fuels. Having been on the official delegation to the United Nations Renewables Conference on behalf of Canada to organizing energy conferences on the Clean Development Mechanism or Energy Solutions internationally or simply attending international Climate meetings I fully understand that decentralized, appropriate technologies and renewable energy are the answer. You can count on me to be enthusiastically speaking out on this issue with years of practical and policy experience under my belt.
DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
What Canadians Care About
As a Green MP there is no false juxtaposition between jobs, economic growth and the environment. Indeed, the opposite is true. Growth in itself is not a bad thing. We can grow the number of books, poems and ideas. We can grow the clean energy economy with minimal environmental impact. We do not need to just haul water and hew wood despite the primary resource economy playing an important historical role in Canada. Secondary and tertiary industries are real. The non profit sector, which is entirely focused on making the world a better place is larger than the automobile and manufacturing industry put together in Canada. So we can grow but we must grow in the right places and appropriate ways. This is why LNG in the year 2021 in our riding makes absolutely no sense. There are so many economic drivers with minimal environmental impact that allow for us to thrive. Wind energy alone in our riding could provide more jobs and decent work than the handful of jobs promised through unsustainable gas investment.There is no shortage of decent work and our political challenge is to transition toward a new economy knowing that better options exist.
INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Opportunity knocks in our riding
Goal Nine of Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure offer us a way of thinking. How can we transform unsustainable ways of thinking into sustainable, circular economic endeavours that tackle the challenges of our time including climate change. Innovation and a strong entrepreneurial spirit will be the driving force to "build back better" in line with a resilient and sustainable future. In our riding that means supporting non traditional industries (eg. software development) and thinking outside the box. Industry does not mean a smokestack. The federal government has a huge role to play in renovating or building new environmentally sound and climate-adaptive infrastructure. In order to build for future climate impacts we will. need to think in terms of seven generations and make federal investments that are based on 100 year windows of time -not four year election cycles. It is time to have a Green MP in Ottawa to pressure the Liberals to make the right kinds of investments. Let's not invest in fighter jets or the obsolete nuclear industry and instead put our money into clean transportation, clean energy and climate adaptation. Retrofitting homes is a smarter long term investment than buying pipelines and Ottawa needs to hear this loud and clear.
A just and fair world
Years ago, I quoted an observation that eleven people in the world each had more income than the combined income of the bottom half of the world’s population or 3.5 billion people. There is something very wrong behind that statistic. Then, someone corrected me. It was actually eight; today only six. While Jeff Bezos of Amazon flies into space with his brother for fun we don’t have potable water for many First Nations in Canada, let alone drinking water in destitute villages in West Africa. In our riding we have large discrepancies of wealth, including the wealthiest municipality in Canada, and the homelessness experienced in many other parts of our communities. But if we “follow the money” we can see that these discrepancies in our riding pale when compared to the discrepancies, perverse subsidies and inside deals happening nationally with the extremely wealthy and corporate players. The Liberal government recently sold off Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to SNC Lavalin for a paltry 15 million dollars. Total Canadian taxpayer investments in AECL cost us all billions. Whether it is bailouts to banks or inside deals or simple giveaways you can count on me to speak up.
SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
Where we live must be sustainable
Gibsons is the proud winner of the United Nations most sustainable and livable community award. It is one of the reasons I chose to move here 8 years ago. Whether it is Whistler or Pender Harbour, or Pemberton or West Vancouver, we must nurture and evolve sustainability. Our city, regional or national planning efforts must target a quality of life that reflects our global potential to be world leaders in sustainability. We live in the best place in the world and evolving our community practices toward this vision is the best investment we can make toward a resilient future. Yes, bike lanes may be a municipal responsibility but aligning local planning with a federal vision of sustainability is something Ottawa needs to do. As a person who has been involved in grass roots consultation for decades on sustainable living and as the former head of One Sky- the Canadian Institute of Sustainable Living I have lived and breathed local community action for decades. From starting car share coops to running bicycle recycling programs for low income people I have had my hands full of ideas and solutions for local communities. Sometimes we just have to "do it" and this is the attitude I will bring to Ottawa.
RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
Our Ecological Footprint
One visit to our landfills and we can quickly see something has to change. Canadians are some of the highest per capita users of energy in the world and our carbon footprint one of the largest. We simply have to face, that for our planet to survive, we Canadians must change. Insisting on full life cycle products, working toward climate "drawdown" through reducing, reusing recycling and "refusing" is our responsibility. The privilege of living in this riding underscores or global duty. Personally, I am in favour of strong federal action to reduce plastics in the marine environment or use negative taxation on environmentally harmful practices or polluters. Time is of the essence and we cannot simply wait and hope for consumer based education programs or people to voluntarily change. We need to take political steps now and make difficult decisions immediately.
There is no Planet B
I first became aware of climate change in the early 90s as a young board member of the Sierra Club of BC. Over the years I have attended Council of the Parties meetings of the U.N., spoken at countless presentations on the subject and led delegations to events like the Paris Summit. I have organized international meetings on technicalities like the Clean Development Mechanism (that are nuanced arguments behind the climate change discussions) and engaged the public about the basic science behind global warming. I am also old enough remember cold winters in Canada and young enough to fear the changing Atlantic hurricane season. What does it mean in our riding? We will experience the same increase in frequency and intensity of climate events as the rest of the world but we will not be insulated from the impacts elsewhere. Climate change is an overwhelming and key concern of Canadians and we need politicians in Ottawa who feel this in their bones. While I have been encouraged by much of the Liberal talk in Ottawa, I have been appalled by the lack of action. I will be frank. Of all the global goals, this one looms largest in our times and Canada is failing. We simply must be brave and take decisive, costly steps that may be unpopular with some people and industries. This is what politics is about and, on this issue, I stand firmly with future generations. In our riding it means refusing to invest in LNG, nationally it means not buying pipelines or investing in fossil fuels. It means stopping perverse subsidies and investing quickly in alternative energy. It means education, education, education as we transition with compassion. A just transition will require federal leadership and for this to occur we need loud, vocal MPs in Ottawa who never stop talking and walking on this issue.
LIFE BELOW WATER
Our marine environment is precious
I was born in Saskatchewan. When I first moved to the West Coast I paddled a kayak solo (at the tender age of 17) from Clover Point in Victoria to Howe Sound, up Jervis Inlet and on to Campbell River. After weeks of paddling alone, I fell in love with the ocean and I fell in love with this part of the world, including the waters of Howe Sound. I spend as much time as I can on or in the water (I am an avid kite surfer) and am intimately aware of how robust yet delicate our marine environment is. I remember Al Gore in Paris claiming that every day, through anthropocentric induced climate change, we add the equivalent of 400 thousand atomic bombs of energy into our biosphere, most of it being absorbed by our oceans. I have witnessed the tonnes and tonnes of plastics being directly dumped into our global oceans and the collapse of fisheries in other parts of the world. I have participated with the Haisla in documenting the oolichan harvest and have a deep appreciation of what salmon mean to West Coast cultures and indigenous people. I have fought to preserve mangrove swamps and save turtles in El Salvador. Raised awareness about oil spills and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta. Whether it is eliminating plastics in the marine environment or simply making the connection between healthy oceans and a healthy planet you can count on me to speak up for oceans anywhere on this planet. I have been lucky to paddle and sail most of the West Coast and in many parts of Canada. We cannot take our oceans for granted! In 2015 I drew attention to climate change and our loss of sea ice by paddling from Igloolik to Pond Inlet, crossing Baffin Island. Again, I fell in love but this time with the arctic. Sadly it is the arctic waters and sea ice that are enduring some of the most profound changes. Our oceans are one body. What happens in one part affects the others. We need politicians in Ottawa that understand losing our coral reefs is a global tragedy. We need politicians that can see the links between fish farms, sea lice and the survival of wild salmon. Most of all we need politicians that understand we are not in charge of the oceans… they are in charge of us and if we don’t treat them right they will still be around many eons from now even if we are not.
LIFE ON LAND
Our rainforest home
In talking to many Green Party members in our riding it is clear that our old growth temperate rainforest is a valued and precious resource of global significance. Our riding has a history of logging and the Elphinstone shelf on the Sunshine Coast is considered the best tree growing environment in Canada. It is true our home can grow trees, as evidenced by the fir trees in our backyard, but an old growth ecosystem is more than just fibre. It is a relationship, that like all life on land is an interconnected symbiotic web of life. Our home has the highest biodiversity values in Canada and we simply must understand that from a global perspective we are stewarding a planetary cathedral that is precious to everyone. Indeed, if there is one thing I learned from many years of making films on old growth logging, it is, once again, our ecosystem is taking care of us not the other way around. Even just the value of keeping old growth standing from a carbon storage perspective is of global significance and, like our oceans, a key to our survival in the biosphere in the coming decades of climate change. We can still cut trees sustainably but there is no excuse for cutting in places like Fairy Creek, our watersheds, the fully expanded Mount Elphinstone Park, or the remaining old growth on Vancouver Island. While forestry is under provincial jurisdiction, biodiversity is not and neither is climate change. Understanding the interlinkages between these goals means we must find policy coherence between scales of governance. As a federal politician you can expect me to talk to provincial counterparts and work across levels of jurisdiction to protect life on land. I have hung out of helicopters for Greenpeace and stood on the front lines of protests in watershed after watershed because I believe in my heart that some forests cannot be cut. I also own a wood mill and enjoy working with wood. Whether it is farming sustainably, forestry or species protection, you can count on me in Ottawa to be a vocal advocate for life on land.
PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS
Canada in a troubled world
I grew up during the Cold War. Nuclear annihilation was very real and today remains a very real global threat. As a long-time human rights activist, I learned what war means first hand and I understand that peace is delicate, temporary and a constant struggle. Although the world’s troubles feel far from our home here on the West Coast the consequences of conflict are felt everywhere and as a federal politician you can count on my outspoken support for human rights activists, journalists and those who promote peace. I have personally accompanied human rights lawyers and investigations of human rights abuses in Central America, including massacres, extrajudicial executions and disappearances. I have stood on the front lines with groups like Mothers of the Disappeared standing face to face with those that committed atrocities and I have lived with child soldiers who were forced to commit these very same atrocities. It is scary stuff and some parts of the world are very scary places. Canada can play a significant role in preventing conflict and you can count on me to be very, very outspoken on issues that range from the conflict in the middle east, to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Myanmar to preventing nuclear proliferation or chemical or biological warfare. Being a federal politician is about Canada and our role in the world. I am convinced from talking with many people in our riding that we are fully aware of our luck to live in this part of the world. With that luck comes a responsibility to promote peace, justice and strong institutions. We are also not immune, as our history so blatantly points out from injustices here. The recent discovery of 215 bodies of children who died at a residential school so close to our riding is a grim reminder of our own unjust colonial history. It is incumbent on federal politicians to lead when it comes to the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and implementing UNDRIP. Peace and Justice lies at the heart of political life.
PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS
Together we can
We have diverse views in Canada but one thing is clear. Given that time is of the essence the needed changes will require all of us to act together. Just as Covid challenged us to cooperate so do the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. But we must also cooperate across scales so that we act both locally, regionally, nationally and globally. To accomplish this monumental task we need to partner. The private sector needs to partner with civil society groups and both need to work with government. As a Green Party MP my emphasis will be on accountability but also on cooperation. We simply need to collaborate because we are simply running out of time.