GuelphToday asked each of the candidates in the upcoming federal election to provide a brief biography and what they see as the key issues in the campaign.
Hi Guelph, I’m Michelle Bowman your Green Party candidate for the upcoming federal election.
Although I wouldn’t have called an election early or during a pandemic, I’m excited to offer you a different option – a person, just like yourself, that doesn’t tow a political party line or cater to lobby groups. If elected, I’ll expose policies that are inconsistent with real climate action as well as those that won’t make life better for people in Canada and beyond.
About me: I was born to young parents in west Toronto. My dad was the first person in his family to graduate from university – he missed his chemistry exam for my birth. We moved to the suburbs of Montreal for his first job as an engineer when I was four. A few years later, with my little brother in tow, we moved back to Milton and my mom started a career in banking. I spent summers in cottage country with grandparents and cousins until I became a swim instructor and lifeguard.
I’ve been studying the ecology of lakes and rivers since I graduated from high school. I was fortunate to be mentored by the renowned and outspoken ecologist Dave Schindler during my Ph.D. – we were able to stop town pollution from entering rivers in the mountain national parks.
I was a visiting scientist at the Ontario government as well as universities in Utah and Saskatoon before settling in Guelph 10 years ago. I still enjoy consulting for conservation authorities, universities and the provincial and federal governments.
Why politics? It was when my most influential colleagues at the federal government were fired by the Harper government that I started paying closer attention to politics. The mismatch between science and policy seemed to be getting worse, particularly with respect to climate change. I attended a coffee chat with MPP Mike Schreiner a few years ago and volunteered on the spot - I started planning events and posting on social media. This year, I was appointed to the Green Party of Canada shadow cabinet as critic for the environment and enjoyed writing my first policy and platform.
I decided to become a candidate for the Greens because people and the planet need more advocates. Urgently. The climate emergency, biodiversity crisis and pandemic are a result of putting profit over people and the planet for too long.
The three biggest parties in Canada are not doing or planning anything remotely close enough to stop, let alone reverse, these trends. We are extracting resources from the planet faster than they can be replenished. The rich are getting richer at alarmingly faster and faster rates which is leaving less and less for the rest of us.
The Issues: I’ve been shouting climate science from the rooftops for two decades so I’m relieved it’s finally an election issue. But I’m worried people will fall prey to clever marketing of inadequate ‘climate solutions’. The pandemic has put a spotlight on many holes in our social safety net and we don’t like what we see – neglected seniors, national housing crisis, inadequate health care, grim future for youth and more. All this under a shadow of an unthinkable colonial past coming to light and rising hate.
The good news is that we have the answers. Stop running an environmental deficit. No excuses. Enact policies that support people and corporations that are acting responsibly and discourage those that aren’t. Big pharma and friends, I’m talking to you. Change the narrative from what we need to give up – fossil fuels and industrial farming – to what we have to gain. Living rather than surviving. We need to repair our past relationships with Indigenous peoples and demand our elected representatives cooperate for a better future.