Nomination Contestants answer your questions

Q1. Why do you want to be the Green Party candidate for our riding?

Elizabeth Robertson

I feel a strong call to action for the residents of North Okanagan-Shuswap. As the largest riding in B.C., we enjoy our nation’s best features, including our parks, communities, and arts & culture. To create true justice, we need a leader willing to dedicate themselves into honesty and integrity.

I can bring an added voice to our community as the first Green Party Member of Parliament in North Okanagan-Shuswap. I began my advocacy after the diagnosis of Autism of two of my children. Like many people, I had challenges accessing services from the federal government. Using my lived experiences, I began engaging with parents and guardians to overcome adversity and create opportunities for their children and felt that I can help more people.

I am trained in the role of MP responsibilities with an Honours Degree in Political Science and further training in Public Policy, Administration and Constitutional Law. Politics is not the bedfellow to justice, a strong basis in Public Policy is!

My motivation as an M.P. would to bring the First Nations community’s challenges to Parliament and address the needs of the resident of North Okanagan-Shuswap. From my advocacy initiatives on health care services and working towards reconciliation, my commitment to the accountability of public resources is shown by my actions.

Geordie McComb

For the opportunity to do some social and ecological good.

While raising young children, during my wife’s medical residency, and writing my PhD thesis, I felt the call to do my part. I often managed to stroller-run my kids instead of driving, to cook my family vegetarian meals, and to feed our dog sustainable food, made from bugs. Now that I’ve graduated, and with both my children going to school this year, I want an opportunity to do more for the world in which our kids will live.

If you pull off the Icefields Parkway and enter the visitors’ center, you might see some old black and white pictures of the Athabasca Glacier, and if you compare these pictures to the glacier there before you, you will see, shockingly, how much of its ice has melted and, in some small way, how much our climate has changed. For the climate crisis, for social injustice, and for other problems, I want to make a difference. I want to study IPCC reports, for example, and anti-racist literature, and I want to help change minds, by giving clear and persuasive arguments. It is for this opportunity that I want to run.

I grew up in North Saanich, in Elizabeth May’s riding, before she won and turned a longstanding blue district green. I want to run here, above all, to help us do the same—turn this, our longstanding conservative riding, green. At the very least, I want to help bring progressive cares to kitchen tables.

Andrea Gunner

In our family photo album, there is a photograph of my older sister, nine years my senior, standing in a churning boil that was the Okanagan Kokanee run in 1956. I remember standing in the same place in 1965, although the run was a comparative trickle less than one decade later. When I moved back to the North Okanagan with young children of my own in 1991, the kokanee run was essentially non-existent. Since that time, the Okanagan Nation Alliance has collaborated across diverse and varied stakeholders and the kokanee run has gone from strength to strength in recent years, steadily gaining as a small but viable commercial fishery. This illustrates that the power of vision and determination can bring ecological restoration and economic growth.

As a farmer and professional agrologist, I am constantly made aware of the unintended consequences of human choices, on weather patterns, on insect and bird populations, on soil health, air and water quality. This both scares and angers me but I also have determination and hope because of the power of the kokanee story.

The Green Party is the only political party that consistently develops meaningful policies to bring ecological restoration while supporting new economic opportunities. I would be honoured to be chosen to represent the Green Party in this riding and bring a vision of determination and hope in achieving ecological restoration and new economic opportunities.

Q2.  What makes you the best candidate for our riding?

Elizabeth Robertson

North Okanagan-Shuswap is home to a vibrant community unique due to the special nature of our diversity and compassionate group of active citizens. I believe in solutions for riding in the most equitable way. As a public servant, I have a servant’s heart – I want to help our community.

Community leadership and community engagement is a skill. Building consensus, working hand in hand, and listening to the community are the pillars I will give to North Okanagan-Shuswap. When combining these pillars, I know I am the best candidate for our riding.

Geordie McComb

My ability to explain difficult green ideas and passionately defend them.

On their way to elementary school, some kids ask why, then ask why again, and again and again. That was me. Some kids want to read another bedtime story, then another, till they can’t keep their eyes open. That was me too. Questions and stories. Later, a high school English teacher advised me to study literature, because then I could have it all, both questions and stories. Both head and heart. But I didn’t listen. At university, philosophy captivated me, and I had no choice but to value head over heart. After my Bachelor’s degree, which was hard, and a Master’s degree, harder, I began my PhD, harder still. These efforts showed me much about difficult ideas. They showed me that many of our seemingly simple ideas, like that of knowledge, are hard to make sense of; that they’re hard to explain, especially in plain language; and that the explanations we give are often hard to criticize. But then these efforts brought me back to my English teacher’s advice, and I took it. I wrote a large part of my PhD thesis on literature, specifically, on hard questions, using both head and heart. I would bring this same perseverance and combination of head and heart to my work as a green candidate, especially when it comes to difficult ideas.

Our politics abound in difficult ideas. How do echo chambers underlie climate change denial? How do we pay for a universal basic income, if inflation is unusually high? Does conservation conflict with reconciliation? How is anti-racism related to feminism? My value as your candidate would lie primarily in my ability to explain and defend green ideas, and to do so with head and heart, in English or in French. My value also lies in my proximity to our voters’ doors, my union and board experience, and my love for our local land.

Andrea Gunner

I’ve been in a variety of leadership positions in industry and community all my adult life. I’ve lived in the North Okanagan for thirty years but travelled and worked in other regions and continents. I’m both persistent and creative in the face of overwhelming forces. I have governance and organisational skills and experience. I am a collaborator by nature. I’m strongly motivated to create and implement solutions toward a more ecologically balanced future with new economic opportunities.

Q3. What are your top 3 issues for this election?

Elizabeth Robertson

First, the need to invest in a Green Economy with good, stable, high-paying jobs. We have a strong labour force ready to convert homes into energy-efficient homes.

Second, Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is the paramount importance. Canada can implement the most significant home-building project on reserve, and this will create jobs. Moreover, the lack of infrastructure is shameful in Canada and has left many communities in the lurch. Arthur Manuel stated in his book,

“If we can make the cost of ignoring us higher than it is to deal with us, they will deal. That, finally, is the Canadian way. In a country founded on the balance sheet, the balance sheet is the only force that will lead to fundamental changes”.

A true partnership in land claims, access, and self-determination must be created with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Lastly, our social contract with Seniors has failed. After years of dedication and those who have work 25, 30, 35 and even 40 years in Canada are suffering in poverty—renewing the Social Contract with supports to end poverty, such as enact universal Pharmacare and affordable housing for seniors.

Geordie McComb

The climate crisis, electoral reform, and establishing a universal basic income.

I believe the climate crisis is a keystone issue, the most important of our time. It is a threat to our survival as a species. It is a social justice issue, comparable to sexism and racism, since climate change affects those most who are least responsible for it. Think of the global poor. Think of aboriginal peoples. Think of future generations. And it is a threat to biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as particular old growth forests, for example, which are valuable in themselves, apart from any use we have for them.

Electoral reform is another keystone issue, since to improve representation in our democratic system is, arguably, to remedy the under-representation of many progressive values in Canadian government, especially green ones. Now, electoral reform may be unachievable this coming election, especially after our current government failed to implement it, but left on the back burner, it may not be achievable in the foreseeable future, since, arguably, out of public view, many voters will continue to overlook it and to vote strategically.

Establishing a universal basic income is a third keystone issue. To establish it is to address other issues, such as homelessness. Now, additional government spending may worry some voters, especially in times of high inflation, but strong economic arguments may calm them. The main argument is that this spending puts new money into the right hands, letting it trickle up and improve our economy, even if inflation is relatively high.

Andrea Gunner

1. Develop actionable strategies, policies and practices to draw down Carbon.

2. BC’s forest industry contains multiple important values including those of fibre products, recreation, habitat, hydrological and ecological function. Policies and forest management strategies which support all these important values will help bring new opportunities for the forest industry.

3. Provide momentum for a future North Okanagan-Shuswap Green MP