In Guelph’s riding this election, there are a lot of experienced politicians running. In fact, Green Party of Canada candidate Dr. Michelle Bowman is one of only two candidates running in Guelph who have never been a candidate before, but the environmental scientist doesn’t see that as a bad thing. As she told Open Sources Guelph last week, an emphasis on climate action is what’s desperately needed now more than political experience.
“I really believe that this is the last Canadian Federal Election we have to do something real about climate change,” Bowman said. “I think the stakes are huge, and the other parties just aren’t planning enough. The science says we need to more.”
Bowman is not only the Green Party’s candidate for Guelph, but she’s also a member of the party’s shadow cabinet as Environment Critic. In this position, she gets to utilize her expertise in Environmental Biology and Ecology, and her work as a aquatic ecologist, statistician, and a forensic ecology consultant. She’s seen first hand how the politicization of science and scientists put the country on a back foot.
“I first started paying attention to politics during the Harper government years, I was consulting for the Federal government, and many of the people who I thought were the best scientists were fired,” Bowman explained. “He also dismantled libraries and got rid of databases. I thought science could solve some of our problems, and then I realized that it takes more than science to do it.”
In terms of what the current governments is doing wrong, Bowman said that the Liberals can’t even meet the targets they’ve already set.
“Under the Liberals, emissions have gone up every year, so there’s a really crappy track record and even if we look at their current plan, their targets aren’t high enough, they’re not going to act fast enough,” Bowman said. “They’re also relying on all these unknown technological fixes, so they can continue with business as usual and keep subsidizing oil and gas. There’s a lots of reasons why the plan won’t work, and even if the plan would work, can we trust someone that’s never met a target?”
Trust is a big issue in this election, and there’s a lot of mistrust of both science and of government. So what will Dr. Bowman do, as a scientist and a politician, do try and win back that trust? “I really believe we just need to keep pushing the message and keep simplifying it and keep trying different ways to relate to what matters most to people,” she said.
“A lot of that has to do with how people are struggling, and when people are struggling, they can’t think rationally about climate change and other things,” Bowman added. “I think we need to rebuild our social security net, we need to strengthen our society, because if people aren’t worried about paying their rent, putting food on the table, or whether they’re going to be shut out of work again, they won’t be so frustrated that they start throwing gravel at the Prime Minister.”
So what can an environmental scientist do in the House of Commons, especially in the likely event that the Greens won’t form a government? “I will be able to expose policies that don’t meet the science and I will be able to expose policies that put profit over people, which I think is a lot of the problem,” Bowman said.
“I’ll point to our MPP who’s had lots of success doing that with the Ford government, like with Duffins Creek, for example,” Bowman explained. “They were going to put an Amazon warehouse there, and Mike Schreiner kept the debate alive at Queen’s Park. That’s a great example of how just exposing bad policy helps, and I think people underestimate how much power they have when enough people stand up.”
You can learn more about Michelle Bowman and her campaign by accessing her website here.