The first thing you might notice about Green Party candidate Mike Simpson is that you aren’t noticing him.
When driving north from West Vancouver up the Sea to Sky Highway you’ll notice the ditches in certain areas of the highway are overrun with election signs advertising for all the other candidates in Canada’s Sept. 20 election, but you won’t see one for Simpson—and that is by design.
Don’t think of the lack of representation as a passive approach to the election from Simpson. It’s actually quite the opposite. While you will see some signage in select locations, Simpson is making a statement by not putting out hundreds of plastic signs that will eventually end up in a landfill, and with that statement, he wants the voters in this riding to know that he is here to fight tooth and nail for climate change solutions.
“You can do projects and you can work for non-profits, and you can try to make the world a better place, but at this point, time is running out,” said Simpson. “We are dead on our way to [a global temperature increase of 3.5 degrees].
“I’ve gone to the UN as head of a delegation on climate change. I know the subject and the bottom line is that we’ve actually run out of time to educate and advocate for change in the sense that we need the decision makers absolutely right now in Ottawa. It’s that much of an emergency.”
Simpson, who lives on the Sunshine Coast and is running for office for the first time at 56 years old, has spent his life as a climate change activist and documentary filmmaker travelling all over the world researching social and environmental issues before eventually starting his own non-profit called One Sky—the Canadian Institute of Sustainable Living.
Being so well versed in climate issues for so long, Simpson knows that his message is on the bleak side, but he hopes that’s the wake-up call people need to use their votes to affect real change now.
“I used to go around with Elizabeth May 25 years ago in the Sierra Club and I’ve still got brochures talking about how there will be triple the number of forest fires in a couple decades,” said Simpson. “That’s 25 years ago. And now here we are and what are we sitting in right now? There’s hundreds of forest fires in British Columbia and it’s all real. There needs to be kind of a rising anger about this.”
With rising global temperatures threatening the future of ski resorts like Whistler, Simpson believes that should be the biggest motivation for Whistler locals to think about giving him their vote. However, his platform also outlines other initiatives that would benefit the resort, like diverting money away from unnecessary government spending to be put toward things like affordable housing.
“If you look back at the policies, you can quickly see, the Greens have been consistent on this,” he said. “We’ve been advocating for affordable housing for a long time, and we’ve been advocating to do it through non-profits and through cooperatives, all the things that were cut in the 1970’s.
“What I keep saying to people is just follow the money. Why is it that all three parties right now are all keen to buy $77 billion worth of fighter jets and we are struggling to get affordable housing programs off the ground that are a fraction of that?”
Simpson realizes that votes for the Green Party are often lost to people looking to vote strategically, but said he believes this to be the perfect opportunity for those people to vote Green because of the high probability of a minority government, which could allow for Green representatives to be listened to.
When asked why people should vote for him, Simpson summed it up in just six words: “because we are the only option.”
He continued,“If you vote Liberal you get the same story … if you go with the Conservatives, they haven’t even decided yet whether climate is an emergency. And if you go with Avi [Lewis, NDP] you get a really nice guy, locked by his party into fracking. They won’t say no to fracking and [the BC NDP is] old-growth logging right now,” said Simpson.
“If you want to follow the science, then you have to follow the Green Party, because we are the only ones that will follow the science.”
Whistler’s virtual all-candidates meeting is set to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Pique will have more candidate profiles in the coming weeks.