Kamloops lawyer Iain Currie was recently acclaimed as the federal Green Party candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo and is confident the party is starting to catch on among Canadian voters.
Currie said he decided to run because he believes in cleaning up the environment and it’s no longer enough just to do his part as an individual because change needs to happen at the governmental level.
“I’m a father of three kids and I’m looking forward to being a grandfather eventually,” said Currie.
“In October 2018 the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about what needs to be done to address climate change, it really hit home for me as someone who’s always been concerned about the environment, but I started feeling like a bit of a hypocrite for not actually putting my words into action; I want to do more than just recycling and trying to walk more.”
The report from IPCC had an emphasis on limiting global warming to 1.5 C, which it said would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.
“One of the key messages that came out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, in a summary of the report.
On a local level, Currie said he’s scheduling roundtable discussions with experts in the forest industry to help form ideas on what he can do to help communities hit by mill closures.
“I’m sitting down with people and talking about ideas, which are not new, but which have a new urgency in terms of value added resources as opposed to shipping our resources overseas in unprocessed forms, and what the federal government can do about that,” said Currie.
“One of the things the Green Party stands for, which I intend to campaign on, is aggressively starting the inevitable transition away from the oil and gas sector, from the resource economy as it’s been practiced in Canada, towards a sustainable green economy, and how we can bring the benefits of that to the whole country, but particularly to rural places where the resource-intensive jobs are, that’s the place where people have the skills, which can be translated into jobs in the new green economy.”
One of the benefits of a green economy is the fact that it’s not cyclical, like oil, gas and lumber, and one idea Currie mentioned was to use the money current governments use to subsidize big businesses in the oil industry and using it to retrain workers to be skilled in the renewable energy sector.
“Building a wind farm also requires people, it requires them to build, it requires some of the same skills as people involved in the pipelines—it involves welding, operating cranes, metal working, I think it involves all those good things people in Clearwater are qualified to do and it also continues to involve maintenance and observation,” he said.
“These are jobs that continue, the pipeline is going to create some jobs in construction just as building solar panels would, just as building wind farms would, just as creating sustainable jobs in forestry would except that sustainable piece, and the oil sands are not sustainable, that’s not a lifetime job, that’s not a job for my grandchild.”
Currie added he also thinks the federal government has a part to play in terms of trying to push for more sustainable, small scale lumber mills and keeping what’s produced in the region.
For example, he said it’s more sustainable to build houses in Kamloops with logs harvested, processed and finished within the region than shipping wood overseas and buying it back.
“Obviously that doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen and it has to happen in the near future, that we start moving aggressively in that direction,” he said.