Organic farmer David Laing has been declared the BC Green Party candidate for the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding in the provincial election on Oct. 24.
Laing, 36, is co-principal of the non-profit People Power Society for Healthy Communities, which has been providing healthy vegetables to low-income residents for the past three years. It’s his first foray into party politics.
He said he decided to run after the previous BC Green Party candidate, Rita Giesbrecht, announced she would not throw her hat in the ring this year.
“I’m very excited,” Laing said. “I’m passionate about both social and economic justice and I can see Canada, including B.C., and the rest of the world is at a crossroads with the climate change crisis and moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”
Laing said his goal is to facilitate that transition as “smoothly and successfully” as possible without impacting local residents and businesses. However, he acknowledges it’s going to “take will and a great deal of investment” to propel Canada into the same direction as other countries around the world.
Laing was raised in Hamilton, Ont. and studied ecosystem management technology at Sir Sandford-Fleming College. He has been a regular visitor to the South Cariboo since 2006, coming here to volunteer at a local farm, owned by the Horse Lake Community Farm Cooperative every summer, before moving to the area permanently four years ago. After volunteering for a year, the Community Enhancement and Economic Development Society (CEEDS) allowed him to start People Power on the land.
“We believe food is a right and everyone should have access to it,” he said.
Laing said he expects the BC Greens will have a better chance in this election, noting that while many people last time considered the Greens a throwaway vote, they nonetheless did well in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Giesbrecht finished just 726 votes behind the NDP’s Sally Watson.
“It was tight last time,” Laing said. “I’m thinking a lot of voters who voted strategically last time may very well vote for the party they want to be elected.”
Laing will be up against Liberal candidate Lorne Doerkson, of Williams Lake, who is running to replace longtime MLA Donna Barnett, and the NDP’s Scott Andrews, of Victoria.
“This election is a clean slate for everybody,” he said. “I’m inviting people to get to know every candidate and who they are and vote.”