Mike Sawyer. (Facebook photo)

Mike Sawyer announced as Green candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

Sawyer has been involved in multiple, high-profile legal complaints regarding pipeline developments.

A Smithers environmental activist has been announced as the Green Party’s candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in the upcoming Federal election this October.

Mike Sawyer has been involved in multiple complaints with the National Energy Board (NEB) over proposed pipeline developments.

Most recently, on July 26 the NEB disagreed with a legal challenge made by Sawyer that TransCanada’s 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline from the northeast of B.C. to Kitimat falls under federal jurisdiction.

Discussing his decision to enter the race, Sawyer said that while he agreed with people like NDP nominee and Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach’s policies, he just couldn’t get behind a party like the NDP which he characterized as having hypocritical leadership, pointing to two very contrasting decisions made by Party Leader Jagmeet Singh.

“Almost immediately after his byelection win he came out in support of LNG Canada and a couple weeks after that he came out opposing fracking. Well you can’t have it both ways because probably 80 to 90 per cent of the gas that’s involved in the LNG industry in British Columbia comes from fracked wells,” he said, noting a general cynical view towards major parties’ desire to get things done.

“The mainstream political parties, they ask themselves this question: what do we have to say or do to get people to vote for us. And instead of saying what’s the right thing to do or what form of leadership should we show to our constituents they become politicians.”

Sawyer has lived in the riding for 10 years but first came to the Bulkley Valley in the 1960s.

In that time he has had a wide variety of jobs, from sitting on Indigenous committees, acting as an environmental consultant and running businesses.

It’s something he said he feels makes him well equipped for the job.

“The mainstream parties actually have demonstrated that they’re just not able to … take action individually or collectively to solve the problems. And so I want to make sure that in this election that the citizens of the Bulkley Valley have a choice,” he said.

“I think what we need is instead of good politicians we need strong leaders. And I think that’s what I. What I would bring to the table and and and to make sure that the critical issues don’t get glossed over.”

When asked about a recent surge in support for the Green Party, Sawyer said he thinks fears people used to see as more abstract are now becoming more apparent in their day-to-day lives is a big motivator for the shift in support.

“All the press and discussion and the science and the warnings is now sort of percolating into people’s consciousness and and they’re worried about it.”

Pointing to the Green Party’s platform he said it’s actually quite in line with what the majority of Canadians want with regards to climate.

“If we looked at national polling on the question of how do you value a clean environment. That question [has been] put out to Canadians probably every year for the last 20 years and the results are pretty consistent that between 75 and 80 percent of Canadians say they say they have a high value for a clean environment.”

That issue as a whole — climate change — is one that Sawyer thinks will be at the forefront of the upcoming campaign.

On the topic of electoral reform, Sawyer said he certainly thinks Canada should ditch First-past-the-post in exchange for some form of proportional representation.

He adds that he feels Justin Trudeau’s choice to abandon his campaign promise of electoral reform will cost him voters who saw the move as a serious 180 degree shift from his campaign promises.

“The problem is the mainstream parties once they get in power they go well why would we want proportional representation now? Because that’s going to erode [their] power.” he said, adding that if the Greens got in as a player, either in the form of a minority or coalition government, that they would “absolutely force the electoral reform question.”

But beyond electoral reform, Sawyer pointed to vote splitting as something he sees as a potential issue in this upcoming election.

“The call from ‘the Left’, if I could use that term, is — and predominantly from the NDP — you have put aside your individual values and you have to vote NDP because otherwise the Conservatives are going to get elected and we’re gonna have an evil premier in Ottawa.

For his part, Sawyer understands the sentiment but said it’s a bad idea.

“Horgan didn’t do anything to actually argue for or advocate for electoral reform and the fact being that he was in the government — he could have just brought it in!”

Sawyer said he feels Horgan was happy to see the referendum fail.

“That’s the paradox of trying to shift from a first past the post into forceful representation is that whoever is in power it’s not in their interest to actually be professional. And that’s one thing I like about the Greens is they they have a very solid position that a proportional representation has to be one of their central goals.”

Sawyer also said it was important to him to discuss the issue of jobs and the complaints he hears about the Green Party being solely focused on the environment in its platform.

“There’s actually some very good evidence out there that by shifting to a sustainable zero carbon economy in a relatively quick time we’ll actually generate way more jobs than what we’re currently getting from a hydrocarbon basis … so the actual taking the plunge down that road actually looks very promising in terms of economic activity and employment.

Sawyer ended with a caution.

“You know, if we don’t take that path and it ends up, as it inevitably will, with with some form of societal collapse — it won’t matter what your job is.”

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