Editor’s Notes: This is part of a series of articles about the candidates in the federal election.
Peter Smith says the federal political parties talk a good game about the climate emergency but have little desire to follow through.
The 68 year-old is running for the Green Party in the Sarnia-Lambton riding. He was also the party’s candidate in the 2015 election.
In that election, Smith says the other parties were polite but didn’t see the Greens as a threat. But with climate change constantly in the news and federal parties talking about possible solutions with few actions, the Green Party, he says, seems like a viable solution to the people he’s meeting this time around.
“The parties seem to be conflicted in so many ways; they say things they’re going to do and you know they’re not going to do them because they’re influenced by outside parties – the oil industries or other industries or even the unions…clearly it is not in the best interest of those companies (to deal with climate change); the history of what they’ve done – putting out false information or outright lying instead of doing the right things…they’ve done everything to profit for themselves…they’ve put us in a huge risk.”
While those may seem like harsh words, the candidate speaks from his experience in the energy industry. He has a degree in nuclear engineering, worked in the nuclear industry for nine years before moving to Canada. When he came to Sarnia in 1987, he started working for Polysar. He recently retired from TransAlta.
Smith has also been involved in the community, serving on the board of a children’s mental health committee, and he was the director and vice president of the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation.
To many young people, Smith is known as the guy who coordinates the local science fair. And it’s science that drew him to the Green Party.
“The Green Party bases all of our platform on research and science and were open to changing … it’s not ideologically based, we don’t start with the idea that this should be go and find the facts to support it.”
The Sarnia-Lambton riding may be a tough nut for the Green’s to crack. It is widely viewed as a small C conservative riding. Last election, that translated into a victory for the Conservatives’ Marilyn Gladu.
But Smith says Sarnia-Lambton may not be as conservative as people think, pointing out Gladu won with only 38 per cent of the popular vote.
As he’s going door-to door, people are asking more serious questions, but Smith admits people still think the Green’s simply want to shut down companies the Chemical Valley. “No, that’s not what we want to do; but we do need to reform it. Plastics for example – there are so many worthwhile uses for plastics but we need to make them in a responsible manner and dispose of them in a responsible manner…it’s not a question of trying to turn us back to the stone age it’s about doing things responsibly.”
Smith faces Gladu, Carmen Lemieux (L), Adam Kilner (NDP) Brian Everaert (PPC) Tom Laird (CHP) and Joe Loizer (I) in the Oct. 21 vote.