This is one of five profiles of the candidates for the Abbotsford electoral district, which includes most areas south of Bateman and Maclure roads and east of Mount Lehman Road. For links to the other profiles, see the bottom of the story. Watch The News and Abbynews.com for profiles of candidates in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding next week.
He’s been teaching the youth of Abbotsford for 20 years and now Stephen Fowler wants to put those leadership skills to work in Ottawa.
Fowler, born in England, started as a teacher-on-call in Abbotsford in 1996 after majoring in history and minoring in English at SFU. He then taught a variety of subjects and worked with special needs students at both Rick Hansen and Robert Bateman secondary schools.
He said he’s always had a keen interest in politics but the Green Party’s message motivated him to throw his hat into the ring for 2015.
“As a 16-year-old I was the guy who sold Greenpeace posters and that was kind of my young activism,” he said. “I’ve always wondered why the economy didn’t work for everybody, why the environment wasn’t really being taken care of, and why equality was even an issue. The Green Party was the first party that ticked all those boxes for me.”
Fowler praised the vision of Green leader Elizabeth May and that it was her Vision Green document that sold him on the party.
“I read all 184 pages and it’s a holistic vision of not just the economy but also how to tackle climate change and good governance.”
He said proof of the potential of the Green Party is that the other major parties are taking the Green’s ideas.
“The NDP and Liberals are already trying to co-opt some of our platforms, but on climate change they kind of go halfway,” he said. “Trudeau says we need to cut down on climate change, but he’s also not speaking out against pipelines.”
Locally, Fowler said the supply management issue and the impact of the TPP agreement will be a big one in the coming years.
“Abbotsford farmers will feel that huge,” he said. “It sounds to me like they’re importing inferior products. From the Green Party point of view, that would be a healthcare issue because if we’re feeding an inferior product to our population our health will deteriorate and there will be an impact on our healthcare. Supply management needs to be taken care of.”
He said local issues such as dealing with flood plains in Abbotsford will also be big and climate change will make those discussion even more timely. Fowler said, unlike the Conservatives, the Green Party will work more to help municipalities get the funding they need.
“The Green Party wants to be involved with municipal change,” he said. “Harper has held one first minister’s meeting in his 10 years in power so when he says he will listen to the provinces you can take that for what it’s worth. We’re going to create the council of Canadian governments and we would ask municipalities what they need and how they would spend their money.”
According to Fowler, another issue that seems to have been overlooked is climate change.
“I don’t think it’s being talked about enough,” he said. “It seems to be all about the economy and while the old three parties are talking about moving around old furniture, we’re talking about remodeling the whole building. I do think there is a fear of change when it comes to renewable energy but we have to change because the environment isn’t going to support the way we’re doing things.
“My son’s generation is already in trouble – we live in a finite world and we have to stop treating resources like they’re exponential. The problem is that the party in power views the environment like a resource but it’s not a resource, it’s the environment and we have to give back to it.”
He said voters should consider him because his vote is not a whipped vote and the Green Party is more than just environmentalism.
“We’re not just tree huggers and pot smokers – we’re a fully fledged party,” he said. “Our economic policies are pretty right-wing but socially we’re left – I think we’re outside the typical political spectrum.”
Fowler said he’d obviously like to win the riding but is realistically aiming for 10 to 15 per cent of the vote.
“If more young people voted, I think myself and the party as a whole would do extremely well so we’re really trying to reach that younger vote,” he said. “We need to get our voice into parliament so we can start helping people.”