KELOWNA - This is Dr. Alison Shaw’s first election and step into politics, and it’s completely out of her comfort zone.
“I just had this moment one day where I thought, if not me, who?” she says. “I’ve just been wondering, what the heck - who’s making these decisions? I realized I had these skills and needed to bring them to the table and use my voice.”
Although the Green Party candidate says she hasn’t always voted for Green, she says she has always supported what they stand for.
Within days of reaching out to the Green Party offering her assistance, she was convinced by Andrew Weaver to run as the candidate in the Kelowna-Lake Country riding.
“A culmination of variables made me think to get out from behind my Facebook page where I’m just ranting to the echo-chambers of the internet and finally get involved,” said Shaw. “The biggest reason the Greens platform is the strongest one in this election is because it’s holistic, integrated, and proactive - but it’s costed, which neither of the other parties have done.”
However, each of the main parties running in the provincial election claim their platforms are costed.
For the former professor turned businesswoman, affordable housing is one of the biggest issues in the region.
“Housing is a right, I strongly believe every person has a right to a home that’s affordable, as well as livable,” Shaw said. “You can’t talk about affordable housing without talking about transportation - I’ve never spent so much time in a car since moving here.”
Shaw moved to Kelowna a few years ago and switched career paths from teaching to running her own business - FlipSide Sustainability, which strategizes with businesses to create better results while integrating environmental approaches.
An environmental advocate, Shaw worked on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Additionally the Green candidate has a PhD in resource management and sustainability and spent a decade teaching at the university level, both at UBC and SFU.
When Shaw was in elementary school in her hometown of Spillimacheen, B.C., she was selected to participate in an experimental program aimed at gifted students.
According to Shaw, each week a group of about seven students would spend five hours learning software language.
“Every week Mr. Morgan would arrive at my school in a blue painted school bus equipped with the original Apple computers,” she says. “He took us through mental quizzes and games about how to innovate the world and see things from a systems approach, only recently I’ve realized what a huge impact that’s had on me.”
Shaw says more programs like that one are needed to bring out the potential for kids.
With a nine-year-old son and a 13-year-old ‘bonus child’ from a bridged family, Shaw says she knows what it’s like to be a single mother and trying to balance the budget every month.
“The Green Party has a strong fiscal policy, something people don’t seem to think of when they think Green,” she said. “It’s not easy being Green, but we’re building, and have a strong party and I think people are starting to see that.”
Shaw says this election will be her forty-fourth birthday present to herself.
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