Two years employed as an iron worker in Fort McMurray opened Korry Zepik's eyes to an environmental crisis and propelled him into politics.
Zepik has worked on Green Party campaigns, but decided to run independently in this election. His ideal scenario is an NDP minority government with a balance of power held by ten Green seats.
"In my perfect world, we'd block the pipelines, prove to Canadians the foolishness of supporting the country on one industry (oil), and promote the removal of Stephen Harper," Zepik says.
Zepik says climate change is the single biggest issue in the election, though many people are quick to dismiss it.
"I want to speak to our pipelines, if they cross, they will increase the tar sands extraction and push us past the point of no return regarding climate change," Zepik says. "The numbers are saying climate change is happening five times faster than standard models predicted. I'm not being an alarmist, I'm being a realist. "
He says the government needs to stop subsidizing "oil companies who are already earning record incomes." He'd rather see money go to researching green technologies and sustainable development—sectors he believes will strengthen B.C.'s economy.
"The big picture is the most critical subject right now. We talk about health care costs, and supporting our schools better, funding post secondary education, making it easier for our children to have a good financial go at it," Zepik says. "Our economy is failing and it's failing because we have an economic monoculture. We need to diversify, and when our economy is robust, then we'll have funds to allocate to those things."
Zepik says many of the signatures on his election application came from students. They represent a generation he wants to stand up for. He knows it'll be a challenge convincing voters to put money matters aside and think about a sustainable future.
"Some people will never change but I think most people are open to fact, reason and a healthy future for their kids."
Despite his ties to the Green Party, he's concerned about their recent decision to deposit Rebecca Helps, of Port Moody, into the Vernon-Monashee riding. He says it could split the vote and put Mark Olsen, with the NDP, in jeopardy.
"The NDP have a real chance here, and they have promised to stop the pipeline," Zepik says.
His goal isn't necessarily to win—though he says he'd be honoured if he was elected. He wants to make sure environmental issues are on people's minds as they head to the polls, and aims to pave the way for the NDP.
He says the world, the country, the province, and the people of Vernon all face the looming disaster climate change will bring unless humanity takes action.
"It's very scary right now. Only action will provide hope. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't believe it could be fixed."
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