Indigenous woman wearing robe with frog motif

Election 2021: The number one issue is building resilient communities, says Grenz

CKTZ News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The key issue in this federal election is building thriving and resilient communities, according to Jennifer Grenz, the Liberal candidate for North Island-Powell River.

Her profession is “healing lands and waters,” she says. She has been restoring salmon habitat for most of the past 20 years. She works on food security in Indigenous communities and others. Grenz says the climate crisis is woven into every part of our existence: health, caring for the environment, jobs — but she wants to go to the next step.

Grenz and her family live on a small farm outside Parksville, but her ecological restoration business operates throughout the riding. She also teaches ecological studies at both UBC and UVic.

Jennifer Grenz at work doing ecological restoration – Photo courtesy Jennifer Grenz

Q: What is the most important issue in this election?

“In a riding that is so big and so diverse from town to town — [with] different needs, different industries. It means something different for each of those communities,” said Grenz.

.Tourism is very important to Campbell River, Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy and Port Alice.

“As we’ve had impacts to Pacific Salmon, we’ve been watching some of the industries related to tourism decline – job opportunities lost. More recently, with the impacts of COVID to international tourism, we’ve really put a magnifying glass to the vulnerabilities within those industries and ultimately to those communities, “ said Grenz.

She was talking to people throughout the riding long before the opportunity to enter politics arose.

Lately, that’s often meant, “talking to people who had seasonal employment that was gone — just like that.”     

“There are a number of issues in the riding and policies that we see coming from the government that make it apparent the voices of the people of the North Island and Campbell River just aren’t being heard. The region is about as far from Ottawa as you can get so I think we need to send someone with a voice that demands to be heard,” said Grenz.

She emphasized the idea that the riding needs to elect someone who will have a seat at the table where decisions are made, not as a member of the opposition.

“I am a well known bridge builder. I have worked with people who have all kinds of different interests and always manage to have people come back to their common values,” said Grenz. “Ultimately, everyone cares about the health of their communities.”

“I want to work with everybody, but make sure we are inside the room when programs are developed for building opportunities, for jobs, for housing, for the environment, for climate. We need to make sure that we’re not forgotten and right now I think we can send well meaning people who want to be a voice, but if they are outside the room how effective is that?” she added.

selfie by Dr Jennifer Grenz

CKTZ News is asking every federal candidate in the North Island – Powell River riding three questions:

  1. What is the most important issue(s) in this election?
  2. What have you done, personally, to address this issue(s)?
  3. Why should we vote for you?

The federal election is Sept. 20. Stay tuned to CKTZ’s coverage of the federal election over the next month:

Top photo credit: Dr. Jennifer Grenz in a campaign poster. Photo courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada.