Stirling-Rawdon native, Sari Watson, will be the local Green Party candidate in the Oct. 21federal election.
Currently, Watson works as both a massage therapist and a municipal councillor. Watson believes both of these roles have instilled in her a strong ability to listen to others, which would help if elected to office.
“In terms of my career helping with politics, from the massage therapy standpoint, I work really hard to create a calm, quiet, healing space amidst the chaos of the world. It’s my job to listen, identify the problems and create a treatment plan to help solve the problems,” states Watson.
“From a municipal councillor standpoint, I obviously do the same. I listen to residents’ concerns regarding taxes and roads and I do what I can to help find them solutions, to teach them the system-so they can file complaints, get their voices heard, or do delegations to council,” Watson added.
Watson also notes that she studied Environmental Resource Sustainability at University of Waterloo.
When asked what informed her decision to run in the federal election, Watson cited a heartfelt love of the land and concern of environmental destruction as being a primary cause.
“I’m from Stirling-Rawdon born and raised. I have grown up swimming in the lakes of the north and exploring forests and conservation areas. I’ve watched it being slowly destroyed my whole life-trees being cut down, farmland being paved over, water and air being polluted, as well as the local effects of climate change,” said Watson.
Watson notes, as well, that she has witnessed the effects of climate change impact local crop production, affecting local farmers.
“Seeing the places we love being degraded through our own efforts as well as the effects of climate change is something I’m very passionate about bringing to the table, as well as bringing awareness to the importance of a healthy planet. If we don’t have a healthy planet, a hospitable planet, then we don’t have an economy or society,” stated Watson.
Climate change and lack of affordability are some of the most common concerns expressed to Watson on the campaign trail.
“Climate change is now on people’s radar-everyone’s starting to be concerned about the health of the planet, the state of the climate for our generation and future generations, so I’m really happy to hear people are starting to wake up,” stated Watson.
“I’d also like to come back with green job growth under the Green Party Plan. We want to have all the buildings retrofitted by 2030, which would create four million jobs nationally. This is a booming, trillion dollar industry, which will create lots of job growth nationally as well as locally. We have a great opportunity here to really tap into some of those green jobs that are coming,” added Watson.
Watson also cited a Green Party objective to create tens of thousands of affordable houses each year to address the affordable housing crisis. She noted that the Green Party would be promoting shared residences, shared units, tiny houses and eco villages.
According to Watson, constituents have expressed concern about environmental issues the most.
“Last year, I ran provincially as the Green Party Candidate in Hastings-Lennox and Addington. We are the climate change party, so I tried to focus more on the economy, provincially getting out of debt and creating jobs. But, to my surprise and delight, people were more concerned about climate change,” she said.
Citing the most recent IPCC report stating global warming must not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius; Watson states the Green Party is taking emissions reductions seriously.
“We are planning to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by 2030. The IPCC says to reduce by half and we are taking it a step further, through our plan called Mission Possible. We have a wonderful strategy in Mission Possible that provides step by step directions on how we’re going to do this, mostly by phasing fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy,” adds Watson.
Part of that plan is for oil and gas workers to transition to the renewable sector and invest in light rail. They intend to ban all internal combustion engines by 2030.
When asked what she believed were the three most important aspects of the Green Party platform, Watson replied that it was Mission Possible.
“For me, personally, because of my love of the land, I would like to see a future for our kids and their kids. Mission Possible would be the number one policy that is important to me, helping to transition the economy to the renewable sector,” said Watson. “Secondly, I am really encouraged by our tax reform policies, which are about closing loopholes, closing the tax havens and seeing an increase in corporate taxes. Thirdly, we really believe that tuition should be accessible for all and that finances should not be a barrier. We want to make sure that all students are able to access post-secondary education, and with a guaranteed liveable income.
“I think the first thing we need to make sure of is that the economic system is fair,” replied Watson, when asked what was the one key item that was most important to her.
“I would really like to see tax reform, so we can make sure we can pay for all these wonderful policies we have. Our budget has gone to the parliamentary budgetary office, so it’s fully costed. That would be for me personally,” emphasized Watson. “For the riding it might be more along the line of universal pharmacare, dental for low income people, affordable housing or a guaranteed liveable income.”
Watson asserts that her ability to listen would enable her to hear the constituents’ needs and advocate for them.
“That would be my role-to be more of an advocate within committees and really make sure I’m here and listening to the residents, taking their messages back to Ottawa and fighting within committees to make sure life is affordable and equal for everyone,” stated Watson.