Dr. Courtney Howard, an emergency physician in Yellowknife, joined the race to claim the Green Party of Canada leadership during a teleconference on Thursday.
The party is replacing long-time leader Elizabeth May this October. Howard joins a slate of nine other candidates, according to the party’s website.
Howard, 41, is running for an elected position for the first time. She said she will be taking part in a televised candidates debate on TV Ontario on June 23 before finalizing a campaign platform to be released in early July.
The physician shared some of her political positions during Thursday’s teleconference which rest on the need to make stronger connections between the health and well-being of citizens and stronger climate change action and biodiversity protection.
She is also supporting the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, universal basic income, and lowering the voting age to 16.
“The reason I’m entering right now is because I believe that this is a chance that we are never going to get back to positively influence the health of current and future generations,” she said. “Talking about climate change in terms of health is the best way to help it make sense to people in terms of how it will actually affects their lives,” she said, stating that talking about wildfires and its impact on peoples’ health as an example.
Howard has been working at Stanton Territorial Hospital for much of the last decade. She said it is important for doctors and scientists to enter the public sphere to ensure evidence-based policy is implemented to serve Canada’s biggest challenges, particularly involving climate change and health-related impacts, Indigenous rights and economic equality.
This is especially the case with the Covid-19 pandemic and possible future pandemics.
“We are at a moment of overlapping emergencies,” she said. “Humanity must cope with not only emergencies with a pandemic that has resulted from a virus that jumped from animals to humans but also a socio-economic fallout and climate and biodiversity-related emergencies that put us at further risk of crises and future pandemics.”
The Green Party of Canada won three seats and 6.55 per cent of the vote in last October’s federal election under May. This was an increase of two seats since the 2015 election. In the Northwest Territories riding, Paul Falvo, the Green candidate in the last election, won 10.6 per cent of the overall votes with 1,757 cast in his favour and a fourth place finish behind incumbent MP Michael McLeod.
Thursday’s event corresponded with the launch of Howard’s website for more information.