North Island-Powell River’s Liberal candidate in the 2021 federal election sees her ability to build bridges between people as what the riding needs.
Dr. Jennifer Grenz’s background is in ecological restoration, and her work has taken her all over the riding where she has met and worked with people of all different backgrounds and political inclinations. Grenz’s family is from the Lytton First Nation, which showed her how dire some of the environmental issues facing the region are.
She says knowing that issues like climate change and fisheries can be divisive has given her the skills needed to bring forward solutions that benefit everybody, and that having a representative in government can help bring North Islanders’ perspectives to Ottawa in ways that have not been possible before.
“There are examples in the riding where policy decisions have come from the government that have had a significant impact on people here,” she said. “Because the voices of the people in the riding are missing from the conversation. The region is about as far from Ottawa as we can get, so the things that are important for the people that live here are not going to be front-of-mind unless someone is able to effectively deliver those messages.”
Grenz has a PhD in integrated land and food systems from UBC, where she teaches as part of the faculty of land and food systems. She also runs a small business in the ecological restoration field and works with non-profits in that area.
“A lot of the work that I do involves people from all different political stripes. Working with boots on the ground means that I get a unique perspective that other people don’t,” she explained. “I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people across the region over time and seen first hand the impacts of COVID, climate and collapsing fisheries, this is the stuff that wears on my heart and is heavy on my mind as I drive home. Before I ever said that I was going to run, these were the things I was already thinking about. I care about all these people, towns and places that I get to call my homes away from home.”
Grenz said she decided to run because so many of the issues facing the riding cannot afford to wait for solutions. Whether that is “Pressing issues of climate, jobs, housing, caring for elders, having a representative in the opposition… well meaning-voices aren’t necessarily getting those important issues to the table to create solutions. I want to be able to deliver for the people by being at that table,” she said.