When Jen Hunter decided to run for Parliament, she says it was partly to serve the people, but it was also to embrace the ideas of equality she had been promoting for years.
Before her nomination as Green party candidate for Ottawa Centre, Hunter was an executive for Equal Voice, an advocacy group that supports women in politics. After she saw party leader Elizabeth May speak at an event, she decided it was time to follow her own convictions.
“We stand for more women running and winning,” she says, “and I believe I can both run and win.”
Hunter says she chose the Green party because it embodies many of her beliefs and opinions. “For me, the Green party represents the more holistic and balanced choice,” she says, then laughing: “Plus, I look good in green!”
But while she jokes around, Hunter says she’s serious about what she wants to do in Parliament. In this election, she’s running against a slate of well-known community members including NDP incumbent Paul Dewar, lifelong Liberal political activist Penny Collonette and Conservative Brian McGarry, a local businessman.
Hunter says Centretown is different from many areas because it has an urban core and a lot of natural space.
Giving more federal money to cities would help to revitalize the downtown section of the riding and would in turn increase efforts to preserve the Ottawa River.
The area also needs a new, thoughtful transit plan including more light rail tracks, and bike lanes to increase cyclist safety. .
Hunter also believes that income splitting, meaning a family’s taxes are calculated by its combined income, would benefit Centretown.
“It makes it easier for families to be involved in the arts and in the community,” she says, because people have more money and can donate more of their time.
In an urban area like Centretown, Hunter says that the Green party’s platform – green economy and sustainable living – reflects ideas already present in the community. And for Hunter, the economy and the environment are impossible to separate.
She says small changes are easiest.“I bring a mug everywhere. It’s a small thing, but over a lifetime it makes a difference. Or what about making the city Styrofoam-free? Those are the kinds of things we need to do.”
But Hunter is more than happy to hear what everyone else has to say. As a blogger she seeks input from the community, asking people to give her their ideas and opinions so that she can make informed community-based decisions.
Parliament needs “participation that counts,” she says, adding that citizens should be encouraged to vote, and MPs should use their influential positions to engage in discussions on how to help the country.
Hunter says she wants to create that kind of discussion within Parliament.