Courtney Howard, an emergency room physician in Yellowknife, is joining the race to become the next leader of the federal Green Party.
Howard made the announcement by video on Thursday morning, drawing a direct line between the Covid-19 pandemic and her decision to enter politics.
“The pandemic has made very clear that politics is a determinant of health,” she stated.
“Through research, policy, and advocacy, I’ve helped to ignite an international planetary health movement.
“The future won’t look like the past but it can be vibrant. I’d like to work with you to bring a healthy future to life as the next leader of the Green Party of Canada.”
Howard’s background as a physician has evolved in recent years to encompass work developing policies that address the link between human health and climate change.
That included an investigation of the respiratory and wellness impacts of Yellowknife’s severe 2014 wildfire season, as well as becoming the first female president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
Elizabeth May announced she would step down as Green Party leader in November 2019.
The party currently recognizes eight candidates to replace her, not including Howard. The contest is the first for a new Green leader since 2006.
Online voting begins in late September with the new leader to be announced on October 3.
In a video news conference later on Thursday, Howard said she was entering politics to promote evidence-based policies.
“Part of that has to mean doctors and scientists change where we are and move into the public space ourselves,” she said. “This moment is so acute that I’ve decided this is the time for me to do that.”
Howard said her platform will seek to shift approaches to money and power.
She proposes adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, lowering the voting age to 16, implementing a wealth tax, and developing a climate framework to ensure climate targets can be achieved.
She pledged to work toward moving fossil fuel subsidies into “industries of the future,” lowering tuition costs, and “create a well-being economy.”
She defined that as an economy in which the country focuses on outcomes representative of what Canadians consider to be a good life, rather than the nation’s gross domestic product.
Howard said her complete platform will be released in early July.
Sarah Pruys contributed reporting.