Would-be Conservative goes Green
Ask Jared Giesbrecht why he should be Victoria’s next member of parliament and the Green Party candidate has one snappy reason.
“I’m in my 30s and the others are in their 60s,” he says. “That’s an advantage at this point in time, because I’m forward-looking. We need leadership in key areas and that’s what I’m able to provide as a young candidate and as a Green candidate.”
Giesbrecht stopped at a Blanshard street coffee shop for a chat about why he’s running in the federal election.
A University of Victoria Ph.D law candidate, Giesbrecht, 31, has lived in Victoria for three years. Raised in Fort St. John, he has two bachelor degrees: one in theology, the other in philosophy.
As a student union leader at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., he got a taste for politics, arguing for better communication between administration and students.
“That kind of democratic concern sticks with me,” he says.
Raised in a Mennonite family that converted to Anglican, Giesbrecht works several months each year in the family’s building supply store in his northern B.C. hometown. He’s also launched his own property investment firm.
His family has traditionally voted Conservative, and Giesbrecht volunteered with the Reform Party of Canada before it morphed into Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance and remerged as the Conservative party.
While travelling through India in 2004 he was struck by the connection between poverty and environmental destruction. Once back in Canada, he switched to the Green Party, not only because of the party’s environmental policies, he says, but because of its commitment to grassroots participatory democracy. He was nominated as Green party candidate in the riding of Prince George-Peace River for the 2008 federal election, but stepped aside when he decided to move to Victoria to study law.
A self-professed nerd, Giesbrecht’s life revolves around his political, academic and business careers. He doesn’t play sports and rarely works out. He does play guitar and keyboards and jams with his brother when he goes back to Fort St. John.
He won’t admit to any vices other than onion rings. “I know they’re not good for you.”
He is a LifeCycles board member and volunteers with Harm Reduction Victoria and the Out of the Rain youth shelter.
Giesbrecht’s campaign talking points include jobs, the economy and democratic reform, to name a few.
“Almost everyone speaks out when door-knocking about a national affordable housing plan. That’s a big issue in Victoria and for me,” he says.
He’d also like to see the focus of correctional services shift to rehabilitation and supervisory integration – “proven ways to reduce reoffending.”
A member of St. Barnabas Anglican church in Fernwood, he is devout enough that he declined to campaign on Easter Sunday.
“Church gives me a perspective of being within a community (whose tenets) I don’t all necessarily agree with, but that challenge me in some very deep ways in my life. There are things there I have to wrestle with … such as how do I fit that into how I view politics, or my academic work in law? It adds a different dynamic.”
• Open government, as in enacting electoral reform to ensure proportional representation.
• Creation of a $2.5-billion national affordable housing plan to provide 30,000 new or rehabilitated homes.
• Hire 40,000 youth every year for four years through a federal employment plan, and increase bursaries by $900 million over three years.
– Jared Giesbrecht