Environmentalist David Suzuki has once again demonstrated that he marches to the beat of his own drum when it comes to politics.
Some of B.C.'s more environmentally inclined NDP MLAs and MPs have endorsed Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh in the NDP leadership race. This came after Singh declared his opposition to the Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines.
Suzuki, on the other hand, has backed the candidate most supported by Canada's private-sector union leaders: Charlie Angus.
"I am speaking to you today as a scientist, grandfather and elder, not on behalf of any organization or corporation," Suzuki said in a written statement today. "I came to know Charlie Angus through his work as an environmental activist. It wasn’t just the fact that he won huge victories protecting northern groundwater and stopping toxic waste imports, it was the way he achieved these victories."
Suzuki described the Timmins–James Bay NDP MP as "a bridge builder bringing together farmers, blue-collar workers, Indigenous peoples and environmental activists".
"He put the work into bringing divergent communities together into a movement that was unbeatable," Suzuki said. "We need a leader in Ottawa who is willing to undertake the same determined approach to the great crisis of our time.
"Charlie understands that the fight for environmental justice is intricately tied to social justice and we can’t have either without ensuring there is Indigenous justice," Suzuki continued. "The solution will not be met by dividing people, by making winners and losers, but through bringing people together."
The document also calls on Canada to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, moving to a "far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system", radical rethinking about trade treaties, opposition to financial austerity, and higher taxes on corporations and wealthy people.
Suzuki expressed "huge admiration" for Angus's efforts to advance Indigenous rights.
"But Charlie is also equally comfortable in a union hall or talking with young urban idealists," Suzuki added. "Canada needs a leader who isn’t afraid to shake things up. That’s what I like about Charlie. He doesn’t just talk. He gets stuff done."
In 2013, Suzuki backed Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP Joyce Murray in her unsuccessful quest to win the leadership of her party. Murray led the fight within the federal Liberals to block Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
In the 2017 provincial election campaign, Suzuki campaigned on behalf of B.C. Green party leader and climate scientist Andrew Weaver.
Thursday (August 17) is the deadline for people to become members in the NDP if they want to vote in the leadership contest in October.
The other candidates, in addition to Singh, are Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Quebec MP Guy Caron.