Claremont teacher takes reins for Green Party in Saanich South

Party leaders helped shape Mark Neufeld's political decision

Claremont secondary teacher Mark Neufeld will be B.C. Green Party’s candidate in Saanich South for the May 9

Claremont secondary teacher Mark Neufeld will be B.C. Green Party’s candidate in Saanich South for the May 9

After years of challenging Claremont secondary students to think of how they could change the system, Mark Neufeld is taking the challenge himself.

The veteran teacher is the Green Party’s Saanich South candidate for the upcoming 2017 provincial election.

He joins provincial party leader Andrew Weaver (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) and Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands) on the local slate. The party is still deciding who will lead the Victoria-Swan Lake, Victoria-Beacon Hill and West Shore ridings.

Five years ago Neufeld restarted Claremont’s Institute for Global Studies program which takes an interdisciplinary approach between social studies and the sciences. It’s something that ran at Claremont previously. This time, it carried a greater focus on climate change.

“As a society you can see there are a lot of solutions we could be doing, when we look around, but we aren’t,” Neufeld said. “It was hard to be in front of my students and say we could be doing these things but not be doing them. Now I can be a part of doing things at a different level for myself.”

Politically, Neufeld was relatively unaffiliated with any party until recently. As a youth he was involved in student politics, and held the role of vice-president of student services at the University of Victoria. But until recently, there was a gap where he had been focused on teaching, coaching and his family. He lives with his wife, Robynne Edgar, who works in aboriginal health, and their two sons, aged 7 and 13. Neufeld has been teaching since 1992, including stints at Bayside middle school and a First Nations school in the Fraser Valley, before coming to Claremont.

For the last year and a half Neufeld has worked as a Cowichan Valley Regional District parks commissioner for Area B, which includes Shawinigan Lake.

He’s been part of a team that advises the CVRD on issues of parks and recreation including policy to support parks and ecotourism in that area.

It’s where he met Sonia Furstenau, who has publicly declared her intention to seek the Green Party nomination in Cowichan Valley.

But it was teaching in Elizabeth May’s federal riding, and Andrew Weaver’s neighbouring provincial riding, that really helped influence Neufeld’s decision.

“What brought me to the party was Weaver getting into [politics] and Liz May moving here and coming to my classroom to speak to our students,” Neufeld said.

Weaver was Neufeld’s masters supervisor, during which Neufeld developed the Institute for Global Studies. It was the result of a masters of science program that combined Earth and Ocean Sciences, which is Weaver’s department, with the Faculty of Education.

“The impetus for me is you see how remarkable young people can be and you see how many remarkable possibilities there are,” Neufeld said.

Climate change policy solutions and public education are at the forefront of Neufeld’s focus. He worked with the province on the new curriculum changes and wants to see more funding for public education.

“Public education is such a big deal and I happen to think the Ministry of Education has made bold moves recently, but absolutely funding is an issue,” he said.

Neufeld will go up against incumbent South Saanich MLA Lana Popham of the NDP, an interesting opponent as the two are acquaintances.

“She’s the first person I sat down with [since taking the nomination]. She’s a good friend and a great person, and this is nothing against her, she’s been really supportive over the years,” Neufeld said.

“The biggest thing is that we’ve been going from one party to the other, letting those parties go hard after one another while not supporting B.C. as well as we could be.  It made the Green Party attractive to me as we can help influence those two parties to govern B.C. better. If we can get some more support, we can being out the best in them, and B.C. is yearning for that.”

 

 

Party bans corporate, union donations

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, announced during a speech to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention on Wednesday that the Green Party will no longer accept donations from corporations or unions.

The party’s new political finance policy takes effect immediately.

“We need leadership that places the interests of the people of British Columbia – not organized union or corporate interests – first and foremost in decision-making,” Weaver said.

He pointed to the 2015 Mount Polley tailings pond disaster as a key example. The corporation that operates the mine is a substantial donor to the B.C. Liberals and the union representing the workers at the mine is a donor to the B.C. NDP.

“Who is there to represent the people of B.C.?” Weaver asked.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

Registered nurse Sammy Mullally displayed a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., in 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Councillors call on Saanich to address overdose crisis, explore options for safe consumption sites

‘There’s no vaccine for this problem,’ new action is needed, councillors say

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read