Kate O’Connor is running for the BC Green party in Saanich South. (Travis Paterson/News Staff) Kate O’Connor is running for the BC Green party in Saanich South. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

17 and Green, St. Michaels grad seeks Saanich South seat

Kate O’Connor impatient with government progress

Compared to the general population, Kate O’Connor’s time in provincial politics is above average.

Still 17, O’Connor has volunteered on two separate campaigns including that of provincial BC Green party leader Sonia Furstenau. As a Grade 12 student in the recent spring of COVID-19 she helped co-founded the SMUS Political Review magazine at her high school, St. Michaels University School.

Last week O’Connor was announced as the Saanich South candidate. O’Connor turns 18 on Oct. 9, 15 days before the Oct. 24 vote.

READ ALSO: The future is Green: South Island students vote unanimously on Green Party

“It’s a little intimidating but it’s time that youth stand up and take leadership and I’m not afraid to do that,” O’Connor said. “After [Furstenau’s] leadership campaign I wanted to keep going and they wanted me to stay involved.”

O’Connor volunteered for federal candidate Racelle Kooy’s campaign in 2019 and hosted an all-candidate forum at her high school. Now, she’s primed to be quite likely the youngest candidate to run for office as the BC Green candidate for Saanich South.

The SMUS Political Review she helped start continues to publish, a response to the impacts of the coronavirus on globalization and education.

At the forefront of her priorities are bringing an urgency to B.C. and Canada’s climate action and a focus on Indigenous rights, and food security. O’Connor is also against the Site C dam.

“NDP campaigned on stopping Site C,” O’Connor posted Saturday. “When they broke that promise, they chose the billionaire oil and gas industry over local farmers, Indigenous rights and ecosystems.”

O’Connor isn’t the only young one running for the Greens in election. Twenty-year-old Harrison Johnston is running for the Greens in North Vancouver-Seymour, and 23-year-old McKenzie Kerr is running for Prince George-Valemount.

Saanich Coun. Ned Taylor, 21, knows a thing about running as a youth. He door-knocked as an 18-year-old for Saanich’s 2017 bylection and was voted in at the 2018 general election when he became the region’s youngest councillor and CRD director. It isn’t easy to run as a teen and Taylor endorses all youth to get engaged in politics with so much of their future at stake.

READ MORE: Saanich teen looks to bring generational shift to council

“When I first ran for council I did have some people tell me that they thought I was too young or that I didn’t have enough experience,” Taylor said. “But I felt that this is my generation’s future on the line and we deserve a voice at the table.”

O’Connor is on a gap year after graduating in June with a plan to study politics at the University of Toronto next year.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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