A local physician has thrown her hat in the race for the Cariboo-Prince George riding in the upcoming federal election.
Dr. Leigh Hunsinger-Chang is a candidate for the Green Party of Canada against incumbent Todd Doherty for the Conservatives, Garth Frizzell for the Liberals, Audrey McKinnon for the NDP and Jeremy Gustafson for the PPC.
Hunsinger-Chang moved to Prince George in 2011 after finishing her residency in family medicine, where she did an additional year of training in emergency medicine.
She worked as a locum in different hospitals, which took her all over the country, but found herself continually coming back to Prince George and eventually decided to stay permanently.
“I just really like the community. I liked the medical community and that my colleagues were really supportive.”
After working in the local emergency department, Hunsinger-Chang opened her own family practice in 2016.
“I'm very concerned about climate change, and that's why I'm I've decided to run in this election because I feel compelled to do something and to take action and to talk about it,” said Hunsinger-Chang about why she’s decided to take the leap into politics.
“I think other people are really worried as well, and I feel like this is this is a huge opportunity to be able to talk about something I care really deeply about. “
Before she was in medicine, Hunsinger-Chang lived in the Yukon and learned about the changing climate from Indigenous Elders in her community.
“I recall even then the Elders in the community mentioning that their land was changing and it was changing the way they had to live the way they had to travel over the land and I feel like that was maybe the first time I really started to notice climate change impacting people's lives and that was around 2002.”
Working as a physician in the north, Hunsinger-Chang said she continues to see the impact of climate change on people’s lives.
“I've lived and worked through multiple really horrendous fire seasons and I’ve treated fire evacuees at makeshift clinics at CNC and at the Northern Sports Center, when we had all of the evacuees from Williams Lake and south, and I see how much it is impacting people's lives, people's health, people's mental health, and I just like we have to do something about it and the time is now.”
Hunsinger-Chang said she’d like to see a substantial plan to mitigate the effects of climate change and how to adapt to increasingly intense fire seasons we’re continuing to live through.
“When I look forward to our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, I really think that we need to push the government for sustainable options for people so that we can start to get off of oil and gas. We can stop drilling and extracting fossil fuel and have viable options for people to transition to sustainable energy.”
Despite Cariboo-Prince George’s Conservative legacy as a riding, Hunsinger-Chang said she is eager to run for the Green Party because people are becoming more aware and concerned about climate change.
“I think the heat dome such a wake-up call for all of us to think that it could be that hot in British Columbia and that hot in Northern British Columbia and that we could lose over five hundred people who died unnecessarily due to the heat. It really speaks to the need for action on the government’s part,” said Hunsinger-Chang.
“I'm a parent of small children and concern for the future of my children and their children. I hear that from other friends and colleagues and we're not going to change everybody's mind but I think this is an opportunity to talk about this and to really push the government to act and to take really substantial action on these really important issues.”
Voters will head to the polls on Sept. 20.