MADSEN: Green Party wants change

With video: Time to move away from the oil-based economy, says Port Moody-Coquitlam candidate

AGE: 46
OCCUPATION: owner, Madsen Consulting (digital media and marketing)
INFO: www.pomocogreens.ca, www.marcusmadsen.ca or www.greenparty.ca
Marcus Madsen may be a relatively new Canadian citizen but he has a strong affinity for his adopted country and has decided to run for the Green Party in Port Moody-Coquitlam because he believes it has the best solutions for some troubling problems.

"We have a very strong concern because the way we live is not sustainable," he says. "This is the time. We need to bring about change."

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Madsen says he grew up in Germany very aware of environmental issues. "When you see acid rain destroying the forests, it has a profound effect."

He visited B.C. on a holiday in 2005 on a spring day when the Japanese cherry trees were in bloom and was, like many German tourists, impressed. Now a Canadian citizen and a Port Moody resident, he wants to make sure this country's environmental assets are protected.

After working behind the scenes on Green Party policies (he's on its federal council,), he decided to get more involved and when it was suggested he consider running for the federal seat, jumped at the chance. A bout Hodgkin's lymphoma, from which he has recovered, gave him added impetus.

"I felt it was time to get into action."

Madsen said he believes the true costs of an oil-based economy have not been tallied and he supports the Greens' emphasis on sustainable economic solutions as well as their opposition to pipeline expansion, including, the proposed $5.4-billion twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline, currently under review.

He says Canada's geographical size means it has a "heightened responsibility" to fight off climate change "because whatever we do in our country has an impact on climate change."

His background is in logistical and customer service for the airline Lufthansa but, after studying business at San Francisco State University, Madsen moved to Canada, where he became a realtor. With his business knowledge and his environmental awareness, Madsen considers himself a "pragmatic centrist."

Madsen says the Green Party has several planks in its platform that would grow the economy while still weaning Canada off oil production. For example, the Greens would create green technology grants to help entrepreneurs bring emerging technologies to market.

He also says students need to be supported because and are best positioned to help the economy transition to one that is more sustainable. The Greens promise to abolish tuition fees and implement a debt-forgiveness program for student debt above $10,000.

Some question the Green Party's focus on sustainability at the expenses of jobs but Madsen disagrees with this analysis. He recalls telling the family of a pipeline worker during Port Moody's Golden Spike Days that he didn't want to see anyone lose their job during the transition. Instead,"I would love to see him retrained and get the skills to make him competitive and deal with future job changes." Madsen said.

His party is also promoting proportional representation as a way of changing the current winner-take-all first-past-the-post electoral system, and he takes issue with people suggesting the Green Party should drop out of ridings where they might split the progressive vote to defeat the Conservatives, arguing that people are smart enough to make their own decisions based on the best campaign and candidate.

"If the candidate or platform is not strong, it's not really the other party's fault," he says.

"There is a legitimate place for the Green perspective. To say the Green Party should stay on the sidelines, that's not the way to do it."

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