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'We're up against the big guys': Mackenzie Kerr takes on underdog role for Greens in Cariboo-Prince George

Mackenzie Kerr opens campaign office, looking to pull off an upset
Mackenzie Kerr is just 22 years old, but is looking to make her mark in federal government. (via Jess Fedigan)

At just 22 years old, she's making a name for herself in Prince George as well as nationally. 

"A lot of people are saying 'why are you running?' and my passion is sustainability," Cariboo-Prince George candidate Mackenzie Kerr said at her office opening tonight (Sept. 20). "If you know me longer than a few minutes, you'll probably figure that out."

Kerr has been running the Green Party Campus Club at the UNBC for close to a year.

Right now, she's taken the semester off to run her campaign, but if she isn't the chosen candidate, she will return to her environmental and agricultural studies in the fall.

"We started last September and that's when I was first kind of introduced to the Green Party." 

But before that even, she had met Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May at an event in Prince George. 

"It was when she came here for her first event (that I was aware of) a couple of years ago," she says. "John Orlowsky (president of the Cariboo-Prince local riding association for the Green Party), he actually read an article about me in the newspaper because of 4H and I had gone to a national conference in Ottawa and in the newspaper article, they asked what I wanted to do when I grow up and I said 'well, I want to be the minister of environment' casually." 

He then reached out to Kerr on LinkedIn and asked her if she wanted to meet with May. 

"I organized to meet with him and they were actually having an association meeting to plan Elizabeth May's event," she says. "Then he said [John] 'do you want to sit beside her at dinner?' and I said 'yes' and I was dumbfounded and shocked at what to say." 

When she chatted with May, she asked her how to get more young people involved with the Green Party. May suggested she start a campus club. 

"You can't say no to Elizabeth May," Kerr said. "So I started a campus club."

Once the party saw the success of Kerr's efforts and the club, they asked if she had ever thought about the idea of actually running as a candidate.

"No," she said. "I don't even know what that entails." 

That's when things fell into place and Kerr began her journey on running for MP of the Cariboo-Prince George riding. 

Although she's lived in other communities, including stops in the Yukon for nine years, Dawson City for five and Whitehorse for four, she always remembers the city as her home. 

"Prince George is where I call home," Kerr says. "It's where I remember most of my childhood. I am extremely honoured and humbled to have this many people support me." 

There are three areas that Kerr wants to focus on for her campaign: Sustainable forestry, local agriculture and a new economy. 

"New economy is something I think is really good for the future," she says. "I think we need to be investing in renewable energy and talking about it at every level of government, pushing it forward every chance that we get and I think it should be at the forefront. It's going to be our new economy. So that's something I really want to focus on and I think Prince George has the potential for that." 

She added she wants projects happening in local, rural communities such as Prince George, Williams Lake, Quesnel, and others to be recognized and given a chance at success.

"There's projects happening in these communities that people should really know about," she says. "That's why I'm really hoping to bring these forward and say 'the solutions are here, the tech is here, the ideas, we just need political will.'" 

Kerr also announced the Green Party of Canada has seen her campaign and its progress and are now sending a federal staff member to help with her activities here.

"We're up against the big guys," Kerr added. "We're being taken seriously and that is really, really exciting." 

She's up against incumbent Conservative candidate Todd DohertyLiberal candidate Tracy CalogherosNDP candidate Heather Sapergia, and People's Party of Canada candidate Jing Lan Yang.

Voters head to the polls Oct. 21, 2019. 


Jess Fedigan

About the Author: Jess Fedigan

Jess Fedigan graduated from BCIT’s broadcast and online journalism program in 2016. Her career (so far) has taken her to Fort St. John, Victoria and now Prince George.
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