Filmmaker, activist Avi Lewis to run for federal NDP seat in B.C. riding
OTTAWA -- Canadian documentary filmmaker and climate activist Avi Lewis announced Monday that he will run as a federal candidate in the B.C. riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
His run for the New Democratic Party will mark the third generation of Lewis’ to have entered politics. His grandfather David led the same party federally, and his father Stephen led the NDP at the provincial level in Ontario.
His father is also highly regarded for his work battling the AIDS pandemic. In 2001, he was named the UN’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Two years later the Stephen Lewis Foundation was formed to support community-based organizations in African countries hit hard by the disease.
Avi Lewis started his career as a local news reporter in Toronto in 1990, and later launched a documentary show on Al Jazeera English called Fault Lines. He made several successful documentary films in the early 2000s. Since then, he co-founded The Leap – a climate movement with a mission “to advance a radically hopeful vision for how we can address climate change by building a more just world, while building movement power and popular support to transform it into a lived reality.”
It will close its doors this summer citing financial strains without charitable status in Canada, pandemic uncertainties, and the departure of Lewis and its executive director, Katie McKenna.
Currently the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky seat is held by Liberal MP Patrick Weiler, who beat out NDP candidate Judith Wilson in the 2019 election.
Lewis tweeted out the news on Monday and in a subsequent interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play pointed to the need for climate action as the motivation to run.
“For years in the climate movement, people have not believed that gigantic change is possible and yet the scientists say that to keep temperatures safe we need rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented change in every aspect of society,” he said, adding “We have a housing crisis, a transit crisis, and a pandemic that has revealed the shortcomings of our public health system.”
Asked whether his role in crafting The Leap Manifesto, which calls for a radical overhaul of the Canadian economy to transition off fossil fuels, will prove to be a political thorn in his side, he said “The Leap Manifesto was six years early but it’s common sense now.”