Editor’s note: This is the first in a series profiling the candidates in Okanagan Coquihalla for the May 2 federal election.
Dan Bouchard spent the last federal election night watching Feist open up the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Now, at the age of 26, he is ready to make a more vigorous stand with the Green Party in the federal election. As the youngest person on the Okanagan Coquihalla ballot, he also has the most federal election experience. In 2008 he won 13 per cent of the votes in the riding.
“It was totally haphazard when I decided to run last time. I had an afro, came in three weeks late. I think we actually got registered on the deadline day,” said Bouchard. “This is way different. That was a Cinderella story and we are working hard for it this time. We are more focused, funded and organized.”
Bouchard is looking to change the stereotypes that float in the public of the Green Party being “tree-huggers.”
“I wear a suit,” laughs Bouchard, who ironically is a lumber broker by profession. “You can still love the environment and kick ass in business. The best do.”
Bouchard wants to figure out how to get his generation engaged. For himself it was after high school graduation during a go-where-the-wind-takes-you journey. Literally carrying only his backpack and guitar, he traipsed through Central and South America.
“I went to go see the world and realized, holy smokes, how good do I have it back home. Travelling around Central America at 19 years old, swinging in a hammock watching the world around you and wondering, wow, how do I engage?” said Bouchard. “We are at a point in human history where we are either going off a cliff and it’s too late or we are coming to that edge pretty quick. I don’t think anyone disputes that and how they justify what will happen after the fact. Some people embrace that and wait for it. Others think we have an ability and responsibility to steer that Titanic a little bit — I am hopeful we will see that in our lifetime.”
Bouchard grew up in Oliver where his family ran a resort. He moved to Penticton for his Grade 11 year and graduated from Penticton Secondary School. After travelling, Bouchard went back to school thinking his “only response to change was a political one.” He attended University College of the Cariboo, now Thompson Rivers University, and then spent time at UBC-Okanagan taking political science and First Nations studies.
Bouchard spends a lot of his downtime playing guitar and as a member of a funk/rock band called The Daybeats, which has opened for acts such as The Tragically Hip, Lee Aaron and Tupelo Honey. It was the Daybeats that actually took him to what he called a major turning point in his life. He went into the Downtown Penticton Association office looking for a gig for his band and ended up getting hired to do events, facilitate marketing small business and being a liaison between the city and businesses.
“It really was a turning point for me in terms of really understanding business and getting involved in the community,” said Bouchard, who is also a JCI member. “I learned so much there and met so many qualified people that are movers and shakers in this town.”
The Okanagan Coquihalla Green Party candidate said he feels a responsibility to those who voted Green last federal election.
“I am doing this out of a sense of responsibility because we need change. I’m not in this for the money, I sleep better because I’m doing it, but that’s about it.” said Bouchard. “Structurally the party is different than all the others. It is a grassroots organization that empowers its membership to make decisions on its own. I will not be whipped by anybody. I am not in this to be told what to think.
“I am in this to go find what people think in my community and apply it to a Green vision for where we should be. The steps to get there are laid out in that Green book. I don’t think they are all the right ones, but the intent on where they want to go and the means on how they are going to get there, that spoke loudly to me. That is unique in our system, there is none other like it that is a serious contender and that is a superpower vehicle for change. We are at our core 100 per cent different from all the others.”