Serving You: Laurel Collins
You & Me BC
February 10th, 2022
In this series, we talk with elected representatives from across BC, getting to know them and the issues they care about most.
This time we chat with Victoria MP Laurel Collins: climate accountability champion and potato lover.
Laurel Collins Quick Facts
Hero: Steven Lewis - he did amazing work in South Africa and Uganda on the HIV/Aids crisis and and has been a champion of progressive policy
Favourite spot: Locally it's Dallas Road, I love going for walks along the water and beach. In BC, it's probably Allard Park, which is a beautiful coastal walk.
Hobbies: Hiking and rock climbing
Favourite food: I love avocados, and potatoes in all their forms, whether baked, mashed, or as french fries
Favourite movie: Instinct with Cuba Gooding Jr.
An interesting fact about yourself: As I grew up my family moved around a lot. I lived in 24 different homes before graduating, including a school bus and sailboat.
How did you start in politics?
Laurel: I never thought of becoming politician when I was younger. I wanted to go into counselling or therapy, but eventually did my masters in human security and peace building.
I went overseas to Uganda and worked with the UN. When I was there I saw major riots, and a social movement which the government cracked down on heavily.
It made me think about how we can go downstream and create policies to prevent things from ever getting to that point. It led me to do further studies on social movements, and from there I got into local activism, served on city council, and am now here.
What do you consider the most important issue for Victoria?
Laurel: It's such a beautiful and amazing place, but faces a lot of challenges, one of the biggest being housing.
People are living on the streets, in parks, or couch surfing; people who do have housing are struggling to pay high, high rents.
Young families who thought they could save to get a home have given up on it. Older folks are seeing their children and grandchildren move away to more affordable areas. People with disabilities are struggling to find accessible housing. Housing simply isn't adequate.
Climate change's also a huge issue across BC. There were 3 climate emergencies in 2021 alone. We need stronger disaster responses and to ensure we have bold climate policies, but unfortunately the federal government has missed every climate target.
What are your goals for your current term in parliament?
Laurel: I'm working very hard as a critic for climate change, trying to push the federal government to make policies which protect the environment and meet the standards they committed to. As part of this we need to push more companies to be clean.
I'm also working for bold investments in housing, because the housing crisis we're in doesn't need to be happening. We should be investing more in housing, particularly in cooperative housing.
Laurel with Greta Thunberg
With the time MPs must spend in Ottawa, how do you stay connected to Victoria?
Laurel: I normally spend my time half and half, but I've been able to stay in Victoria more with things moving online.
When in Victoria I make sure I have a jam-packed schedule of constituency meetings, to meet local people, small businesses, non-profits, and to hear what their needs and views are so I can be their voice in Ottawa.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Laurel: I'm very proud of my role in climate accountability legislation. I got to lead negotiations on the climate accountability bill, which outlines the process and mechanisms to keep the government accountable to its climate commitments.
So far the government has missed all its targets, but we've seen in other countries that when climate accountability is legislated, governments start meeting the standards, and by creating this legislation we've taken a step toward that.
To get in touch with Spencer van Vloten, editor of You & Me BC, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org