Ran Zhu has been acclaimed as the federal Green Party candidate for Wellington-Halton Hills.
Zhu, 26, is currently the constituency coordinator for Ontario Green Party leader and Guelph MPP, Mike Schreiner. He’s also worked for Liberal MPP Bob Delaney and acted as data management lead for the Green Party campaign in Wellington-Halton Hills during the 2019 federal election.
Interested in politics from a young age, Zhu said he hadn’t considered putting his name forward in the coming federal election until he was approached by the riding’s previous Green Party candidate, Ralph Martin. Zhu had casually mentioned he was interested in running someday and Martin told him “there’s no better way to prepare for running in the future, than running now.”
The support of the local riding association and a desire to be a voice for young people ultimately convinced him to accept the offer, he said.
At 26, Zhu said he may be “a bit of an anomaly” as a candidate in Wellington-Halton Hills, but he believes his age could work to his advantage.
“I’m speaking up for people like myself that will be living on this planet in the next 20, 40 years I hope,” he said. “So it’s important that I make my voice heard now, that climate change is here and if we don’t do something in the next five to ten years, I’m not going to have a livable future.”
Housing affordability and lack of affordable rental options in the riding is another issue Zhu said he wants to address during the campaign.
He also wants to advocate for Wellington-Halton Hills residents in a way he feels other parties can't always do.
"With the Green Party we're not whipped to vote based on what the party wants us to think, we want to represent constituents," he said. "With all due respect to Michael Chong, despite the fact I think he's a very strong MP, in my opinion, he does have to toe party lines."
While he might "not be a classic politician type," Zhu said the fact people like himself can be disenfranchised by politics is "the exact reason" he's running.
"The status quo has really made us not want to care about politics, because it's so discouraging, but we've got to change it for the better," he said.
"I think COVID has really highlighted the inequality in our society so I think it's time for change."
Alison Sandstrom, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com