De Luna, who has completed a PhD in materials science and engineering at the University of Toronto, said he knows how privileged he is to be able to take six months off work to campaign and hopes to lower barriers to politics for candidates who would otherwise find it difficult to get involved, including youth.
“There are so many other young people who need to have their voices heard in Parliament who aren’t in that same position that I am,” said De Luna, a first-generation Filipino-Canadian. “And so I feel it is incumbent upon me to run and to elevate the conversation, to advocate for more science in politics. It just felt like this was the moment.”
De Luna says he considered running for other parties but chose the Greens not only because he supported leader Annamie Paul, who recruited him personally, and the party’s platform but also because he is impatient to make a difference and the Greens offered the most direct path to do so.
“I’m a startup person, I’m an underdog. I like small teams and being agile,” he said.
De Luna said he would like to see Canada make more use of private-public partnerships to help shift green technology innovations from the lab to the marketplace, and for federal scientific funding to be made available for longer than the typical three- to four-year timeline that limits the ability to plan for the long term.
“We need to stop doing these Band-Aid measures and these announcements that are, quite frankly in my view, done politically to buy votes,” he said.
He said the primary difference between the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis is the timeframe on which they play out, with a lag of weeks between infections and deaths from the virus and a gap of several years between carbon emissions and the rising temperatures and more extreme weather they create.
“The problem I think primarily with humanity is the short-sightedness due to the competing priorities in our daily lives,” he said. “But if we can come together as governments, as societies to address this crisis, then the cost is minimal to have to adapt to this before it’s too late.”
Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer