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Green candidate for Halifax West goes on climate-crisis hunger strike

Richard Zurawski, councillor for District 12, proposed a successful motion for Halifax city staff to prepare a staff report supporting the recognition that changing climate constitutes a municipal emergency- Facebook
Richard Zurawski, the Green Party candidate for Halifax West, made the call to stop eating for two weeks after the federal leaders election debate on Monday night. - Facebook / File

A Halifax West candidate will only consume water and coffee until election night to show what the future will look like if we don’t act on the climate crisis

Richard Zurawski, Green Party candidate for Halifax West, made the call to cut food out of his diet for two weeks after the federal leaders election debate on Monday night.

“The central issue of climate change, which is going to be dominating everything, was twisted and distorted to a point that it was just not scientifically accurate,” Zurawski said in an interview Wednesday morning, which marked Day 2 of his hunger strike. 

“This whole climate thing has become a political football instead of looking at the science, so my hunger strike is for people to look at their lives and see what it will look like.’” 

Zurawski said while people in Canada talk about the climate crisis, they are distanced from the issue. 

“The science has been telling us that it’s coming to an end, but we don’t see it here yet, so things are still normal,” he said.

“Life here in 30 years, according to all the scientific papers that I’ve been reading, is going to be dramatically different.” 

Zurawski said his hunger strike is to illustrate what life will be like in 2050 if people don’t act on the climate crisis. 

“We have an incredible array of food and that’s not going to last,” he said.

What life will be like in 2050

“I love coffee in the morning, but coffee crops are going to be threatened. Chocolate, all the luxuries that we have will begin to disappear. All the lemons and the oranges and the grapefruit we take for granted will be scarce.” 

With a father who lived in a concentration camp and a mother who lived in Germany after the war, Zurawski’s family is no stranger to dealing with starvation. 

“My father and mother never forgot what it was like to starve and they said it was horrible looking for food and having that dominate you,” Zurawski said. 

“So that perspective of not having enough to eat, I think, is one that may have synergy with people.” 

Zurawski plans to only consume water, citrus water and one cup of coffee a day until the night of Oct. 21 and will only end the strike under the advice of his doctor.

“I have no wish to be self-destructive, but this is an illustration of the reality of 2050,” he said. “If I were still alive then, this is what I would be doing. Looking for food.” 

Zurawski said while he is running to get elected, he sees dealing with climate crisis as the bigger picture.

“As Li Peng, who was a former premier of China, said, ‘I don’t care what colour the cat is as long as it catches the mice.’ This is the same thing,” Zurawski said, noting the Green Party is about raising awareness. 

“This hunger strike is to say to the leaders, to the candidates, I don’t care what political stripe you are, I want you to say, ‘Yup, climate change is the number one issue and we have to look after our society or it’s going to disappear.’”

Zurawski will be posting daily updates of his hunger strike on his Facebook page. 

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