Justin Tilson, Green Party candidate, has eyes on ‘sustainable future’

by Stacey Lavallie

MANITOULIN—Algoma-Manitoulin’s provincial Green Party candidate is very green. In fact, he’s working on a fully sustainable green farm just outside of Aundeck Omni Kaning, putting his Master’s degree in Sustainable Development to use.

Thirty-five-year-old Justin Tilson, born-and-raised on Manitoulin Island, first went to Humber College and obtained a business administration degree, before spending roughly 10-years studying in Vancouver. While in British Columbia, Mr. Tilson obtained a Master in Commerce and Entrepreneurship, before heading to the United States to earn his Master’s degree in Sustainable Development.

Mr. Tilson started his first business after he bought his first expensive mountain bike, he said. He was in Grade 8 when he founded Bike Medics. His love of bikes led him over trails, roadways and jumps.

It was a missed jump partway through his education at Humber College that crushed his spine, forcing Mr. Tilson to trade in his bicycle for a wheelchair. It hasn’t slowed him down at all.

In fact, his outside wheelchair has wide mountain-bike tires on it, something he and a fabricator friend dreamed up and created.

“(Being in a wheelchair) gave me the opportunity to question what’s important,” Mr. Tilson said. “I had to question everything, even myself. In a way, it was sort of a blessing.”

Mr. Tilson, along with some friends, started a software e-commerce business, Elastic Path, while he lived in British Columbia. Though he no longer owns the company, he still holds shares in it. The company is successful, with clients like the Vancouver Olympics and Telus.

Mr. Tilson said he chose to represent the Green Party because he said he believes we need to look at ways to ensure humanity has a future. “If we’re going to create a sustainable future on this planet, we need all hands on deck, including politicians. “This includes alternate energy sources, like wind turbines, though he agrees the issue is contentious on Manitoulin Island.

“I have mixed feelings (about the turbines),” Mr. Tilson said. “I think we need to use green energy, but it needs to be in context and scale appropriate. I think if (the project) was a smaller scale, there’d be less pushback.”

Mr. Tilson said he ultimately believes that he’s very qualified for the position of MPP. “I understand where we are and I know where we’re going and I know where we need to go if we’re going to live a sustainable future. And I know I can contribute to that.”

Voters will have the opportunity to learn more about Mr. Tilson’s and the Green Party’s platform, as well as the platforms for the NDP, Progressive Conservatives and Liberal Party during The Expositor’s ‘All Candidate’s Night’ at MSS on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:30 pm.