Meet Chris Cullis, the Green Party candidate for Burlington.

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

August 17th, 2021



For Chris Cullis, the Burlington Federal Green Party candidate, climate change is the definitive issue of our time and one requiring immediate attention.

Chris Cullis

In his interview with the Gazette, Cullis was quick to point out the Green Party is not a one-issue party touches on key issues in the early stages of the campaign including the Trudeau administration’s failings, COVID-19, affordable housing, and Indigenous issues.

For many voters, climate change is all too often made difficult to understand, or represented in a way that doesn’t highlight the immediacy of its impact. Cullis, by contrast, simply points out his window and says this is happening now, he saw it in action with a river in his backyard that didn’t freeze all winter.

“Next year is going to be hotter than this year and the year after is going to be hotter than that. This is what climate change looks like. It’s not going to get better unless we get our act together, and even then there’s going to be a delay during which time, food is going to be more expensive, there are going to be climate refugees, flooding.

“We will start to feel the effects of decades of kicking this can down the road,” he said.

Cullis retained his candor speaking of the current Liberal administration’s failings to combat the issue of climate change.

“The day after the International Panel on Climate Change issued a report saying that this is a crisis and code red for humanity the Liberal Minister for the Environment defended the purchase of an oil pipeline. Saying that we need that revenue to pay for climate change initiatives which to me is like finding yourself in a burning building and thinking, well if I throw gasoline everywhere and the building burns down faster I won’t be trapped in a burning building anymore,

“It’s not a matter of not having the money to pay for climate change because clearly, controlling this and getting on top of it is in everyone’s best interest. And if the argument is well there’s no money for it, well, money is an idea of what is worth what and there is nothing more valuable than having a sustainable future,” said Cullis.

When asked what these necessary changes look like practically Cullis suggested an appointment of a chief climate science officer to guide Canada’s policy in the same way disease prevention worked under COVID.

“There’s this one overarching crisis which we are all concerned with. We need to make sure that everything is on the same page and working together. Why are we purchasing oil pipelines when oil is what got us into this mess?” asked Cullis.

On COVID-19 Cullis emphasized the importance of a successful pandemic recovery, and also suggested a post-pandemic world may be an opportunity to reshape society.

Managing a post Covid world is something we are going to have to learn to do.

“COVID-19 is the biggest international event since World War II.  We had a post World War II world, we had a post 911 world, we’re entering a post COVID world. And not to say that we won’t still have masks that there aren’t still precautions and safety measures to take but we have a chance to reorder society.

“It’s not going back to the way things were, there is a real chance to build something better in terms of working from home, society, and gas. Like, there are so many benefits from working from home in a four day workweek. Can we try that now? Like what was the holdup before that, having this moment to pause. We can reevaluate what society we want to live in and make that happen. So let’s,” said Cullis.

Elsewhere, the Green Party is asking Justin Trudeau to declare a national housing affordability and homelessness emergency requesting Parliament adopt a national moratorium on evictions during the pandemic and to create a residential arrears assistance program. Cullis acknowledged that although the pandemic has worsened the situation, the lack of affordable living was already a developing problem.

Affordable housing is a way we have run our economy.

“Affordable housing is more fundamentally a way we have run our economy, they stopped making land, everyone would like, you know the suburban two-car garage, lawn backyard, etc, but there’s only so much space and there are more and more people. How do we, and this is a larger question, how do we want our economy, what do we value and how do we, and how do people get that in a fair and equitable way?” asked Cullis.

On the subject of Indigenous issues, both environmental and those on reconciliation, Cullis stressed the importance of listening to Indigenous communities.

Cultural exchange at the dedication of the construction of an enhanced Brant Museum.

“Reconciliation is a complicated process where largely I think my job is mostly shutting up and listening. The underlying fundamental principle though is these are issues of human rights. And rather than say ‘oh it is merely a, an issue of white and indigenous and finding these divisions between us,’ it’s about getting society to a point where we’re all on the same page, where it is equitable for everyone,

“There are communities without access to clean drinking water, and everyone in Canada, who is a Canadian citizen or not, should have clean water, and whatever barriers have prevented that fundamental necessity being provided to people need to go. Whatever government office is in charge of this needs to stop dragging their feet. Let’s fix it,” said Cullis.

Ending long-standing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities was a 2015 election promise from Trudeau he has failed to keep.

Chris Cullis wants to be a different kind of politician, he doesn’t want to make promises he can’t keep, he wants to be authentic and yes, he’s aware of how inauthentic that sounds.

“There is so much I want people to know about me that you can’t get across on a webcam that in a press release, . I’m a human being. I’m 28 years old. I’m an ex-atheist, my favorite food is Korean fried chicken. I spent a year teaching in Korea. I have a master’s in international relations,

“I want people to know that I’m the real deal,” said Cullis.

In his eagerness in candor, it’s hard not to believe him.

Cullis was elected as the Green Party’s representative in a membership vote last month.

Cullis grew up in Burlington and graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science, and a Masters in International Relations.

You can see Chris Cullis along with Green Party of Ontario leader/MPP for Guelph Mike Schreiner in Burlington at 3 p.m. on Thursday, August 19th,  at the Grow for Change urban farm(corner of Brant St. and Ghent Ave.).

Cullis and Schreiner will be available to chat with attendees at the event.



Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.