Renowned Quebec environmentalist Steven Guilbeault has officially thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming federal election.
The founding member of Équiterre, one of the province’s largest environmental organizations, announced on Friday that he will seek the federal Liberals’ nomination in Montreal’s Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding.
“For me, the decision to jump into the political arena is the logical conclusion of 25 years of engagement,” he said.
Guilbeault said he has worked his whole life with people across Canada who care deeply for the environment. The Justin Trudeau government has climate change at the heart of its mandate, he added.
Despite his opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline, he says the Liberal Party has been the most progressive in terms of climate change action and the party reflects his overall values.
“If the Liberals form the government this fall, Canada will have a real climate change plan, a real plan for the environment,” he said. “If the Conservative government wins, we will not. It’s that simple.”
The move comes after rumours swirled for months that Guilbeault would make the leap into politics. When he announced he was leaving Équiterre in October 2018, he downplayed the idea that he would join a party but was careful not to rule out running for the upcoming federal election.
During his career, the longtime environmentalist has also worked for Greenpeace Canada.
The Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding is an NDP stronghold in Montreal — and a riding the Liberals haven’t been able to snag in nearly three decades.
Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe represented the riding for years until the NDP swept through the province with an orange wave and Hélène Laverdière won in 2011. She announced last year she will not seek re-election.
Nima Machouf, the new NDP candidate for the riding, said Guilbeault’s choice to join the Liberals is a bad one in light of the Trudeau government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“I think for a person who has spent more than half of his life working with and thinking of the planet and environment, it’s a very bad decision,” she said.
WATCH: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion approval
Guilbeault, for his part, maintains he’s determined to fight climate change in Canada alongside the Liberals — even if he disagrees with the expansion.
“When I look at everything they have done over the last four years and the fight against climate change, this has been one of the most proactive governments — if not the most proactive government — we’ve seen,” he said.
—With files from Global News’ Brittany Henriques and the Canadian Press