Before I tell you about myself and why I offered to stand for nomination, we need to acknowledge our relationship to this land and its Indigenous Peoples.
We are meeting on the land that has been cared for by many generations of Mitchi Saugig Anishnaabe and their neighbours the Haudenosaune. This land was opened for settlement as a result of the Williams treaty. Every time the land or the water or the air is polluted, that is a violation of the spirit of that treaty. As people who engage in the government of this province, we especially must act so as to honour the treaties and the Indigenous Peoples, and support them in their on-going care of the land.
Part of the reason I moved to Peterborough was that I saw so much care for the environment here. Transition Town, Environmental Science at Trent, Green-Up, such active protest against the Jackson Parkway, such support for local food and local enterprise.
My goal for this campaign is to convince many of those environmentalists that this is the year that voting for the Green Party can really boost their environmental concern in Ontario’s political arena. Maybe they don’t want to change their political affiliation permanently, but they don’t have to. Because having a stronger Green presence in the arena means that all the parties have to get greener. And this year there are several things that make a vote for the Green Party more powerful than before.
1) Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have serious credibility issues.
2) The Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner, has a strong base in Guelph, and has a credible chance of getting elected. He is a very capable organizer, strategizer and speaker, having made a serious impact in the arena without even having a seat in the legislature.
3) Partly as a result of his work on political transparency and fairness, political funding equalization legislation has come in. Big money is barred, and each vote will bring a $2.26 subsidy to the party voted for. This means that each vote for the Green Party this year will help the party build its financial foundation for the next 4 years. The subsidy comes to the local constituency association as well as to central office, and it pays for much more than campaigning. It pays for skill building and research to strengthen the environmentalist voice.
Though it would be quite a surprise if the Green Party won Peterborough and the Kawarthas, I can confidently say that I would be able to represent this community well. I have a master’s degree in Rural Planning and Development from the University of Guelph. Policy analysis and labour market analysis and cost benefit analysis and environmental impact analysis are not strangers to me. I have also built organizations from scratch before. I know how to put a functioning office together and keep a staff working at their best. I can facilitate a strategic planning team and manage the follow-through. I can put together a short, clear speech!
The Green Party of Ontario is committed to being honest about the problems we face and always acting with integrity. We will work to make decisions based on evidence, science and best practises.
Priorities are: 1) Jobs: strengthening local business serving local needs and doing it cleanly. Not giving away our water and mineral resources for peanuts, but supporting locally accountable enterprises;
(2) Housing: mandating one new affordable unit for every 5 new houses or condos, along with other innovative responses. If Medicine Hat in Alberta can eliminate homelessness, then every town in the country can, and there are provincial policies that can help it happen.
(3) Stop poisoning the planet: Reduce climate changing pollution while putting money in your pocket with a carbon dividend. While cap-and-trade is in place, end the free pollution permits for the biggest polluters.
I was a student here at Trent in the 1980s. In Native Studies 101, we read about Grassy Narrows. The mercury poisoning of the water was a crime then, and it is still a crime now. In November, I was shocked to discover that mercury buried in those days is still polluting the Wabigoon River and blighting the lives of the Indigenous People living there. No long-term, consistent monitoring plan for mercury was ever put in place.
This is gross disrespect of the real power of natural systems: mercury is what it is and ignoring it doesn’t make it disappear. It is gross disrespect of the Indigenous People. And this is only one of many examples of gross negligence. There is no excuse for this provincial policy of freedom to pollute. How many generations have to suffer before we learn that lesson? Pointless question. If this generation doesn’t fix this, there won’t be any more generations! The other parties have had generations to get serious about ending pollution. It’s time to try a new crew.
And this year a vote for the Green Party will really count!