CanadaVOTES: Animal Alliance (AAEVPC) party leader Liz White running in Toronto Centre

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Interview series
2008 Canadian federal election

Calgary Southwest: CHP
Edmonton—Leduc: NDP
Yellowhead: CHP

Langley: CHP*
Vancouver Kingsway: NDP

Brandon—Souris: CHP

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour: CHP

Cambridge: NDP
Carleton—Mississippi Mills: NDP
Don Valley West: NDP
Elgin—Middlesex—London: NDP
Haldimand—Norfolk: LIB, CHP
Hamilton Centre: NDP i
Hamilton East—Stoney Creek: NDP i
Lanark-Front.-Lennox & Addin.: LIB
Parry Sound—Muskoka: NDP
Perth—Wellington: LIB
Prince Edward—Hastings: NDP
Simcoe—Grey: NDP
Thornhill: LIB i
Toronto Centre: AAEV*
Toronto—Danforth: LIB, AAEV
York—Simcoe: CHP

Louis-Hébert: CHP
Westmount—Ville-Marie: NDP

Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar: Lbtn

* Asterisks designate riding incumbents or registered political party leaders.
The letter "i" after a party abbreviation signifies an incumbent MP response.

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada leader Liz White is standing for election in the riding of Toronto Centre.

Once the director of the Toronto Humane Society, she has been with the Animal Alliance Canada organization since the 1980s. She is currently a full time staff member and Director, working on legislative and media matters, as well as fundraising. According to her biography on their website, "her primary issues include Municipal Animal Control by-law matters, endangered species legislation and hunting issues." White herself is a vegetarian and advocates a vegetarian lifestyle.

Wikinews contacted Liz, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted via e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

This is the first election that the party is running multiple candidates; in the 2006 federal election, only Ms. White was listed.

Riding incumbent and prominent Liberal Bob Rae, once the NDP premier of Ontario, is defending the riding versus many candidates. Beside Liz White, they are El-Farouk Khaki (NDP), Ellen Michelson (Green), David Gentili (Conservative), Johan Boyden (Communist), Philip Fernandez (Marxist-Leninist), and independent Gerald Derome.

For more information, visit the campaign's official website, listed below.


Why are you running for political office, why at the federal level, why this party, and why in this riding?

The Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada was formed because of a Supreme Court ruling which prevented "third parties" (not registered political parties) from speaking out effectively at election time. Prior to the ruling, Animal Alliance's political arm Environment Voters participated as a third party in federal, provincial and municipal election campaigns. After the ruling, the only way we could participate effectively within the law was to become a federally registered political party which we did.
The Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada was formed to bring forward the principle of just and equitable human progress that respects, protects and enhances the environment upon which we all depend and the lives of the animals with whom we share our world.
I am running in Toronto Centre because I live there and because there are significant environmental and animal protection issues to be addressed. The Don River, a significant watershed runs parallel to the riding. The re-naturalization of the Don River lands has progressed but the river remains a source of pollution which affects wildlife and the environment. My riding also touches the lake and we have been promoting the re-naturalization of the shoreline, an important ecological initiative. My riding is close to Tommy Thompson Park which hosts a large and ecologically significant waterbird colony with Black-crown Night Herons, Double-crested Cormorants and colony of 30,000 gulls. We have an active campaign to defend cormorants, Canada geese and other birds against government sponsored culls. Finally, consideration is being given to the removal of the Gardiner Expressway and the re-naturalization of the lands below the off and on ramps. My riding presents significant opportunities to reclaim biological diversity, create wildlife corridors, to address and prevent human wildlife conflict and to re-naturalize habitat long lost to industrial use.

Previous to this campaign, have you been politically involved? How will you apply your previous work/volunteer/life experience to serving your constituents?

I have been involved in politics, advocating for the environment for over 30 years and for animals for over 20 years. In addition, I volunteered as a board member to a legal clinic specializing in poverty law and as a co-chair for a non-profit group that raised money and advocated for a native community in northern Alberta. My experience positions me to fulfill our mandate which is to fight for a just and equitable society that respects and protects humans, animals and the environment.

As you campaign around your riding, it's likely that some issues are mentioned more often by voters than other issues. What would you say are the three hottest topics this election, in your riding? What would you and your party do to address these issues?

My approach to campaigning is to highlight and discuss the plight of the environment and the animals with whom we share the planet. So the voters tend not to ask my position on other issues.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Is there any misconceptions about you, your leader, or your party and platform?

Yes, the misconceptions is that we are referred to as a fringe party. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are the party of new ideas, a party of vision. Granting women the right to vote was considered a radical initiative as expressed in the article “Human Rights in Canada, A Historical Perspective”: “The men in control of the country perceived women as a ‘weaker sex’ needing protection and guidance. Some believed allowing women to vote would only unsettle them and lead to family discord.”[1] However, with political pressure brought about by women of the time, the laws changed.
Again as the article describes, “Times are about to change. A generation of women – led by dynamos like Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Ada Powers, Josephine Dandurand and Elizabeth Smith Shortt – have lobbied, cajoled, heckled, and ridiculed politicians for denying them their rights. They collected petitions, held rallies, and fought to have their voices heard.” The Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada raises issues about the environment and animal protection that other parties fail to discuss either in elections or during the legislative agenda. We are the Nellie McClungs of the environmental and animal protection world.

There are more ways than ever to get your message out, from the traditional campaign fliers and lawn signs, to new media like websites, Facebook, and YouTube. The tried-and-true routes get the message out to the masses much easier, but digital alternatives are much more measurable in how many are seeing or interacting with your campaign. What seems to be the most effective, from your experience?

We have our television ad on YouTube; however, I do not know how to measure the effectiveness other than it provides much broader access. It is hard to tell how many voters in my particular riding are accessing the ad.