Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Lloyd Helferty, Thornhill
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Lloyd Helferty is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Thornhill riding. Wikinews' Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.
Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.
Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process? Why did you choose to run in this constituency?
- I ran for the Green Party initially for one reason: Peak Oil. It was and still is an issue that is tremendously serious but is not given enough attention. I believe it will in fact be the issue of this century. But I have learned since then that there are many other serious related issues, such as climate change, that need to be tackled in an inventive way using an approach that relies on ingenuity and takes in a different perspective to the problem ~ and approach that looks at the entire system and its relationships to other problems rather than looking at each problem as if it were isolated. We also need to look at problems using long-range thinking and not simply concentrating on the quick-fixes.
What prior political experience do you have? What skills and insight can you bring to office, from other non-political positions you may have held?
- I have run twice before in the Federal elections of 2004 and 2006 in Thornhill. I am also on the board of directors of the Richmond Hill Naturalists, which gives me insight into local issues from the perspective of those working and studying natural systems (ecosystems) and their health and am a member of the Markham Conservation Committee as well, which gives me insight into programs that are being undertaken locally by the town. I also have a longstanding relationship with some of the local community groups and understand some of the Regional issues affecting the quality of life of Thornhill residents.
Which of your competitors do you expect to pose the biggest challenge to your candidacy? Why?
- I believe that my candidacy stands alone. In fact, I see my biggest “competitor” as the independent candidate, whom I believe will likely be taking a portion of votes that would have probably otherwise come to me [the so-called “protest” votes cast by voters who are fed up with main-steam politics and will vote for anyone except the big parties]. Of course, these are likely only a small number of people, and because I do have some name recognition in this riding, however small, I believe that people who are fed up with mainstream politics will still continue to gravitate toward the Green Party.
What makes you the most desirable of all candidates running in the riding?
- I have the most through grasp of the issues that will truly affect the population in the long-term and understand what needs to be done to help mitigate the worst affects of them. The other candidates are running to get elected and will say whatever is necessary to bring them into a position where people will vote for them, even if they do not personally believe in all aspects of their own Party policies or platform. I do, on the other hand, thoroughly believe in the Green Party Values from which we base our policies and platform and will always work toward achieving them.
What do you feel are the three most important issues to voters in your riding? Are these the same top three issues that are most important to you? What would you do to address these issues?
- The voters believe that transportation (increased transit/easing gridlock), school funding (faith-based, status-quo or merging the two systems) and urban intensification (development) are the three most important issues, along with Health Care (access to Doctors) being of general concern.
- Personally, the issues of transportation and development are very closely interlinked with the issues of health and energy. They are all a consequence of our addiction to oil and to our energy-intensive lifestyles. We are living further and further from where we work, shop and play, yet we insist on driving everywhere to do everything, not really because there are no options, but because this is generally the most convenient way to do it given the circumstances under which we insist on living. Much of our problems are a consequence of our built environment and our fixation on designing our living environments to accommodate automobiles.
- Many of our health problems are a consequence of our sedentary and convenience-based (service-based/fast-food) lifestyles as well as the stresses we are putting on our bodies [in various ways, including through chemical loading and self-induced (mental) stresses, among others].
- I believe that we need to rapidly wean ourselves from the one thing which makes our lives so convenient, pollutes our environment with toxic chemicals, sours our air, allows us to pave over our best farmland and expand outward incessantly in a manic urge to “grow our economy” for no other reason than to expand for the sake of expansion: oil. The discovery of the power of oil has been on of the greatest assets to mankind this millennium, but we are at a juncture in human history where oil is now becoming our nemesis, and is no longer making our lives better. No further improvements to our lifestyles can be had be increasing the number of people driving nor by increasing the number of houses being built (for we are paving over our very best farmland where we will need to grow more of our food in the not-so-distant future and/or destroying essential habitat that is necessary to maintain the proper functioning of our ecosystems), nor by increasing the density of houses (for this only increases the concentration of the pollutants and increases the burdens on our infrastructure, including roads, transit, water, sewer, electricity and other essential services). We need to undertake a crash-course in (energy) “conservation” while at the same time looking at restoring the proper functioning of both our human and natural ‘ecosystems’ in order to come back into “balance” with the natural world’s (including the human mind’s) ability to accommodate our (massive) presence. This requires a new set of thinking, which I believe many members of the Green Party have started to grasp and understand and is reflected in both our values and our policies.
- The Green Party in essence, is attempting to bring a measure of direction and purpose back into the Political realm by re-establishing a set of base “values” from which we can move forward and agree upon as common goals for human society, and this, I believe, is where the electorate is missing the point.
What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?
- My priority, if elected, would be to halt all expansion / new development on our more essential lands and work at bringing in a form of Land Value Taxation.
Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?
- No. Property taxes are likely not high enough for the new developments, for they are a burden on the downstream (or upstream) services [like the electrical, water and sewer networks]. The initial development charges were not high enough to cover all of the costs of expanded services for these new developments, so it is likely that tax rates would need to be higher for the newer developments, however we also now have a situation where the older developments are undergoing the slow decay of their built infrastructure, which will potentially require a complete overhaul of their services [primarily water and sewage systems, but also roads and other hard infrastructure], which may require the intervention of the Province to assist these communities in undertaking upgrades.
How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?
- The province must vocally and monetarily encourage a shift in the direction we are headed with respect to the manufacturing sector. Our reliance on the traditional automobile manufacturing sector for a large chunk of our economy can only be detrimental to the prospects for jobs as the entire industry haemorrhages in North America for lack of innovation. We need to diversify our economy into new energy technology and value-added goods and services rather than taking a narrow view and only making our province “attractive to investors” and relying on corporations to provide the employment opportunities. The government should become much more proactive in helping to establish new companies by providing ‘seed money’ and business expertise where necessary to encourage entrepreneurs to move faster toward creating the infrastructure necessary to make our society more sustainable.
What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?
- I am completely in favour of the system. MMP will guarantee Green representation at Queen's Park. Something that is long overdue.
What role, if any, does "new media" play in your campaign, and the campaign of your party? (websites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube videos, etc) Do you view it as beneficial, or a challenge?
- I have a personal website, although I do not have a very tech-savvy webmaster and because of it’s 'generic' structure [intended for use by multiple candidates], if not particularly flexible nor impressively attractive. I use Facebook on occasion, and have used it to connect with people during this campaign, but I have not used a blog nor have I used YouTube.
Of the decisions made by Ontario's 38th Legislative Assembly, which was the most beneficial to your electoral district? To the province as a whole? Which was least beneficial, or even harmful, to your this riding? To the province as a whole?
- The most beneficial decision made by the former Liberal government was the Greenbelt Act, flowed closely by the Places To Grow Act. These were monumental achievements, although they could always have done better. These helped (somewhat) to reign in the outward growth of our communities, yet these were also detrimental to us in some respects, since they inadvertently gave the “green light” to developers to expand as rapidly as possible to the edge of the boundaries set up under these acts. Urban “intensification” has also become a burden on our infrastructure, including roads (intense traffic), water (hydraulic pressure drops), sewers (now reaching close to capacity) and electrical system (the schedule for shutting down the Coal plants has been delayed yet again), among many others.
- For the province as a whole, I believe that the passing of the Standard Offer Contract legislation, which allows for small-scale local renewable energy to be sold back to the electrical grid at a premium price is one of the most proactive pieces of legislation the province has passed in a while, although a serious popular education campaign and Government support networks [to help people work through the necessary regulations] needs to take place so that people (individuals) can be given a chance to take advantage of the offer.
- The most disappointing act was portions of the 2006 Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act which allowed the vast majority of protected areas to remain open to sport hunting (428 protected areas permit this activity to go on within park boundaries). Considering that the majority of “crown land” is already open to sport hunting (more than 90%), continuing to allow an activity that is harmful to wildlife and ecosystems within park boundaries is only perpetuating the problem of species decline in Ontario.