Green candidate Laura Campbell says D-C riding is “ready for change”

May 25, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

If there’s one thing Laura Campbell hopes to accomplish ahead of the June 7 provincial election, it’s the notion that a vote for Green does not represent a wasted ballot in Dufferin-Caledon.

It has been a hectic six-month period for Ms. Campbell. While running a successful downtown restaurant, continuing with her PhD in international economics and raising two young children would be more than most people could handle, Laura has accepted even more responsibility, taking on the mantle of Green Party candidate for Dufferin-Caledon. And she’s taken it completely in her stride.

Considered to be one of three or four “great hopes” for the Ontario Greens, Dufferin-Caledon, a Conservative stronghold for so many years, appears to be ready for change, says Ms. Campbell, who has had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of local residents as her campaign picked up speed in recent weeks.

“I’ve been to a lot of doors in our community and I’m hearing a lot of the same thing – that people do not know who to vote for, that none of the candidates, locally or provincially are really satisfying,” Ms. Campbell told the Citizen. “More and more people seem really open to voting Green.”

Such is the confidence that the Green Party could gain some traction in Dufferin-Caledon, leader Mike Schreiner has made a point of visiting the riding on several occasions over the past few months. During one of those visits Mr. Schreiner told media that there had always been “massive” support for the Green Party in this riding.

In the 2014 provincial election, local Green candidate Karren Wallace received 7,518 votes, good enough for third place ahead of the New Democratic candidate. The party having received 16.6 percent of the popular vote four years ago, Ms. Campbell is hoping to do even better this time around and truly make a mark on the provincial political arena. Acknowledging the lack of support for Premier Kathleen Wynne and the apparent skepticism around electing Doug Ford to lead the province, Laura was keen to remind locals there are always other options come election time.

“If the people want to send a message to the Liberals, they can do that in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean ‘I have to vote Conservative’,” Ms. Campbell said. “They can send a message to the Liberals by voting Green just as much as voting Conservative.”

While the Green Party is still stuck with the stigma that they’re a party purely for environmentalists, Ms. Campbell was keen to share key ideas from the party’s platform with the Citizen, while discounting what she’s seen thus far from both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives.

She touched on affordable housing, noting that so many people in our riding are finding it difficult to enter the market with prices still at all-time highs.

“While the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives talk about a provincial housing plan, the Green Party is the only party talking about an actual strategy,” Ms. Campbell said.

The Greens’ plan would look to tackle homelessness, moving those in need into permanent housing. It also establishes a guaranteed livable income to ensure that no Canadian falls below an income needed to live with dignity. And, most importantly, the government would look to subsidize private developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in their housing projects.

It’s an ambitious plan, and one that is likely to set any government back a considerable amount of money. So, how exactly would the Green Party pay for such a plan?

“(By) revamping our energy sector,” says Ms. Campbell.

Which takes us to hydro. Rates in Ontario have spiralled to eye-watering levels over the past decade, with much of the blame falling on previous Conservative and Liberal government, says Ms. Campbell. The decision to borrow billions to construct the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station back in the 1980s is looking to be a poor one at present. With the province still paying off a portion of that near $15 billion debt, we learned recently that the facility requires a multi-billion refurbishment. Enter the Green Party, who think it irresponsible to maintain one of Ontario’s cleanest sources of energy.

“We can’t afford it. It’s nice that we want to have a nuclear plant, but the province just doesn’t have the money. Experts have predicted, if we go through with the rebuild, that hydro prices will increase by roughly 180 percent over the next 20 years. That’s not manageable, it’s not sustainable,” Ms. Campbell said.

“We are still paying for building those nuclear facilities and now we’re finding out we have to upgrade the reactors. The Green Party views this problem as an opportunity… We know the solution, and that is buying hydro power from Quebec. It’s cheap, renewable, relatively clean power at a fraction of the cost. It’s certainly more efficient than anything that is being proposed right now,” Ms. Campbell added.

Any such deal with Quebec would lead to the decommissioning of the Darlington plant under the Greens, something Ms. Campbell says would help to drive the Ontario economy, creating significantly more jobs than any refurbishment would bring.

Child care, transportation and mental health services were also mentioned as Laura explained her vision for a better Dufferin-Caledon. She is adamant the community requires much more in the way of child care services, while commenting on the need for public transit between Orangeville, Shelburne and Grand Valley. She also called on GO Transit to increase its runs between Orangeville and Brampton.

Regardless of the result on June 7, Ms. Campbell indicated she was in it for the long haul in Dufferin-Caledon. In one final offering of advice, or pitch for votes depending on which way you look at it, Ms. Campbell implored locals to vote for the party and candidate they believe in.

“People tell me ‘you would be my top choice, but I’m concerned voting Green would be a wasted vote’. I tell these people the only wasted vote is the vote you don’t believe in,” Ms. Campbell said. “When you vote for Green, you are voting for a true local representative. We don’t have a party whip. We don’t have a party line we have to adhere to. What you get is someone who genuinely benefits the community and a party that works directly for you.”

Ms. Campbell will be in attendance at tonight’s provincial candidates’ forum at Orangeville District Secondary School from 6:30. to 9 p.m. She faces competition on June 7 from incumbent PC MPP Sylvia Jones, Liberal Bob Gordanier, NDP Andrea Mullarkey, Libertarian Jeff Harris, Trillium Andrew Nowell and Ontario Consensus’s Stephen McKendrick.

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