Talk:Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Martin Hyde, Ottawa West-Nepean

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Martin Hyde

Ottawa West-Nepean GPO candidate

http://own.greenparty.ca


September 2007


Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process? Why did you choose to run in this constituency?


Environmental issues are core to our long term social, physical and economic health, both globally and locally. Globally there is no law – only agreements that participants sometimes choose to honour. In Canada law is made at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. I attended my riding Green Party candidate nomination meeting because I wished to participate in the nomination process for the provincial election, and found that no one was contending for the position. I’m running because I believe it’s important for people who are concerned about environmental issues to have a Green Party candidate to vote for so that the larger parties will be forced to recognise their concerns. Currently in Ontario, because we are not able to vote directly for a party, but are only able to do so by voting for a local candidate, it’s crucial that a party runs a candidate in every riding so that people can make themselves heard. I believe the Multi Member Proportional system of voting will help solve this problem if we choose it in the Referendum on October 10.

I’m running in this riding because it’s where I live.


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 no prior political experience.

I have been a teacher for many years in Ontario public schools, and international schools overseas, which has broadened my understanding of people and issues from many perspectives. I’ve often promoted environmental issues when teaching, through such things as partnered community cleanups, introducing recycling programs, and organizing Earth Days.

As a graduate student I studied democratic participation and education.


Which of your competitors do you expect to pose the biggest challenge to your candidacy? Why? What makes you the most desirable of all candidates running in the riding?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?


In my riding the Liberal MPP Jim Watson poses the biggest challenge. He is the incumbent, and has been a politician for many years.

I’m only the most desirable candidate for those voters who care about creating an economically and environmentally sustainable society in the long term.

The issues which individuals care about are very diverse. The most important issues for those who are likely to vote Green are likely to be: a taxation plan which does not hit incomes, but directly targets non-renewable resource consumption – and in conjunction with incentives to reduce consumption, initiatives to replace dirty energy with clean, renewable energy sources; a single public school system which has the democratic interests of all Ontarians as its primary concern; and an emphasis on livable communities which promote walking and public transit, decreased levels of pollution, and increased opportunities for healthy activities. It’s all about sustainability, economically, politically, and personally.

Our party platform contains specific details on how these issues would be addressed.


What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?


The first order of business should be to begin shifting taxes away from personal income, health care, and corporate profit, and onto the consumption of resources. Specifically, our taxes will shift immediately to a 2% tax on oil, natural gas, and coal, as well as an increase in fees on the taking of aggregate (sand and gravel) and water, directly from our income taxes and the tax on health care.


Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?


This is an issue that is probably best addressed by voters at the municipal level. However, the Green Party has a plan to place a moratorium on increases in the assessed market value of residential properties and introduce a Location Value Tax, which will shift the focus from taxing buildings to taxing the land under the buildings. This would be a revenue neutral shift with the purpose of encouraging intensification of land use, while detering sprawl.


How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?


The tax shift from income to resources will mean that labour will be cheaper for employers without a decrease in wages for employees. It will also provide an incentive to hire people to find more energy efficient ways of making products since non-renewable energy costs will be higher.

To encourage the repair and recycling of products the Green Party of Ontario will establish a Product Stewardship Program that will place the responsibility for the entire life cycle of a product with the manufacturer or importer. This will encourage the creation of jobs focused on designing products that can be repaired and recycled.

What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?


My view is that the MMP system is better for everyone.

In the short term it is obviously better for smaller parties such as the Greens. In the 2006 federal election the Green Party of Canada won 4.5% of the vote. Fairness would seem to dictate that out of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, around 14 should be Green MPs. Yet there is not one Green MP in the House. Nearly 700,000 Canadians voted Green. Not one of them is represented by their party in the House of Commons.

In the 2003 Ontario election the Green Party only won 2.8% of the vote. Under the proposed MMP system we would not have been able to appoint an MPP. Yet we would only need an additional 0.2% to be eligible for, presumably, three to four MPPs. Clearly, this would be good for the Green Party of Ontario.

In the longer term it would also be good for the larger parties, and for those who vote for them. It’s true that their power stands to be diluted somewhat by parties that have broad support across the province, which will impair their ability to pass the laws they want today. But we all have to live under those laws, and in a democracy that means we should be represented in their creation. When we’re not, those laws begin to lack legitimacy.

In 2003, 43.2% of eligible voters in Ontario did not show up at the polls. There is something wrong when almost half of the people in our province who can have a say in the rules we live under choose not to. There are likely many reasons why people don’t show up, but one is certainly that many people feel their vote does not really count. It has no influence. This will be a problem for all of us in the long run because, the fewer people who participate in the creation of our laws, the less legitimate those laws will appear to be to an increasing number of people. When we have an opportunity to strengthen the foundations on which our society rests, we should take it.

A concern I’ve heard about MMP is that it could result in a large number of unelected MPPs. To understand this concern, consider this example.

You have a legislature with 100 seats. Party X wins 20% of the provincial vote, but only 15 seats. Under MMP Party X will be allowed to appoint 5 MPPs from their list to bring them up to 20 seats. The concern is that those 5 MPPs are not elected, but appointed from a list, and that they will not be responsible for any particular riding.

What’s important, though, is how those lists are created. People voting for Party X would know, well in advance, who might be appointed, and how that list of appointees was created. If they disagreed with the list, or how the list was generated, they could choose not to vote for the party. The fact that 20% of electors still voted for the party would indicate that they were generally okay with the list. While the 5 appointed MPPs would not be responsible to a local constituency, they would be responsible to voters for Party X in the province as a whole.

If a voter liked the local Party X candidate but not the list, they would not have to vote for the party. They could simply vote only for the local candidate.

A second concern is that this system will result in minority governments, but just because minority governments are unstable under FPTP does not mean they will be under MMP where minority status would be a clear picture of the will of the people rather than an ambiguity which makes decision making difficult.

Ultimately, whichever way the referendum goes, this is a unique opportunity for all of us. In a democracy we do not always get our way. What holds us together and allows us to live under laws which we may not necessarily agree with is our general agreement with the system itself. And on October 10 we get to decide on the structure of that system, together. So whether we choose the FPTP or the MMP system, the act of participating in this referendum will only serve to strengthen our democracy.

That said, because the MMP system will allow representation of a large number of individuals who are currently not represented I believe it is the better choice. It will be good for democracy not only by improving the representation of those who are still trying to be heard, but by bringing back to the table those who have given up participating because they find the exercise to be pointless.


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 came to this late, but a website is obviously important, and will be a part of my campaign (and is already if you count www.gpo.ca). Blogs, especially interactive ones, are great ways to communicate and learn from others. Facebook, YouTube and wikis, are very interesting ways to generate shared knowledge. I appreciate being asked to contribute here.


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 this riding? To the province as a whole?