Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Cecile Willert, Ajax—Pickering
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Cecile Willert is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Ajax—Pickering riding. Wikinews' Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her 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 decided to get involved because I strongly support the policies of the Green Party of Ontario and want to help ensure that the Green Party is taken seriously, gains in support and wins seats in this election. When the Green Party was seeking a candidate, I knew that I would be a strong candidate and put my name forward. Giving back to my community is important to me.
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 work closely with the Provincial government as a representative of the Ontario Environmental Industry Association’s Advocacy Committee and Co-chair of the association’s Brownfield Committee and through my professional work, ensuring protection of health and the environment. As a Professional Engineer and business leader, experienced in sound financial management, I offer real answers to solve real issues.
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?
- The Liberal and Conservative candidates will pose the biggest challenge because their party’s are more established and thus have more inertia to carry them forward. The Green Party, on the other hand, is gaining momentum.
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 top issues are funding for religious schools, transportation and poverty; however, preservation of the green belt and farm incomes are also highly important to a large portion of the riding populous.
What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?
- The first order of business should be a budget. All actions of the Legislature must be economically sensible and should not be made without a budget in place, just the same as most people don’t go out spending all their pay check before establish what they can afford.
Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?
- Property tax rates are set at the municipal and regional levels of government. The tax assessment system is a provincial responsibility. This system requires overhauling. The Green Party proposes introducing a Location Value Tax to replace the existing property tax system. Under the Green Party’s Location Value Tax plan, municipalities will capture the increased value of land that results from infrastructure and development financed by the surrounding community. Location Value Tax will separate property assessment into the value of the building and the value of the land. The municipality will tax the land at a higher rate than the buildings, which will increase taxes on underused and vacant land. Location Value Tax will encourage intensification, deter sprawl and protect precious farmland. Rate differentials for zoning, such as for agriculture land, will remain within the Location Value Tax system.
How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?
- The opportunities are unlimited. The Green Tax Shift plan is a good first step in creating the conditions for a prosperous and sustainable economy that produces green jobs. By shifting taxes from employment to the resource use, Ontario will receive a double dividend: improved environmental performance and more jobs.
- The Green Party of Ontario’s Green Jobs Plan will increase employment, competitiveness and innovation, while establishing worker protection. By adjusting market signals to reflect environmental costs, the GPO’s plan will create markets for new, innovative green businesses, technologies and products. Greens realize that small businesses, coops and non-profit social enterprises are important engines of a vibrant green economy. The threats of climate change, pollution and energy shortages can create opportunities for green jobs and healthy communities.
What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?
- Ontario’s voters deserve better representation at Queen’s Park. Our current first-past-the-post voting system does not reflect the political will of all voters because it discounts the votes of everyone who did not vote for a winning candidate. A Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system will create a stronger democracy with more choice, fairer election results and better representation for all citizens. MMP has already been used successfully in several countries, including Germany, Scotland and New Zealand, where it has produced stable and effective governments.
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?
- The ability to put up a web site to disperse information quickly and broadly, to direct email and take donations is a huge asset. My website can be found by linking from the Green Party website (www.gpo.ca) or directly at www.vote-green.ca/cecile.willert .
Of the decisions made by Ontario's 38th Legislative Assembly, which was the most beneficial to your this 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?
- I'm not sure that our elected representatives in the two ridings that were previously part of the new Ajax-Pickering riding did anything particularly memorable or having a significant positive impact on this riding. Despite the continuation of the Health Premium Tax, hospital wait times have increased and access to local doctors and wait times in local clinics appear to have increased significantly.
- The lack of resolve to make serious improvements to public transit has further grid-locked our roads in this area and throughout the greater Toronto area as well as having a negative impact on air quality. Inaction itself has been harmful to the riding of Ajax-Pickering and to Ontario as a whole. Where action has been taken, Pickering lost precious farm lands now slated for development due to a land swap deal with developer owned lands in the Oak Ridges Morraine. The Green belt was established to permanently protect some of our green space which is a positive step; however, no compensation was made for those impacted other than for the developers involved in the land swap. Farmers were not compensated or assisted as would have been appropriate and fair.