Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with NDP candidate Sheila White, Scarborough-Rouge River
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Having worked as an aide, advisor, and Executive Assistant to municipal and provincial politicians, Sheila White is running for the Ontario New Democratic Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Scarborough-Rouge River 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've worked in politics for 22 years, first as the senior aide to former mayor Mel Lastman for 13 years and at Queen's Park for the past nine as a special adviser to NDP Leader Howard Hampton, including three years recently as Executive Assistant to MPP Andrea Horwath. My father William Andrew (Bill) White was the first person of colour to run for federal office in 1949 in the riding of Spadina. The party to advance him as a candidate was the CCF, forerunner to Ontario's NDP of today. The great Tommy Douglas was guest speaker at Dad's nomination meeting and history was made. I'm certain this part of my family's legacy has some bearing on my own interest in, passion and facility for politics. I genuinely care about service to people, so I have been deeply concerned about the impact on working families of Dalton McGuinty's many broken promises. I chose Scarborough-Rouge River because it is where I was born, lived, attended school, purchased a home and have lived for 40 years. I ran in Scarborough-Rouge River once before in the November 2005 byelection.
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?
- Aside from doing the work of a politician for 22 years, I have been elected to various boards. I was President of my community association for years and continue to serve on its executive. I was credited with rejuvenating the organization. I am President of Community Unity Alliance. I have helped a long list of stakeholders develop programs that bring about positive solutions. For example, I brought to Toronto the first medication safety inspection program for seniors and the first employment program geared specifically to non-white university students. I am highly capable. That's why so many have encouraged me to pursue a political path.
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?
- This has generally been a Liberal-held riding, but this time people are taking a real look. They don't feel good about supporting Dalton McGuinty because they don't want to condone someone who makes promises and doesn't keep them.
- They know he'll say anything to get elected, then let them down after the election like he did last time. The Liberal incumbent has not made the transition well to provincial parliament. No one hears from him. He doesn't fight on our behalf. He voted himself a 30 per cent pay increase but delivered nothing to the constituents who sent him to Queen's Park. They haven't seen any action on the issues that matter to them and their families nor have they seen any difference over the last four years under Dalton McGuinty. I represent the one party, the NDP, and the one leader, Howard Hampton, who can be counted on to fight for a fair deal for working families. Besides my overall merit, that's my biggest strength in the 2007 election.
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?
- Health care (The Scarborough Hospital) (restore democracy and community respect to our local hospital) ; environment and energy (bold, affordable energy efficiency and conservation strategy, action on greenhouse gases) ; education (freeze tuition fees, fix education funding formula.) Transit, housing, property taxes, provincial downloading, child care, pension reform, there too many important issues to narrow them down to three. Overall, making life easier and more affordable for the hardworking families of Scarborough-Rouge River.
What should be the first order of business in the 39th Legislative Assembly?
- First item of business: Swearing in Howard Hampton as Premier of Ontario.
Are the property taxes in your riding at a fair level for the amount of services received in the municipality?
- Property taxpayers are under siege, subjected to volatile upward swings as a result of market value assessment and a host of new fees being contemplated to cover McGuinty's downloading provincial services onto municipalities and not paying his bills. Some areas of Scarborough-Rouge River are particularly hard hit, which is unfair because the level of service hasn't risen proportionately and property tax is a regressive tax that has nothing to do with a person's ability to pay. Ontario's NDP has a plan to address this.
How can the province lead the way in stimulating job creation?
- We can stimulate job creation by doing what worked well in British Columbia and have a Jobs Protection Act and Jobs Protection Commissioner. We can create many jobs with our aggressive energy efficiency and conservation program that enables people to retrofit their homes and businesses with low-interest government loans that can be paid off slowly over time with the savings from their energy bill. Similarly, the green economy: building retrofits, housing, infrastructure and green power projects.
What are your views on the mixed member proportional representation (MMP) referendum?
- I am in favour of MMP.
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?
- Nothing beats meeting voters face to face or speaking to them directly. I am on Facebook and Wikipedia. New media are important, but I still like the phone or personal contact. I don't think websites win elections, candidates do. And this election boils down to who you can trust to fight for a fair deal for working families.
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?
- Compensating fire fighters when they contract illnesses as a result of exposure to toxins and chemicals, an NDP-inspired initiative at Queen's Park, will benefit fire fighters today and hopefully other workers in the future. Beyond the 2-year delay in opening the Malvern Community Health Centre that Dalton McGuinty promised would be open in 2006, the community's Scarborough Hospital fight and the silence and lack of help from our Scarborough Liberal MPPs was the most hurtful. Hospital democracy and unwanted changes are issues of concern in communities across the province.