David Weber says it’s time to protect Ontario farmers.
“Three hundred and sixty-five acres of farmland are disappearing every day,” the Green Party candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga explained. “That’s the size of Toronto each year, and our current government officials don’t seem to care.”
Weber, a 26-year veteran of the Waterloo Regional Police, points to exploitative business practices as the biggest threat to the province’s food producers.
“Large agricultural businesses are having a major impact on our farmers, promoting genetically modified foods that become resistant to pesticides and using neonicotinoids that are killing our bees.”
The provincial government needs to balance economic developments with resource preservation, he said.
“We need to rein in the aggregate industry who has been taking our resources at minimal costs. If we increased the aggregate tax to 9.9 per cent, the going rate in Saskatchewan, we could wipe out our deficit on an annual basis.”
Water conservation is another priority for the Green Party in this election.
“Our aquifers developed over hundreds of thousands of years, and instead of protecting this valuable resource, we’re letting corporations extract the water for profit,” Weber said.
Companies only pay $3.71 per million litres of water, while they sell individual litres for about the same price, Weber noted.
But getting those messages out to voters continues to be a challenge for the Greens. In the 2011 provincial election, the party received less than three per cent of the vote in Kitchener-Conestoga, roughly equal to their province-wide number.
Indeed, Weber faces a steep learning curve in his first political campaign.
“I’ve really started from the ground level, without funding or volunteers,” he said. “It’s not easy taking time off from my job to do this, but as I’ve watched the Liberals and NDP slide to the right over the years, I found myself wondering, ‘Does anybody care about progressive values?’”
He believes the answer is yes, but the first-past-the-post electoral system distorts the public’s true values.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of movement for the better until we get proportional representation,” he said. “No one political party has all of the answers, yet we have one party with 37 per cent of the vote winning 53 of the seats at Queen’s Park, giving them the power to do whatever they want.”
In a proportionally elected government, legislation would better reflect the goals of the electorate, eliminating the “wild swings from left to right,” Weber said.
He also argues that the Green Party’s exclusion from the leaders debate stifles democracy.
“If the media is supposed to be getting information out so that people can be educated and informed, how does denying [Green Party leader Mike Scheiner] facilitate that?”
The Doon South, Kitchener resident on the other hand, will take part in the Kitchener-Conestoga electoral forum at The Woolwich Memorial Centre on June 4 from 4-6 p.m., where he plans to offer fresh ideas.
“We aren’t doing enough to support farmers in getting their products to local markets, and more importantly, to have that food canned and processed locally,” he said. “We shouldn’t be growing food and shipping it off to China to be canned and then brought back to us. We need to grow, process and sell our food locally.”