On March 6th 2019, the Green Party of Canada’s Northumberland – Peterborough South Electoral District Association is hosting their Annual General Meeting at the Cobourg Community Centre, 7:30-9:30pm. This meeting will double as a Nomination Meeting to select our 2019 federal candidate. The Green Party of Ontario Constituency Association will also occur at the same time, as both organizations have largely overlapping membership pools.
As of February 7th, Jeff Wheeldon is unopposed in his bid for the Green nomination. Jeff currently serves as the International Affairs Critic on the Green Party of Canada’s Shadow Cabinet (since 2016), as well as Secretary for both the federal and provincial riding associations in Northumberland – Peterborough South. He previously ran municipally in Brighton last fall; provincially for the Green Party of Ontario in the NPS riding in Spring 2018; and federally for the Green Party of Canada in 2015 in the riding of Provencher.
Jeff is a REALTOR® in Brighton, where he has lived with his wife Andrea and two sons since 2016. Originally from BC, Jeff has also lived in Alberta and Manitoba, but has family roots in the riding: his wife Andrea grew up in Norwood. The Wheeldons settled in Brighton to raise their children, leaving behind careers in higher education administration in order to provide a great environment and community in which their kids could grow up.
Education, Work, and Volunteer Experience
Jeff holds a Master of Arts degree in Systematic Theology, and wrote his MA thesis on the role of ethics in reforming social institutions – a topic which largely inspired his involvement in electoral politics. Before moving to Brighton he worked in higher education administration in various roles including some teaching work, finally serving in a director-level position as Registrar in 2014-15. His work experience also includes several blue-collar jobs, including two years as a factory worker and various trucking jobs over a decade. He has served in various volunteer capacities, from several poverty-related ministries in downtown Vancouver, to teaching roles in churches, to serving as the founding CEO of a Green Party riding association. He is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Brighton, and identifies strongly with the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” and the organization’s emphasis on the obligation of the business community to high ethical standards and generous community engagement.
Goals for Canada and Northumberland – Peterborough South
This section is contributed directly by Jeff Wheeldon:
The nature of federal politics is that most decisions are made on a scale much broader than any particular riding, but that virtually all decisions made for Canada as a whole and even in international relations have some effect on every riding. The challenges we face are on a massive scale, but will have a major effect on the economy and lives of people in Northumberland – Peterborough South. Thankfully, we have policies to address these challenges, and help us to not only survive but to thrive in the difficult transitions ahead. My policy priorities in 2019 are:
- Climate change. This is possibly the most serious issue human beings have ever faced, and certainly the biggest issue we’ve knowingly faced. Since we know it’s happening, we can do something about it. The science is clear, the policy solutions are clear, but the political path to real action is cloudy.The Conservatives continue to work against climate action: despite the fact that carbon taxes have the support of all other parties and numerous Nobel-prize winning economists, they continue to argue against any form of it, claiming to favour industry-by-industry regulations; but let’s not forget that a generation before, under Stephen Harper, they supported carbon pricing and argued against the more costly and complex approach of industry-by-industry regulations. Ultimately we need both, and clearly they will not support either approach so long as another party is suggesting it.
The federal Liberals, on the other hand, talk a big game about climate action and have even borrowed the Green Party’s plan for a carbon-fee-and-dividend system to price carbon; but their emissions targets are the same as those set by Stephen Harper, and are vastly inadequate to effectively combat climate change. At the same time, they continue to subsidize fossil fuel companies by billions of dollars per year, and went so far as to buy a pipeline to continue to support the expansion of the oilsands. We cannot talk out of both sides of our mouth, and climate change doesn’t care if we say the right things – only real action matters.Green policies to combat climate change include transitioning our oil economy to renewables as quickly as possible, investing in energy retrofits on a large scale to save energy (and money!), and to put a price on carbon that will actually have an affect on the market by providing large enough incentives to affect consumer behaviour and, most importantly, industry behaviour. Our carbon-fee-and-dividend system, borrowed by the federal Liberals, would ensure that no individuals are punished by the increase in energy costs by paying out the dividend cheques on a monthly basis; but would also include a higher carbon fee (and therefore a larger dividend) that would have a much faster effect on our markets, incentivizing lower levels of consumption and levelling the playing field for low-carbon products and energy sources. All of these policies will create significant jobs, and not just in Alberta: per million dollars of investment, renewables and energy retrofitting create as much as 10x the number of jobs as investments in oil and gas, with wages averaging $80-90,000/year.
As International Affairs Critic I have also been engaging in developing policy options for treating climate change as the greatest security threat in the world – an approach that has recently been emerging from our Forces as well. We have some of the highest trained forces in the world waiting to be used in a violent conflict, even as millions of people are displaced by natural disasters, droughts, famines, and conflicts that come from such conditions, all of which will increase in a warming world. I will continue to promote the cross-training of our forces to have special forces designated for firefighting and disaster relief to be deployed in Canada and around the world to bring stability and aid before conflict starts. A connected goal is to stabilize areas in crisis to reduce flows of migrants: most refugees want to return home as soon as possible, and of course they would have stayed in their homes if they could. Canada has a larger role to play on the world stage to help provide the stability needed to reduce the number of refugees in the first place, in addition to our role in resettling refugees here in Canada.
- Automation, AI, and the New Economy. The economy has already changed, and our federal and provincial governments don’t seem to recognize that they’re playing catch-up. 40% of Ontario’s economy is in manufacturing, and Ontario represents 40% of Canada’s economy, but the number of jobs that make up our manufacturing sector are dwindling. The Liberal approach has been to “foster innovation” by promoting Ontario as “Silicon Valley North” and hope for a boom of jobs in the tech sector, the NDP and organized labour is fighting to keep jobs that are increasingly obsolete, and the Conservative approach has been to talk about how they’ll “bring back” manufacturing jobs without getting into further detail. The reality is that those jobs are gone and not coming back, and the transition to the new economy is just getting started. We need a plan that doesn’t involve fighting the future, like the Conservatives and NDP, or fuelling the economic transition without planning for massive job losses as the Liberals have been doing.The Green plan for a new economy begins with implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI), which is not only an incredible streamlining for our existing social services with potential to save significantly on how we deliver our social safety net, but which will also provide a stronger foundation from which Canadians can launch their own contributions to society. A GLI would provide us with the stability we need to take important risks such as going back to school and starting our own businesses. It would also provide a basis for an economy with increasingly fewer jobs that have to be shared by more people: with a GLI in place, funded at least partially by taxing the productivity of the robots that replace human workers, more people will be able to get by working part-time or in job-sharing arrangements. With this system in place, governments would also be better able to focus on the purpose of the economy (the productivity needed to support our lives and society) rather than the means of achieving it (fighting robots for deskilled, low-wage jobs just to survive).
At the same time, there are many jobs that need more workers right now. Agriculture, for example, can benefit tremendously from more sustainable and organic farming practices – but that generally requires more workers, and agricultural workers are often temporary foreign workers. Sustainable farming is critical for reducing emissions and combating climate change (not to mention for feeding us!), and employment in this sector will increase under Green policies. That’s excellent news for us in Northumberland – Peterborough South, where agriculture is a major industry!
- Democratic Reform. Remember when Justin Trudeau said, so clearly and unambiguously, that “2015 will be the last election under First Past the Post”? Democratic reform means much more than that: it’s about restoring the confidence of Canadians in their government, correcting the abuses of our institutions and violations of our trust, and ensuring that our democracy is one that engages citizens in the decisions that will shape their lives.
This is a particular emphasis for me because I value ethics and transparency. I know that our political system was designed to function in ways that it no longer does, either because Canada has changed drastically since 1867 or because political parties have learned to game the system as it stands. Our political structures were designed in a time when only white male landowners were considered persons and all of them knew their MP; now we have universal suffrage, and ridings with 120,000 constituents with a much wider range of interests and perspectives than an MP must address. At the same time, the winner-takes-all style of FPTP elections incentivizes constant campaigning, which feeds party culture that puts messaging ahead of problem-solving and enforces party discipline on all MPs to ensure that they present a united front for the next campaign. The result of all of this is that MPs largely serve to represent their party to their constituents rather than representing their constituents in the House of Commons; consultations are PR exercises more than attempts to actually engage the citizenry; and parties design their platforms based on a marketing strategy rather than on meeting the needs of their constituents and facing the challenges of our time.I joined the Green Party because we believe that a good government is honest, focused on the best interests of its constituents rather than the best interests of the party, and therefore willing to make hard choices and not sugarcoat important issues. I’m proud to have taken the Green Party candidate’s pledge in both 2015 and 2018, dedicating myself to a higher standard for service and a better vision for our democracy, and I look forward to taking the pledge again in 2019. I’ve had the chance to run for bigger parties in the past, but I’ve chosen to run as a Green primarily because my integrity means a lot to me: I will not compromise the best interests of my constituents for fear of a party whip.
- Housing is an issue that needs to be addressed at all levels of government, but one that affects Northumberland – Peterborough South significantly. Because I work as a REALTOR®, it’s also something I think about quite a bit.
We are in a housing crisis. There are many causes and no easy solutions, but there’s a lot that can be done at every level to make it better. First, the housing crisis is an indicator of the health of the rest of the economy too: it’s not just that houses are too expensive for people to buy (although that’s true), it’s also that people aren’t making enough money to buy them; our economic policies will create more jobs with good wages (see point 1 above). Supply is also down: there are almost no rental vacancies in this county at all, much less affordable housing; the federal Liberals have promised $40 billion over the next decade to help with that, and I would support continuing that funding as well as working with provincial and municipal governments and agencies to address the incentives provided by programs and structures at those levels to stimulate housing supply. In tandem with implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income (see point 2 above) we also support a housing-first strategy for addressing poverty, which would provide federal and provincial funds to provide affordable housing as a baseline condition on which other services can build to help the poor.
I am reminded all the time that fixing the housing crisis is bad for my day job. As a political candidate I’ve been lobbied by my own industry organizations to support policies that would keep us limping along in this unsustainable market by getting the government to subsidize mortgage down-payments and reduce homeowner taxes – but that would ultimately just pass more costs on to citizens, including those who still can’t afford a house, by putting a bigger burden on the government and requiring more tax revenue. These policies are being entertained by federal (Liberal) and provincial (PC) governments, but the only winners with such policies are real estate agents. We need better solutions for everyone.
- I want to know what your big issue is! The role of an MP is to communicate between constituents and the government, which means your concerns are always in my top priorities.
Please come to the AGM/Nomination Meeting on March 6th to hear from Jeff and anyone else who seeks the Green nomination in Northumberland – Peterborough South! We will also be filling positions in the EDA Executive and campaign team; see where you fit!