The Green Party of Ontario’s Northumberland – Peterborough South Constituency Association is pleased to present Jeff Wheeldon as their 2018 provincial election candidate. Wheeldon was acclaimed on Tuesday night at the Cobourg Community Centre by members of the Constituency Association, after an inspiring speech by Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. Wheeldon also gave a speech, followed by the unanimous vote in support of his candidacy, before Schreiner and Wheeldon closed the evening with a Q&A session with the audience. The event was covered by local media, including the Cobourg News Blog.
Thank you all! It is an honour to represent the Green Party of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election.
I don’t need to tell you that the Green Party has a thorough, comprehensive platform rooted in core values that speak to people from across the political spectrum; if you’re here tonight you’re either a member or you’ve probably come with one, and I know they’d be happy to talk out the platform over coffee. And I don’t need to tell you that we have a leader who is highly intelligent and the hardest-working person in Ontario politics; you’ve just heard him speak. But I do want to take a few minutes to tell you a bit more about myself and why I’ve put myself forward as a Green candidate.
I’m running to represent the people of Northumberland – Peterborough South for reasons so deep in my heart and soul that you might say I couldn’t not run.
I don’t claim to have the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, but I believe that my purpose in life boils down to serving others, and it was for that purpose that I was trained for ministry and leadership in my undergraduate degree. But the more I learned about serving others, the more I realized that there are systemic issues that we must face together, so I expanded my concept of ministry from personal issues and spiritual guidance to structural issues and social ethics in my graduate studies. The more I looked to heaven, the more I was directed back to earth, to my neighbours and the institutions that govern how we relate to each other.
Looking at our systems of government, I am struck by two powerful convictions: first, that government must always be an “us” and never a “them”, the result of us coming together to achieve things we could never achieve on our own rather than some outside force that we are beholden to; and second, that the way our political institutions behave now is NOT the way that they were designed to behave, and so they are no longer capable of fulfilling their purpose. Simply put, our government should be a tool to advance our civilization, but right now it is barely capable of being civil. A key reason I am Green is because we are willing to work across party lines, we pledge to uphold the dignity of our province and parliament, and we keep the good of our constituents ahead of party politics. There are two phrases that I love that I think sum up our approach to politics: the first is that “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if we don’t care who gets the credit”, and the second is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As a Green candidate, I want to be the best MPP in the house – not only for the sake of my constituents, but also for the sake of creating an island of nonpartisan politics at Queen’s Park. I’m here to serve you, to get the work done, and I’m happy to work together with others to get it done.
I love this riding. It is full of character, beauty, culture, innovation, community. I am not originally from here, but my family and I chose to settle down here. This is my home by choice, and I am committed to our communities. I am invested here: my wife and I have small businesses here, we are raising our two children here, and even my parents have moved here from across the country. I want to see this region, this province, and this country thrive, today and forever.
We face tremendous challenges right now: the world is changing, like it or not, and I strongly believe that how we prepare for change now will determine the quality of life our children will have. In many ways, “prepare” is the wrong word: we have already fallen behind the pace of change, and many of our social institutions are still based on ideas from the nineteenth century. Communism has collapsed or faded away, and while there are some powerful ideas and tools in socialist paradigms, so much of the NDP outlook is still rooted in concepts of class and labour and production that seem downright quaint in today’s increasingly automated and digital economy; raising the minimum wage and increasing social programs, without a new paradigm for our new world, will not solve our problems.
At the same time, neo-liberal capitalism cannot be smug: it is on the brink of collapsing under its own weight, with growing inequality, massive internet monopolies, unsustainable production of throw-away products, and virtual dependence on both private and public debt to achieve the illusion of wealth we enjoy today. The Liberals too often answer this crisis by repeating the word “innovation” and throwing money at startup companies, and creating more social programs to support the people left behind by our economy; the conservative approach is to cut taxes and regulations and pretend that nobody does get left behind. This is not the 1980’s; our conversation needs to get bigger than these tired ideological disputes of yesteryear, to take innovative policy ideas seriously and start to think about what Ontario will look like in an automated world that is two degrees warmer. We need to learn from the past, but plan for the future. The Green Party is doing that, and we’re taking those ideas to Queen’s Park to lay the foundation for that future.
We face economic and ecological crises, but these also present us with opportunities. I believe that we have everything we need to not only survive in an automated and warming world, but to thrive in it. We already have the technology, the resources, and the knowledge we need to prosper, to move beyond the endless crisis mentality we now live in toward a brighter and cleaner future. What we lack is the courage, the political will, to take concrete steps out of the status quo. The question that I pose to you tonight, and to the people of Northumberland – Peterborough South come June 7th, is: are you willing to commit to a better future?
To you tonight, I will ask more concretely: are you willing to commit to volunteering, donating, coming to events, talking to your friends and family, writing letters to the editor, putting a sign on your lawn, waving signs on street corners, engaging on social media (politely), collecting signatures, promoting our platform, driving people to the polls on election day, or anything else you can do to help us make that future? Nobody has to do everything, but we can’t do this alone. Please talk to Minnie afterward about any donations, and to Patricia about how to volunteer. Anything worth doing is worth doing together, so please join our team however you are able!
Thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me; I will work hard to earn that trust, and to serve the people of Northumberland – Peterborough South.