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Climate change and electoral reform top-of-mind for Green candidate

Also on Stephen Zimmermann's checklist of things to address: twinning the highway, the opioid crisis and better internet service
2021-08-23 Stephen Zimmermann Green party
Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing Green Party candidate Stephen Zimmermann

Green Party candidate Stephen Zimmermann wants to amend the long-standing first past the post system that selects our political leaders.

The Echo Bay resident, a high school teacher employed by the Algoma District School Board in Sault Ste. Marie has tossed his hat into the ring for the Greens in the coming federal election. 

He's one of five men interested in replacing New Democrat MP Carol Hughes now seeking a fifth term in the federal riding of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, later this month.

He says he's running in the Sept. 20 election to give voters in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing a green choice.

"I think the Green Party has a lot of really good policies and I think there should be a green choice on the ballot," he said.

The traditional electoral system now in use selects the victor in any race as the candidate who first reaches the majority. Carol Hughes won her seat in A-M-K in 2019 with 42 per cent of the popular vote.

"Most candidates are elected with under 50 per cent of the votes. Trudeau was elected to a majority government in 2015 with 39 per cent of the votes cast," he continues. "If you look at my own party, the Greens; in 2019 we got six per cent of the votes, less than one per cent of the seats." 

"We need to bring in at the parliamentary level, some form of proportional representation."

Action on climate change issues is the Green Party aspirant's other top national issue.

"We need to take this action and we haven't been taking action," says Zimmermann.

"In Canada, we can't solve the climate crisis on our own but we can be part of the solution and we shouldn't be part of the problem. Canada is one of the greatest emitters of greenhouse gases, per capita, in the world."

"In Great Britain by 2035 you will not be able to buy a fossil fuel-powered vehicle. This is what the Green Party proposes (for Canada)," he explains. 

Top local issues for Zimmermann are reconciliation with First Nations, battling the opioid crisis and making a commitment to infrastructure upgrades.

Zimmermann wants every Canadian to read the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.

"I think it's a particular interest because we have a large Indigenous population in Algoma."

As for opioid abuse, "It is a crisis that has affected all of us. I've seen it in my classrooms. I don't think we can have a one size fits all approach. You're going to need different approaches based on the community's needs."

Zimmermann also addresses infrastructure problems in his campaign platform.

"I think we're going to need to harden the electrical grid. We're constantly getting power outages. That includes less reliance on fossil fuel-driven generation in favour of green sources."

"Another thing I would point to is upgrading our highway infrastructure. I am a fan of twinning the highways," added Zimmermann.

He also wants much better internet service.

In short, Zimmermann observes in the coming balloting, "Most Canadians will vote for a candidate who doesn't win, but they're making a statement about what they think is important. The Green Party hasn't elected a government anywhere in Canada but green ideas and green policies are being discussed."

"So the reason I'm running is that I want to put these ideas out there," he concluded.

Zimmermann is running against five other Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing federal candidates including PPC rep Harry Jaaskelainin, Liberal Duke Peltier, PC candidate John Sagman, NDP incumbent Carol Hughes and CHP candidate Clarence Baarda.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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