As a resident of Aurora and Newmarket for more than 35 years, Tim Flemming has raised his family here, is seeing his grandchildren flourish, and is taking an active role in fighting for the change he wants to see as Newmarket-Aurora’s Green Party candidate in the September 20 Federal Election.
Heading door to door in the final heat of the campaign, he is doing so with a particular focus on climate change. In the last election, it was an “important” issue for the community, but things have changed over the past 20 months.
“What has become a very important issue is now an imperative,” he says. “The platform of the Green Party is the most aggressive and assertive in addressing a very severe condition for the country, for the world, and right here at home.”
The Green Party’s plan is, he says, a “very well-balanced, well-thought out” platform that he is proud to take to local voters – and integral to the climate platform is an emphasis on the “renewal economy.”
“Places like Newmarket, Aurora, and Richmond Hill are uniquely positioned to actually be leaders in this space,” he says. “We certainly have a lot of very bright minds, a reasonably progressive thinking, we have some interesting technology [developments] going on and renewable platforms already. We have a healthy and educated workforce and the conversion to a renewable energy economy is going to take all of those factors.
“I think we can make a real difference and not only establish some exceptionally good jobs for a lot of the young folks out there. I think we have a chance to be a leader in hydroelectric transportation.”
Aurora and Newmarket are communities that have grown rapidly and are on track to continue to do so. Growth is not something Mr. Flemming says he opposes, but it is something that could be done “more efficiently” in terms of construction to address both environmental and cost factors.
“Folks are very much concerned about the disparity of housing and in costs,” he says, touting a National Housing Strategy that will go towards addressing these concerns. “In many ways, we do have the same homelessness challenges to a lesser degree in Town. We do have people who need help and, to me, that is what a government – and governing – is all about. While we’re also going to build them, I think we need to reassess. About two years ago, the government of the day installed the stress test and this has made it extremely difficult [as] the math says it almost cuts the value of someone investing and starting a home in half. It is worthy to take a look at that.”
Immediate action, he adds, must be taken on Canada’s recovery from COVID. Mr. Flemming personally believes strongly in double vaccinations, but he said he also respects the choice of individuals on vaccines, rapid testing and masking.
“When people live together, they also have to share the space,” he says. “We have to protect individuals [but] there is a balance. There probably needs to be some level of sustained continued fiscal support from the government.”
That being said, however, he says some supports need to be reassessed.
“Long-term, I have a lot of faith in our community, in our folks, in our employees, and I believe generally in people,” he says. “I don’t believe people are malingerers; people aren’t aspiring to operate at the $10.50 an hour they’re going to get from CERB. They want to get back in their community, put food on the table, and we need to continue but wean off of it.”
A “financial guy” by day, Mr. Flemming says he is conscious of the issue of affordability beyond housing and CERB, straight down to families putting food on the table and gassing up to get where they need to go.
“I don’t think we need government intervention, but we do need to have potentially the right stimulus or the right support around background things,” he said, making specific reference to supply chain and transportation elements. “Maybe there is a slight lift in short-term taxation relief, but I do know that more problematic of many things is we have gone through a decade of less than two per cent inflation; our economy has not developed to run a 3.5 or 4 per cent. That will be a challenge.”
All too often it is said that a vote for the Green Party is essentially throwing your vote away, a notion that Mr. Flemming says he often encounters – and counters – at the door.
“I highly value my vote – my personal vote and the joy and honour of being in a democracy like Canada,” he says. “You make the choice that works most appropriately for you – matches your morals, your values…and you don’t walk a mile in one step but move in the right direction. The Green Party doesn’t exist solely to be able to have the necessary 170+ seats. It would be wonderful if [party leader] Annamie Paul could, but the reality is we have a role and responsibility to continue to educate, to highlight, and make our elected officials, whoever they be, accountable.
“In Canada, in our current democracy, accountability comes on September 20. Honour your choice, do what you think is appropriate, and I always think wherever you place your vote, I never see it as a throwaway.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran