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North says Green Party's 'listening campaign' roots out the real issues

'If we don't get our acts together as politicians and stop the bickering, the partisanship and the screaming at each other, we're never going to get anything done'
2019-10-10 Bonnie North file RB
Bonnie North, the Green Party's candidate in Barrie-Innisfil, is shown in a file photo after being acclaimed as the local candidate. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

BarrieToday is running profiles, in alphabetical order, on each of the five candidates in the Barrie-Innisfil riding. For more campaign coverage, visit our election page.

You can usually get down to the meat-and-potatoes conversation talking to voters at their front door, says Bonnie North, the Green Party's candidate in Barrie-Innisfil. 

"The top issues, believe it or not, are climate, poverty, the opioid crisis and affordable housing," North said.

On the topic of climate change, North said one of the first things the Greens would do, if elected, is work toward "the very aggressive targets we have... but the only way we can do it is to get the involvement of everyone in government.  We want to have a climate cabinet, basically, like a war room, because it's all hands on deck."

North says it's time for politicians of all stripes to band together and make a difference on environmental issues. 

"This is one of the biggest crises we'll face as a planet and we are failing right now. If we don't get our acts together as politicians and stop the bickering, the partisanship and the screaming at each other, we're never going to get anything done," she said. "We're going to go over the cliff."

Affordable housing is another topic on people's minds. The Greens say they'd like to appoint a minister of housing and establish a national housing strategy to deal with the unique situations of each riding across the country. 

"What's happening in Toronto is different than what's happening in Vancouver, which is different than Barrie, and so on," said North, who added they'd also like to implement what she called "a council of Canadian governments" where federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous governments would collaborate on issues that overlap.  

As for the opioid crisis, North says it's time to decriminalize drugs.

"We don't believe that substance abuse and use is a criminal issue. It's a health issue," she said. "Let's divert some of those funds into making sure they are treatment systems available."

While out canvassing, the Green Party has been running a 'listening campaign', where they provide the person at the door with a checklist to mark off the issues that matter most to them.

That's when they start up a conversation and, oftentimes, she says people indicate they still don't know who they're going to vote for. North said that's something new they're hearing at the door with undecided voters.

North says it's about getting into the mindset of the electorate. 

"We want to know what they're thinking," she said. "The thrust of this campaign is to understand just where people are (on issues) in the riding, regardless of what the federal issues are.

"There's a lot about provincial things that overlap with federal jurisdiction, like health care, housing affordability and the opioid crisis," North added. "All of these things are inter-related and we understand that."

North hopes voters aren't "turned off" by what they're seeing in the media as party leaders and candidates lob volleys back and forth. "What I'm afraid of is people just won't vote, because they're done with it," she said. 

For more information on North's campaign, click here

The federal election is Oct. 21.