Editor's note: In the coming days, BarrieToday will feature profiles on the federal candidates in the Barrie-Innisfil and the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte ridings. Today we feature Colin Nelthorpe, the Green Party's candidate in Barrie-Innisfil. For more coverage of the upcoming federal election, visit our Canada Votes 2021 page.
Just like his Twitter account profile states, Colin Nelthorpe is “looking for life's next big stepping stone," which is why he is going after a seat in Parliament.
The 24-year-old machine operator, who is the federal Green Party candidate for the riding of Barrie-Innisfil, has lived in Barrie for the last 17 years, is the president at Fierte Simcoe Pride, a grassroots volunteer group aiming to unite people in Pride across Simcoe County. He has also previously served as the chair and vice-chair for Fierte Simcoe Pride.
Nelthorpe told BarrieToday his first involvement in politics came while attending Georgian College where he studied mechanical technician: precision skills. While at Georgian College, Nelthorpe ran for vice chair of the school's Change Makers, a role he ended up winning. After graduating, Nelthorpe decided to keep the momentum going, and ran for Ward 6 councillor for Barrie city council in 2018.
“This is not my first time on the campaign trail. I think (when I ran for city council) I was just too new. I didn’t know what I was doing and it was just me fumbling my way through it,” he said. “Now, I have had a lot more life experience and have been involved with other campaigns, so I know more about what it should look like and what I should be doing during a campaign.”
While he didn’t win a seat at city hall, Nelthrope wasn’t discouraged. He decided to begin researching the various political parties to see where he best fit.
“I ended up aligning with the Greens so I started volunteering,” he said.
When Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced on Aug. 15 that a federal election would take place Sept. 20, Nelthorpe decided he would throw his name in the hat to represent the party for Barrie-Innisfil.
Nelthorpe says he believes his riding has a number of key issues that need to be addressed, but noted affordable housing and the opioid crisis are definitely both at the top of the list.
“Municipalities are the ones building affordable housing, so I would push for the federal government to send more money to the municipal level specifically to help with building more affordable housing," he said.
As for the opioid crisis, Nelthorpe says he's supportive of the idea of a supervised consumption site (SCS). The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Canadian Mental Health Association have been working to find a suitable location for a SCS for months. City council endorsed a location on Innisfil Street, allowing the local health unit and CMHA to proceed with their application to the provincial and federal governments.
“This would provide a safe place for people who use drugs and reduce drug overdoses. I would follow that up with increased mental health support through counselling,” he said. “The end goal is to help people find new coping mechanisms that don't involve substance abuse.”
Nelthorpe says he will bring new ideas and a different point of view to Ottawa — and to the riding — if elected.
“I think it will be nice to have a younger candidate, someone from the millennial generation because I will bring a nice, fresh perspective to things,” he said. "The Green Party, at its core, is about environmental issues. I think the party should be focusing on — and what I plan to bring to the table — is finding environmentally responsible solutions to Canada’s problems of today.
“As the environment becomes harsher and harsher, hospitalization rates are going up because cancers are increasing and hospital wait times are increasing. Hospitals are being overloaded because more people need to go, because we are just making the world a harder place to live in.”