By Dan Davidson
Interviewed in Dawson in September Green Party candidate Frank De Jong was candid about his chances of winning the Yukon’s Parliamentary seat. He doesn’t expect he will, but he expects to do better than people might think.
With polls indicating that the race is between the Liberal and NDP candidates, De Jong is optimistic.
“Just because you don’t get elected doesn’t mean you don’t have influence,” he said. He’s not expecting to win, but he hopes to make a difference by bringing certain issues into the overall discussion.
“Strategic voting is not in play any more,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ryan Leef will lose, therefore they will be released to vote Green should they so desire. They won’t have to vote for the lesser of evils.”
De Jong said the Green’s economic program would benefit labourers in the Yukon.
“Our program is tax shifting. We’d like to un-tax labour, reduce taxes on labour and government revenue should be generated by fees and levies on the use and the abuse of nature.
“That would send a message to private enterprise to start more businesses and to have more labour intensive businesses hiring for more jobs.
“This would also encourage re-use and recycling of virgin materials. Right now virgin materials are too cheap, which doesn’t provide an incentive for recycling and re-use. That would provide more jobs as well since the mining industry, employer that it is, would be complemented by re-use and recycling.
The philosophy behind this he said, is not complicated.
“Ideally we should be living sustainably, and sustainability does not include using virgin materials,” but a combination of new and recycled materials.
He describes some current mining practices as being like a “liquidation sale”.
“Faro (the lead/zinc mine there) lasted 30 years. Instead of that, we should mine multi-generationally.”
De Jong lives in Faro and teaches at the Del Van Gorder School.
On the subject of climate change and the use of oil, the Greens propose a carbon tax.
“It would be revenue neutral, like British Columbia’s but much more dramatic than British Columbia’s because we need to need to get to using less fossil fuels.”
He sees electricity, which he describes as being “wonderfully flexible” as being a part of the solution to weaning our economy off oil.
“We need to connect the grids to BC and Alaska. If you have larger grids then you can share the greener power when it’s needed.”
He advocates the use of more wind power generators.
On education, the Green Party advocates eliminating tuition fees for colleges and universities and cap student debt at $10,000.
“We used to need high school to get a good job and high school has been free. Now we need post-secondary to get a good job and that should be free. Students have enough costs for housing, food and books, etc., so we shouldn’t load them down with debt.”
On the health front, De Jong would like to see a pharmacare program. He says there would be savings for both government and health care consumers under such a program.
“Quebec already has such a program and that should be extended to the rest of Canada.”
De Jong also hopes that the winner of the federal contest, whether it be Liberal or NDP, will act on their stated intention to change the “first past the post” electoral system to something that greater reflects the actual voting results in the nation.