Nik Spohr is the NDP candidate in the Halton riding in the Provincial Election being held on October 6, 2011.
Oakville.com: What are the platform issues that you are addressing?
Nik Spohr: The biggest issues in a provincial election are always going to be health care, education, and the economy. However, it’s more than just about building new hospitals, building new schools, and cutting some taxes here and there. What we need is a comprehensive approach to not only strengthen our performances in these areas in the abstract- but make them more accessible to everyone. Right now, we have a province in which access to health care, schools, and jobs are tremendously good for some, and very bad for others. That’s not right, and we’re going to make sure that we make universal access a priority.
My area of expertise is renewable energy policy, but the people of Halton put that low on their list of priorities. So, the two issues that I’ve chosen to take on for Halton in the event that I am elected aren’t issues I’ve had much personal experience with, but are nonetheless issues that have found few takers: Disability services and Child Care services. Both of these come up at the door far more than the primary campaign seems to acknowledge, but people are really trying to make them a campaign issue.
Overall though, what I’m hearing most at the door is that life has become largely unaffordable for regular people. This impacts everyone, no matter what their single issue of concern is. In a way- affordability concerns touch on most of the other issues: HST-related costs; out-of-pocket public education ‘extra’ fees; post-secondary education tuition; creeping health and home care privatization; or child/day care expenses. We’ve seen a rise in inflation, and a lowering in quantity and quality of public-services, partnered with a lowering in household purchasing power. If you factor in the jobs-recession, this has effectively created a perfect storm, and we’re all feeling the squeeze. This is going to be one of the big issues of the election because you don’t have to be a terribly political person to understand that it’s become increasingly difficult to make ends meet. This isn’t just a big issue in Halton- it’s a big issue across Ontario.
Through the last eight years, playing by the rules just hasn’t paid off for most people. I agree with Mr. McGuinty on two points: 1) We can’t afford to go back to the Harris years, as proposed by Mr. Hudak, and 2) The old ‘could we do better?… yeah, sure’. Unfortunately for the Liberals, they have to run on their past eight years- not on their platform for the future- so a simple dismissal of failure doesn’t cut it. Every voter should ask themselves if they’re truly happy with the promises, priorities, and most importantly- results- of the last eight years.
We simply can’t accept the status quo of our everyday economic constraints- we can and must do better. This is why every aspect of our platform is geared towards making life more affordable for everyone through a balanced approach that tackles both household costs as well as public service gaps. It’s fundamentally about a question of fairness. Of course, you have to climb the ladder if you want to be successful in this country, but we have to make sure that the ladder is there in the first place.
Oakville.com: What is your unique position in this election for the Halton riding?
Nik Spohr: I’m probably the candidate who has put the most time and energy into prioritising voter literacy and turnout. We’ve been stuck in the vote-suppression cycle for far too long- what we need are candidates who take it upon themselves to go beyond fighting for the votes amongst the 50-60% of the voting public; we need candidates who actively seek engagement with the disenfranchised registered voters, as well as non-voting permanent residents and kids under 18. I’ve made it a point to let everyone know for instance, that you can become a member of a political party at 13, or if you’re a non-citizen permanent resident; few people know that because the powers that be would rather focus upon the short-term horse race of maximizing their share of an ever waning set of voters. We can do better than this, and we must. Before we can have a true debate on policies, we need to make sure that absolutely everyone in our society has the ability, access, and energy to be a part of this debate.
Oakville.com: What do voters need to know that will compel them to vote for YOU?
Nik Spohr: Everybody is talking about the need for a change in this election. Well, if you want real change, you can’t keep voting for the same old people and parties from the same ‘Old Boy’s Club’- you have to vote for someone with a different perspective, unencumbered with either cynicism or tired old world views. Just as our party and party leadership have undergone a renaissance, I’m a candidate who represents true progress in the way that I conduct myself in the campaign. I’m the only candidate who’s attended every single debate. No shortcuts, no bully-tactics with regards to the traditional sign-wars, and no bumper-sticker rhetoric.
I’m a fresh face for this campaign despite the fact that I was born here, and have lived my whole life here. The fact that I’m the only candidate who was born here, who went through the entire public school system here, who’s only ever worked here, added to the fact that I’m a first generation child to immigrant parents, means I have a firm understanding of both long-time residents, and relative new comers. More importantly however, we’ve got a whole generation of young people in this riding who’ve been desperately looking for inspiration, direction, and representation- and I offer myself as the first true chance for that, maybe ever, at least in the political sphere. What you can be sure of is that I not only want to increase voter turnout, but also increase the political literacy that will enable all voters to truly hold their representatives accountable.
The Provincial Election will be held on October 6, 2011. Visit our special Provincial Election 2011 section for the latest election news, candidate profiles, social media updates and more.
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