Ontario election candidate Debra Scott hopes she has the winning recipe for Green Party votes here in Beaches-East York: clean water and local food.
Scott, 44, is a former teacher who taught English in France, Japan, and the UK. The mother of two moved to the Beach from Davisville five years ago, in part to bring her young family close to the lake and ravine parks where they were already spending their weekends.
“I like the Beach because I can be a small-town girl,” she said, adding that she grew up in Yellowknife when the city had just 16,000 people.
“I can say hi to people I don’t know, and they say hi back.”
Asked about the key issue in the riding, Scott said too often, Ontario governments fail to factor in long-term environmental costs when they make development decisions.
“Why do clean drinking water and places to grow food keep taking a backseat to development?” she said. “Yes, we absolutely want to have a good economic plan for the city, for the province. But not at the expense of the environment.”
Scott also said Ontario loses an average 365 acres of farmland a day because the Ontario Municipal Board is too willing to allow development on what should be protected agricultural land.
“It’s time to close those loopholes,” she said, adding that she would like to see the OMB dissolved.
Here in the Beach, Scott said recent OMB battles over new condos on Queen Street are not about residents’ knee-jerk opposition to development so much as opposition to “buildings that are greedy.”
Regarding the Greens’ plan to unite Ontario’s public and Catholic school boards into one system with English and French schools, Scott said she supports it for two reasons: funding and human rights.
“I have friends whose kids are over at the Catholic school, and they talk about fundraisers just as much,” she said. “Everyone is tapped out.”
Scott said her party estimates the move would save $1.2 to $1.6 billion a year.
She also said a system that privileges one religion over others is at odds with multicultural Canada.
If the school boards were united, she said, Catholic parents could still organize private religious schools, as parents of other faiths do now.
“I know it’s grandfathered in, I know people just accept it,” she said. “But if you stood back for a minute and looked at it, is it okay?”