The first person to put his name forward as a possible federal candidate for the Green Party is new to the Yukon but not to Green politics.
Frank de Jong was the first leader of the Green Party of Ontario. He spent 16 years at the helm before stepping down in 2009.
A teacher with 25 years experience in Ontario, de Jong took a job last August at Del Van Gorder School in Faro.
“I’ve been a teacher in Ontario for a long time and I thought I should see some more of Canada. So I applied to jobs and was offered a job in Faro. I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to see the Yukon.”
He teaches shop, music and math. “And other things too. In small schools people have to be flexible.”
De Jong said he decided to wade back into politics after getting to know the territory.
“I’m so impressed with the Yukon. It’s a fabulous place. It’s a very green jurisdiction. I’ve fallen in love with it so much and I want to stay here for many, many years and I thought I should stand up and speak. “
The Green Party has not announced when it will be voting to pick its next candidate on the federal ballot.
De Jong knows he is a newcomer to the territory, but hopes that his experience will help Yukoners see him as a viable candidate.
Issues around the Peel watershed and the federal bill S-6 that would amend the territory’s environmental assessment process will all need a strong Yukon voice in Ottawa, he said.
De Jong, who supports protecting the Peel watershed, believes the fight over the Peel could become a federal concern if it continues through the courts.
“If the Yukon Party appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada then it very much becomes a Canadian issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yukon First Nations have threatened to sue if the changes proposed in S-6 go forward.
“An MP would have direct influence on a number of those issues,” he said.
De Jong has strong feelings about how jurisdictions get money from Ottawa.
“We pay a lot of taxes in Yukon and those tax dollars all go to the federal government and then they come back as transfer payments,” he said.
“So we’re made to look like some economic basket case, yet we generate a lot of tax dollars here which should stay here and not go to Ottawa. Then we wouldn’t feel like we were so dependant on Ottawa.”
De Jong says we should change the way taxes are handled.
He says the territorial and provincial governments should collect based on the value of land and resources as opposed to collecting income tax from businesses or individuals.
“Companies should be paying for the use of land and the use of resources, but companies should not be paying income taxes and neither should people,” he said.
“Why would we punish companies for being financially successful? Why do we punish people for having a job? As soon as you get a job the government says good for you, you got a job, now we’re going to take a third of your salary. It’s not right.”
De Jong said he supports programs like health care and education, but calls it is a “question of how the accounting works.”
If people didn’t pay income taxes they could be paid less and have the same take home pay, he said.
“It’s just a question of why are we cycling these dollars through Ottawa?” he said.
The federal Green Party fared well in the Yukon during the last federal election. John Streicker placed third, but took nearly 19 per cent of the votes. Next to Elizabeth May, who won her seat in British Columbia, he earned the second highest share of the votes of any Green candidate.
Streicker has said he will not be running for the Greens this time.
“John has done a fabulous job of raising the profile of the party. It’s considered a viable political choice here, and because of John it’s winnable now for the Green Party in Yukon.”
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