The Simcoe-Grey Green Party candidate, Nick Clayton, is motivated to make waves this election on behalf of those who aren’t yet old enough to vote.
“As a teacher and a father, it’s my proximity to the next generation that really motivates me to act,” said Clayton. “I run to make a sustainable future for my children and for all the children that I teach.”
Clayton and his wife Amanda live in the Town of The Blue Mountains with their three children. He has been a teacher, primarily of music, at Collingwood Collegiate Institute since 2009.
“Climate change is my main issue,” he said. “The climate crisis is here and it’s real, but it’s also an opportunity. Climate action is also economic action, it’s also social action, it’s also human and ecological health. When we do something in one area, it’s going to help in other areas.”
In Simcoe-Grey, noted Clayton, there’s a heavy reliance on agriculture and tourism economies, both of which depend on a “stable, habitable climate.”
“When you’re thinking about climate systems, it’s nearly impossible ... to put a dollar figure on the eco-system services provided by nature to people,” he said. “There’s no amount of money that can pay for what nature does.”
The pandemic, said Clayton, has exposed “cracks” in Canada’s social contract, vulnerabilities in the healthcare system and social safety net, and has made environmental problems more pronounced.
Clayton noted the pandemic showed who the essential workers were and highlighted the income gap, a disparity between wages and an increasing cost of living, and affordable housing shortage.
“We’re going to lose our labour force if people can’t afford to live where they work … we need better wages,” he said. “I think the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) should transfer to a guaranteed living income … there are issues with a guaranteed income … but I refuse to accept the idea that some people have to live below the poverty line in order for everyone else not to pay more for a loaf of bread.”
The Green candidate also pointed to racism and treatment of Indigenous people in Canada coming to the fore over the last year. He said it’s necessary for Canada to turn toward Indigenous people with respect for their way of life and their knowledge because it will help restore a relationship with nature.
“I know a lot of people are tired of political solutions … because they’ve been really heavy-handed lately, but I really do believe there are political solutions to the problems,” said Clayton.
Though he acknowledged the riding is a “Conservative stronghold,” he argued every vote matters.
MP Terry Dowdall, the Conservative candidate in 2019, did receive the highest number of votes with more than 32,000 people voting for him, but the Liberal, NDP and Green Party received 40,000 votes combined.
“I think the Conservatives shouldn’t take this riding for granted,” said Clayton. “I think people should vote with the party they align with most and they should make their voices heard … if you have the electorate tipping a certain way, it should be a wake-up call to the party who is holding the seat that they do need to … adjust their thinking to cater to some of the other people in the electorate.”
Clayton is one of six candidates running in the federal election for the Simcoe-Grey riding.
The other five candidates include Ken Stouffer (Christian Heritage Party), Adam Minatel (People’s Party of Canada), Lucas Gillies (NDP), Terry Dowdall (Conservative), and Bren Munro (Liberal).
Over the next few days, CollingwoodToday.ca will run candidate profiles and issue-based coverage. Click here for our local and national election coverage.
The federal election is Sept. 20, with advance voting beginning the week of Sept. 10.