PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Morinville News has extended an interview invitation to all six candidates in the 2019 federal election. We will be releasing one article each day in the order candidates replied to us. Visit our election page for all the profiles we have published to date.
by Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County resident Cass Romyn described herself as a wife and stay-at-home parent with roots in activism. Romyn studied anthropology and history before getting a diploma for massage therapy. She ran provincially for the Greens this spring and garnered 198 of the 23, 484 votes cast.
“I am an activist at heart, with a focus on environmental and animal rights, along with social justice,” Romyn told Morinville News in an email interview. “A couple of years ago, I realized, as an activist, we can protest and make all the demands we want, but at the end of the day, it’s the politicians [who should be working on our behalf] who hold the power.”
To that end, Romyn said she had also grown tired of waiting for what she called “trained’ politicians” to make improvements for Canadians.
“As I have a young daughter whose future is becoming more and more bleak, I decided it was time to step up and do everything in my power to improve the current situation,” Romyn said.
THE NATIONAL ISSUES
As the Green Party candidate for Sturgeon River-Parkland, Romyn sees the main issues federally as the environment, the economy, social services and government.
“There’s no economy without our ecosystems functioning optimally,” Romyn said. “Around the world, nations of various economic standings are looking to invest in clean energy, while divesting from the petrochemical industry. What are we waiting for?”
Romyn said the Green party is pushing for a rapid transition to clean energy. It is a move she believes will diversify the economy and create economic opportunities within indigenous communities while reducing emissions.
“Of course, this means we won’t be ‘turning off the taps’ as some presume. But instead, begin building clean energy infrastructure, while integrating current buildings and infrastructure (i.e. retrofits, etc.)”
The Greens see such a move as one that would provide jobs well into the future for the trades. Many of those trades skills are ones the party believes are easily transferable to renewable energy.
“This also requires investment into research and development, as well as encouraging more productivity in Canada, to improve and further develop such technologies,” Romyn said.
The Green platform also seeks to improve social services for Canadians. Affordable housing is something Romyn said should be a fundamental human right. The Greens also want clean water in every Indigenous community, and increased support for seniors and veterans are on the list. Free education, quality childcare, and a Guaranteed Livable Income are some of the other items in the Green Party of Canada’s platform.
Romyn said a Carbon Fee & Dividend, wealth tax and other items in the platform would improve the quality of life for many Canadians who struggle financially. It would also reduce some of the burdens on provincial and municipal governments.
Democratic and electoral reform is also something the Greens are campaigning on, and something the current prime minister did not deliver in his first mandate as promised.
“Electoral reform is the first step in democratic reform and one we as Canadians must promptly embrace,” Romyn said. She added Canadians have called for a change to first-past-the-post (FPTP) since the early 20th century. “Canada is one of the last three democratic nations still using an FPTP system. Even though we’ve had full committees made up of politicians from various political parties travel the nation, discussing electoral reform with Canadians, at various times over the last century.”
Romyn said the most recent was a few years ago, which resulted in an overwhelming call for change.
“I’d suggest that many of those who voted for the Liberals last election did so based on his platform promise of electoral reform, and feel extremely betrayed by his decision to renege,” Romyn said.
The Greens also want to implement a committee to review MPs’ salaries and budgets. They also want to work to give Indigenous, municipal, provincial, and federal governments an equal seat at the table when it comes to policy.
“We need to ensure we are respecting treaties and consulting our Indigenous communities every step of the way, especially if we are serious about wanting to begin reconciliation with Indigenous people throughout Canada,” Romyn said.
GIVING YOUTH THE VOTE
Another change to reforming government the Greens are eying is lowering the voting age to 16.
“In Alberta, our youth are responsible enough to drive a vehicle at 16, so why aren’t we including these youth in our electoral system?” Romyn said. “Many of us are witness to these student climate strikes, most of which are organized by youth, with the intention of conveying their message of urgency to us adults. Some people have argued that youth are not old enough/responsible enough to understand democracy at 16; however, I would suggest the same argument could be made for some adults, who vote uninformed election after election. It’s also their future we’re deciding on during these elections – I say let them vote!”
LOCAL AND REGIONAL ISSUES
Support to farmers in extreme climates to ensure food security and a transition for oil, gas and coal workers are among the issues Romyn hears about at the door in Sturgeon River-Parkland as well as a need to properly reclaim orphan wells and mines in Alberta.
Additionally, Romyn hears the need for an “actual universal healthcare” that includes improved mental healthcare, pharmacare, optical care, and dental care. There is also a need to develop better legislation specifically around medical assistance in dying.
“Many people throughout our district also want to see more recognition and appreciation for Indigenous people, especially from our federal government, but also from our provincial and municipal governments as well,” Romyn said. “Many people I’ve spoken with also want to see electoral reform