Freedom party candidate opposes ‘chequebook democracy’
PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA - On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Andy Stivrins officially filed his papers as a Freedom Party of Ontario candidate in the upcoming provincial election.
The party has existed since 1984 and Stivrins is the first Freedom party candidate in this riding, he said.
Stivrins is a resident of Seguin Township where he owns a construction company with his son and daughter. He has been married to his wife Debbie, a retired schoolteacher, for 35 years. She taught in Parry Sound and Seguin.
“Basically my son was going through the Internet and we had some issues in the riding that weren’t being addressed by any of the parties,” said Stivrins. “None of the parties will touch the issue of seasonal control of the municipal level of politics. As a group of people who live here as residents, we really don’t have control of our own destiny because the Municipal Act permits people to vote in more than one municipality. If you live in Toronto or Mississauga or Oakville, you vote in your own local riding, but if you happen to have a cottage, you vote here as well.”
Stivrins calls this a “chequebook democracy,” saying that with mail-in ballots, the lake associations have been given too much power over municipal politics through their own literature.
“The average cottager doesn’t live here — doesn’t care about politics here,” he said. “When the ballot arrives, he looks at it, looks at what his lake association says and that’s how he votes.”
While this issue is not a part of the Freedom party’s platform, Stivrins said the party has allowed him to use it as an election issue in his campaign.
“We live in a riding where the average income runs around $23,000 and change a year. It’s quite a way below the poverty line,” he said. “What we have, our way of life, hopes and dreams, radically differs from someone who has a million-dollar cottage in Muskoka.”
He said councils pass official plans prohibiting heavy industry and banning rural severances.
“If you have a couple-hundred-acre block, you can’t break it up and give it to your kids,” he said. “There’s some blatant oppression, I hate to use that word, it sounds so dramatic, but we certainly don’t control our own destiny or our own economic future or that of our kids.”
Stivrins said in a democracy, one person should have one vote.
Freedom party platform issues include removing subsidies for “green schemes,” scrapping incandescent light bulb bans, scrapping health premiums and eliminating race-based public schools.
The party also says it will eliminate beer and wine tax, increase the speed limit to 120 km/h on 400 series highways, scrap the pesticide ban, restore “private option” in health care and move to an elected Senate.