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Aug. 4, 2020 | Tuesday
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Election profile: Green party candidate Sandra O'Connor
Green party candidate Sandra O'Connor says her analytical skills and "breadth and depth" of her political experience makes her stand out from other candidates.(Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

For people who don’t believe climate change is real, Sandra O’Connor, the Green party candidate for Niagara Falls riding, says science speaks for itself.

“I would suggest looking at what happened last year with the unprecedented flooding in this particular area. With the forest fires that were out in B.C … this has not happened before,” she says. “Our old norms are just not good enough because things are changing.”

Born and raised in St. Catharines, O’Connor graduated from Brock University, where she studied physical and urban geography.

During her career, O’Connor has worked for a variety of organizations including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, Natural Resources Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and others.

What made her into more formal politics is a desire to give back to the community, she says.

O’Connor also ran for NOTL town council last year, but lost by 32 votes. Her community involvement also includes contributing to the urban tree bylaw and fighting to keep the local hospital open, which was closed in 2015. 

“That was my way to try give back to society, to the community I live in,” she says.

One of the reasons she joined the Green party is because of the climate change crisis, which, on a local level, has caused flooding and high-water problems.

“It is impacting us and will impact us even more,” O’Connor says. To mitigate the issue, the Greens suggest retrofitting houses to save energy, producing more electric vehicles, transitioning to green energy production, and other ventures.

All of this will create more jobs, O’Connor says, as there’s a lack of good-paying full-time jobs that could sustain a family in Niagara.

“You will create a market for new jobs and to me, this is an economic opportunity that’s almost unprecedented,” she says. “I’m looking at this as being hopeful, not as doom and gloom.”

Agriculture is another topic O’Connor is passionate about. Niagara has the best soil in Canada, she says, and small farmers must be supported because of rapid urbanization and development.

If elected, the Greens would have a separate trust fund where farmers would put their land on a deed and would be paid a certain amount of money per year for keeping their land as a farm. Such easement programs have worked in Wisconsin, California and several European countries, and have helped to slow down development, O’Connor says.

The Green party would also make sure local products, such as wine and food, will get on shelves at area stores, and that every person gets a guaranteed livable income above the poverty line.

The Greens would balance the budget in five years and increase revenues by stopping subsidizing international fossil fuel companies, putting a higher tax on the top 1 per cent earners, tax companies such as Netflix and Google, as well as going after Canadians who keep their money offshore.

“Those are some of the areas that we have found and budgeted that we can get money to pay for these bold initiatives and still be fiscally responsible because it is possible to have our fiscal house in order as well as our environmental house,” O’Connor says.

“We can do both but we need a bold vision to do that and people have to step out of their comfort zone and look at the Green party.”

What makes her stand out from other candidates is her “breadth and depth” of political experience and her analytical skills, O’Connor says.

“I’ve worked hard all my life and I will work hard for people of this riding,” she says.

“I will fight for people of this riding and I have the skills to be able to do that.”