Green Party candidate focusing on small businesses, local economies and “big picture thinking” during road to election

Mark Vercouteren is the Green Party's candidate in the riding of Essex in the June 12 election. (Photo submitted by Mark Vercouteren)

Mark Vercouteren is the Green Party’s candidate in the riding of Essex in the June 12 election. (Photo submitted by Mark Vercouteren)

By Adam D’Andrea

Health care, local jobs and local foods are a few of the topics Mark Vercouteren is addressing on the campaign trail.

Vercouteren is the Green Party of Ontario’s MPP candidate for the Essex riding in the June 12 provincial general election. The connection between the economy and what people are bringing home to put on the table is one of the main issues Vercouteren is discussing during his candidacy.

“The more smaller local businesses we have, we will have a more stable economy. And by eating more local foods, supporting Ontario farmers especially, we will have a healthier, more sustainable society,” said Vercouteren.

One of the economic policies Vercouteren supports is a payroll tax cut, which he said would help small businesses hire more people and stabilize the economy.

“Corporate tax cuts don’t keep jobs in Canada because it’s always easier and cheaper for bigger companies to outsource certain jobs outside of Canada. You can hire about four people in Mexico for the cost of one in Canada,” Vercouteren said.

He also wants to zero in on raising the minimum wage, saying the current amount does not provide people with a liveable income.

“Many people need several jobs to make ends meet,” said Vercouteren. “My wife, for example, spoke with a young woman who had three jobs which did not afford her any time.”

Throughout the course of his campaign, some of the hotter issues Vercouteren has been hearing concerns about are health, standards of living, the economy and the fairness of current government systems.

“There is a strong opinion that our politicians do not pay attention to our needs and the system only helps the rich,” said Vercouteren.

The biggest environmental issue facing the Essex riding right now, according to Vercouteren, is the proposed location of the new mega hospital in Essex on a Greenfield space.

“This is outside the urban area which will increase urban sprawl and be inconvenient for the area residents,” Vercouteren said. “Also, Essex is an important farming community. The more urban sprawl the less farmland we will have, making the concerns of farmers very important as well.”

Vercouteren is also an advocate of “big picture thinking.” While the Ontario budget is in dire need of balancing in the face of a $288.1 billion debt, he said this couldn’t be done in a way that will hurt the economy or at the expense of those with lower incomes.

“The Greens would rather speak of what we can do for you to fix problems, rather than everything the other parties are doing wrong,” said Vercouteren. “We listen to all sides and pick the best model. As some Greens say, we are not left or right, we are out in front.”

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