Deborah Coyne may be Green, but she’s no greenhorn. Voters may remember her from the 2013 Liberal leadership race, where she faced off against current leader Justin Trudeau, and when she ran against late NDP leader Jack Layton in Toronto. Coyne is now a senior policy advisor to Green leader Elizabeth May. She grew up in Ottawa and lives in the west end, outside of the Carleton riding. She has degrees in history and economics from Queen’s University, studied international relations at Oxford University in England and is a lawyer.
Q: Why are you running?
A: For me this is about getting Parliament to work again: taking the power back from the prime minister’s office … and putting it back in the hands of the citizen.
Q: Detail your past political and civic experience or activism (volunteering, campaigning, donations, employment) at any level of government or political party.
A: I’ve worked for politicians, including John Turner, the Business Council on National Issues, the Ontario government on disability issues, the insurance crisis (in the 1980s) … I saw how government can be a constructive force in building a better society. That’s animated me, and through (the constitutional battles at) Meech Lake and Charlottetown, that is what taught me the importance of working with people and avoiding the elite. I got back into politics in the 2000s. When I ran for the leadership of the Liberal party in 2012, I believed that party was where I could promote a longer term vision for the country, so that’s where I put my effort. In the recent year I’ve concluded there is just too much party machine interference. Once I looked at the Green Party … it seemed like a good fit. I’ve been a senior policy advisor to Elizabeth May since last February.
Q: What is the biggest federal issue facing your riding and how has it been handled to date? How would you approach it?
A:It ranges from everything from the Energy East pipeline carrying raw bitumen, to the disgraceful treatment of veterans by the government, and even this memorial to the victims of communism. On the pipeline, there is no safe way to ship raw bitumen …the residents of Richmond and other villages are all on well water, and it only takes one leak. We’ve seen in the past: how many times have we committed to go ahead and not assessed the risks properly? That’s something I believe Carleton deserves to have the advocacy of someone like me on.
Q: What are the biggest federal issues affecting the Ottawa region? How will you address them?
A: Are we going to take some action on climate change, not just as an environmental issue but as part of the economy? Everyone I know, knew we were in a recession a long time ago, and we have to find ways to invest in serious action on climate change and expanding jobs. Everybody in this region shares the embarrassment about Parliament … the Green party is in a great position to be a constructive participant in this Parliament and push for electoral reform and bring about some serious long term changes to our democratic structure.
Q: Nationally, what do you view as the biggest issues facing Canada, and how do you plan to address them?
A: Canada is nowhere internationally … the government has consistently received the ‘fossil of the year’ award for not being able to contribute. Another major one is repealing (the anti-terror bill) C-51. It’s a very serious piece of legislation rushed through Parliament, despite being universally condemned as being unnecessary and reducing civil liberties. C-51 is yet another piece of legislation, like the omnibus budget bill, that was thrown through Parliament with very little debate. I believe Canadians are listening, and they’re looking for a way to change parliament.