Green Party leader Elizabeth May visits Barrie ahead of 2019 federal election

Green Party leader Elizabeth May stopped in Barrie on Thursday as part of a tour across the country that is listening to what’s important to residents in different Canadian communities ahead of the October federal election.

“We called it the ‘Community Matters’ tour because communities really matter to Canadians, and when you go to a community, you find out what matters to them,” Green Party leader Elizabeth May told Global News. “We tried to get to as many places as we possibly could, but Barrie has always had a very strong Green Party base.”

May said Barrie is the 27th community that she’s visited on the tour.

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On Thursday, the Green Party leader visited several local landmarks, including the Barrie Native Friendship Centre and the David Busby Centre.

“We know there’s an opioid crisis across Canada. We know that we have a homelessness crisis across Canada. We need to address these issues,” May said.

In order to address the opioid crisis, she added, a national health emergency needs to be declared.

“Our approach as Greens is this: declare a national health emergency, recognize that this is a health crisis, not a criminal justice issue,” May said. “We need to be able to say that these drugs are decriminalized so that we can test them and assess that they have fentanyl or not.”

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If the drugs have fentanyl, which is deadly, she added, the drugs need to be destroyed.

“Safe injection sites also provide good opportunities for people to get help to deal with the addiction.”

According to May, addressing housing affordability is a key part of the Green Party’s platform.

“We do believe that housing is a right,” she said. “We need to divide the housing up into chunks.”

Part of that, May said, is social housing for people who are chronically homeless, while the other part is the affordability of housing within the market.

“We really need to ensure that we have more purpose-built rental housing, the way we used to have a tax system back in the early 70s,” she said. “There was an incentive for developers to have purpose-built rental housing. That helps alleviate the pressure on the market.”

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The Green Party, May added, also wants to take action to regulate Airbnbs.

“We want to do everything we can to ensure that housing is affordable, including directing CMHC to focus on affordability, do more with co-op housing, which we haven’t done for a long time, encourage new models, like co-housing, and make sure that Canadians are able to live in the communities in which they work,” she said.

This year, many Ontario communities battled flooding, which, according to May, her party plans to address by acting in a preventative manner.

“What used to be a one-in-100-year flood is now a one-in-10-year flood,” May said. “To address that, we need to help people if they’re going to be in an area that’s going to be flooded every single year to move to a place where the floodplain isn’t so vulnerable to climate change.”

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According to the Green Party leader, it’s also important to look at risk and hazard mapping when planning for potential floods or forest fires.

“We have to look at our infrastructure and protect it,” she said. “We have to think about systems that protect infrastructure from flooding before it happens because we know it’s going to keep happening and get worse.”

May started her tour across Canada at the beginning of February.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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