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Meet Your Candidates: Valerie Brooks for Yorkton-Melville

"Young voters understand current issues as they always have, yet sometimes don’t feel confident that their voice matters or is heard." staff reached out to the candidates in all of Saskatchewan's ridings with a universal questionnaire. We will be publishing these results in order they were received.

Name: Valerie Brooks
Age: 51
Running for: Green Party of Canada – Yorkton-Melville Riding
Profession: Teacher/Administrator
Currently residing in (city or neighbourhood): Saltcoats
Previous political experience: Small local committee positions

Who is your political hero?  

Most recently, Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation.
He is doing amazing things for his community. He is acting bravely and being bold in the face
of adversity in an attempt to do what he believes is right for the community that elected him.

What inspired you to enter the election race?  

My future grandchildren. They deserve a Canada they can be proud of. Unless we create real change, like Democratic Reform where all voices are heard and represented equitably, my future grandchildren will be left with a mess and hate us for it! – Our environmental, economic, and social stewardship needs immediate action and with partisan politics getting in the way of governing, not much can be accomplished in an efficient and effective manner.

What topics are most important to you in this federal election?  

Democratic reform and the Climate Crisis are top of my list. Without reform which would have MP’s work collaboratively on the climate crisis, we will waste time making the best decisions possible. With the most recent scientific report (IPCC) showing irrefutable proof that man-made greenhouse gasses have caused an abnormal rise in temperature, and extreme weather patterns all over the globe, we need to act. Immediate and swift action is needed to put in place regulations and laws that will drastically reduce the amount of GHG we put into our atmosphere. And at the same time, we need to be working to transition to clean energy solutions supporting workers in the oil and gas sector to be retrained to use their skills in the new clean energy sector.

Are you concerned about the short campaign timeline for this election?

Yes, I believe the short timeline puts my Party at a distinct disadvantage and although it was legal for Mr. Trudeau to call this short of an election period, I don’t think it is equitable or gives Canadian voters enough time to make informed decisions in what could be the most pivotal moment in our lives.

What COVID-19 pandemic and federal supports to help businesses and residents are important to you?  

This pandemic has forced us to see what is truly important in Canadian society – individual well-being and small local businesses who are the backbone of the economy. Big businesses and corporations are sailing through this pandemic, and in a lot of instances profiting from it while individuals and small businesses are struggling or going broke. In times like this a strong Federal support system to provinces, individuals and small businesses is vitally important. Financial aid support systems should be built into every Federal Budget moving forward, as this is not the end of pandemics such as COVID-19, and big businesses/corporations should be
paying their fair share in taxes in order to do so.

What Agricultural federal programs and initiatives do you feel are necessary to help support farmers and ranchers?  

Unfortunately, science has confirmed that the climate crisis with rising global temperatures is going to cause unprecedented and severe weather patterns including droughts, floods, fires, hurricanes, and tornados to continue on a regular and more frequent basis. Farmers and ranchers are at a distinct disadvantage in the coming years as they are dependant on and can’t control the natural environment. I think federal programs to help farmers and ranchers are necessary but should also be in the context of transitioning to the new normal that is to come. I would support subsidies to help farmers transition to organic methods, or more locally focused production and distribution techniques and possibly re-think our current economic model of agriculture and whether it is sustainable. I also think it is extremely important that we safeguard the mental health of our primary producers and take the stress off them in whatever means possible in a respectful way.

Is there an issue that people are focusing too much? 

No I don’t think so, as any issue that is important to someone is important. The media is doing a good job of reporting what matters to voters, so I can’t say that at this point any issue is being focused on too much.

Is there an issue that doesn’t get enough attention?  

Indigenous rights to sovereignty and the 94 calls to action outlined by the TRC for reconciliation. More effort is needed to educate and illuminate Canada’s horrendous treatment of Indigenous people during the formation of this Nation. Current inequalities and injustices need to be fleshed out bit by bit, so colonial-based systems are actively working towards internal changes to right the wrongs and eliminate racist tendencies. Our non-Indigenous population, for the most part, knows very little about this topic as it has been intentionally covered up over the years. I am glad it is getting more widely known now, but we still have a long way to go and there should be more attention given to it at all levels of government.

· Why did you choose to run for your particular party?  

The Green Party is the only party in Canada that I would even consider running for. We have a forward looking, inclusive and collaborative model for governing a nation such as Canada. The Green Party’s core values include concepts and ideologies that make life meaningful and rewarding and would create a society where everyone is supported to live their best life and contribute in a way that is personally fulfilling. We have a well thought out vision and clear roadmap to get there based on proven examples of Green governments in other parts of the world. People in the Yokton-Melville riding often say the government doesn’t care about us, with the Green Party’s proportional representation model, that would not be the case. Governing would be more collaborative and efficient, being able to tackle the issues facing Canadians in whatever area they live in as they surface in an effective manner.

What is the biggest issue facing your party’s chance at success? 

Most voters don’t understand us yet. I think if voters began to understand and believe in the Green Party as a strong National Party with well developed, concrete policies and a clear plan to govern with confidence, then I think more people would vote Green. Many prairie people already understand and believe in our core values just by being born in the Prairies. Prairie people generally believe in cooperation and collaboration, in ecological wisdom, the importance of the environment to our livelihoods and enjoyment, in non-violence, and participatory democracy. And what I’d like to encourage more voters to do is really check us out, do some research and read about what we stand for and can do.

How will you engage and encourage young voters to participate in this election?

I would like to build a strong social media campaign that reaches young voters, as they don’t realize what a powerful force they can be for real change in how our country is governed. I know from being the mother to three young voters myself, young people are extremely worried about the future of the world, their environment and care deeply about social issues like those facing the LGBTQ2+ community and movements like BLM (Black Lives Matter), ECM (Every Child Matters), and Indigenous rights and decolonization. Young voters understand current issues as they always have, yet sometimes don’t feel confident that their voice matters or is heard. As a schoolteacher I can tell you that young voices are the most creative and naturally collaborative voices we have in society, and I think they should be championed, not silenced.

What is your party’s leader’s biggest flaw?  

I couldn’t possibly answer this question, as I don’t know Ms Paul personally yet. I know there has been speculation in the media about some internal struggles, but I reserve judgement as I continue to be impressed with how she has been handling herself throughout the controversy and continues to speak eloquently and champion our Party’s values.

Once elected, your job is to represent your entire riding. How do you plan on representing individuals who didn’t vote for you?  

First, I understand this to be the most frustrating part of our current system, where in a multiparty vote, there could be 60% (or more) who did not vote for the person elected. This “first past the post” system is not working for Canadians, and I would demand that it is changed before the next election. There was a report done on our electoral system way back in 1921 that concluded the system does not work well for the majority of Canadians and should be changed. The Green Party has advocated and pressured for this change for years. Mr. Trudeau promised that the 2015 election would be the last “first past the post” election and then reneged on that promise. The other thing I would do immediately is set up town halls and open mic sessions in all areas of the riding to listen to constituents and really understand what their needs and wishes are so I can cast my votes as an MP truly on their behalf. (The Green Party is the only party in Canada that does not “whip” their MP’s to vote a certain way.)

What informs your political stance? What books, publications, relationships or experiences?  

My stance has been and continues to be informed in a myriad of ways. Way back in my first degree in University I majored in Social Studies where I took many courses on our government and Canadian politics and history. This led to teaching many senior social science classes (law, economics, social studies, etc.) in grades 10-12. Working together with my students, we would research and discuss the political parties and their ideologies and as time went on, my views and opinions evolved from those of my parents to my own. I always admired parties who tried to change and evolve our system, because I could see the flaws in it, and that is what led me to find a home with the Green Party.

What local project or service would you advocate for more federal spending? 

Affordable Daycare is desperately needed. So many parents are spending their entire paychecks on daycare, and daycare workers are still underpaid. It’s such a crucial time in the development of a human being, and most parents must make difficult financial decisions when it comes to having children and working. A lot of times the paychecks barely cover the cost of daycare, so it is a real struggle for many people, and I would advocate for more federal spending in this area.

What is something people don’t know about you?

I own and ride a 650CC BMW motorbike and am a high school Provincial Champion in Discus, and bronze medalist in Javelin.

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