While other electoral candidates focus on their jobs as well their own campaign duties, the Green party candidate for the Ajax riding must focus on her education as well.
Maia Knight, 18, is a first-year student at Carleton University currently studying journalism and political science. She has lived in Ajax for a year and a half now. She told the Toronto Observer why she is running despite being barely able to vote herself.
“I was very much upset with the government,” Knight said in an interview Saturday morning. “I was very much dissatisfied with the action or the lack thereof that the government has taken to combat climate change specifically because that’s a big issue for me.”
Her party’s position on emissions resonated with her.
“We want to reduce emissions by 60 per cent below the 2005 level by 2030 and have net zero carbon by 2050…Anything less than that is not a climate plan, it’s just not good enough,” Knight said.
Another young voter, Chelsea Mopas, 20, supports environmentalism and eventually the phasing out of other sources of energy.
“I believe that going green is always a better option,” said Chelsea Mopas, 20, who has been living in Ajax for 16 years.
“There’s no foreseeable environmentally friendly solution to producing energy right now that’s reliable, consistent and strong enough,” Mopas added. “Once the time comes [when] there is an energy source which can be very reliable and strong enough to provide to the power… I would absolutely be supporting the closing of the [nearby Pickering] nuclear power plant.”
Father Keith Wallace, a pastor at St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church has been a resident in Ajax for eight years, and takes part in local activities. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Chartwell Ballycliffe Senior Home visits, and the St. Bernadette Food Cupboard. He has some suggestions for what could be improved in Ajax.
“We never had so many poor people in Ajax as we do now… and there’s so much, it’s changing a lot,” said Rev. Wallace, who also assists in the Oshawa Homeless Shelter.
For candidate Knight, going green must also provide solutions to poverty, which can lead to homelessness.
“What we want to do is start to transition from those oil and gas projects, and that [moving from] non-renewable energy to local energy is possible to ensure that the workers from that industry are able to find jobs in the new industry,” Knight offered.
Knight and her party believe that housing should be a human right. The NDP is promising to increase the National Housing Co-investment, which is a fund that provides options for those who cannot easily afford housing, by $750 million dollars, in order to make housing affordable for both buyers and renters.
Being a candidate and a student, Knight has had to make priorities and learn to handle both.
“It’s just about you [having] to find your time,” she said. “If I get a campaign phone call in a time that I decided I was doing school work, I will wait until I’ve done my work. And then I will call back.”
Being one of youngest candidates running this year in Ajax, Knight hopes to be an inspiration for those her age.
“One of my main goals in running [is] to encourage young people to get involved in politics, but also to just get out and vote,” Knight said. They do not have to vote for her, necessarily. “Vote for who you believe in.”