Parties & Leaders
Green Party Leader Frank de Jong
By Emily Chung
CBCNews.ca | Updated Aug. 31, 2007
Frank de Jong has led the Green Party of Ontario since 1993. He is the party's first and only leader. (Green Party)
Frank de Jong has been trying to bring up election issues since the spring — and not just the ones one might expect from a party called the Green Party of Ontario.
In April, the 51-year-old teacher issued a news release favouring the merger of Ontario's Catholic and public schools into a single school system.
In July, the Toronto resident promised new provincial funding for his own and other municipalities, funded by pollution and carbon taxes.
The issues of provincial funding for municipalities and for religious schools didn't became hot topics for the Tory, NDP and Liberal leaders until August, two months before the Aug. 31 election.
But even though de Jong raised the issues earlier, his views received scant attention from the mainstream media.
The Green Party was founded in 1983, but has never held a seat in the provincial legislature.
De Jong, who has been the party's first and only leader for 14 years, has recognized publicly that his party "will never get elected as a party of nature conservation." "We tried that for 10 years and got less than one per cent of the vote for our efforts," he wrote in an article published in the party's newsletter in 2003. De Jong has instead tried to focus on issues such as health promotion and "green economics."
Proposals on taxes, environment, health
If his party is elected, de Jong plans to bring in policies such as taxes based on land value rather than building-based property values, in order to discourage urban sprawl.
The party favours taxes and incentives to encourage recycling, waste and packaging reduction, and development of renewable power; and to discourage the use of coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power.
Beyond environmental issues, the Greens are pushing their health policy, which focuses on disease prevention.
They have also proposed making further changes to the electoral system, such as allowing 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds and non-Canadian residents to vote. Meanwhile, de Jong and his party are still struggling to be noticed for more than their biodiesel campaign vehicle.
Successes as party leader
De Jong grew up on a dairy farm in rural southern Ontario, just north of Guelph. The son of Dutch immigrants, he became an elementary school teacher and an activist for causes such as a woman's right to choose abortion, protection for old growth forests, a ban on nuclear weapons and the promotion of human rights in Central America.
He later moved to Toronto, where he now lives with his partner, Kelley Aitken. De Jong joined the Greens in 1987, when the party was a leaderless, poorly organized group.
Six years later, he was elected leader. In fact, he has steered the party longer than any of his opponents have steered theirs, and the party has grown steadily under his leadership.
During the 2003 general election, the Greens fielded 102 candidates — almost double the 58 it had in 1999 — and earned 2.8 per cent of the popular vote, up from 0.7 per cent in the previous election. That catapulted it well beyond other small parties, who rarely break the one-per-cent ceiling.
This year, the party's biggest breakthrough might not be a jump in its own vote count, but referendum result favouring the mixed member proportional (MMP) system proposed by the Liberal government-appointed citizens assembly on electoral reform. The party has come out strongly in favour of the proposed system, which would give it representation in the legislature if it earns the support of three per cent of voters — something that is likely within reach.
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Biography in Brief
Party: Green Party of Ontario
Riding: To run in Davenport
Birthdate: Oct. 16, 1955
Hometown: Arthur, Ont.
Education: bachelor of arts from University of Western Ontario; bachelor of education from University of Ottawa
Other occupation: Teacher (part-time)
Family: Partner Kelley Aitken
Joins the Green Party of Ontario.
Runs in the general election in the Ottawa East riding, but does not win.
Chosen as the party's first leader.
Runs in the general election in Ottawa-area riding of Nepean, but does not win.
Runs in the general election in Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, but does not win.
Runs in the general election in the southern Ontario riding of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey, but finishes third after Progressive Conservative Leader Ernie Eves, who won.
Runs in a byelection in the southern Ontario riding of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey, but finishes fourth against Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory, who won.
Runs in a byelection in the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park and finishes fourth.
Runs in a byelection in Burlington and finishes fourth.