Canada needs to deal with moral issues 0
Potato farmer, scientist, and Christian Heritage Party candidate Peter Vander Zaag said he believes only God-ordained standards will last.
Vander Zaag is running in his fourth federal election campaign.
"The political forum allows for people like myself to speak in a public forum about the issues that I feel are important," he said.
"I was born and raised just up the road here," said Vander Zaag, as he motioned up the street from his potato storage facility in Alliston. His parents immigrated from the Netherlands.
"I'd never dreamt I'd be involved in politics," he said. "I'm a farmer. I'm a farmer at heart."
After graduating from Cornell University, he did agricultural development work in Bangladesh with the Christian Reform Church.
He met his wife, Carla, there and they worked overseas for about two decades in developing nations, including Rwanda, China, and the Philippines.
"I was dedicated, as a potato scientist, to improving the livelihood of farmers, helping scientists do better research," said Vander Zaag. He said he also helped with policy issues to improve food production and security.
In 1991 he moved back to Alliston, where he and his wife raised their six children, four of whom are adopted - three from Rwanda and one from the Philippines.
The Alliston farmer grows corn, wheat, soybeans, but the family's livelihood is potatoes, said Vander Zaag.
"My specialty is storing potatoes," he said. "Last year's potatoes will last until this July, which takes good buildings and management."
After settling back into Canadian life, he said he did not recognize his country.
"In the 20 years I was living overseas Canada changed so dramatically," he said, adding the changes were negative ones.
What really bothers him, he said, is how the Canadian government cut back on donations to international development and how the government avoids moral issues.
"Canada's political parties are afraid to deal with the moral issues of society and the moral issues of society, ultimately, are what builds a society," he said.
The party stands by biblical principles, he said.
"If we don't abide by those principles, at the end of the day our country is going to go down the road of further moral decay," he said.
The CHP platform is based on encouraging more doctors to move to rural communities, strengthening the traditional family, healthcare, eliminating federal income tax and increasing national retail sales tax, and providing a smaller and more accountable government.
"We believe that one parent should be able to stay home and raise the children rather than farming them out for day care," he said, adding there are always cases where daycare is necessary.
The CHP proposes $1,000 per month child care support for families where one parent stays at home.
"Those moms or dads staying home from work would allow other people who are unemployed to get into the workforce," said Vander Zaag.
Vander Zaag said his party strongly believes the definition should be between a man and a woman, and would like to have legislation in place to protect life from conception to natural death.
"Those are just some of the examples of things we that believe strongly about," he said. "The government has to have moral background and moral backbone to stand up and say this is the way it should be."
Vander Zaag is involved in agriculture in a large way, he said. Not only is he a farmer, Vander Zaag is also chair of Ontario's Agricultural Management Institute advisory panel and board chair of the International Potato Center in Peru.
"We need to develop a national food policy and I think that that national food policy needs to really have a focus on how can we support local agriculture, local food production, local food purchasing, and develop a network whereby we don't go through these mega chain stores."
The CHP believes in giving environmental payments to farmers, especially for stewardship, such as keeping cattle of out the water, reforestation, or planting cover crops, said Vander Zaag.
"All those things should be compensated for by society, through an environmental goods and services kind of payment."
He said rural communities are hurting and agriculture is the backbone of rural communities. If environmental stewardship goes unrewarded, then rural communities will erode further.
Vander Zaag said what delineates the CHP from other parties is its "fair tax" policy which may sound "outlandish." It proposes the elimination of federal income tax.
"We believe that the tax should be reimbursed based on what you spend, rather than what you earn," said Vander Zaag.
He said increasing GST to between 15 and 20% would provide enough federal income.
"The point is the big spenders (would be) paying more tax - it's their choice to spend, therefore they're taxed."