Irma Devries has become a familiar name to the voters of Perth-Wellington, having run for the Christian Heritage Party in the past four federal elections. On Oct. 6, however, it will be the first time her name appears on a provincial ballot in this riding.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Devries — who lives with her husband near Harriston on a former dairy farm (now producing just cash crops) — is a stranger to provincial politics. In 2007, with Pat Bannon the established Perth-Wellington candidate for the Family Coalition Party (FCP), Devries put her name in as a candidate in the riding north of her home, Bruce/Grey/ Owen Sound.
The provincially-focussed FCP is an entirely different party from Christian Heritage, which only runs federally. But Devries says several key elements of its platform make it a perfect fit for someone who’s passionate about maintaining and strengthening what she sees as traditional family values.
“(Family Coalition) has a really good stance on education, and parental choice in education,” Devries says.
The party would like to see an expansion of the government support already provided for the Catholic school system, into other alternative school systems. That includes not just funding for tuition, but also for school buses and the Educational Assistants and other supports that are provided free of charge for students with special needs in the public and Catholic systems.
And FCP policy also calls for tax credits for those who choose to educate their children at home.
As a small-scale producer of electricity through renewable generation (for several years, the family farm has included a converted hydro-electric system), Devries is acutely aware of the issues surrounding the Liberal government’s Green Energy Act. She argues the erection of large-scale wind turbine projects should be stopped until more conclusive evidence is found about healthcare impacts. Plus, she says, neither the wind-generated nor solar-generated projects being promoted under the Green Energy Act’s feed-in tariff (FIT) and microFIT programs are cost-effective, given the significant government subsidies being offered.
“Currently, we’re losing millions of dollars a day on over-production that we’re paying far more for than it takes to produce, and it’s being sold to the US at a loss,” she says.
Regarding healthcare, Devries says the FCP calls for the elimination of the Local Health Integration Networks, brought in by the Liberals to administer Ministry of Health funding. She says replacing the LHINS with stronger local control of decision-making would save millions of dollars that could be put towards front-line healthcare.