By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Greg Vezina doesn’t like what he sees in today’s political arena. And he’s running in the Whitby-Oshawa byelection to help change that.
“Our democracy is badly broken by follow the leader politics,” Vezina, the creator and head of the None of the Above Party, tells The Oshawa Express. “We used to be able to join political parties, pass policies, have the party run on those policies and then have them honour those policies. Now, all of that is meaningless because the leader and the candidate aren’t bound by the policies and unelected people in the leader’s office with no input from members of the party or MPs or MPPs come up with new policies, throw them out there was no consensus whatsoever…We’ve reached the point where unelected people in leaders’ offices are running our government and that’s wrong.”
One of the big facets of the None of the Above Party is the introduction of recall elections in Ontario, whereby a petition can be launched to force a byelection of an individual politician.
In Canada, British Columbia is the lone jurisdiction with recall legislation.
“In Ontario, we have no tools of direct democracy. We have no say once someone is elected,” Vezina says.
Another way to choose none of the above
Voters will have more than one option to pick “none of the above” in the Feb. 11 byelection.
Above Znoneofthe– or as he was formerly known before changing his name, Sheldon Bergson – is running independently in the upcoming vote.
Znoneofthe originally tried changing his name in time for the federal election last year, where ballots list candidates by surname first, meaning his name would appear as “Znoneofthe, Above.”
However, unable to get his name in in time, Znoneofthe kept the name and saw a chance to “get his money’s worth” of the name change when the Whitby-Oshawa byelection was announced.
Znoneofthe is no stranger to elections, first getting involved in politics when he was in university, joining the now defunct National Party of Canada and running in the 1993 federal election. After the party folded, he chose to run independently.
Even though he never received a large share of votes, the Thornhill native says he always encouraged his friends to go out and vote, no matter who they were voting for.
“When I talk to people, I always vote and I ask them to go out and vote. It doesn’t matter who you pick, just as long as you go out and vote. Just be part of the process. But they’d always go, ‘Ah, they’re all the same. I don’t like any of the chances.’ And I told them about declining their ballot, but they said they’d rather just mark ‘none of the above,’” Znoneofthe tells The Oshawa Express. “So I said let’s get ‘none of the above on the ballot,’ but then we’d have to change the electoral process. So what if I changed my name to ‘none of the above’ and get that on the ballot?”
Outside of changing his name to speak against the current state of politics, Znoneofthe says he would bring a “strong value of customer service” to Whitby-Oshawa.
“I’ve been in customer service all my life, and I believe that that’s important for government,” he says.
“The thing I hate to hear more than anything else anywhere is, ‘Sorry, that’s not my job’ because that just says, ‘I know you’re coming to me for help, but I’m not going to provide it to you, I don’t need to, I can just send you somewhere else.’ When you’re coming to someone for help and they do that to you, and you get bounced around and you just give up and get more and more frustrated. So I’m personally committing to even if something isn’t particularly a provincial issue – it’s a federal issue or a municipal issue – I and my staff are going to work to help you find the right place and negotiate with them and get the resolution that you want. I’m not going to pass you off.”