Green Party candidate aiming for 20 percent – and second place
Russell Korus says the birth of his first son six years ago got him thinking about the future and changed him from thumb-twirling political apathy into a Green thumb.
Last week, the 36-year-old father of two was confirmed as the Green Party candidate for the riding of Vaughan in the Oct. 10 provincial election.
“When you become a parent, you start thinking about things that you never thought about before,” he said this week in a phone interview. “The underlying thought in my head was always, ‘When my son is my age, in 30 years’ time, what’s his quality of life going to be like?'”
Despite what Korus characterizes as a lot of unhappiness with both the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty and the alternative posed by John Tory’s Progressive Conservatives, he said he is concerned that fear itself will again dictate the outcome.
“It’s so often the case that people are voting Liberal because they want to make sure the Conservatives don’t get in,” he said. “And people are voting Conservative to make sure the Liberals don’t get in.
“Nobody ever votes for what they want.”
As Korus sees it, negative voting is a fundamental problem with Ontario’s democratic system, making this a critical election because of the referendum question that will be on the ballot.
Along with choosing a candidate, voters will determine the future of Ontario’s electoral system, by either opting to keep the current first-past-the-post system or having it changed to mixed member proportional representation.
“I think it’s a massively important election,” he said. “This proposed MMP system will really right a lot of those wrongs and allow people to vote their conscience, and not feel that they’re throwing their vote away.”
Korus sums up his campaign’s goal in a short, though tongue-twisting slogan: 10-10-20.
“Ten-10-220,” he said, before catching and laughing at his mistake.
“Sorry. That’s 10-10-twenty – I have to remember not to add that extra two in there – 10-10-20, so on Oct. 10 we get 20 percent (and) I think I can finish second.
“That’s the goal that we’ve set for the campaign, which is somewhat ambitious, but at the same time I think it’s definitely possible.”
True to his Green credentials, Korus counts the environment among the top concerns facing the province in this election, though he doesn’t see it as isolated. Instead, he considers the environment and health care two sides of the same coin.
“I think people are really starting to make the connection between those two, and I think that’s what’s really most significant,” he said. “If we focused at least a little bit more on the preventative side, then 10 or 15 years down the road, well, guess what?
“All of a sudden you don’t need nearly as much money in the healthcare system because there’s not as many people getting sick.”
Related are transportation issues that impact the environment and, therefore, health, he said.
Though this is his third race as a Green candidate in the last three years – he ran twice federally – he refuses to call himself a politician.
“I won’t call myself a politician because if you look at the definition of ‘politician’ in the dictionary, it’s usually not very flattering,” he said. “I prefer ‘public servant’.
“If political ambition was my primary motivation, I’d try and get the Liberal or Conservative nomination and actually have a chance to win rather than running on my convictions and on my beliefs.”
Though he calls Vaughan home, Korus actually lives outside the riding he hopes to represent.
“I’m about 200 feet from the boundary – I’m one street away,” he said. “It’s close, but the drawback is I won’t be able to vote for myself and my wife won’t be able to vote for me.”
Vaughan Today Friday, August 24, 2007 Page: 2 Byline: Philip Alves