He made news last summer by deciding not to run, but now he's running for an upstart party that's aiming to be an alternative to voters across the entire spectrum fed up with politics as usual. The Alliance Party of Ontario wants to bring provincial politics back to the grassroots, and their local candidate is Thomas Mooney, a man that knows all about standing up for what he believes in. A few weeks ago, Mooney took part in a Q&A with Guelph Politico...
I first want to revisit what happened with the PC nomination. A lot has happened since you separated yourself from that, but are you feeling vindicated somewhat after what happened with Mr. Brown and you're reasons for not wanting to take part in the PC nomination?
No, I can't use that term. I actually had some people coming to me saying, "Look, you need to pay attention here," and these were people within the party. At first, I was skeptical because I didn't know some of these people, and then you start doing your homework, and you start seeing the patterns, things were not starting to smell very good. So I went to the party, I asked questions, and I was assured that everything was above board, and I thought okay, let's move forward. My suspicions were still there [though], and the final straw for me was what happened in Hamilton. That was the day I withdrew, and I thought, "If it gets to this point, I have to trust my instincts that something's wrong here, it's not just a small, isolated incident." I started trusting the people that pointed me in the right direction, and those people are the kind of people that we need. A lot of those people have left the PC Party.
Given the fact that Vic Fedeli came out and said that the house was clean, and now there's a new leader, you didn't think about going back? The PCs still don't have a nominee here.
As far as the direction that the party is going in, I still have my reservations. I was contacted and asked to resubmit under the PCs, and I was open to discuss it because my primary intent is to look out for Guelph. My reservation is, and this is what I learned with all the parties, is that it doesn't matter who is the nominee or the candidate for the PC Party. No matter who that person is, you're electing a name, the control of somebody to the party whip. That's what's causing the problem in our political system.
Let's talk about the Alliance Party, and you've mentioned already that there are a lot of people from the PC Party looking for somewhere to hang their hat, so can you talk about how you came to the attention of the Alliance, and how you became their candidate in Guelph?
Well after I withdrew, I was contacted by various parties. The Alliance was one of the last to get in touch with me, and sitting down with them, having a discussion, reading the material, their constitution, I saw strong value there. I saw something that is solid, it doesn't waiver, and it struck something in me that it can't be corrupted. And on top of that, they're also providing the ablity of recall. The whole idea is, and I just wrote this recently on my own page on Facebook, that there should be a method of recall. They support that, and if the Alliance was to come into power a bill for that will brought before government. Who doesn't want to make sure that me, and everybody else like me, is held accountable?
Is that you're primary issue? Accountability?
My primary issue, and it's right in everyone's faces everyday, is financial. It's fiscal responsibility. We're going down a path that's not sustainable, and the reason why there's not going to be a change, even under the PCs, is that the previous platform was a mirror image of the Liberal platform. What I'm seeing in terms of the results of the [leaders] election is that 50 per cent of PC supporters were saying no, and 50 per cent were saying yes in terms of those changes. That's a big problem within the party. Now I'm not saying there aren't spending needs, but we need to spend responsibly, and I've already been seeing reports that some of the promises made have been turned back on. We're not even at the election yet, and we're already changing the game.
You mean the Premier?
Well yes, the Premier, and the PC Party with Doug Ford, he's already changed things since he ran in the leadership, and that concerns me. Now, it's good to make change, so long as you're not changing the intent. There are many ways to get to the same result, but when they're going back on things they've already campigned on, there's a problem there. So I have to ask the question: is it about winning the leadership - is that why these changes are there - or is this about what they really want to do?
Yes. We need consistancy, we need to know where we're going.
Change is definitely a theme with the election. No one can agree on what kind of change they want, but almost everyone agrees that change is needed. I know that you are very critical of the Liberals, a lot of people are, but people are also concerned about Mr. Ford, so have people been coming at you with the idea of splitting the vote, even from both sides? Maybe PCs that are concenred that you're going to take votes away from them.
I can answer that in this way: the Ontario Alliance, and I'll use this term, wants to turn government upside down. Right now, what we have is a top down, authoritarian-type government. It doesn't matter who gets in there, it's all about party whips, and telling your local representative, "This is what you can say, and this is what you can't say." That's a dictatorship.
What the Ontario Alliance is guaranteeing to each of its members is a free vote. They are free to speak for their local riding. We have needs here in Guelph, but they are different needs from those up in Timmons, so we can't be blanketing across the province with the from the same cookie cutter. We've got to go to government and say, "This is what we need to do for Guelph," and on top of all that, the Alliance is about reducing the amount of oversight, red tape, and giving more authority back to the local regional governments. There are things at the provincial table that have to be done, but let your provincial representatives deal with that provincially, and let municipal governments do what they need to do at that level. Let's get rid of those middle men!
I want to drill deeper on that, if everyone's looking out for their own regional concerns, then how do we come together and make decisions province-wide?
There are a lot of decisions that have to be made, and a lot of people have to be sitting down,and say that this is our common goal to move forward with this idea, and they would be sitting down with municipalities from across the province to see how to move forward. As I said before, it's not a top down approach but bottom up, and giving the power back to the people with the ability to have one-on-one input on what's going to happen. The bottom line is that as a provincial representative, I work for you, you don't work for me, and that's something that's been forgotten for a long time now.
So what are you going to be up to for the next few weeks in terms of campaigning, or research, or any kind of preparations?
Well, we're planing on having a couple of events locally that will be a kind of introduction. There are some people locally that know who I am, there are some people that only know who I am through the mess that happened last year, so I would like for people to get to know who I really am, and what I stand for.
And if I can just throw one more thing out there, and this is very key, I'm fiscally conservative, but that doesn't mean that I am hard right, or hard left. I look at things by the way of "Will that make sense? And let's go that way." Under the Alliance, they're open to hearing ideas from right across the spectrum, whether it's Liberal, or PC, or NDP, or Green, we're open to hearing what everyone has to say because everyone has a good idea, and other people have ideas on how to get there. I would much rather be able to get there the best way possible with input from everybody, then from one person leading a party and telling everyone else how to vote.