Green candidate plugs alternative energy
Nedd Kenney hopes to make fuel cost a factor in election
Nedd Kenney, Nunavut’s Green Party candidate, says Nunavut’s myriad problems boil down to one source – the territory’s diesel bill.
Kenney, a 44-year-old music teacher in Cambridge Bay, plans to steer the election debate in Nunavut towards the territory’s exorbitant cost of fuel.
While Kenney holds no illusions of unseating incumbent Liberal MP, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, he hopes his arguments will influence the future government’s policies, and raise the Green Party’s profile in Nunavut.
Nunavut’s next MP needs to make alternative energy sources, especially wind power, a priority in the next government, Kenney says.
Kenney points out that the Nunavut government’s energy bill consumes one-fifth of its annual budget. According to Kenney, diesel also wastes money because two-thirds of the energy from the fuel is lost as heat or exhaust, instead of transforming directly into electricity.
He argues that if Ottawa boosts the use of wind power in Nunavut, the territorial government can wean itself off diesel, and use the savings to increase funding to housing and education.
“We have extreme cold here, so we have an extreme need to provide heat and electricity for homes,” he said in an interview from Cambridge Bay. “[Energy spending] is an extreme that has to be addressed.”
Although energy remains mostly a territorial responsibility, Kenney says the federal Liberal government created the problem with energy costs in Nunavut by neglecting to encourage the use of wind turbines on a larger scale in the past. Kenney estimates diesel provides 99.9 per cent of Nunavut’s current energy needs.
“To me, it’s like a drug addiction,” Kenney said of Nunavut’s diesel use.
Kenney’s campaign stands apart from the other four candidates vying for Nunavut’s seat in the House of Commons, not only in its focus on environmental issues, but also because he doesn’t expect, or even want, to win.
Kenney said he wants Nunavummiut to vote Green in order to support the party, now that every political party receives a certain amount of federal campaign funding per vote.
He’s also aiming to inspire the estimated 6,000 eligible voters in Nunavut who avoided the polls in the last election to cast ballots on June 28 this year.
Kenney hopes to raise the topic of voter apathy at the all-candidates debate on June 23 in Iqaluit, one of the few other communities he expects to visit, besides Rankin Inlet, and one other Kitikmeot community.
To encourage more voter participation, Kenney said the federal government should fly candidates to every community in Nunavut to create more personal contact between voters and politicians, who often complain they’re financially unable to travel everywhere in Canada’s largest riding.
At the end of the day, Kenney says he’ll be happy if he inspires one young voter to go to the polls, who wouldn’t have otherwise cast a ballot.
“It’s easy to sit on the couch and complain about the way things are,” he said. “It’s a lot more invigorating to actually stand up and say, ‘I see a place where things can be improved and I’m willing to make that happen.’
“I want to get involved in a positive way to kick-start some discussion.”