SUNonline/Orillia profiles candidates from each party in the forthcoming federal election.
By John Swartz
The sixth candidate in the Simcoe North riding is Russ Emo of the Christian Heritage Party. This is his second trip to the dance, having run in the Dufferin – Caledon riding in 2019 where he came in 6th with 318 votes. Emo lives in Kirkfield with his wife with whom he has five children.
“Originally I grew up by the airport. I’m a Malton boy. I had family that actually worked on the (AVRO) Arrow,” Emo said. There are only 25 CHP candidates in all Canada, so there were plenty of ridings to choose to run in. Emo liked Simcoe North.
“They already had an established district association. That’s what originally got me. When I ran in Dufferin – Caledon (2019) there was nothing there and it was difficult because it was basically me and one other gentleman doing all the legwork, so this was kind of a unique situation for me to have people that were onboard, that were willing to do a lot of the extra work for me,” he said.
Emo is a commercial insurance broker for an Oakville firm, Powell Insurance, but works from his home office.
“(I’m) thankful for technology. I wouldn’t be able to travel the two hours every day to work,” he said. It won’t be a surprise one issue each candidate has been asked to address comes up early in when asked why he is running.
“It’s to be a voice. Sometimes there’s individuals out there that just don’t want to get involved because they don’t want to stick their neck out. There’s always got to be a voice to represent those that maybe are afraid to, or those that cannot speak for themselves. The unborn cannot speak for themselves. There has to be a voice for them and that’s who I want to be.”
“The CHP is the only federal, 100% pro-life party. Pro-life is very dear to my heart. When my wife was pregnant with him (youngest child), we were put through all the testing and everything like that and the only conclusions they would come to for us, the only decisions to make things better was to abort him and that was not an option on our table. They told us you could do this, you do this, to the point they actually wanted to inject a probe into her navel area to pull the amniotic fluid out and when we checked the possible repercussions of that, it potentially could bring on early birth, which would have been an abortion, or miscarriage. When he was born we had one of the heads of McMaster Hospital asked us, “Every choice we gave you, you turned them down, why?”
“It was kind of funny, maybe they thought we were going to sue them because of what had happened. We came back and said, “When you gave us these answers and we asked what can you do about it, you’re answer was nothing.” So why would I subject my wife to more tests, pain, etc., potentially lose my child over something you can do nothing about. I said let nature take its course. He’s going to be 16, he’s the apple of our eye, we’ve always been 100% proactive,” Emo said.
Each candidate has things they like about their party, or they wouldn’t be the candidates. However, nothing is perfect, and each has been asked what they’d like to have different about their party, do more of, or less of.
“I’ve had a few discussions with the leader of our party (Rod Taylor). The discussions have been about the party name. I like the idea of it being called the Christian Heritage Party because it does back Christian principles, unfortunately when people hear the Christian Heritage Party they automatically think it’s only for Christians, that it’s only Christians that would support it, that we’re going to be imposing our beliefs on people, that we are going to be evangelizing people and that’s not part of the party. The party is to go back to the original principles the country was founded on. The Parliament building has scripture written all over it and the foundation of our country is based on Christian principles and that’s what we want to get back to. We want a united family; we want families to be together. That’s where we stand on, the family units are strongest and when the family unit is strong the country is strong.”
“I’ve had conversations with Muslims and they feel the same way, that the principles and beliefs that the Christian Party has is a mirror image of how they raise their families. I’m not talking about the extremists, by no means. But then they get concerned with the title Christian. I’ve had discussions with the leaders of the party and they said it has been brought up numerous times, but it’s always been is now a good time? Or do we have other things to do,” Emo said. The other thing he’d like to see different is having the resources to be more visible.
“I wish they would get out there. A lot of times it takes money. We obviously don’t have the backing the Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP have. When I get to people and they say what is the CHP? Are you guys new? We say, no, we’ve been around for 30 years. We still feel we are almost a grass roots party. We’ve got 25 individuals that are running across Canada, I wish there was a lot more. Even to bring general morality and integrity we stand strong on because we have a government right now that is far from that. We need to get back to these principles.”
People vote their choice based on what is reported candidates have said or done. What about the unknowns, new issues, new circumstances, pandemics springing up? How do candidates inform themselves is as critical as understanding what they believe now.
“There’s so many resources out there right now. I don’t follow one source. I don’t accept one source as the gospel. I find many sources and try to find a common ground. Everybody out there has an opinion. Years ago we didn’t have the 24/7 news. 11 o’clock was the big one because they had all day to get all the facts and figures. When CNN came out and decided to make everything 24/7, now you’ve got to fill all that time, so instead of people going out and reporting and getting the facts, now everybody’s opinionated. It’s like a behind, everybody’s got one. Why does my opinion supersede yours? Because I feel strong to it. With everything that’s going on we’ve got all this divisiveness because I fell I’m right and because I’m right, you are now wrong, so we’ve got this whole cancel culture. You’re opinion doesn’t matter to me anymore because I’m right – and that’s wrong,”
Not everyone with a hat in the race is critical of how the pandemic has been handled. We’ve seen that, even though some details have been picked apart. Emo is ready to give a failing grade all the way around.
“I think it was terrible. It’s interesting, everything we were seeing came from south of the border. I actually have U.S. citizenship, so does our party leader. Back in January when he (Trump) was giving his State of the Union speech, he actually mentioned about a potential pandemic coming. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house, had the documents in her hand and did her little crybaby thing and tore them up, on there was those documents and she said, everything in this speech is a lie. That was in January. We finally did something here in April and they were crucifying him (Trudeau) for not responding quick enough in January. So that was basically fluffed off.”
“I don’t know whether it was the ties we have with China, or the ties he (Trudeau) has with China, I’m not sure, but it just seemed to be the response was poor. There was still flights coming in (from China) when a lot of other flights were cut off. I think we, as a country, sat back and waited to see what was going to happen down in the U.S. before we reacted, and by then it was a little too little too late,’
“I still find it difficult to understand a lot of this stuff. Here we had a complete lockdown, you couldn’t buy toilet paper. But, within weeks we had all of these plexiglas, tapes for the floors, signs and everything made up. I don’t know whether this was something people knew was actually coming, or what. Call me a conspiracy theorist; I’m an anti-vaxxer for this. I don’t see the statistics. People can say whatever they want. I don’t think we’re going to find out for the next two or three years what the results of this vaccination is going to be on the general population,” Emo said.
“I got a friend, he’s one of the heads of the Liberty Coalition Canada (which bills itself as a united front to restore liberty in Canada) and he’s been interviewing doctors and nurses, there’s a lot of doctors who have walked off the jobs because they are seeing the same thing, they see there’s going to be potential devastation to the human population from the vaccine.”
“I was looking at one statistic and it said if you get the first vaccination your chances of getting the virus is, I forget what the percentage was, but it was potentially low; the second vaccination was you are twice as likely to get COVID than being unvaccinated. With a 98- 99% survival rate without the vaccination, I don’t understand why.”
Many believe institutional reform is necessary. There are as many ideas how to do it as there are what the core issues are. Provinces fund, regulate and operate policing, but the federal government is the keeper of the criminal code, and we do have a National police force, and always seems to come up with grants to provinces for specific police programs, so there is influence an MP could have on the matter.
“I feel like I have a special place in my heart for the police force. They’re there for a reason. I couldn’t imagine doing that job. I couldn’t imagine putting my life on the line for a lot of people that care less about the police. They have a high stress job, life threatening, split-second decisions to make on everything. I know they have taken some people who have, very vocal anti-police people, and put them in the same situation and done testing and the people have pulled the trigger when it should have been not to pull the trigger.”
“These people need to be, whether it’s through counseling, retooling, retraining; with the thing with George Floyd, they basically said what that officer did was common practice, so we see the end result that happened there, so if that’s common practice, obviously there needs to be a change. If we are still using archaic methods that are not working anymore, then we need to look at alternatives. PTSD, is this a thing with these guys here, they’ve got so much going on they are absolutely losing it the second somebody is coming against them. Maybe we’ve got more mental issues in there than we could possibly imagine. We need to deal with that.”
“With certain police forces, you’re seeing now where there’s actually police officers leaving in droves. Not only is it too dangerous, their mayors don’t have their backs anymore, their mayors are coming out against them.”
“The media is making a lot of the police officers to be these terrible guys that nobody’s trusting anymore and we need to uplift some of these guys and take some of the pressure off.”
So, while many consider mental health issues on the public side with no clear, reasonable method of engaging when police are called, Emo sees it as an issue on the other side of the baton as well. But what is the solution?
“I think we need to look at what’s working. Every system is always going to have flaws. If we look at the OPP system and say “this is the best,” let’s make this the template so everybody’s got to follow this template. At the same time let’s tweak that template to make it better as well,” Emo said. “It’s not a quick fix. I think it’s going to be a long fix. There needs to be individuals helping through mental health.”
It’s about the money for Emo. Expansion of what services are covered will lead to higher costs, and the current costs are too high already.
“Like anything, our health care, can it be better? Absolutely. I hear from my U.S. friends our healthcare is better. At what cost do we get better? You want to bet it’s going to be tax dollars. As far as adding things to that, we have health plans. Most people that work have health plans, to add more stuff in there, it’s just going to come out of taxpayers’s money,’ he said.
“For certain things, I think it was dental, they are trying to socialize that into the program for children. Why? We’re adding more debt when we do have already programs for that stuff. Why would somebody want to pay for my kids teeth?”
If there is one place to make change, it’s at the front end, before anyone needs a doctor, and Emo said that is a party plank.
“That’s always been one of the platforms of the CHP party, is the preventative part of it. What are we doing so we are not overcrowding our hospitals? If somebody is a diabetic, what’s their lifestyle like? Somebody that maybe is an alcoholic, gets involved in car accidents all the time, what are we doing for that person? Why is this person this way?”
Fleshing out the abortion question, because it is a medical issue, Emo expands on his position. The core point of departure for many is why should one’s moral or religious beliefs be the mode for all?
“Everybody’s got an opinion, everybody’s got a stand and I understand that. If they look at other things, going out to a bar and getting drunk, some people think that’s not good, some people think it’s OK. Some people think it’s OK to take opioids, some people think it’s not OK. There’s always going to be a stance on that. For me, it’s always about life and enjoying life. I couldn’t imagine looking at my five children and imagine one of them not being there. As people with opinions, especially nowadays with the divisiveness that’s going on, I accept people’s decisions, we can agree to disagree. I’m not going to hammer my opinion and beliefs into your head.”
Despite abortion being a major party consideration, even if they had a majority, Emo doesn’t think changing the law will be easy.
“We’re 100% pro-life. Would we like it to be overturned? Absolutely. There are many people out there who cannot have children, they would love to adopt if we had the children to adopt. Unfortunately there’s a lot of red tape and we would like that removed so it is more accessible to be able to adopt,” Emo said.
“When something is made law, it’s very difficult to overturn things. If we had power and we could do that, it would be a long, maybe impossible target to do. If you go back to the 60s, Roe vs. Wade, out of, at that point maybe 200 million people and a hundred thousand signatures put that into law.”
Another issue people don’t like is how multi-national corporations seem to be controlling prices for parts of the healthcare system, especially drugs. He sees a system which has evolved to allow some companies to do what they want and the government is afraid to upset the apple cart, because who else are you going to do business with?
“I had a gentleman contact me and he said his research he did, they actually had the cure for cancer. He was basically silenced. Even with the vaccination, the Pfizer and Moderna, I’ve always said follow the money trail. How does somebody who is making $125 – $175,000 a year, whether you are in Canada or in the U.S., how do these people end up multi-millionaires? There’s always people in their back pocket that are financing them for something. How are they backing them? Oh, there a piece of legislation coming up – I want you to vote this way. There’s going to be those kickbacks. What happens if I vote this way? We’ll sweeten the pot for you. Term limits have always been a thing too. Why does this place get that bid when this is a lower price and a better product? Because there’s a kickback over here. Or, we’ve got something on you,” Emo said.
With two major parts to our angst over how media serves us, we tackle mainstream media first. It’s the message, or lack of useful information sacrificed to titillating, prurient, voyeurism that has come to be the hallmark of what passes for journalism in the roaring 20s.
“We need to be informed, but we need to be informed properly. It’s getting more and more difficult to find out who is telling the truth and who is not. Because of this we’ve got this divisiveness going on; I heard this here, I heard this over here, which one is true? Who is telling us and why?”
“How do we figure out is it truth, or is it a lie? Or is it an omission of truth, so it’s not really a lie, but it’s not really the truth. Things used to be black and white, now there’s too much gray in there and it’s disturbing to try and figure out what’s going on. You had front page news and then you had opinions in the back. Now it’s all opinions,” Emo said.
“We need to hear the news and just the news and the facts. Everybody has an opinion; well, it’s my – for lack of a better word – my first amendment right for free speech. OK, does your free speech tell you, you can slander, that you can be liable? No. We pull ourselves up under these blankets all the time, saying we can do whatever we want, we’ve got a free will because our elected officials do it.”
That observation segues neatly into concerns about social media. Many argue there’s nothing social about it, in fact there is plenty of evidence social media has been weaponized by nations, and domestic groups who just want to disrupt society.
“People want to say things, but I think if people are saying ‘this is a fact,’ well, prove it’s a fact and I think we need that more so. I can walk the streets and find a handful of people that will agree with what I say, and there are probably ten more handfuls over here that will disagree with me. You are always going to find a posse of people that will agree with you. I think if we are going to stuff like that (moderate), I think we need to have also bipartisan fact checkers, as opposed to those who have the same ideals or same agendas,” Emo said.
Communication apps have been used to coordinate various protests – and encourage people to participate. Early investigation concludes there are a very few players at the center of a lot of different kinds of protest.
“You look at all these protests and for me to be able to get out, and thankfully these gentleman are here to go out and put signs up for me, but how in the matter of 12 hours can we get hundreds of thousands of protesters, with signs and t-shirts made up, with busses to a location. The money’s somewhere. There’s always going to be those people that are sitting back there bringing this about, or just waiting for it.”
“We believe we need to be good stewards of this planet. We need to take care of everything. I believe there’s cycles. Do we have a direct result because of that? Probably, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a climatologist. The head of the Weather Channel said it was all bunk. Do we need to continue doing things if we are changing it? Absolutely not, I do my part, everybody does their part, but when it comes to taxing, where’s this money going?” Emo said.
Memo isn’t sure all the right questions are being asked of the right people when it involves understanding climate change, and particularly how do we avoid calamity.
“Do we have to be reckless? Absolutely not. We’ve got one earth. We’ve got to breath, we’ve got to live, we’ve got to survive, so I agree with taking care of what we’ve got, but are our tax dollars going to do that?”
Here’s the thing, we have the technology, we know what the problems are – even if we can’t agree on cause – Joseph Blough down on the corner of Mississaga and West knows we need to act now, with purpose; a majority of Canadians believe the same, it’s just too bad our politicians think we need to talk about it more. We could, if the will existed at parliament hill, change our energy economy over from oil to electricity in rather short order, kind of like we adapted to the pandemic, and our grandparents prepared for war.
“What are our options if everything is electric? My physics tells me to make energy we have to use energy, so how do we make electricity? Do we go back to natural gas burning generators to make electricity? Are we any better? I’ve heard solar panels, five years and they are said and done and yet there’s farmers who come me and said they signed a 25 year commitment on their property,” which provides diminishing returns Emo said. “You throw nuclear up there and people, they absolutely lose their minds.”
‘I think there’s always going to be time and sometimes we’ve got to sit down and do that, even if it hurts sometimes. I don’t think anything gets past the time when things cannot be changed.”
Industry and consumer corporations have been preparing for decades for automation, our governments have not. It seems to be the best kept secret machines will eliminate more jobs than can be imagined and even the general public is being kept in the dark – until they lose their jobs, as some already have. As we have seen each specific issue often has parts that bleed into other issues, so in this case climate change is a huge factor as well.
Some noted economists have proposed the solution to having more people unemployed than employed is a Universal Basic Income. It’s simple concept, which seems to confound understanding at every turn, from political parties to coffee shop klatches.
“My concern would be is that’s heading more toward socialism if we are all constantly depending on the government. If I’m not making a certain amount of income, then I’m going to receive free money. The money is going to come from somewhere and who is going to make that? We went through this with CERB, we’ve got so much debt now because people were let go of their job, people lost their jobs and now you are handing out $2,000 a month to people, where’s the money coming from and how do we pay it back?”
People, even candidates can come up with examples of jobs gone by the wayside from daily experience, yet often will blame everything but the root cause – the machines.
“We see that with Walmart. I remember going into Walmart you used to have all these cashiers and as soon as the minimum wage was bumped up, what happened? Everything got revamped.”
Emo does agree we’ve been asleep at the wheel.
“What are we doing now? Any business plan you always look at now, 5 years, 10, 15, 20 years, here’s always a plan of action to get to that certain point. What happens 20 years from now and you go – oops, it’s here. Well, we should have been making this plan 20 years ago and that’s a lot of the problem,’ he said.
Once again issue overlap. The looming wave of joblessness is but only one thing we aren’t doing anything about despite experts shouting from the mountaintops action is needed. Pandemic anyone? Spiraling costs for most necessities like healthcare, old age pensions, and climate change have all been forewarned by experts in those fields for decades.
“We need to have some sort of brainchild in charge of all this stuff, looking at all the avenues. Obviously it’s got to be more of a team than just an individual. A think tank of people and see what we can do. We’re not going to have a crystal ball, we’re not going to have all the answers, but we need to see what direction we go. We’re bringing in immigrants to this country and yet we have a high unemployment. What are these people going to do? If we don’t have jobs for our people now, why are we bringing in more people to create more unemployment? People here need to have jobs so we can invite people to grow this country, but there needs to be something there for them as well.”
Nobody running for office in this riding is misunderstanding this issue. What to do about it is where divergence occurs, except for one thing – we need a divorce, now.
“Absolutely, I don’t know if it’s factual, but I’ve heard from individuals who have said when the big boats, the big barges come over from China to Walmart the waves are splashing over the bow, but when they head back they can almost topple over because there’s nothing on them.”
“We’ve got an unfair trade going on with these guys. Why? Why are you dealing with a business partner that’s not being fair?”
Like any divorce, saying you want one is one thing, sometimes you also end up having to find a new place to live, in a hurry, and having to replace your wardrobe, car, television and dishes if the announcement isn’t taken well. Emo thinks reclaiming Canada’s position of, for example, being supplier of farm machinery and telephone equipment to the world and becoming a manufacturing giant again will make things go easier.
“We need to look at bringing more infrastructure, more manufacturing back to Canada. That we kind of cut (away from China), gently, and this way when we have more manufacturing maybe we can put more people to work. Automation may take a lot of that stuff, but there still has to be people to oversee this, then we’ve got manufacturing jobs, we’ve got income, we’ve got taxes and we’ve got money.”
Using the opportunity to speak to issues of personal interest not covered in the uniform line of questioning, Emo in a way returns to his motivation for running.
“We need to get the country back. This fear that’s going out there, the divisiveness, we need to get our country back to where it was pre-COVID, maybe a little further back. I’m not sure how far back we want to go. This brother against brother, people against people, culture against culture, I think people are tired, and people are tired of fighting. I know I’m tired of fighting, I’m tired of the lies. If somebody would just come out and say, ‘You know what, I screwed up.” Instead of giving me this double talk – I screwed up, sorry, I’ll take the consequences. What a revelation.”
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Simcoe North Christian Heritage Party candidate Russ Emo