Kristopher “Kris” Rivard of Sturgeon Falls has been named the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) candidate for Timiskaming-Cochrane for the 2022 provincial election taking place this June 2. In a press release from the party office, Rivard’s lifelong passion and interest in environmental concerns and sustainability was cited. “The values of the Ontario Greens closely align with my own, particularly on green jobs, clean energy, sustainable development and housing affordability. Ontario Greens have a real plan for real action to protect people and the planet, and a real plan to make our communities better.”
Rivard went through the nomination process in December of 2021, garnering 60 signatures from voters in the district to put his name forward. This will be his second provincial campaign as he ran in Nipissing against Vic Fedeli in 2018. Rivard, who is 29, said he knew he wasn’t going to win, “but I was trying to raise the profile of the GPO. It was an uphill battle and very difficult in a Conservative stronghold like Nipissing, but it was to gain experience and to raise the Green brand in northern Ontario.” He’s also well aware that running in his own backyard will be just as difficult, but he’s energetically committed. “Yes, it will be an uphill battle considering John Vanthof has a lot of support in the area.” He plans on making a stronger push throughout the riding to garner more votes for the Greens than ever before.
Rivard is thinking strategically about the future of the GPO in the north, saying he has a vision, “[to] speak with the younger population and try to get them involved in politics… Many people don’t recognize that a lot of things that bother them are influenced by politics. Once you can have those honest conversations with people it hopefully helps them to realize that politics is something everyone should be involved; not only the young or older generations, but everyone.” Rivard thinks the GPO will be more attractive to a younger generation, however, as they are facing an insecure future and often feel neglected. “The Green Party has a great housing affordability plan in place, has worked hard on creating those policies… Mike Schreiner (GPO leader) has economic policies geared towards small and medium-sized business… It’s true that we strongly support small business and not just the larger corporations that seem to dominate everything. …The GPO puts people first, and one way to do that is to [explain how] middle class jobs of the future will be in the green economy… I really believe that it’s important that young generations get involved so we can move towards change and improve the quality of life for everyone. The main thing that Mike Schreiner always iterates it to protect the people and places we love. Make it possible for younger generations to obtain good jobs in the area, to buy a house and build a family, and try to improve northern Ontario as a whole.”
Rivard, who currently works with the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority as a Septic Inspector, completed a post-graduate certificate in Environmental Management in 2018. He also holds a B.A. in Geography from Laurentian University. Rivard is also well known in West Nipissing for his involvement with the Sturgeon Falls Beautification Committee, is the co-founder of the West Nipissing Green Initiative, and is fluently bilingual. “West Nipissing [will] be the area where I can get out and speak to people the most, and knock on doors. I know the area very well. I’m going to get up north as well, to get those conversations going. It’s nice being from Sturgeon Falls and representing the municipality of West Nipissing throughout the whole district,” he said, expressing the hope that his party can gain ground, “as long as I keep moving forward. It’s very difficult to win an election on your first or second try. I believe Mike Schreiner won on his fourth try. The idea is to always be moving forward… The climate crisis and the housing crisis going on right now – the Green Party is well situated to tackle those crises.”
He is also looking to build the party network and membership throughout the riding. “Just by talking with friends and family, residents and constituents in the district, I can see a lot more people are moving towards the Green Party…There are people in other municipalities as well that I’ve gotten in contact with – but I’m always looking to build a bigger and better team.” He also mentions an excellent relationship with GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “We seem to agree on most things. He’s definitely a little bit intimidating because he’s a great speaker, and I definitely see there’s a lot of work to put in. But it’s inspiring to have a someone like him as leader – it’s very easy to support the party with such a great leader as Mike Schreiner. We hope to send more Green MPPs to Queens Park in 2022. Mike has gained some great coverage in the news over the past 4 years because he is working across party lines to improve the lives of all Ontarians. He’s very inspiring in that way and it’s impressive to see what one Green MPP can do at Queen’s Park.”
Rivard said that crossing party lines is also the way of the future. “I think that’s something that’s annoying… that the bipartisanship in politics is kind of deceiving in a way, and turns people off politics. If we could all get together and work across party lines to solve the problems instead of [only] winning the argument. It’s something Mike has done very well and it’s something I’ve taken from his leadership. We don’t always have the answers to everything but if we work together, hopefully we can solve an issue fairly quickly and efficiently.” He knows the area of Timiskaming -Cochrane very well “thanks to hockey during my youth. I hope to revisit all these communities and get out there discussing politics and seeing what is affecting people in our district.”
Rivard will be at the All Candidates event on May 26.