In response to the Disability Justice Network of Ontario's invitation to participate in our series of #CripTheVote town halls, mayoral candidate Ute Schmid-Jones has sent the following statement to us:
Thank you for taking the time to invest in a very detailed and interesting telephone conversation with me on the weekend. I hope that I was able to explain that as an individual, I can express a point of view and even share how a political policy effects me personally for example. As an elected politician however, I have to put my personal opinions to one side and listen with an open mind to public consultation on any issue. That doesn't mean that my personal opinion doesn't influence my political self, it means that I will, if elected, be exposed to many viewpoints and presentations of statistical data. How I feel standing in this present moment, may evolve (hopefully will evolve) with exposure to many different professional perspectives and expressions of life experience.
I hope also that you will investigate ways that City of Hamilton can address the current "grandfathering" clause that allows some spaces in our city to delay or even in some cases avoid, achieving accessibility standards outlined by the Province of Ontario. There is a great deal of economic currency behind initiatives, services, and products that support those with different abilities. Those new technological developments also benefit those who are more able. It's imperative that the City of Hamilton recognize how these business opportunities, and the economic stimulus they will generate, have the ability to advance our Community Benefits. This means walking our talk when it comes to achieving accessible standards and making our City welcoming to people of ALL kinds of different abilities.
Here is the consistent "values" statement that I have used in the majority of my email responses to individuals and organizations during the course of this mayoral candidacy race:
I would like to acknowledge that the City of Hamilton, as a landmass, an organic living entity, currently geographically defines itself humanly, on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe and Mississauga People. These and other Indigenous people on the North American Continent formed treaties with colonizers from Europe. In Hamilton, we acknowledge and name one of these treaties as “The Dish with One Spoon”. It is a treaty ( that we who wish to amplify the Truth and Reconciliation Report in a historical and repeated written and oral tradition) which recognizes an agreement by these indigenous nations to share this territory and protect the land. I also personally acknowledge the Two Row Wampum Belt Agreement that recognizes the sovereignty of the Indigenous People of this territory by the first European Colonizers.
Defining policy of support of any kind, for any group in Hamilton, is only possible if I am a member of one of those groups. Even then, if I wish to be an inclusive representative of the people of the City of Hamilton, my greatest contribution will be as a one who listens, rather than one who writes flowery speeches, makes uninformed promises, or likes hearing the sound of my own voice. I endeavour to listen and have an open mind to the needs and values expressed by all.
As an elected official, my first objective will always be to share and protect the territorial lands. Hamilton is a part of those lands. I will rise up to honour the treaties.
Here are my political and personal values:
- Ecological Wisdom - Non-Violence - Sustainability - Respect for Diversity - Social Justice - Participatory Democracy
Hamilton's mayor has one vote at the council table. Democracy is one of my highest values. Public consultation on municipal matters that affect the environmental and economic success of our Ambitious City, must be a valued participatory tool in developing and implementing all policies.
I hope that these expressed "values" help you understand how I would respond in a voting capacity at the Council Table if I were elected Mayor of Hamilton.
Thank you again for reaching out with important questions and giving all of our municipal candidates the opportunity to thoughtfully respond. hope that you will find something positive and inspiring out of all written responses.
Ute Schmid-Jones Hamilton's Mayoral Choice for Environmental and Economic Climate Resilience