Federal election

Trappenberg focused on student debt, job creation

The Green Party candidate in the riding of Halifax, Thomas Trappenberg, wants to slash tuition and create more local jobs, all while helping the environment

Trappenberg doesn't think voting Green is "a wasted vote."
Trappenberg doesn’t think voting Green is “a wasted vote.”   Sara Connors

Thomas Trappenberg’s office is a mess. Stacks of papers litter his desk, cardboard signs clutter — if not overpower — one corner of the room and a half-eaten cup of instant noodles sits on the counter.

But Trappenberg doesn’t have time to clean right now — let alone finish a cup of noodles.

With the Oct. 19 federal election quickly approaching, the Green Party candidate in the riding of Halifax is busy attending debates and promoting his party’s view that an ecologically sound government is possible, if not “desperately” needed in Canada.

As Canada continues to experience climate change, Trappenberg, along with the Green Party, promises to move the country toward more clean energy sources, such as windmills and electric trains.

In doing this, he hopes to create more jobs for locals, which is a major component of his platform.

“Oil is not the future. Don’t subsidize a dying, dinosaur industry that destroys our world. Start helping people get off the ground here. [In Nova Scotia] we have land, wind and water — there’s so many alternatives,” he said.

Who is Thomas Trappenberg?

Born in Germany in 1963, Trappenberg grew up in what he describes as a ”political household,” with his father serving as a city councillor.

Trappenberg got his PhD in theoretical physics and came to Halifax as a post-doctoral fellow in 1992.

He meet his wife while working at Dalhousie University, and spent four years in Japan and England before coming back to Halifax with his her and two children.

Now a professor of computer science at Dalhousie, Trappenberg never planned to go into politics or even belong to political party.

He felt political parties were “polarizing,” but after returning to Canada and realizing it “is such a beautiful country” he wanted to get involved.

He helped co-organize the founding of the Green Party of Nova Scotia in 2008 and has run as a federal candidate in Halifax West since 2006.

Students

Besides creating more local clean energy jobs, Trappenberg and the Green Party want to ease student debt.

If elected, he plans on immediately capping debt over $10,000 and using $46 billion in subsidies from the oil industry to eventually eliminate tuition completely.

He also plans to create paid apprenticeship programs, and environmental and community corps in order to combat student unemployment.

“We can’t just let our youth start with mind-boggling debt,” he said. “Many other countries [provide greater assistance to students]. Why can’t a rich country like Canada?”

Peacekeeping

Given that the Green Party “came out of the anti-war movement,” Trappenberg would rather spend taxpayers’ dollars on peacekeeping than on “expensive fighter jets and attack missions.”

He says he would invest more money into Canada’s peacekeeping efforts, such as bringing Syrian refugees to Nova Scotia.

“We are lucky here at the moment. We are fairly safe here. [We have a] military base in Shearwater, there are facilities where we could facilitate refugees coming in right away. And why not? This is working on world peace.”

Not a “wasted vote”

Trappenberg thinks incumbent NDP candidate Megan Leslie will win the riding, but voting for the Green Party is not a “wasted vote.”

“It is actually the only vote that is not wasted. If we get 10 per cent [of the Green vote] here this would send a signal [to the NDP]. This is actually a voice that people really want this. We can go to Megan and tell her ‘This is important and you really should consider [the Green Party’s] policies.’”