Tom Regina /Photo submitted.

Retired HHSS teacher Tom Regina leads Green Party charge

Regina said he’s “green behind the ears as well as Green in the heart” to represent Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding
By Darren Lum

Tom Regina is bringing his local teaching experience to the political realm this coming 2022 provincial election, as he committed to represented the Green Party as its candidate for Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes – Brock riding.
Regina, who has 26 years of public education experience, taught for 23 years at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, guiding students with music theory and leading groups as a music teacher. His experience gave him an insight and perspective about the full breadth of the challenges people in this riding face, including how it affects their children.
“I said in my biography that being a rural teacher for so many years gave me some insight into some of the inequities that are kind of like built into our system, the bus transportation, [and housing inequity]. There were students who could participate in things and there were students who couldn’t participate in them and it had to do with issues that their families had to deal with with regards to transportation where they could live, how they could live, how much it cost,” he said.

Regina added this area is a socio-economic depressed area, which is owed to how some of the employment is tied to hospitality and tourism and seasonal work.
He said after helping with the political campaign for the Green Party in the last federal election his decision to run was an “evolution” of his political engagement.
“It just seemed like it was something that I could do. And of course, we tried to find good candidates – and there’s lots of people, who could be good candidates – but they’re young and they have families, or, you know, they work, or that they’ve got are businesses. I put my name forward and that’s the result and now my name is up there,” he said, noting his surprise at his nomination.
With Karen Hillis, Regina helped to establish a local Electoral District Association (EDA) for the Green Party of Canada for the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding in the spring of 2021. An EDA is a sanctioned administrative organization that facilitates party and community building activities at the riding level. Essentially, they assist candidates throughout the election process, and then, once elections are over, ensure their party maintains a presence in the community.

From a press release from the Green Party, “Regina is a strong advocate for arts education and community building through arts participation. He is a founding member of two community choirs, a local music festival for students of all ages, and the Highlands Summer Festival, which provides theatre experience for community members in a semi-professional setting.”
He believes every riding has voters that want to vote for the Green Party and need a candidate to be able to do that.
“That’s what started me to get involved behind the scenes. I wanted to grow the idea that we could have local candidates from within the riding,” he said.

The Green Party leader Mike Schreiner offered his support to the long-time teacher and Highlands resident of three decades.
“Tom is a long-time resident and member of the region and understands the key challenges facing the area,” said Ontario Greens Leader Mike Schreiner from a prepared statement. “He gets it. He’s a strong community builder and will be an authentic and real voice for his neighbours at Queen’s Park.”
As far as goals go, Regina said winning the riding isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.
“What I like to say is the electorate from this riding has returned some pretty surprising results and I believe that they can do it again. And nobody knows that more than the incumbent,” he said, referring to when MPP Laurie Scott made way for John Tory, who lost in the election in 2009.
Another politically surprising example was when Ontario’s Premiere David Peterson lost to the NDP’s Bob Rae in 2009.

Regina said the Green Party represents change.
“It’s time to do things differently. The Greens want to see more consensus. They want to see more people at the table. They want to hear more voices. They want more people to be involved. Like more of a participatory democracy. And, so a vote for the Green Party says … I don’t want to be miscounted. People have talked about strategic voting and what that does is it makes people not vote for what they believe in and then analytically afterwords you get a skewed idea of what the population out there really wants, or is really looking for,” he said.
Regina’s idea of success does not have to do with gaining power, but to achieve “consensus and governance.”
“What I want to achieve is a higher profile for the Green values that would become part of the various municipal governments and part of our provincial government with respect to making decisions based on land and land use, with what’s good for the land. Making decisions what’s good for people in general,” he said. “So, I can’t say that have a specific issue for part of the riding, but certainly if I found myself in that position, I would be doing a lot of listening and a lot of advocating.”

With files from the Echo archives