Feature Story Sunday May 1, 2011
Still undecided? UFV students asked nine questions and here's what they said
Craig Hill/Voice photos
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon federal candidates at UFV debate. Mark Strahl was absent from the meeting.
Introductions - Gwen O'Mahony, NDP
e have the opportunity to lift every single senior out of poverty. In this election we have the opportunity to stand up for the environment, in case you haven't noticed, I support wild salmon (points to her tee shirt).
This election, most importantly, not to be forgotten, we have the opportunity to to make life affordable for everyday families who are struggling to make ends meet
So I'm calling upon you tonight, and I'm speaking especially to the youth who came out this evening. I want you to come out and I want you to vote. I want your voices to be heard this time. I'm calling for real change in Ottawa.
Clive Edwards, Western Block
I'm Clive Edwards, I represent the Western Block Party. We're fairly new here in Chilliwack. One of the issues we've come up against is 'you can't fix Ottawa', in fact you can't fix Canada given the current structure. It is structurally unsound as far as accomplishing anything that would give us westerners control over our own lives.
We do need to de-confederate. If Canadians want to come back together again then we can re-negotiate something that hasn't been negotiated since 1867 which makes us one of the oldest colonies on the planet.
We do need to abrogate NAFTA, in fact, as the gentleman with the water sign pointed out, once we start selling water to the Americans we can no longer have our own water rights for ourselves.
So we are suffering from globalization, even though none of the other major parties want to address this.
I'd like to give each of you a reading list, if you'd like to make some notes, Carol Quigley "Tragedy in Hope" and the anti-American-Anglo establishment.
Globalresearch.ca an internet site that is absolutely wonderful for dealing with the issues that are affecting us rather discretely ever other day. The other of course is the (unintelligible) out of Switzerland. It explores the principles of globalism sometimes speculatively.
I think if you get a background on those books, I'm sure you're not going to have them recommended to many history classes here, Carol Quigley was a history professor at Georgetown University, so the people going into external affairs will know about it, but nobody else seems to pick up on these very, very important backgrounders as to why we're in the pickle that we're in.
Diane Janzen, Liberal
Good evening everyone, I wanted to thank you so much for coming out tonight. You know I read an article with the title, "Is Democracy Dead in Canada" and I think if you looked at this room I think you'd say that it is in fact, alive and well in Canada and thank you for coming out.
I've had the privilege of serving you as a school trustee, chair of the school board and also as city councillor and I have loved every minute. It's been 9-years. This is an extraordinary community of can-do people, of people who care about each other and many other communities our size have lost their sense of "community" and we have not lost that sense.
I would value the opportunity to represent you in Ottawa. I don't really care going to Ottawa to sip some champagne with the big shots, that's not at all what I'm interested in. I believe in advocating strongly for our community and for this riding.
I just want to talk a bit about the liberal party and why I'm representing the liberal party.
The liberal party gave us the Canadian Banking System and the CBS protected our economy from the biggest recession in known history.
It said we have to provide credit and capital to business but we have to protect consumers and the economy from abuse.
When you look at the liberal party on just about every platform, whether it's the environment, whether it's social issues, health, you see those principles represented.
But this is an election about choices and very clear choices. Sometimes seem to be a little murky but they're not that murky in this particular election,
What we've said is that the liberal party is that we believe in investing in healthcare, we believe in investing in post secondary education.
We absolutely do not believe in $6-12-billion dollars worth of jet purchases, this is not the time. We believe that this is the time to get our financial house in order and in fact that you are being given information that does not reflect the clear situation in Canada.
Paul Martin and the liberals handed the Conservative government $13-billion in surplus. They blew through about $69-million worth of your money in 5-years and we currently sit at a $56-billion deficit.
My concern is that I believe in that we're actually getting to a point where we will have a structural deficit which basically means that we won't have enough coming in to support healthcare, or education, or things like that.
We also have said we do not support anymore corporate tax cuts. We have said that we believe that we have to be competitive and about 25% below the American corporate tax rates.
But we will not be supporting other current plans because it takes about $5-6-billion out of the budget and that has to come from somewhere.
Locally here, and I think when you look at the title it says 'Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon. It doesn't say Member of Parliament for the Conservative party or the Liberal party or the New Democratic Party or the Communist Party or the Green Party or the Western Block.
I think job No.1 is looking afer our local community. I want to work on the community with infrastructure. I want to work to make UFV's dream on the education part a complete reality, and I believe it can be. I want to work on public transit and I want to work on issues throughout the riding.
There are immense economic issues in places like Lytton, Lilloet, Hope and Pemberton.
So on May second, I do ask for your support. I give you my promise that I will work hard. I can't p[romise you I won't make mistakes, but I value your vote and I would hope that vote to make our community proud of their representative in Ottawa.
Jamie Hoskins, Green
Hey guys, how's it going? My name's Jamie Hoskins, I'm your Green Party candidate for the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding.
Before we begin, I'm going to do things a little differently tonight— you guys are going to have a chance to grill us all night, I want to start with a question for you guys; how many have you guys seen the videos that are going around on YouTube and Facebook around these "Vote mobs" that are happening around in Canada.
Of those of you have seen it, how many of you have been inspired and motivated by those videos you've been seeing on YouTube?
Those videos are inspiring me. Those videos are motivating me, they're getting me all fired up. When I watch those videos, I see the students that I went to school with a couple of years ago, when I studied here at UFV in anthropology, First Nations studies and when I studied at SFU.
I teach students who have visions, of dreams of what this country can look like. I see students who are inspired by what they're learning from their professors. I also see the students when they finish school and when they walked out and got their hearts broken when it's really tough to get things done in this country.
Students who got disenfranchised and like me and a bunch of my friends, they gave up on voting and gave up on even caring. One of the things that inspires me about these videos is that those friends, I'd seen them in those videos. I've seen them fighting a group of people that are motivating them, inspiring them, drawing them to step out and try to make a difference in our country.
I'm standing up here because I found it difficult for people to do the same thing for me. And for me it was a group of Greens who brought me in and motivated me and inspired me and got me to step up and to step out and put myself out here and try to represent the people of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding.
Now, I'm going to challenge you tonight. My challenge is going to be to challenge you to step up and to step out. To step up, you guys have already done it, you're already here, you showed up at a debate. Congratulations, you took the first step. To step out, the people along with you, you try to get them to step up as well.
For those of you who want ore information, we're going to be live-tweeting the whole event, so any references or citations for university students who are all going to be following the CFC Green Party as we go along tonight.
Dorothy-Jean O'Donnel, Marxist-Leninist
My name is Dorothy-Jean O'Donnel and I'm the Marxist-Leninist candidate for the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.
I'd like to congratulate the organizers, in particular, I'd like to congratulate the sign maker here. By putting our names in the dominant position and the party smaller in less viable positions reflect a new consciousness that is developing in this country.
The old cartel party that runs this country does not represent Canadian people. Less than 1% of human beings belong to any political party and yet political parties control the entire election process and then after the election the parties that dominate parliament run the show and not the MP, even as sincere or honoured as they might be, ends up going to Ottawa representing the party to the constituents rather than representing the constituents.
So our party stands for democratic renewal. We believe that democratic renewal is a non-partisan project, that is, people from every ideological and political perspective are all confronting this same system and each have their own set of experiences and frustrations all of which need to come to the floor to be discussed.
Our party has particular proposals of what to be done, one of those we say is that we should expunge the process not the parties.
In 2004, Cretien $1.75 to $2 per vote came in, $187-million had been given to the big political parties.
I'd like to ask candidates from their parties, have you seen any of that money? What culpability is this?
I think that everybody has an idea where that money went, it's gone into focus groups and political polling, marketing. They market political parties like coke and Pepsi and narrowing, narrowing, narrowing the choices so like in this election, there are desperate attempts to re-establish this equilibrium that was lost in 1993.
A party in power, a party in opposition. That was lost when the election of the Bloc was the official opposition and since that time, the ruling elites have not been able to get that system (two-party) that they want.
That's what they're trying to do with this big push of Harper for majority government. He makes the most inane statements about the nature of the electoral system saying that we could get most amount of seats then he could form a government.
Any body who's studied political science knows that's not the case. He can attempt to form a government but he has to win the confidence of the House.
Question #1 - What do you plan to do about national childcare?
In 1993 when the liberal party opposed the national daycare program our party specifically proposed that there should be three or four hours provided each week for every so that they can participate in political affairs and social affairs.
So, a meeting on Wednesday night and you should have permission from your children so you can go out to that meeting. The question of having an informed citizenry who actively participates in political life is crucial with respect to our previous investments in social programs, that of course means providing daycare, providing support, and other kinds (of programs) for single mothers to participate and not only earn a living but also contribute to society.
Hats off to whoever submitted this question particularly if you are a single parent who's going to school.
My last year at university, my wife and I we were on student loans and having to raise a child on student loans is pretty darn scary. There's really three things that are going on here. We're talking about issues of accessibility to education. We're talking about issues of affordability of education and we're talking about issues of availability of childcare in this question.
The Green party we're looking at practical changes for students. For that single mother or single father who's trying to attend school, worrying about childcare, worrying about the bills are going to be paid how tuition is going to be paid.
We're offering a couple of practical solutions and the first practical solution No. 1 is making sure that education is accessible and available to all Canadians regardless of their financial background or social situation so by opening up access to education and marginalized groups, groups who are traditionally not represented in Canadian universities.
That's the first step to it, the second step is making sure that students have access to the funding they need to be able to go to school and part of that will be through increases in bursaries and grants to students, particularly, like I said to marginalized students or who are typically underrepresented in the education system as well as low repayment programs and finally with the childcare issue, we're talking about a national childcare strategy that is accessible to all parents.
There's been a call for a national childcare strategy for about 25-years. The Liberal Party has a specific platform, we're going to establish the Early Learning Childhood care fund of $500-million which rises to $1-billion and we would be looking to do that in partnership with the provinces.
If the province came forward and said we wish to match that, then we would come forward with the matching dollars and there are two purposes for his fund, one would be to open up another space and especially in particular in urban areas, I think even here in Chilliwack now, Childcare is very hard to come by and that's something we'd like to address.
The other thing, and this is something that means a great deal to me as an ex-school trustee is we're not calling it "daycare", we're calling it early learning because what happens to kids who from the ages zero-five has everything to do with how successful they will be in school and how successful they will be in life.
So we are going to invest in training to deal with the brain development and other issues that children undergo between zero-five.
Our program, we believe is the most comprehensive early childhood learning strategy ever initiated in Canada.
It's not something that the federal government should be involved in. As a matter of fact, we need to have smaller government, we need to get government off the backs of people, we need to revamp the tax system totally. I would suggest implementing the Fair Tax which you could Google and find out some information on, but, this is essentially, robbing one sector of society to give it to another sector of society. It is bribing people with their own money. I really don't believe that this should be the purpose of government.
This is the very issue that got me involved in politics in the first place. I never expected to be a single parent. I was just minding my own business, working hard, I was a student, and I suddenly found myself struggling with two teenagers and I had to halt my education and my plans for the future. This one really gets to the core of the issue, yes we should do more and yes we can do more, if you can improve the state for a single mom in terms of her being able to find a good paying job, you're improving the lives of these children as well.
So my party would like to enact what's known as the National Childcare Program, its somewhat similar to the one currently today except for in Quebec.
We're talking about students here, so we would also like to pass what is known as the Canada Post Secondary Education Act and that's where we'd like to steer away from the student loans and increase grants so that students have adequate funding. We would also like to have a transfer program to provinces strictly for education so that we can keep tuition fees at affordable rates.
So I think with this would have made a world of difference for me and as an MP I will fight tooth and nail for this, thank you.
Question #2 What will you do to lower post secondary tuition textbook and student loan costs?
I kind of covered a little bit of it when I talked about the Canada Post Secondary Act, and I got ahead of myself. As I mentioned, one of the issues that we're facing is huge student loan debt that students are having to bear once they graduate and I feel as though a carrot has been dangled in front of us and they come out the other side just strapped.
Some of those debts students have incurred are active credit card fees as well and I'm really proud of our party because we're the only party standing up against credit card gouging. We'd like to see a cap put on these interest rates.
The world has really become a place of piranhas taking advantage of other people and little fish, I guess you would call it, and we've got to stand up against gouging, that's first and foremost and really students they get ripped off the minute they walk through the door (at school) credit card companies shoving it in their faces and they (students) don't realize what they signed on to.
One way is stop building giant deficits that we have, putting money into expensive real estate, learning for what's important as an individual and a community in this day and age of the internet, it doesn't really require all the social interactions that go along with it, if you're serious about your education, you don't need a university, you don't even need a college. Certification is another thing, and education is different.
Now textbooks I know how that you recommend that you buy their textbooks, why not have textbooks that are essentially royalty-free, pdf's or whatever.
The right way is to use technology to decrease the costs of getting an education. I don't pretend that I could wave a wand and make it happen, but lets look at alternatives and lets make sure that the requirement for an education are a little more flexible.
The Liberal Party in their platform has made a commitment for $1-billion for post secondary education in something called the Canada Relief Strategy and that would include a $4000 contribution to students, $6000 towards education.
One of the areas that we're very concerned about is attracting doctors and nurses to rural areas and for doctors we will be looking to forgive up to $40,000 with of student loans if they promise to practice medicine in our rural areas. There will be an amount somewhat lower than that for nurses. Those are two things. The other thing is we're very committed to the issue of volunteerism and if there is evidence that a student is significantly volunteering there will be a forgiveness of approximately $1500 in loan costs.
One thing I did want to clarify is the federal government does not set tuition rates for post secondary institutions, that's actually a provincial policy, issue and so we actually couldn't get involved in setting tuitions, that these other mechanisms are designed to help them.
It's amazing actually, its really great to see all the other parties up here talking about education issues. When I was a student one of the things we were really pushing for was to have more of the parties actually deal with these issues around tuition costs. It's nice to see so any people up here actually talking about it.
Again, like I mentioned with the last question, the three things that i think are really going on here are issues of accessibility, affordability and again availability. But we're going to look at it from a bit of a different angle this time.
When we're talking about accessibility we're talking about accessibility in schools, first of all, that schools are available in the community and colleges and those types of things. I think it's important that people have access to education, have the ability to go to education.
Part of the problem with access to education has to do with perception. People make decisions a lot of the time whether they're going to make it to university or not by the time they're finished high school. I know that in Chilliwack right now, 16.8% of the population of the City of Chilliwack has one-year or more of university. 16% of the population of Chilliwack has less than a high school education.
So that tells you something about what's going on. So first of all, accessibility, university education, post secondary education need to be accessible to people. Second of all, affordability. We need to make sure that students have access to the funding that they need to be able to go to school, grants, bursaries, low forgiveness programs, also earmarked transfer payments to make sure that universities have the resources that they need to be able to get the job done that teachers do for them. That includes; research funding for universities, research money for tenure professors as well. We need to make sure that we have funding for educations sources to go there.
I work as en employment councillor where every single day I work with clients who are trying to make decision about what they want to do with their future, what kind of education they're going to do, and I see people every day, they come to the point, and they have to make the decision, where they can't afford to go to school or it's just not in the cards for them.
Every Canadian has a right to an education and that's the No. 1 most important thing. And finally just a note about "availability", some of those clients that I see in my offices, don't have access to education because wait-lists are too long.
I think here at UFV if you're looking at the LPN program there's what a year-and-a-half, year wait-list to get into this program if you apply today?
We need nurses, we need care aides, we need doctors. The wait-lists are just too long. We need to make sure the universities have the funding to be able to provide the spaces to students. Thank you.
Should we be given a constitutional guarantee? That raises another question which I'm sure we'll be getting into in the course of the evening, which is a need for a new modern constitution. A constitution that reflects the right of Quebec to chart it's own destiny.
We're in favor of a free and equal union of a free Quebec and Canada. We are in favour of hereditary rights of aboriginal people and for democratic renewal that education and health are right. All of these tings need to be incorporated in a new and modern constitution.
The last time there was any consultation of Canadian people concerning these questions was the Spicer Commission in 1990. Since then successive governments have done nothing to implement what it is Canadians ask for at that time.
With respect to the question of text books indirectly relates to another question that is important for our party and that is to restrict monopoly right. Of course these textbook monopolies take their pound of flesh as part of an active movement to assert the right to an education, I think it makes sense for students to come forward with proposals to put restrictions on monopolies who put out the text books make requirements that they recognize the public function that these text books provide and they're not just a profit-making mechanism.
Question #3 What is your opinion on the BC Loans Forgiveness Program? Will you support this program to help alleviate the rising loan costs for newly graduated students?
I don't know what this proposal is, I know our party's proposal, which is that student loans should be forgiven that and going forward, the costs of education should be born by the monopoly who are training their personnel through the education system.
I've been tracking on the Pacific Leaders Program for a while. The PLP for those who don't know, is a program that if you spend time working for the provincial government, a certain portion of your student loan will be paid off for every year of service that you do. So after 3-years, your BC Student loan portion is taken care of.
I think it's a great program, but it raises a really interesting question. The interesting question is ; why the heck would the government give away free money for people to get education.
What I'm seeing at work and what I'm seeing with my clients, is that there's a labour shortage that's going on in Canada right now. The government's saying to people to get their education to be able to work for them because they're having a hard time finding skilled workers and it's not just government that's going through that.
If you read the federal government's website, take a look at the jobs.gc.ca website and look at the cover page. It's all in bright colours. It's all targeted to students, it's all targeted to young people because they're having a hard time finding young workers with the skills.
Now the challenges is; why are they having a hard time finding young workers with skills? I think part of it is a lot of us don't have the money to go to school. A lot of us don't have the money to get an education that we need.
What we need to address is the skill shortage that we have in Canada. Employers are looking to get us to address that buy us taking out student loans. The government's doing to by trying to give them incentives for us to work for them.
I think that at the end of the day, we need to make sure that student have access to the education they need. It's good for business, it's good for students and it's good for society because an educated population who understands who knows what's going on is a population that can make smart decisions about voting.
I strongly support a provincial program looking at the federal aspects. It's not specifically in the liberal party's platform but when I read about it, I was quite excited about it. The average age of the federal government employee in the range of 51. I am concerned that the federal civil services will have a huge group of people who will retire and with them goes a huge amount of corporate knowledge.
We need to do a better job at a federal level of attracting young people to the federal civil service and I believe that this model is something that we should actually look at federally because I think it could do a lot with the federal government doing what is a significant issue which they've been trying to eal with now for about a decade.
On the face of it, why would we want to encourage people to go work for the government when we want to cut back the size of government? The other comment I have on this is; the government employees generally have better working conditions, better wages and better pensions. Far better pensions than those of us who are self employed in the private sector.
So this is more goodies for people who might like them, but certainly, there's no way to justify it, when there's so many of us that don't even have pensions and that don't have any goodies and actually don't really want them from government.
I think that what we really need to look at is freedom. We need to look at having freedom in our own lives that isn't tied to government. Because as long as you see government as the "tit" as it were, you really cannot live an independent life. And it does limit your outlook and your vision.
I call it "feedlot mentality". You can debate about a lot of things, you can vote on a lot of things, but you can't vote what's going to happen because the leadership has essentially treated you as if you are a feedlot.
We're starving so, feed us. I just want to clear something up. I want to clear the air about communication between the federal and provincial government Diane had mentioned it in regards to tuition. I think there's been some good communication between federal and provincial. We saw that with Harper and Campbell and how they were about to work together to implement the HST.
So, I think we can sit down at a table and say 'Hey, we'll give you this fine deal if you can put a cap on tuition fees.'
I think it's possible that can happen. But I just wanted to shove that in really quickly.
Okay, this is an affable stop-gap solution, but I would like to say something that is 'buyer beware' for this low-forgiveness program. It's like a cel phone company plan — you have to read the fine print because there's certain areas of the public sector that go through something called a "wage freeze" and you will not get your loan forgiven unless you get a job.
That's why the NDP would like to see loans reduced in favor of grants. Plain and simple. Grants over loans.
Question #4 What is your opinion about the preservation of Chilliwack water, the polluting of it and the exportation of this highly sought after resource?
I had first-hand experience actually to see that our water is not being protected, especially, future aquifers.
I've been a federal candidate for a while. I was invited by the Friends of the Chilliwack River Valley to fight on behalf of the cause of the gravel pit that was going to be put on ALR land and right over an aquifer.
So I looked into if first-hand. I spoke with members of the DFO, I spoke with a provincial watchdog — who don't watch, and we really do need policy for water protection. I think in Canada we take it for granted. You guys get a lot of rain but water is not an infinte (resource).
I have to say too, my party is standing very clearly on this, I've spoken to MP Peter Julien, he's been a huge advocate for getting water out of the free trade agreement and protecting it as a public resource, so as a party I can say with all assurety (sic) that anything we depend on for life, water being one of it, that they remain in the hands of the public and be owned by the public for the public.
Yeah, I sort of concur with that actually except one thing that I should point out is that I'm on a well and I have water that's sweet, wonderful and when I go to Vancouver, I take a thermos of it so I don't have to drink Vancouver water.
We do have to protect this. Free trade is a rather nefarious little puppet. It seems charming, it seems wonderful, we can integrate with the US and that integration, if we start shipping the water, means we can't ever turn off the tap to them until we're out of water ourselves.
It's not just water. It's gas and the reason our electrical rates are going so high in BC is the previous liberal government decided to sell our electricity to California and therefore, we're expected to pay the California price, or close to it, when in reality it's our energy. It's not something that should be exported unless it's absolutely surplus and we should have the benefit of cheap energy, free water that's available and without Nestlé saying you'll to buy our bottled stuff and there's a lot of that going on in the world right now.
Under freet trade, under the World Trade Organisation, we are more and more bound to lose control of our own resources. So we really need to get back to bi-lateral trade, not multi-lateral trade and by definition that means that we have to get out of this globalist system that we're inextricalbly heading towards.
I couldn't disagree more about these columns about local water. In fact, right now, we have underneath us, the best water aquifer in the world, called the Sardis Aquifer, it is governed by three levels of government. The aquifer protection plan for the City of Chilliwack, the fisheries act from the federal government and the environment protection act from the province.
Our water is so good, that we have received international awards for having the best water in the world. So I just don't agree with that statement at all.
Internationally, the liberal party has said they oppose the international trade of water across borders.
When we talk about water, there's a big question we have to answer. The question is; Who owns it? Is water a resource that can be bought and sold by corporations, or is water a right?
Water's essential to life. If we don't have water, we don't live. If animals don't have water, they don't live. Water, it's either a resource or a right. When water is a resource that can be bought and sold, it can be bought by companies, bottled and sold to other countries so like Sudan that has their water taken and sold to other places.
Countries like Bolivia get told that they either privatize their water or they won't get IMF (International Monetary Fund) loans.
If water is a resource then the only people who have access to that resource are the people who can pay. But if water is a right, you shouldn't have to pay for it. Government should be responsible to make sure that every body in our society has access to clean, safe, public water. Water that is owned by the people and is freely available to the people of this country.
Tied in with that, if water is a right, people who are "peeing in the pool" so to speak, need to pay for peeing in the pool. If you are polluting our water, you should pay for doing that. Payback the people you are taking that resource from or at least (provide) access to clean, safe, affordable water.
Public rights over monopoly rights, it's necessary in all spheres of life and the economy. To identify what are our essential public resources, public institutions, public right, and to wage a determined struggle to restrict monopoly right.
Since the Paul Martin budget in 1995, there has been a push and a push that is relentless and just keeps on going more and more that more and more goes into the hands of these small, very powerful monopolies many of which are international.
I come from Hope at Kakawa Lake and just above where I live is this bottling plant, Neslté, that's sending our water off. The problems of water exist, while some may say it's a provincial problem but the provincial government is selling off the rivers of British Columbia.
BC Hydro, we are caught up in this ridiculous situation where it's going to be bankrupted by these deals that it signed for these Run-of-River power projects and we are going to have to pay the bill.
So essentially, the people of Chilliwack and the Fraser Canyon have to work out a program and give direction to their MP's about what they have to do about it.
Question #5 Transportation particularly between the university, if elected, what will you do to inter-campus transit between Chilliwack and Abbotsford?
Well, I'm a strong supporter of the project for light rapid transit in the Fraser Valley. I've thought a long time that you know you have buses in Abbotsford, in Chilliwack, in Langley... they don't quite meet up with each other and it wouldn't take much to run connector buses and so anyway, the point is this is just another example of things where people have to get together, put aside so-called party differences and work out a program and fight for it.
We're torn between the municipal level and the federal level, right? That's got to be one of those local issues and there's very little I think that any, what is elected, to actually do at the federal level if it makes this happen.
At the same time, if there's one thing I know about Greens, is that we're for public transportation and everybody I know is right behind this. We actually have a plan right now for pushing for high-speed public transportation in heavy community corridor like the Fraser Valley so this is one of the areas where we'd like to see high-speed rail, not just for students, but for workers as well.
I see workers every single day at work who are driving into Vancouver to work, that's time away from family, that's time away from their kids, that's time sitting in cars eating junky food half the time and wasting gasoline. So, high-speed rail, rail for the valley is definitely something that we're pushing for and definitely supporting the Rail for the Valley organization.
One thing I know is that Greens definitely support this issue, inter-campus transit. We might not be able to do anything about it at the federal level but what I can tell you is that when you guys are ready to step up and ready to step out and raise your voices about this issue, you'll have a whole bunch of greens standing behind you supporting you every step of the way until we can make that happen, travel between the campuses.
About a week ago, I issued a press release on calling my strategy and structure first, where I looked at roles but also public transit as a high priority if you would honour me with your votes on May 2.
That's a fairly local issue but I will point out that the subsidy required for the rail system on the north side of the Fraser, getting people in from Mission to Maple Ridge to downtown Vancouver, it's subsidized to the extent that I believe every 2-years the people who take it receive a free economy card from the government, that's how much it's costing, I would say this was done a couple of years ago.
So it's a good idea if there's a way to make it happen in a prudent way. Personally, it wouldn't do me any good because I work all over the place at all sorts of odd hours and I usually have to (carry) tools around. You can't really do that on light rail. So I'm always going to be wired to automobiles or trucks.
The cost of fuel is rather outrageous. Why? We're probably the only country on the planet that produces a significant portion of oil, gasoline, and we're paying market price. We're out-priced for it. When Mexico joined NAFTA, they refused to peg their domestic price at the world price after the speculators get through with it. So, if we want to consider a domestic price for oil, I think that's good. But they'll want to consider a domestic price for electricity and gas. I think that's good and certainly we need to make secure our market with water and other resources before we export anything.
A percent of our oil reserves have already been tapped. They were the most easiest to obtain, now we're getting desperate. But in time there'll be changes in this area and I don't think we'll be running gasoline automobiles, I hope, for much longer.
What we'd like to do is enact a national public transit strategy and that would guarantee a stable public funding. I think that's essential. Now while I was glad to see an implementation of the UPASS at UFV this past year, we know that obviously much more needs to be done and we do know that a lot of it falls under the provincial jurisdiction. But I do want to say, Myrtle, I have logged on to your website, I've read the study and I do feel that rail for the valley is viable. Support Rail For The Valley.
Question #6 Where do you see Canada's future participation in military operations abroad and when can our troops come home?
Brian Minter preamble to the question
Both the liberal and conservative platforms include very vague wording describing their stance on foreign policy and military action. Lots of leeway is allowed for any type of Canadian commitment to international bodies such as NATO and the UN. Canada's participation in being foreign police actions directed from outside our borders has led us to financial investments in loss of Canadian lives. Soldiers dying in Afghanistan of the same age as the students in this school.
Canadians are tired of war and this election is an excellent vehicle for our elected public servants to receive input and direction from our constituents they represent. Canadians want the wars to end. Canadians want a military to guard our own borders.
Our position has been clear. We want to bring our troops home from Afghanistan immediately. We also would like to see an issue of a new defence "White Paper" in the first year of office. This is a defining role of our military and we really feel like we need to asses it because there's a lot of confusion. I hear it. What is our role on the world stage?
I also want to mention to that they want to eliminate pension and benefits and claw back for our veterans as well and (want) to create a national ship building strategy to support our Navy for peacekeeping. peace-making and humanitarian operations all over the world.
NATO, a criminal organisation. Seriously. Right now the American military is using NATO, in particular, Canada as a puppet organisation to make it look like the Americans aren't essentially on a global conquest trek.
Canada is essentially the bum boy of Obama in this regard. Now, I don't really want to call into disrepute, our armed forces in the sense that we would really like to have them here to protect our southern border but I don't think they should be overseas killing other people in their beds and that's really what their doing over there right now.
There's no reason for us to be anywhere outside of Canada with our armed forces.
Our party actually does have a very specific military policy laid out in it's red book. There are three aspects; diplomacy, peacekeeping and intervention.
I did want to talk about one thing that actually concerns me a great deal and the notion that Canadians should never be involved internationally and I just think that's not possible.
One of the darkest days of international history was the Rwanda crises where the entire international community sat on it's hands and 800,000 people perished in 3-months.
President Bill Clinton called that his darkest hour as president. In fact what happened when Canadian troops were sent in there, they were sent in there without appropriate armaments and that they were powerless to do anything about it. So, do we have a role in the world? Yes we do. We have a role in protecting citizens from governments that have set out to to kill them and destroy them.
But we need to be careful about how we do that. That needs to be a last resort.
One of the issues that I want to talk a bit about because we've had some pretty interesting ads run about Michael Ignatieff, and his international experience, I will tell you that as a leader, any person who brings that amount of international experience to the stage will do well in diplomacy and if there's anything we need in this world is more diplomats.
There used to be a day not that long ago people from all around the world would take Canadian flags and sew them onto their backpacks and pretend they were us when they would travel around. Remember those days? They're kind of gone aren't they. There used to be a day when our soldiers were known as peacekeepers. They wore blue helmets and helped people at least that's what we were told.
Not hearing a lot of that these days. As a Green, I believe that the role of our military needs to be restructured. We need to come up with a clean plan about what the goal is of our military and I believe the three goals should be the 3D's; defence, diplomacy and development.
I think that Diane just said that diplomacy, intervention, I think was another one on there as well. I don't have intervention on there. I think development is what we should be talking about.
If we can protect our country. Make sure that we have strong defence. The military is important. We need a military to be able to assert our sovereignty, to engage in peacekeeping activities around the world like we used to do.
If we have a strong defence, we will be able to step in and begin to be doing development in other parts of the world, return to some of those peacekeeping missions and through development, we'll be able to have more effective diplomacy.
When we are helping people in other parts of the world, rather than killing people in other parts of the world, kids are more likely to want to sit down with us and actually have a conversation.
It is time for us to actually step out and redefine the military here in Canada. In light of this in free tradition, we've been talking about this for years now, we are calling for the immediate but responsible withdrawal of all Canadian troops out of Afghanistan. We've been doing it since 2007 and we're still calling for it. Understanding of course that some will stay behind, 100 or so to continue on with training Afghan forces to be able to continue the development work.
The question specifically asks when will they be coming home? I'd like to say that they're going to come home when we raise enough of a stink and raise our voices enough to call them home. It's time for those soldiers to come home.
I think it's extremely important that we elect an anti-war government. Just three weeks ago, in the very same week when the government fell, there was a resolution that was supported unanimously by all the parties in the House of Commons that supported a so-called authorized bombing of Libya. Essentially a declaration of war against a sovereign country and a continuation of the war politics that this government has been developing over the last few years.
War is not a solution to any problem between countries, within countries or within communities. Human beings have the capacity to find alternatives. That's what the history of humankind has been looking for alternatives.
United Nations was founded on a principle to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, you are that succeeding generation. You have to put your full force between, behind, the fight for an anti-war government, ensuring that whatever MP is elected is called to account on and is questioned of standing up against war.
Question #7 Social Programs and Healthcare
The liberal party has gone on record that it will continue to fund healthcare at 6% beyond the completion of the Health Accord in the next couple of years. But I do think that for us to be fair about this discussion, that's not good enough.
What we need to do is start having a discussion about building a healthier population because my fear is that we are actually going to bankrupt the system by simply going on the way we are.
The liberal party has said that they are committed to healthy outcomes. We are going to work on the issue of transfats, we going to be working on issues that cause health conditions that make our population sicker and that's going to be a major initiative. We also are going to be the only federal party to have a national food strategy to support "buy local" produce and "buy local" products and to really contribute to a healthier population.
One of the things that seems to be creeping into our lives right now, the codex, which is essentially an internationally mandated system of regulation for everything from essentially food to vitamins to drugs you will find that when this finally takes hold you'll be able to get vitamin C in very small quantities and at great prices and you may need a prescription. So lets not give government too much power to (unintelligible) of what is considered healthcare unless we are guaranteed the choice, to choose, and choice is everything in medicine.
There are a lot of options that are being developed around the world and yet we are denied these options with the government medical system.
So yes, lets have support for medical systems but lets also broaden it to include "outside the box" options for everybody.
Taking money from government coffers doesn't eliminate debt. It downloads it onto the province and then onto individuals so this is not a solution at all.
The NDP will continue to ensure that important social programs like Medicare are adequately funded through maintaining the transfer program and we are committed to the principles of the union framework agreement which stipulates that all Canadians must be able to access medical care wherever they are in the country.
Now we want to talk about reducing costs, nobody's mentioned pharmaceutical companies as maybe one of the culprits as to why our healthcare costs are going through the roof.
So we would really like to take a look at our bargaining power with pharmaceuticals to see if we can reduce some costs. We'd like to be more aggressive with (unintelligible) and it would be nice to go towards a public funded research and development non-profit model.
The Paul Martin budget from 1995-96 started this process of cutting transfers to the provinces by some 25% by carrying out an anti-social offensive which put more power and money in the hands of the monopoly, the big corporations, compared to the working people and the cutback on the social programs of all sorts.
This offensive has continued unrelenting, whether it's been the liberals or the conservatives in power or the conservatives in power with collusion of the liberals or whatever you call it. It will continue, whatever happens on May 2 so ther eis not, despite Jack Leighton's dreams, there's no possibility of Jack Leighton becoming Prime Minister. As Duceppe says, there's no more chance of him becoming Prime Minister as Jill Duceppe becoming prime minister.
What the stage is at this point is we need to have an effective worker's opposition in the party. Some force that can stand up and defend the interest of working people, defend the social programs against these cuts and they're going to come. There's going to be $11-billion dollars worth of them, they've got their lists. I'm told that's what it is, we'll just say 5% efficiency they're going to get.
But the assaults are going to come and what is needed is political cooperation amongst people from different backgrounds. Not just during the election by being civil to one another, but practical politics of organizing a united fight of working people in dispense of their rights.
People in Toronto are waging an extremely difficult and important fight to defend public services. In Toronto, people think various parts of the country and this workers movement needs to have an expression in the Parliament. There should be representatives of the working people in the Parliament.
Not just in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in Michigan and all sorts of place in the world where this is going down right now. When I read this question, that's what jumped out at me actually.
There was a statement I believe about the UK Austerity Measures that are put in here. One of the things that we're talking about, transfer payments to provincial governments, we have to ask the question; why are they planning on cutting it because of the deficit. Why do we have a deficit in the first place?
When I hear it on the news it's because we spend too much money on poor people apparently in this country. We spend too much money on students. That's the excuse that I'm hearing but I'll tell you, there's plenty of money in Canada. We're not broke. There's plenty of money in Canada.
I don't have the money in my pocket. You don't have the money in your pocket. That money is funneling itself up to magic corporations what Dorothy-Jean was talking about — monopolies, I think what we need to do is we need to stand up to being policed both by the government and by the big corporations that are out there now.
Corporate tax rates since 2000, do you guys know what the numbers are on these? In 2000, the corporate tax rate in Canada was 29.5%, can you guess what it was in January 2011? 16.5 percent. Almost half in 10-years.
This wasn't a Conservative issue, the Liberals were in power as wel when this was going down. This isn't a single-party issue.
We need to talk about this. We need to talk about corporate tax rates. We need to talk about subsidies that we're giving to oil sands companies that are making record profits right now, yet we keep kicking them down subsidies? We keep kicking down subsidies to the nuclear energy industry.
Realistically, we need to put the money back into the pockets of the poeple that matter. People like me who've got nothing in our pockets right now.
Question #8 What would your party do to eliminate child poverty in Canada?
First of all we'd make sure that moms and dads had jobs. That's a pretty good idea to eliminating child poverty in Canada. Making sure that people have access to education to be able to get good jobs. That's another way to deal with child poverty in Canada.
In addition to that we need to make sure that we have early childhood education programs that parents have the ability to spend time with their children as well through universal daycare across the board, across Canada. I think we need to make sure that parents have jobs. It's as simple as that.
The liberal party has committed to dealing with one of the biggest issues that face families, especially in British Columbia and that is affordable housing.
That is probably the biggest driver to poverty and about 3½ million Canadians currently live in poverty and a good percentage of those are children.
What we're going to do, is that there's never been a national housing strategy, and we're going to initiate that in cooperation with provinces. We think that's very important.
On a local level, I had the privilege of working on the Health Contact Centre which established housing for those who are homeless or who are at risk of homeless and a medical clinic that's attached as well as Ruth & Naomi's housing complex that will be going up shortly, and I'm very much committed to the issue and feel that I could partner well with other levels of government to get the job done.
Poverty isn't one of those things that is just limited to one segment of people. We lost an awful lot of jobs with NAFTA, with Globalization. Our jobs just didn't cross the border to US, they kept on going to Mexico or our mining industry went to Chile. A lot of manufacturing jobs went to China. Now China is under the gun because the Americans are trying to move the jobs out of China into Africa where people will work even more cheaply than the Chinese and where you can have sweatshops that are unbelievably attracted to by global corporations.
So we need to get those jobs back. We need to close our border to cheap imports and level the playing field so that Canadian companies can get back in business and so that the companies that moved overseas will come back. We tried to experiment. We believed Mulrooney when he said that this was good for us. We should be smart enough now to know that it's not. Globalism is not good for anybody except the global corporations and their shareholders and their managers.
We will table legislation that will set goals targeted for poverty reduction and this is in consultation with provincial, municipal, aboriginal and non-government organisations.
But we need to work faster than just setting goals. We need to provide immediate relief so as a first step, we're proposing to combine missing supports with the Child Tax benefit to create a non-taxable child benefit and increase support steadily by up to $700 per child over the next 4-years. This will be in addition to the current universal childcare.
To eliminate child poverty, the poor must organize themselves and the political force, the working class needs to lend their full support to the poor, to the most vulnerable and organize a united workers opposition to fight for the rights of all.
Aboriginal people at this point, have, and there's a human rights case working it's way through the system over this, do you know that the provision of child protection and services for other people in British Columbia is substantially higher, than the funds that were available to Aboriginal peoples on this front. It's an incredible outrage and yet there's quibbling as to whether or not it should even be able to advance this case as a human rights case in Canada.
The poor will not always be with us if we organize a society which is fit for human beings.
Question #9 What is the most pressing issue both nationally and locally?
I think the most important issue now is how we handle your money. We have a $56-billion deficit, the largest in Canadian history and you are being told, we are being managed in a fiscally responsible manner.
I think that we're going to have to take some of the steps to look at what our priorities are and realign them. Because what this will do is be able to do is to set the stage for proper investment in healthcare, in education and in vital services and I'm committed to doing that.
I had the privilege of working at City Council and the School Board, and we as a group managed budgets every year for 9-years and capital projects on time and on budget.
I've been wondering why Harper engineered this election. There must be something coming up within the next year or two where he just wanted to be in charge and know that there probably wouldn't be another election for 4-years to allow them to clean up the mess.
I personally think that this is related to NAFTA. I don't know if any of you are familiar with the Perimeter Security Agreement, this will mean that we have the joy, the pleasures and the protection of the patriot act and homeland security.
Both will mean that we have access to American FEMA camps rather than having to set up our own. Security of the individuals of all Canadians is the big steak here.
What's happening is all the parties are quibbling about buying you off with tax money. Lets look at what the money can buy. Jets, okay. Mulrooney was the mentor of Stephen Harper. Harper is the little protégé of Mulrooney. Now, Mulrooney got into deep doo-doo over these helicopters and arguably whether we need them or not for Search and Rescue. Helicopters are useful domestically.
Fighter jets, okay. Who are we going to use them against? Libyans you think? Or, I don't know. Some third-worlders, some Africans. Why do we need fighter jets? All we're doing is adding credibility to the American war effort by purchasing massive amounts of expensive hardware that we don't need.
I've been knocking on doors for about a year now, so I get a lot of feedback from people and this is tough because there's two; healthcare is up there but really I'd have to say, it's jobs.
This is what I'm hearing from people. People are desperate for work. We're hearing we have this great strong economy, how we weathered the storm but I'm not seeing it at the door, not when I'm talking to people.
So, what should we do Well, we would like to see taxes cut by 2% to small and medium-sized businesses which support local economies and steer away from corporate tax breaks. We actually want to roll it back to the level of 2008.
We'd also like to initiate job creation tax credits as well is one of the base issues we're facing as a nation, and of the outsourcing of jobs. We're losing Canadian jobs. We want to try to find a way to reward companies for creating Canadian jobs and then maintaining Canadian jobs. I call it a targeted 'tax break', I think that's a really effective way to do this. We've got to get a handle on this issue. The last report I saw in the Globe and Mail stated that probably 40% of these oil jobs in Fort McMurray could be outsourced.
I think 'wow', what are we trading? We're trading everything for these big multinational companies and they just get subsidies and tax breaks and it's just greed. What are we getting out of it?
The most important issue is to elect an anti-war government in saying the most important issue is democratic renewal for our political institutions. But they're linked. The cartel party system that runs things now, has already ordained the outcome of the election on May 2.
They want to re-establish this equilibrium whereby we have a party in power and we have a party in opposition. But it's not going to happen.
Working people need to be political themselves. To organise their own campaigns their own challenges to find ways of working together and to build a strong movement in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon. So to hold the MP's accountable that's the issue.
Sustainability. If we look at our economic system that we have in Canada right now, it is not sustainable. We see bubbles. They come, they burst, we all go broke. They build everything back up, we make a little money then they burst and we all go broke. It's not a sustainable system.
The way we run our industry in Canada isn't sustainable. The way we run our transportation to Canada isn't sustainable. I think that what we need to look at first and foremost is sustainability and second of all, I think it's the 41% of us who didn't bother voting last time.
I think that's another big issue in Canada. I'm standing up here today to encourage you to stand up and maybe draw the line and get your chance of maybe standing up here and taking a stand. Stepping up and stepping out. I think that's the big issue that we have to face. Motivating young people to get out and vote.
Mark Strahl was not in attendance.
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