Today there was another all candidates meeting, this time at Action Read in the Park Mall on Quebec Street. Two notable things right off the bat: 1) this one had the first appearance of Karen Levenson, candidate for the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, and 2) Gloria Kovach was again conspicuous by her absence (Although that was not unexpected *see Sunday's blog*).
I arrived at Action Read as an audience member was asking about the correlation between global warming and foreign policy. Mike Nagy responded that most wars are fought over a lack of resources and that we can look forward to more wars unless we learn to share. He also said that Canada should be dedicated to giving .07 per cent of the country's GDP to foreign aid.
Tom King agreed with Nagy on foreign aid, but added that we need to get the World Bank out of developing nations so that they stop interfering and dictating what those countries can do through restrictions.
Levenson said that the government does not have a good record on battling climate change and that even though Canada is one of the world's biggest polluters though that fact is unlikely to change under the Harper government.
Frank Valeriote dropped this one on the crowd, "We used to be global leaders and now we're global lagers." He took that chance to put in a plug for the Green Shift plan and the need to make an immediate commitment to battle the issue.
The next question was about housing and the parties' plans for helping people secure low-income accommodations. King, not one to be out-quipped, said that past promises about housing have been like sugar cubes in a cup of coffee: you see them and then watch them dissolve away. He went on to say that the NDP has always had a very strong commitment to this issue and will be aggressive in pursuing it.
We need to bring society to a level where the voiceless, people and animals, can have a voice, said Levenson. While Valeriote said that we need a commitment of millions of dollars from the Federal government and that his party's attempt to bring about that funding in the last Liberal Parliament was undercut by the Conservatives when they took office.
Speaking last, Nagy said that homelessness was a growing problem in Canada and that we need 40,000 low income housing spots immediately. He also said that he'd like to see more focus on the creation of co-op housing in this country as well.
Levenson got to speak first on the next issue, healthcare. She said that we need to start working to create a healthier society and that includes the elimination of air pollution citing a study that said this year 22,000 people will die from pollution-related respiratory illnesses. Levenson added that with more pollution-related illnesses in combination with the aging population could cripple our healthcare system.
Valeriote said that we need to fortify incentives to bring more doctors to the region and help foreign-trained doctors more easily secure the credentials to allow them to practice here. He added that we should also fund more spots in medical schools in order to get more Canadians trained and practicing right here.
At the other side of the table, Nagy echoed some of the previously made comments before going on to talk about the Green Party's plan to put more of an emphasis on preventative care. He also said that we need to promote the nobility of being a General Practitioner, rather than just going in to be a specialist for the money.
King finished by saying that there's a nationwide shortage of doctors and nurses that needs to be addressed and that while poaching foreign trained and putting them to work here certainly solves our problems, it leaves these doctors' countries without.
Next from the audience came a pertinent question about layoffs and job security in the region and the matter of retraining them. To which Valeriote says he endorses the support of retraining programs, but that the opportunity exists in Guelph to improve are local economy by commercializing environmental innovations coming out of the University of Guelph.
Along similar lines, Nagy said that he'd like to see the food processing industry open up more, rather than shipping local produce elsewhere only to have it end up back here after being turned into frozen vegetables and the like. (Interestingly, the local news today had a story about the fact that most Ontario peaches slated for canning are sent to US factories.)
King looked at the issue differently saying that we should look to preventing layoffs by changing our trade policies and focusing on changing corporate thinking. Levenson agreed saying that we want to keep our jobs while paying the cheap prices made possible by cheap labour in China and India. She added that we should also work harder to create new, Green jobs.
The next all-candidates meeting will be a debate at Reid Hall at 7 pm in the Village in the Arboretum.