Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks again for popping back in for an online chat for the federal election. Our guest this afternoon is Peter Thurley, NDP candidate in the riding of Kitchener-Centre. Peter, thanks very much for sharing your time with us. Are you ready to answer some questions? Let's begin!
Thanks for inviting me here today Mike, I'm looking forward to taking a few questions today!
I think this is a great question. I moved here in 2002 from British Columbia because I knew that this region boasts some of the best university education in the country. Since being here, I have fallen in love with the Region. I met my wife while attending University and we have made our home here. While I may have moved here from the We(s)t Coast, I have become involved in one of the most active communities in the country. Because I have become involved and come to know some of the local issues, I believe I have what it takes to represent Kitchener Centre in Ottawa.
Unfortunately voting for Karen Redman in Kitchener Centre is going to get you a representative that has acted as a cheerleader for the Harper Conservatives. In 2007, when the Liberal Party voted alongside the Conservatives to pass the $6 billion in corporate tax cuts that they are now campaigning against, Ms. Redman's job was to make sure that Liberal MPs were in the House of Commons in order to pass that bill. In essence, Michael Ignatieff's representative in Kitchener Centre was a key figure in passing those tax cuts. If you hold your nose and vote Liberal, you are voting alongside those corporate tax cuts. Is that really what you'd like to do?
Not sure how we missed Peter's picture for this chat. My apologies for that. I can assure you that he's sitting right beside me answering these questions! Thanks for the input so far. Keep it coming!
I think there is a misconception out there that the NDP will spend, spend, spend without regard for how much money we have. When you look across NDP provincial governments, we can see that those governments have had the most balanced budgets, when compared to governments from other parties. We also think that it is important to spend money wisely. Rather than spending $1.2 billion on the G20 in Toronto, it could have been hosted an hour north at a fraction of the cost. With the money saved, we would have had the $700 million required to lift seniors out of poverty. The question is about priorities - do we prioritize fancy meetings in downtowon Toronto, or do we prioritize lifiting Canadian seniors out of poverty?
The other day Jack Layton proposed increasing the number of front-line doctors and nurses in our hostipals. The reality is that too many Canadians don't have a family doctor - I've been here nearly 10 years, and I still don't have one. That means that everytime something happens, people need to go to a walk-in clinic or to the emergency room, rather than booking an appointment with their doctor. We just built a medical school (in conjunction with McMaster University) in downtown Kitchener. Imagine what we could do if we increased those spaces and got more family doctors out into communities across the country?
I think you need to ask yourself which party is going to give you what you need. The Conservatives claim to be the party of tax cuts - yet they colluded with the provincial Liberals to bring in the HST. The NDP wants to take the HST off your home heating - we live in Canada for crying out loud, it is cold here! The Liberals were for tax breaks for multinational corporations before they were against them. What's with that? When faced with spending decisions, they chose to cut access to social services, health care transfers, and the like. Is that what you want from your government? If you want a government working for you, voting NDP is the only option.
Thanks to Diana at Rogers HQ for the quick action on Peter's picture. I told you he was here! :) Some excellent questions so far. Next up, Mary.
Mary, thank you for this question. The NDP recogizes that students are the country's future. We need to ensure that post-secondary education is accessible to all, not just to a few. A key suggestion we have is to decrease tuition. When I started at the University of Waterloo in 2002 I paid $2000 per term. My friends tell me that the average tuition is significantly higher now. Student loan debt is crushing, almost the size of a small mortage. We have to be able to work with the provinces to reduce the burden on students, so that students can afford to go to school without coming out on the other side tied down by a mountain of debt.
In my role as a retail store manager I have the opportunity to work with the public and with business. I see the effects that the recession has had on average families. I can tell you that fewer people were willing to get into a long term contract with a wireless provider, because they didn't know if they would be able to sustain it long term. On the other hand, local businesses need to be able to succeed - if they don't, employment opportunities are lost, and the local economy suffers. It is just as important to understand that small business contributes to the economy as it is to understand that consumers ought to have access to a fair and just market place. The NDP has proposed reducing taxes on small businesses so that they can be freed up to employ even more people right here in Kitchener. The tax burden should be spread out based on ability to pay - why should a small local business be forced to lay off employees while corporate tax cuts brought in by the Conservatives and Liberals allow the CEO's of large multinational corporations to line their pockets?
Helpful hint to future candidates who will be joining us for an online chat. If you're like me and haven't taken a keyboarding class since high school, you might want to brush up a bit. Peter has excellent "typemanship" and is flying across the keyboard right now. We're moving along well and your question should be answered in short order if it hasn't been already.
Subz, thanks for your question. As a housing advocate myself, I am pleased to have worked with NDP MP Libby Davies to bring attention to the need for a National Housing Strategy. The Regional Council endorsed such a strategy in 2009, as have other local service agencies. As a member of the board of directors for Supportive Housing of Waterloo, I get frustrated with Stephen Woodworth's refusal to support a National Housing Strategy. He says it's not his problem - talk to the province. The reality is that the Waterloo Region is doing some great things on the social housing front and we need to be able to share those initiatives with other parts of the country. From supportive housing to increased shelter beds, we need to do something about homelessness. It's not an option, and it's not good enough to say "It's not my problem."
right winger, I appreciate you question. We could point back to Bob Rae if we wanted - that was 20 years ago. We could also look at the Gary Doer/Greg Sellinger NDP government in Manitoba who, in 2009, at the depths of the recession, were the only jurisdiction in Canada to come out with a balanced budget. It's not fair to hang on to old grudges when more recent and relevant examples are available. I think it is fair to challenge me on how I deal with other parties. The reality is that we're in an election campaign. It's entirely reasonable to compare what the NDP would do and has done with what the other parties would do and have done.
The reality is that if we're talking about the Liberals and the Conservatives, a two party system sounds a lot like a one party system. The NDP is the only party that has consistently challenged the government and been able to work with them to acheive something for Canadians. If we had a two party system, would we have been able to obtain $1 billion in additional EI help in the middle of a recession? The Liberals sure didn't consider doing that - only the NDP had the nerve to stand up and ask for something positive for Canadians.
Last week Jack Layton came through Kitchener and spent some time visiting Webco Sports on Duke St. I have to tell you - he looked as energetic as I've ever seen him. The reality is that we all have health issues from time to time, but when we're passionate about contributing positively to our society, we don't let those health issues get in the way. I think it is quite inspiring to have a cancer survior like Jack as the leader of the NDP, and I'm proud to stand behind him, and look forward to working with him in the House of Commons as the MP for Kitchener Centre.
Time flies when you're.....typing fast. About 10 more minutes to go in our chat with Kitchener-Centre NDP candidate Peter Thurley today. Still time to get a few final questions in before a final thought from Peter.
This week on the door step I've met a few people who have asked me this same question. I think the reality is that your vote counts. We know that that in the mincipal election, one Kitchener Councilor won by 1 vote. If you vote for Peter Thurley and you ask a friend to vote for Peter Thurley, you're voting for change. This is an election campaign and strange things have happened, including people deciding they want change. I'm not worried about ending up with Stephen Woodworth again, because I have faith that voters will see that the NDP presents a real alternative to the Liberals/Conservatives. A lot of people think this will be a close race between Redman and Woodworth. What if enough people voted their hopes and the results mean that Redman and Woodworth finish really close for second and third?
I think it is interesting to note that the Canadian Labour Congress has recognized that it is Canadians generally that need a voice, not only union members. Their proposal to double the CPP is not targeted at union members and those with negotiated pensions, but at Canadians who don't have access to those pensions. The NDP has worked with the CLC over the years, but we've also shown that we're willing and able to work with anyone, including businesses that don't have unions.
Our time with Peter has fast come to an end. Thanks for all of the interesting questions. And once again, Peter, thanks for sharing some time with us today. Any final thoughts before we say goodbye?
Thanks again for being part of our online chat today, folks. Be sure to come back tomorrow at Noon when we sit down with Kitchener-Waterloo Independent candidate Richard Walsh-Bowers.