Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining us for another of our live, online chats leading up to the election on May 2nd. Our guest today is Richard Walsh-Bowers, an independent candidate in the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo. Richard, thanks for your time. Are you ready to answer some questions?
Thanks, Mike. I'm glad to be here and, yes, I'm ready for questions.
Well, Drew, if sufficient voters regard my credentials as credible and worthy of the crucial role of Kitchener-Waterloo MP, then you and all other citizens will be well represented in the House. Besides, there are precedents in Canada and the US. In the last House there two independents and in the US Senate Bernie Sanders has been representing Vermont for a long time as an independent. If I were so fortunate as to be elected, then I would engage with like-minded MPs from all parties on the key issues and initiate and support bills that aim at constrcutively solving Canada's and K-W's serious economic, environmental, social, democratic, and international-relations problems.
If elected, yes, I would face a major challenge in ensuring that I could effectively represent K-W citizens. However, there are precedents for effective independent representation both in Canada and the US. There were two sitting independent MPs in the last House and Bernie Sanders has represented Vermont as a senator for a long time as an independent.
As an experienced community psychologist, I have some experience in building effective relationships with people of disparate viewpoints. My aim would be to find and foster "common cause" with like-minded MPs on the key environmental, economic, social, democratic, and international-relations issues that face K-W and Canada.
Through the process of trial and error, we have together learned that "SHIFT-ENTER" will give us a line break in our answers. It is said that we learn something new everyday...
Keep those questions coming!
For me, there aren't three but five issues, which are like the digits on our hands -- when they work together our grasp is most effective. The issues, as|described in detail on my website <www.richardwalsh.ca>, are economic, environmental, social (e.g., education, health, childcare, housing, seniors, etc.), democratic, and international-relations. The fundamental problem facing all of us is, as David Suzuki, recently said, our economic system, which is "trashing the planet" and we must shift to a zero-growth, low-carbon, locally-based cooperative society. If we don't transform our society, then future generations are very unlikely to survive the 21st century.
You can see that I'm raising very basic questions about the quality of life not just in K-W but in Canada and globally. But I'm not alone. In November the Council of Canadians polled 1000 Canadians, most of whom said they are ready to begin the vital transition to a zero-growth society. The people are ahead of the politicians. They -- and I -- believe that we have to put people and planet before profits.
As a professor of psychology at Laurier since 1986, I have seen and still do see the severe impact that the escalating cost of post-secondary education, whether college or university, has on my students' capacities to do their best work. As you might know, students on average are in debt upon graduation to the tune of roughly $30,000, more or less, depending on the particular degree programme. Meanwhile, in other economically-privileged nations, such as Norway, tuition is free and students who need support for living expenses receive it. Clearly, Canada could do the same, but successive governments have cutback transfer of revenues to the provinces, which in turn have dumped the rising costs of providing education onto students and their families.
What needs to happen is eliminate tuition across Canada over five years, increase federal transfer payments to the provinces, and finance these costs by taking back the taxcuts for those who can most afford to pay and for corporations.
We're just past the halfway point on this final online chat of the week. Thanks for the great questions for Richard so far. He's with us until 1 PM so keep your questions coming!
Because we're running out of time, please see my response to Yvonne above and consult my website: www.richardwalsh.ca The site contains a comprehensive statement about my platform. Thank you.
Actually, I was the federal NDP candidate for K-W in 2000 and in Kitchener Centre in 2004 and 2006. All parties have their strengths and weaknesses, including the Green Party, but none of them, in my opinion, addresses the five major issues confronting K-W and Canada. The issues pertain to the economy, the environment, social services [e.g., health, education, etc.], the state of Canadian democracy, and Canada's realtions with the international community. And these five issues are inter-related, that is, in addressing one, we necessarily have to deal with the others.
To cut to the chase, the core issue, as David Suzuki recently said, is that our economic system is trashing the planet and we must convert to a zero-growth society in order to survive in the 21st century. In my platform, I identify the specific problems and their solutions. Although one party or another addresses an aspect or two concerning the five big issues, they don't get to the crux of the matter. Simply put, we have to put people and planet before profits.
Time to sound the 10-minute warning, folks! We have a question from Tim coming up and we'll get to as many more as possible before closing down at 1 PM.
As I mentioned in my response to Mary above, independents do face major challenges in serving effectively. However, there are current precedents in Canada and the US. Besides, as a community psychologist, I'm experienced working cooperatively with others. Furthermore, I can engage with individuals from diverse standpoints to rectify problems, including social issues, such as the exorbitant cost of post-secondary education. I'm a team player, Tim.
As usual on these online chats, the clock is our greatest enemy and we have reached the end of our time. I would like to once again thank Richard for sharing his time with us. Richard, any final thoughts?
In my view, which is why I'm running as an independent, Canada is at a crossroads. We have to make big decisions about building a zero-growth society so that all can survive and live within our ecological means. Thank you.
Thanks again, Richard. And thanks to everyone who participated in today's chat. We'll be back on Monday with Jacques Malette, Green Party candidate in Cambridge. Have a great weekend!