Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2019 Election Special: The Local Candidates

Another federal election is fast approaching. We reached out to the 7 local candidates of the Miramichi-Grand Lake Riding and invited them all to respond to some questions.  Below are answers we received from candidates: Patty Deitch of the Green Party, Mathew Lawson an Independent, Pat Finnigan of the Liberal Party.

Patty Deitch, Green Party
Why do you think voters should consider voting for you? What do you think makes them worthy of their vote? 

Patty Deitch (Green): First and foremost, I believe the Green platform is one that is very responsive to all Canadians and most effectively addresses the challenges we face environmentally and recognize and responds to the difficulties that many Canadians face in terms of health, shelter, food security and financial security. That is why I have chosen to run for the Green Party and this is one reason that I would hope that voters would consider voting Green. For many years, I have been involved in activities that address environmental concerns, and as well, have worked on issues of poverty, homelessness, food security, and have advocated for individuals who have faced mental health and addiction challenges. In the past twenty years, I have been employed in community mental health work and for ten of the twenty years, I taught for the University of New Brunswick, Faculty of Nursing, and supervised student placements with vulnerable and marginalized populations. I am recognized for both my work ethic and commitment to advocacy.

Mathew Lawson (Independent)Voters should consider voting for me because I am the only candidate that will address and deal with the addictions, violence, and overdoses that we see in the world today.
Pat Finnigan, Liberal Party

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): My name is Pat Finnigan, I have served as the Member of Parliament for Miramichi Grand Lake for the past 4 years and am seeking re-election as your Liberal candidate.  I am asking voters for their support again so we can continue to move forward together and build on our successes of the past four years to support families, seniors, cut taxes for the middle class and to invest in strategic infrastructure projects that both creates jobs and supports the local economy and benefits the many rural communities in our riding.

In New Brunswick today, we see more young people leaving for other opportunities they cannot find here. If you were elected, what would you do in this riding to address this issue?

Patty Deitch (Green) In many cases, young people are leaving New Brunswick to secure employment that allows them to pay off student loans and for employment opportunities which do not exist here. The Green Party would make post secondary education tuition free, thus ensuring that all individuals could attend, should this be their wish, and that they would start their working career without crippling debt. Those who are currently facing student loans would have the Federal part forgiven. For those who are educated in health professions, educational professions and other areas that are in demand in more isolated areas, again debt that currently exists would be forgiven. This would allow many young people who wish to stay in New Brunswick to do so without being so concerned about meeting financial challenges associated with student loans. With the move toward retrofitting buildings and homes, there would be a demand for tradespeople who would enjoy a good income. Green economy is already employing significant numbers of individuals but the set up of businesses that produce solar panels and associated materials would provide opportunities in our province. Miramichi and area has been identified as an ideal area for solar farms as it enjoys some of the most sunshine hours in the province. Investment in the further development of wind power would provide opportunities as would the work involved in developing the Grid for green energy.  The federal Youth Employment and Skills Strategy will will provide $1 billion annually to municipalities to hire Canadian youth. In short, there will be opportunities locally and within the province.

Mathew Lawson (Independent)I am the Candidate that will resolve "Climate Change" and refocus the government.  There will be lots of opportunities for everyone, when Canadians stop losing tens of millions of dollars per day as we bicker over "Climate Change" related emissions.  

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): I have and will continue to work with the provincial government and local organizations to ensure that our young people have access to training programs that will allow them to get the skills they need to find jobs in fields that are in need of employees in our communities and throughout the province.  As an example, our Liberal government has financially supported many projects at NBCC Miramichi to upgrade their training equipment specifically in the forestry industry which is one of the main industries in New Brunswick and provides employment for thousands of New Brunswickers.  

How important are smaller rural communities to you and your party? How would you support and promote smaller communities?

Patty Deitch (Green): The Green Party is very committed to communities being influential in decisions that are being made. The design for decision making around policy decisions would be changed so that a Council of Canadian Governments is created. This means that Federal, Provincial, Municipal and Indigenous representation is employed as decisions are made. Municipalities will speak to what is in their best interests as opposed to decision making occurring in Ottawa by those who are unfamiliar with the community, their concerns and goals. This is very important to me. We have a beautiful province and Miramichi Grand Lake has so many strengths. There are projects that allow individuals access to locally grown food - community gardens, arrangements with local farmers to have year round vegetables, farmer's markets. The Green Platform sees as important the input from those individuals who live along the coast to be part of the planning about policies that provide direction to sustainable development of the fisheries. I strongly support communities shaping their planning around business development, land use, recreational activity.

Mathew Lawson (Independent): Rural communities are important to me, it is were I live.  Smaller rural communities can always be supported by buying locally produced products and services.

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): My rural roots have been the foundation of my personal values. Growing up in Rogersville, I’ve followed in the footsteps of my Dad. I watched him work hard and still have time to give to others. I’m very proud to represent a riding that is made up almost entirely of rural communities.  We have 8 municipalities and four First Nation Communities and I’m very proud that over the past four years we have been able to support each and every one of those communities by working with the Mayors and councillors to support many local priorities and projects.  A great example is the wonderful new splash pad here in the Blackville Community Park, I was so pleased to be able to work with the Mayor and provincial government to provide federal funding to make this a reality which I know will be enjoyed by families in the area for many years to come.

Most young people spend 13+ years in public education. What are your thoughts on the education system? What do you see as its strengths and weaknesses? What changes do you think are needed today?

Patty Deitch (Green): Educational programs shape the development of young people. It is important that they grow into well rounded individuals. While I believe in a very strong academic program, I also believe that there needs to be learning that will assist individuals in navigating through life. At a very young age, programs that assist the development of empathy are important (Roots of Empathy) and also introducing small children to activities such as yoga, relaxation techniques which will over the long term allow them to feel that they have personal control and can foster calm. Engaging students in community activities such as volunteering at events gives a sense of belonging and community. Having a range of physical activities to take part in is important for the development of a strong body. All individuals should have access to classes about health such as nutrition, health promotion, disease prevention (discussion of the importance of vaccines, hand washing, hygiene), sexual health appropriate for the age, civics class which fosters interest in local/world events, and course work on common sense items such as budgeting. I am convinced that a good breakfast program is essential as well as a lunch program for those who require it.

Mathew Lawson (Independent): I have had very little interaction with the public education system in the last 20 years so I can not comment on its strengths and weaknesses.  I will say that the public education system should not be a place for political parties to promote their personal beliefs.

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): The public education system in New Brunswick has always put focus on providing the very best education to its students as possible.  I think New Brunswick is unique when compared to jurisdictions across the country as we are the only officially bilingual province in the country and we are a province with nearly 50% of people living in rural areas.  The Department of Education receives money from the federal government however, because Education is a provincial responsibility, the Government of New Brunswick is responsible for the implementation of curriculum and overall management of the Education system.  The province is currently in the process of holding public consultations on the state of Education in our province.  I would strongly encourage students, teachers, school staff and parents to attend these sessions and to voice your opinions and concerns so those in decision making positions can hear from you directly.

Why do you think younger people, even those who are still too young to vote, should take an interest in politics and the government?

Patty Deitch (Green): Civics classes would provide students with the opportunity to learn more about world and local events, government structure, political parties, elections, and the importance of voting. While I believe that the age for voting should be 16, I firmly believe that long before this age, we should be encouraging young people to critically examine government decisions and understand how those decisions impact them, their families, their communities and the country as a whole. It is essential to be informed and I suspect if an interest is nurtured in the early years, young people will develop a knowledge base that allows them to make informed decisions about their vote when the time comes. The recent climate strikes organized by very young people are a great example of what having an awareness of world issues can result in. These young people and children are actually directing adults to making better decisions and to really consider the importance of being good stewards of this earth.

Mathew Lawson (Independent): Younger people should take an interest in politics because the decisions that the government makes will determine the level of taxation and the value of the currency that they will soon be working with.

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): Being knowledgeable about politics and your government is very important.  A Member of Parliament has one main job: to represent the people in their constituencies and to assist with any problems or concerns that they have.  In addition to this, MP’s gather in Ottawa to introduce legislation on various topics, debate the merits of those policies and ultimately vote them into law.  It is incredibly important for young people to be informed about what those policies are and to communicate to us, as parliamentarians if you have any concerns with them so that we can be sure to voice your opinions in Ottawa during those important debates. 

Climate change is a huge issue in the world today. What are some of the most pressing issues that need to be addressed when it comes to climate change? If you were elected, what would you and your party do to try to prevent climate change, and how would you promote this topic? 

Patty Deitch (Green): We have been discussing climate change for many years now. Different groups have been directing the world's attention to melting glaciers, damage to the ozone level, escalating green house gas emissions, the ocean becoming more acidic and the terrifying impact all of this has on all creatures - bees, birds,  fish, animals, whales. We are fighting to maintain right whales, southern right whales, polar bears, salmon, and so many more. It is important for all to understand that climate change is a social justice issue. Those who have benefited very little from industrial development are the ones who are frequently most impacted - the poor, Indigenous populations in the North, those who work the earth, those who are local fishermen, small children, those who experience chronic illness and the elderly. We have declared a climate emergency and certainly I am committed to changes immediately. While we move from fossil fuels to green energy we need to also consider the importance of retrofitting homes and buildings so that no energy of any sort is wasted. Rather than funding oil and gas companies as has been happening, subsidies need to be devoted to the development of green energy, development of a grid that will carry green energy across the country. Single use plastic needs to be banned immediately. Companies and industries that are responsible for emissions need to be made responsible financially for this with a tax that can be then returned to all tax payers. The development of public transportation is very important. Imagine if we could travel between towns by electric buses. Imagine if rail travel was more affordable and practical. The Green party is committed to these changes and more with a 60% decrease in emissions as compared to the 2005 rate by 2030 and 0% emissions by 2050. This is what is required to help avoid a climate catastrophe. Since we are already experiencing significant change, more water bombers are required to deal with the number of forest fires that extend further north than previously, natural fire breaks need to be created, and we need to consider the wisdom of building in areas that border the rivers, where flooding is now a risk. Certainly moving to the use of solar panels, wind power is important. Locally, we need to be considering the wisdom of glyphosate spraying, lumbering practices that deplete sections of our community of trees that are so imperative in preventing run off into the waterways and keeping our air clean. With strong Green leadership, we could demand more attention provincially to our forests, water ways, and industrial emissions. That is the direction I would want to see us go immediately.

Mathew Lawson (Independent):  If elected I will present 1 piece of Legislation that will mark the end of "Climate Change".  Environmentalists, Alberta, and all of Canada will be very happy with this very important bill.  It's over.  

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): Over the past four years, our government took significant action to protect our environment and fight climate change – including putting a price on pollution, banning single use plastics, and protecting great swaths of our land and oceans. A re-elected Liberal government will build on this progress, and continue to take ambitious action to fight climate change, by committing Canada to net zero by 2050, planting two billion trees, and making our country the best place in the world to build a clean tech company.

If you were elected, what are your main goals as MP of this riding? What do you plan to accomplish in the next four years?

Patty Deitch (Green): If I were elected, there are some key areas I would focus on immediately. Certainly, I would strongly support the development of industries producing solar panels locally and would also wish to see immediate funding available so that all homes could be retrofitted to be energy efficient. This would provide much needed employment in our community which would result in spin offs to local businesses and our tax base would increase. Tree planting programs of a mix of tree to create buffer zones along waterways to decrease the run off into those waters as well as a shelter for animals and birds. We have a very significant senior population so using the Seniors Strategy funding, the development of programs that allow fragile elders and those with early dementia to stay in their homes would be a priority. An emphasis on health promotion is important to saving costs to health care. So we need programs that support prenatal care, postnatal care and programs that respond to all stages of life and would be offered in a health center where a health team, consisting of a broad range of disciplines would provide patient/family centered care. There are several wonderful health centers already in our program where that model exists. We need to see more so that it become "ons stop shopping" where you can see the professional most appropriate to your need. The Green Party has promised universal pharmacare and has demonstrated that not only is it cost efficient, it also prevents problems around individuals having to choose between buying their medications and buying food. or paying for housing. Since we have very little affordable housing available that is one more thing I would want to focus on and there are already groups in our community discussing this and starting to consider plans. I would work with all parties to ensure the very best ideas and planning for this riding/community.

Mathew Lawson (Independent): I am asking for the national stage in order to make 2 presentations.  First I will end "Climate Change" and refocus the government.  Secondly, I will address and deal with the world's addictions illness.

Pat Finnigan (Liberal): As Liberals, our focus is on growing the economy, being inclusive with everyone in society and protecting our environment. The first phase of our national pharmacare has been launched, and better days are ahead for our families, our seniors, our veterans, our First Nations communities, and our youth, as our focus will always remain to be inclusive of the whole society, not just the rich and powerful. I will continue to be a strong voice for everyone in Miramichi-Grand, as we continue to choose forward!