The Sputnik sat down with four of Brant’s Provincial election candidates to ask them about topics that affect the daily life of students at Laurier Brantford.
Each MPP prospect was asked; why they love Brant, their opinions of their party leader, how they planned on dealing with the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education, how they planned on approaching the post-grad labour market, what they plan on doing about getting regional transit into Brantford, how they plan on approaching the issue of mental health, and why students should potentially vote for them.
The interviews revealed the uniqueness of each platform, and we invite you to take the time to compare their answers, and see how your issues fair on their priority list. Make an informed decision, and on June 12, 2014 be sure to vote!
Dave Levac: Liberal Party Provincial Representative for Brant
In an office filled with bright red campaign signs, and enough wooden lawn spikes terrify a vampire, The Sputnik met with Dave Levac to discuss his platform, and how the Liberal Party plans on tackling issues that affect Laurier-Brantford students.
Throughout the interview, it became undeniable that Dave Levac takes great pride in the fact he was born and raised in Brant. First elected MPP in 1999, he’s since been reelected three times, once in 2003, again in 2007 and again in 2011. Dave is optimistic that he’ll be able to add 2014 to the roster.
An acclaimed former teacher, and principal, Levac holds multiple degrees, and is a Laurier alumnus, recognized as one of the University’s top 100 graduates. Emphatic about the issue of post-secondary education, and passionate about the virtue of public service Levac shared his ideas with us, to help the students of Laurier Brantford get to know him a little better.
Why Levac loves Brant:
“First and foremost, it’s so diverse. The riding of Brant… it’s one of the most diverse ridings in the province because it has rural, farm, two First Nations territories, a county, city, and a large urban center, and we’re multicultural on top of that. We’ve got over 120 different nationalities coming from all over the world, and I believe it’s in the neighbourhood of about 100 different languages. So we have an extremely diverse riding that is in the center of South Western Ontario, which is in the center of one of the largest economic areas in North America. So when you peel that all away and realize how amazing all of this is, I just love the fact we’ve got all of those things within one riding.”
Levac’s opinion of Provincial Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne:
“Kathleen Wynne is a highly educated, very intelligent, very warm, from the heart kind of politician. She was an activist in her community. As a parent with kids going to school became active in terms of the delivery of education for her kids so much so that she ended up becoming a trustee, and her involvement in politics was based on activism. She’s extremely thoughtful, collegial, she’s kind, she’s generous, and she’s also an inclusive kind of thinker. She likes things to come together; she hates wedge politics.”
Levac on the accessibility and affordability of education:
“The [Liberal] government would continue to work on Post Secondary education issues, to include more people receiving education and not based OSAP on marks. If you want to know one thing that got my blood boiling, was the proposal of the Tories to base OSAP on marks. That is absolutely wrong-headed, it is idiotic, it is elitist and it is absolutely insulting to me personally. I was not one of those guys that had high marks, but because the system believed in me and thought that I could move, and I decided that I could now focus and get marks, I would never have been able to go to post-secondary education… Without OSAP, I wouldn’t have gone, and my marks skyrocketed once I found my niche, and I found my footing. Now you’re telling every other student who is like me, you’re out. I’m angry that they would come up with that policy… it’s not intelligent funding, there’s no evidence whatsoever that high marks in high school produces better students in Universities.”
Levac on the post-grad labor market:
“Our unemployment rate was pretty high at one time, and now its down underneath the provincial average… There’s an ongoing, slow but methodical transformation that’s taking place and anyone that stands up and says that the Liberal government is responsible for loss of jobs is not being honest. The Liberal government does not create jobs. The private sector creates jobs. The Liberal government was offering programs that help set the stage for job creation, and I think it’s disingenuous for the leader of the PC party to say ‘I can create 1-million jobs, and I’m going to cut one hundred thousand at the same time.’”
Levac on regional transit to Brant:
“I arranged meetings with Metrolinx and GO Services to meet with the Mayor of Brantford and his committee…They had to do a needs assessment, the assessment proved positive that there was a demonstrated need for two regions of transportation in Brantford. One would be connecting to the GO service to Hamilton vis-à-vis Toronto, Oakville, Hamilton, through Mac, or Mohawk… and the other one would be to Cambridge, so that we fill a whole loop. That is in the planning stages, it’s now being proposed. The Minister of Transportation came here [to Brantford] and confirmed that he has a belief that if re-elected we have an opportunity to get pretty high on the line of requests.”
Levac on climate change:
“The Premiere just announced a very good program, and I’m very happy to say she did, and that’s Farms Forever Program, which allows farmers to put caveats in the sale of their property that [the land] must remain farm… So on the food side, I think that program is long overdue, and is welcomed by me, particularly in this region. We have some of the nicest land… We are acknowledging that farmland, and locally grown food is a good thing, and that’s what the Premier wants to do, she wants to protect that. Foodland Ontario’s been strengthened, processing has been improved, and we’re getting more processing plants. That’s creating more employment using local food… On the environment side, we have probably one of the most rigorous expectations and protections out there. Again, I regret to say that I believe these kinds of regulations are being characterized as ‘red tape’… The PC [policy] is to vilify regulations, and I fear for our environment… If you let it be a free for all, people will die. I say that boldly, not to scare people, but to be factual. Without regulations, there’s an awful lot of stuff that would kill us.”
Levac on mental health:
“Quite frankly the government has already been working on [mental health], along with the other two parties. So this is one of those rare moments where I get to say, finally we all worked together. There was an all-party committee that evaluated mental health and came out with recommendations, and the government started to implement those already. So there’s been an improvement in the delivery of services for people with mental health. One of the biggest things I’ve said since the beginning of my election is the stigma that’s attached to mental health, that kids don’t have mental health problems is a myth. I resent that. Stress, all of the factors that impact how people respond, we all need to remember that the brain is an organ… You don’t stigmatize it because someone’s got a mental health issue, you recognize it, you identify it, and you start to work with that person and provide services, medication, help, to fix it. It’s that simple… No one was talking about it when I came up with detox-rehabilitation centre, it was dealing with addictions, and incase people didn’t realize it there’s a connection between mental health and addiction. So that if we have the detox-rehabilitation centre, we then deal with the addiction and then identify that they need help with mental health, and then put them onto the system that helps them with it, and that could be people of all ages. “
Why Levac thinks students should vote Liberal:
“Well, because I’m a cool guy. Ha, just kidding, but I like to think of this as my job appraisal… My life has been dedicated, not just politically, but through the teaching of my parents and my community that, you give back. I’ve been a strong, passionate guy that says your community is everything; make it the best you can. And I believe that I’ve done that, and I want to give more. I’ve got the same energy; I’m not going to stop helping my community. The growth of post-secondary education has been strongly supported by myself, I have worked very hard, and I have broke down some barriers on how funding was done. I believe strongly that we collectively, we as a community, can speak strongly with one voice to Queen’s Park, and not have Queen’s Park tell us what it’s going to do to us. And I think I’ve given evidence of that time and time again… If anybody comes in here that challenges me for my job, if they do not have the same belief in this community, and if they want to hang their hat on a political party and stick to it, and say ‘you know what, sorry Brantford, but my leader tells me that I’ve got to do this to you,’ throw them out. And if you ever catch me doing that, throw me out. Because this is based on what we should be democratically doing, and that is building our community.”
Alex Felsky: New Democrat Party Provincial Representative for Brant
The Sputnik met up with Alex Felsky at her vibrant orange campaign-sign laden office to talk with her about her platform, how the NDP plan on tackling issues that affect Laurier-Brantford students.
A part of several organizations and initiatives like, The Executive of the Professional Organizers in Canada, The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), and The Brant Association Breastfeeding Information Education and Support (B.A.B.I.E.S), Alex was excited to discuss her unique plans for Brant, and her passion for student issues.
Why Felsky loves Brant:
“Oh do I have to pick just one thing? Oh, there are so many things! I love the trails, I love walking those with my family, and riding our bikes down there. I love Harmony Square, it’s such a great meeting place! We’re always downtown now, whether that’s for movies in the square in the summer, or skating in the wintertime, events like Frosty Fest, the Chili Fest, it’s just a great meeting place. It’s lovely to sit on the patios, and just to enjoy a coffee. I love Glenhyrst Gardens, that’s one of my favorite spots, such a beautiful property, it’s a real gem in Brantford. I love going for walks in the county, I love being outdoors, and there’s so many new spots to discover here in Brant. There’s nothing that quite compares to having a coffee at Brown Dog in Paris, sitting on the balcony looking out at the Grand.
Felsky’s opinion of Provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath:
“Andrea Horwath has been our leader for six years now, I believe she’s been an MPP serving Hamilton for 10 years. We actually just celebrated her anniversary, when she was here for my campaign kick-off and office opening party. We got her a cake from Sophia Gluten-Free downtown, to congratulate her on ten years. She is someone who is really in it for the right reasons. She’s someone who cares about making life better for families, making life more affordable. She’s the most popular, and most trusted leader in Ontario, and there’s very good reason for that. She works hard everyday to make sure the lives of everyday people in Ontario are improving.
Felsky on the accessibility and affordability of education:
“New Democrats know that [affordability and accessibility of education] is a huge issue. There are so many barriers to getting a post-secondary education in Ontario. That’s why we said we will stop any increases to the cost of tuition right away. The other really important policy that will help students is to make student loans interest free. The other thing that we know people are struggling with is the high cost of tuition, books, and the cost of living. We’re going to raise the minimum wage to twelve dollars an hour. That will mean that students can better afford to go to school and will graduate with less debt… We know that in the past, there is a 30 per cent rebate for certain students, but many students for some reason don’t qualify. It’s touted as a one-size fits all, ‘30 per cent for everybody!’, like on Oprah right, ‘you get 30 per cent- oh and you get 30 per cent’, but not everybody is getting their 30 per cent. That is not helping, in the grand scheme of things for many, many students. The other thing we’d like to do, is there’s lots of students who have children, and they’d like to make a better future for their families, and so they want to go back to school, even when they have children, but there’s a real lack of good, affordable, safe childcare. That’s why New Democrats are going to invest 100-million dollars into childcare, to ensure that for parents who are students, or would like to be students, they have the opportunity to better the future for their families.”
Felsky on the post-grad labor market:
“Nobody can move out on their own, it’s impacting parents and grandparents retirements because they’re still having to support their adult kids, who they love, but, you know should after going to university be able to find a good job. It’s difficult because not only are people under all this debt, but that means that they put off buying a home. This is a dream that many of us have, to own a home, but for young people now, how is it going to be possible?… We know that young people are facing really challenging times. I’m a small business owner, and that’s why I’m really proud of our policies around supporting business, around supporting job creators. What we’ve seen in the past with this government is no-strings attached, chucking money at companies. Well the proof is in the pudding, has that worked to create jobs? No. Not good reliable, local jobs, which is what we need… It’s very simple, you create a job, you get a tax credit. That will create more positions for young people and part in parcel with raising the minimum wage; we know we need to be balanced… We know we also have a big problem with temp agencies in town. This has been a huge problem because many times it’s the only work that’s available, and we know that often times, sure there are jobs, but you require experience to apply. How are you going to get any experience if you’re a new graduate? It’s kind of a vicious circle… So we want to support making good local jobs, not temp agency work.”
Felsky on regional transit to Brant:
“I ran into a woman at her door who said ‘I’m a prisoner in Brantford,’ she says, ‘I don’t drive, and therefore I cannot leave town.’ And, we know that this is a problem for students. How do we attract students to come from out of town if they have no way of getting home? It’s also a big problem because you know, if Mohawk is now no longer based in Brantford, what about students who need to commute?… We know this is a priority. Now the Liberals have spoken for fifteen years, we’ve had Dave Levac as our representative, and for fifteen years it’s been ‘very high priority’, well this is unfortunately another example of how the Liberals make big promises and then fail to deliver. The Liberals have been in power for twelve years, and if it was such a high priority, why have we seen no movement at all? It doesn’t just affect students, I mean, students are people who will go on to become workers, and then many people aren’t able to find local work, that means they have to get to Cambridge, or to Kitchener, or to Hamilton, how are they going to get there? And how are they going to buy a car with auto-insurance and gas, as young people, we know that it’s exorbitantly high for young people before they have a job, but they need it to get a job. It keeps people out of employment. Especially people who live in the county… That’s the reason we’ve said, look, we know that this is a barrier for young people starting out, and we’re going to immediately reduce auto insurance by fifteen per cent to make that more affordable, especially in ridings like ours.”
Felsky on climate change:
“This is an issue that is really close to my heart. I’m someone who uses cloth diapers, and tries to minimize what we purchase, and we purchase a lot of second hand in our family. It’s a better, more respectful use of our resources. On a grander scale, we know that we need to look into different sources of energy creation. The first step is consuming less. The second step is making sure that we’re looking at other sources of energy. We know we need to look to new ideas. We can’t go back to the same old, same old and hope for the best for our children’s future.”
Felsky on mental health:
“One thing we know is a big issue is when people are in crisis, and they show up at emerg, and we know that the average wait-time in emergency departments is ten hours, when you’re in crisis you can’t wait ten hours to be seen. What we’re going to do is reduce wait-times by fifty per cent. It’s not only about access in the short-term, but we also know that when people graduate they’re not able to access the services through campus. I understand you’ve got great services on campus, but the minute you’re done, you’re done. We know we have a real shortage of psychiatrists, of psychologists, of MSWs, of counselors who can support people when they need support. Right now Brantford does not have a walk-in clinic, and it’s something I’ve personally been pushing for, and we’ve released a platform piece that we will open fifty new walk-in clinics within the province. We need one here in Brantford… The other things we know is that there’s a lot of strain on people having to work a lot of hours while having to go to school, and potentially caring for children, and I really think that increasing the minimum wage and taking the pressures of increasing tuition… will greatly reduce people’s stress and worry for the future, which contributes to people’s mental health. I also know that the work Rainbow Alliance does is really instrumental in breaking down barriers around homophobia, and for people who may be gay or lesbian, helping people find acceptance and a welcoming space at Laurier Brantford is hugely helpful. We know LGBT community suffers disproportionately from mental health issues because of homophobia in our society. That’s something that doesn’t just affect campus, that work benefits all of us in our community.”
Why Felsky thinks students should vote NDP:
“It’s so important for young people to get out and vote, no matter who they vote for, because being engaged in the process and our democracy really does have an impact. What we know is that when we have low voter turn out, we elect the same old, same old story. We get the same old parties, with the same old tired ideas and we can do better. We can have a government that makes sense, that actually serves people’s needs, that focuses on people’s priorities, that respects people’s tax dollars, that looks at job creation, and not contract, temporary, low paid work but good local jobs that can support families… We’re ready for change in Ontario, we’re ready for change in Brant, and that’s something I hear universally at the door. When young people show up, what happens is New Democrat MPPs get elected. Our policies resonate with young people, you only have to look to the caliber of our candidates across the province… The number of Laurier volunteers we have on this campaign I think is no coincidence.”
Ken Burns: Green Party Provincial Representative for Brant
Over lattes and lemonade, the Sputnik sat down with Ken Burns at The Brown Dog Café to chat about his platform, and how the Green Party plans on tackling issues that affect Laurier-Brantford students.
Ken, who spent his undergrad pursuing business and economics, is currently working on his Masters of Environment and Business at the University of Waterloo. Armed with twenty-years vested in theatre arts as a successful stage manager and senior business representative of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, Ken also started a local renewable energy business. Passionate about the economy, the use of land and the protection of our source water, Ken approached issues from a place of environmental consciousness, proudly sharing with us his plans for making Brant a better place for locals and students alike.
Why Burns loves Brant:
“I really like to talk about the potential that Brantford, the county of Brant, the Six Nations have to work together to be a leading example of a sustainable community. I think that we have an ability to really demonstrate to the rest of the Province how to work together as an urban, and rural and First Nations community, how to celebrate the best and be able to use the strengths of each community… We need to take advantage of and keep the farmland and foodland that we have in the county and the natural benefits of the habitat and make it accessible to people that live in the community both economically and recreationally… We’ve got great youth support here, we’ve got great ideas and potential, we need to continue to nurture that, we need to create a fertile ground for those ideas to find traction.
Burns’s opinion of Provincial Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner:
“Aside from just being a great guy, I mean, Mike is a successful businessman, entrepreneur, and also a dynamic leader, a person who believes in bringing people together and putting good policy first. The Green Party is really about saying what’s important is putting people first, not corporations, and Mike is based on that…If there were two words that described Mike- honesty and integrity would be it. I mean, yes he’s a politican, and yes he’s been campaigning full-time but if his focus was only on getting elected, there are easier ways to get elected than trying to run as leader of the Green Party of Ontario. He’s really somebody who wants to have an honest conversation.”
Burns on the accessibility and affordability of education:
“We certainly support getting tuition fees under control, getting jobs for our youth under control, and there’s a lot wrong with the system that we have right now, and it needs to be addressed. On tuition in particular, we talk about at a minimum, indexing tuition increases so that [students] are not subject to random jumps in tuition costs and education costs, making it predictable and affordable. We’ll look at working tax benefits to make them work better for students and their families, to make books, tuition, and education expenses livable and affordable.”
Burns on the post-grad labor market:
“The world that I would like to see is one where you can find a job that actually pays you a wage. Interns to me are a huge abomination; the idea of having to work for free to garner experience for a job that you’ve already paid to get educated for is absolutely the wrong kind of thinking. It’s not that I’m anti-business, in fact I’m very pro-business, but the point being is that students shouldn’t be asked to work for free. You’ve just paid thousands of dollars to get an education, you’re qualified with what you’ve done, and in many cases you’ve already got experience where you’ve worked during your school years and then you graduate and are expected to work for free to gain experience to get an entry level position? What happened to the entry-level positions? It’s important that there are viable entry level positions, and I’m not talking about server positions and what you do to pay the bills, but I mean in what you’ve trained for, career starter positions… We need to make sure that those positions pay, and that they pay reflective of the education you’ve just invested in and the continuing education you’re going to continue in… Innovation is key, youth are equipped for this, they understand how to work together, and they are an innate part of the creative economy that we’re seeing coming forward…To that end the Green Party recognizes that social innovation is a huge and untapped tool for our future to solve our problems, and we want to make sure that we kick start social innovation much more than it already has been… We want youth with good ideas to have access to funds, and to be able to collaborate, to get their ideas out there… You don’t have to fit a model that was designed 150 years ago, we need to be able to modernize our systems such that we can grow, nurture and implement new ideas.”
Burns on regional transit to Brant:
“We have to come up with something more efficient, not just because of climate change but because it’s also an economic issue. A lot of people don’t think about that when they drive into Toronto, I mean what is the cost of our lost productivity? It’s not just the emissions coming out of our tail pipe, which is a significant concern, but it’s also the cost to our economy. We’re discussing real transit initiative, and real ways to fund them… That can be our legacy to future generations, building the infrastructure, not unlike our great grandfathers and grandmothers that built the Niagara Falls as a hydro facility… I think our legacy can be serious infrastructure that allows people to move. Even as a local issue, a challenge I’m sure you can appreciate as students- being able to get from downtown where your campus is out to the mall to have jobs, you’ve got a four hour shift, but it takes you two hours to get there and back, that is ridiculous. It’s not that I’m not a fan of transit- I am a fan of transit- it should be there for you, but it needs to be effective, convenient and usable… I’m more than willing to support GO, I mean, go, go go! I will be somebody that will say ‘absolutely do it.’”
Burns on climate change:
“The real question is; what are we prepared to do to combat climate change on a practical and immediate level? And, the first part of our platform, which is actually part of our economic platform, that is to help make homes more energy efficient and therefore more affordable. Right now there’s a lot of talk about high-energy costs and the biggest problem, I think, is that we waste too much energy and we don’t invest enough in energy efficiency and energy savings…Locally, the Brant Tree Coalition has done fabulous work and the Grand River Environmental Clean-up is helping to repair some of the damage that we create. There are lots of local initiatives that we would certainly support, and encourage. On a larger level, looking at things like the Alternative Land Uses Program (ALUS), a program that actually seeks to compensate farmers and land owners for the natural services that the habitat provides, like clean air, water and natural habitat, migratory corridors, and that kind of thing, we’d be supporting programs like that…The number one issue for me locally is urban sprawl. That’s huge and it’s really going to impact us with respect to climate change, and food security. We can’t run out of farmland, once it’s gone, it’s gone… We’re not doing intensification like we did in the Sixties and Seventies, but doing intensification like leading cities are doing today and are successful. Making livable, walkable, breathable communities that are good for business, good for people, good for education, where you do have that density, where you do have those jobs downtown, where you can walk, or bicycle as a form of commuting. Which improves our healthcare, lowers our healthcare costs, it improves our quality of life, and reduces our ecological footprint. ”
Burns on mental health:
“Access to healthcare for all Ontarians and particularly youth with mental health issues is a significant issue for us, and it needs to be meaningfully addressed in a way that works for people; as does continuing care for our seniors. It’s about carrying through on money that’s already been announced and making sure that it’s delivered, but its also ensuring dignity and respect in healthcare, and ensuring people have access to healthcare in a way that’s meaningful and works for them, and provides the service its intended to. It’s not about what kind of announcements you can make, or how many billion dollars you can, it’s about getting help to people when they need it… It’s not an isolated case, we can do better, we have the means and ability and we need to make it a priority.”
Why Burns thinks students should vote Green:
“I would encourage young people to vote. I would encourage young people to get informed, and inform themselves on the issues, on the candidates, on the platforms and when they do to make that informed choice for themselves. So I’m going to say, I want students to get informed, talk to all of the candidates. Make a critical and informed choice on who you’ll vote for. Your vote is valuable, it’s something that is a rare and valuable opportunity in the world, much less in the province, and cast your vote for what you believe in. Don’t be worried about losing your vote, be worried about abandoning your vote… I think that the Greens have a lot to offer; I think that we have a balanced perspective that is forward thinking, not retroactive… It’s not about partisan politics for us; it’s about good policy. The thinking that created the problems of today is not going to solve the problems of the future.”
Phil Gillies: Progressive Conservative Party Provincial Representative for Brant
At his office, aromatically sandwiched between a fish and chips shop and a pizzeria, The Sputnik met with Phil Gillies to discuss his platform, and how the PC Party plans on taking on the issues that affect Laurier-Brantford students.
Having grown up in Brantford, chatting with Phil was reminiscent, revealing Brantford as the source of much of his vested interest in human rights and environmental causes. Phil is passionate about Brant, and shared with us why it is he’s looking forward to the possibility of re-representing the riding at Queen’s Park, some twenty-seven years later.
Why Gillies loves Brant:
“Well you know Brant is beautiful. It’s a lovely, lovely part of the world. I have such strong childhood memories of Brantford; especially downtown. I always think about downtown a lot, I went to a school where we were bussed across the city and we changed buses to get to school downtown. So for a bunch of kids, that young, we were spending a lot of time downtown, and we knew every inch of it! We just loved it. I think it’s a great city, and the countryside around Brantford is so beautiful. There are enclaves that a lot of people just don’t know about, you know, places along the banks of the river, St. George, Paris, I love it. And as much as anything, it’s the people. We have very down to earth, sincere people in this town… there’s something about Brantford that I haven’t found elsewhere, which is the openness and the sincerity of the people here. There’s nothing superficial about the way people like you in Brantford.”
Gillies’s opinion of Provincial PC Leader Tim Hudak:
“Tim I’ve known for about 10 years. I knew him before he became leader of the party, and we’ve become good friends and associates since he became leader. He’s been very open, and helpful to me in this whole process since I decided to seek the nomination which is over a year and a half ago now. We’ve developed a real rapport. He’s been here so many times, he’s developed a relationship with the people here. We almost lost track; I think since I was nominated, I think he’s been in the riding, ten times? We’ve met people in the business community, we’ve met with senior citizens, we’ve met with skilled trades people, we’ve met with farmers, and he’s told me that the people here remind him so much of the people in his own riding… He’s a very smart man, especially in the economics field. He’s also, when you get to know him, he’s warm and he’s funny.”
Gillies on the accessibility and affordability of education:
“Obviously the most important thing is, that we want to ensure that everybody who has the will, the wish and the ability to go onto post-secondary education has to have that opportunity. So obviously, whatever help government can provide through OSAP and so on, has to be there and has to be maintained, and if possible strengthened. You may have seen in our platform we’re suggesting that there should be some minimal performance standard that students maintain in order to continue getting that support. What we’re saying has been misinterpreted deliberately by the other parties. They say ‘oh my god, you’re means testing University students’, and it’s not about that. We want to make sure the money’s going to students who are there to work and to learn. All of us at college or university, you party a bit, I did, and it’s expected and it’s part of the process, it’s part of the experience. But, you have to knuckle down and do the work. You’ve got to go to your classes, you’ve got to get your assignments in, you’ve got to do what’s expected of you to maintain your course load. We’re suggesting that people who absolutely abrogate that responsibility maybe they should get a bit of a warning about the support they’re getting from the government.”
Gillies on the post-grad labor market:
“What awaits students when they graduate? There’s got to be good jobs there. Right now I hear so many stories, I hear it from students, I hear it from their parents, I hear it from their aunts and uncles, I must hear it two or three times a week, my son, my daughter, my niece, nephew, graduated, they’ve got thirty thousand dollars in student loan debt, and they can’t find a job. So there they are, still sleeping in the room at home, or on the sofa in the rec room or whatever, and feeling trapped. They’re like, how am I going to break out of this? How am I going to make my way into a career, into a job that I like and that I am going to be able to support myself, and possibly a family with? That’s a big thing for us, to bring prosperity and jobs back to the province. So when Tim talks about our Million Jobs Plan, that’s very key to it. The aim there, is to create about 120,000 new jobs a year, over eight years and that as much as possible these will be good jobs, challenging skilled jobs, that pay decently so that when our students graduate they can get into it. Those opportunities were there years ago, when I graduated it was not uncommon for graduates to have two or three options… That’s not the way that it is now, and I know it’s not the way it is now. We want to bring that kind of prosperity back so that there are opportunities.
Gillies on regional transit to Brant:
“We’re absolutely going to do it. The Liberals have been talking about this for over ten years now, and there’s not a single GO bus rolling down the highway to Hamilton… If hot air could power GO buses, they’d be flying back and forth to Aldershot, now unfortunately they run on diesel and we’re just not seeing the action we need on this. That’s a very high priority, not only for students, but also for people who increasingly have to commute into the GTA, the GTHA (Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area). There aren’t enough options, and the options that are there are cumbersome, lengthy and expensive. So if you are fortunate enough to have the kind of income that allows for this, you can take the VIA train from Brantford to Union Station… you’re going to pay over sixty dollars a round-trip for the privilege. You work full-time in the GTHA and suddenly you’re staring down the barrel of $300 a week in commuting cost, you know, there aren’t really that many people who have that kind of money, so we need the GO service.”
Gillies on climate change:
“I think this is something that differentiates me, frankly from a lot of Tories, is I’ve been involved most of my life in a number of environmental causes…I helped start a national movement in Canada to ban shark-fin because of the carnage in our oceans that’s leading to serious ecological problems. Which in turn has an effect on climate change. They’re slaughtering one hundred million sharks a year for shark-fin, for soup, I mean it’s the stupidest thing. When you take the top predator out of an eco-system it just wrecks havoc on the eco-system. I led the charge, in 2011 through an initiative I brought forward; Brantford was the first municipality in North America to ban shark-fin… I’ve had this discussion a number of times with our caucus and with Tim Hudak; I want to see more emphasis on the environment. I’d like to see it talked about more than it’s been talked about in this election…The big three parties, they seem to want to talk about anything but, and I think that’s a mistake. I sometimes remind my friends and colleagues in my own party two things; one is that the word conservative and the word conservation come from pretty well the same root. And the other thing I remind them is, that it was a Progressive Conservative Premier of Ontario, Bill Davis, who introduced the first environmental department for any province or state in all of North America in 1977. We have a proud tradition of supporting environmental initiatives, and I want to see that tradition continue.
Gillies on mental health:
“Well we want to do a number of things. One is to put more of an emphasis on mental health and addiction treatment. We want to mainstream it, in other words, we want to see it afforded the same importance, and the same priority that physical health is… Right now in Ontario, if any person recognized that they have a serious addiction problem and that they needed treatment, if you’ve got money, you’re going to get into a residential treatment program immediately… You don’t have those resources, then you are streamed into a waiting list for an O-HIP paid bed, and don’t get me wrong, once you get in, the services are excellent, but that waiting period to get into a bed can easily be 3 or 4 months. Somebody who is despairing, somebody who wants to save their life…for someone who is despairing, that time can mean the difference between life or death…Some people say, well gee, you Tories are all about saving money, and that sounds like an awfully expensive process you’re talking about. My response is this; I met with the CEO of the Brant Community Health Care System several weeks ago, a very fine man by the name of Jim Hornell, and he said to me, ‘it’s staggering, the percentage of intakes into active care beds, and the amount of traffic going in and out of our emergency wards that is alcohol and drug related.’ The day we were meeting, Mr. Hornell told me, ‘you know what, there are 280 patients in my hospital tonight, 45 of them don’t need to be there.’ He said 45 of them are there because there’s nowhere else for them to go. We have no other services; we don’t know what to do with them. An active care hospital bed is $1,100 a day. By having proper out-patient services, by having a rehab-detox centre, which is one thing my Liberal opponent and I agree on, by having those services available, my belief is that it will actually save the healthcare system money.”
Why Gillies thinks students should vote PC:
“I’ve been around the block a few times. I got involved in politics and government at a very, very early age, and I was very, very involved when I was a student, regrettably at Western, ha, I know, it’s unforgivable, but for what it’s worth one of my best friends from those days was the President of the Laurier Student Union, so there you go! I know people say, ‘my god, you’re getting up there Phil, you’re not a kid anymore’, but a lot of my outlook, the way I look at politics and government is from a very youthful perspective. When I was in the legislature in the Eighties, I served two terms in the old riding of Brantford, and the cabinet portfolios I held when I was in cabinet were skills development and youth. A lot of the youth employment programs that we have today, I started in 1985. I’ve always been involved in issues that impact on young people… I would encourage students at Laurier to vote for me because I bring experience to the table. If I get to Queen’s Park after Jun the 12th, I know how it all works. I’ve been there, I was an official in Premier Davis’ office, then I served two terms in the legislature. I’ve worked in fields very specific to young people, and I don’t need a learning curve. When I get there, I can start to work immediately.