Local Candidates Duke It Out

Conservative Candidate Ajmer Mandur

BLUEPRINT: I remember reading about Stephen Harper discussing that one way to address crime is an increase in police forces and jail services. But what would you say about the notion that that will only address the symptoms, and that the major cause of the violence and crime is poverty?

AJMER MANDUR: I can certainly agree to a point that poverty is a reason, but not the main reason I would say. It is certainly the reason we will have to look at that one from that angle too, but I think the majority of crime is happening because these people are repeat offenders. That is something that is really serious to find not only the jails for them but the cures for them.

BP: What do you plan on doing for students, post–secondary?

AM: Well, the conservative party believes in the greater accessibility to education by eliminating many barriers to post-secondary education as possible. I think one area is where we’ll have to revamp the student loan system to eliminate the inclusion of parental income in the assessment of the loan application….The other one is that I would like to see the bursaries and scholarships, we would like to see the bursaries and scholarships made tax free.

BP: I was looking at the party website and it was talking about “action to ensure clean air, land, and water”. But there is not a whole section of the platform dedicated to the environment in the Conservative Party, and my concern is that in the long run, we’re going to have to focus on the environment anyway, and so doesn’t it seem fiscally irresponsible not to focus on it now?

AM: I can tell you one thing, we do take the environment and clean air seriously. We have already announced something, that we would give tax exemptions to people who are using the public transit. That would be one way to reduce these gases. But anything other than that would be to create a government program to heighten public awareness on the economic benefits to the environment solutions, and minimizing the waste of resources. I mean everyone has to be conscious of it.

BP: So it’s more on an individual level and not on a wider level? Don’t you think corporations produce the most amount of waste?

AM: Yes, they do, and there will be some guidelines given to the bigger corporations as to how they’ll have to handle their pollution, and believe me it will be stiffer.

BP: At Laurier, there has recently been discovered a high rate of STDs. Would you like to comment on that?

AM: Actually that is something I had no knowledge to be quite honest with you. I had not been briefed on that. Maybe its because we’ve been more focuse d on the other issues, but if that is on the rise, it is a concern to me. There’s not much I can emphasize on it right now, but I will look into the issue and get back to you on that.

NDP Candidate Edwin Laryea

BLUEPRINT: What do you plan on doing for students?

EDWIN LARYEA: I think the NDP has one of the best plans for students, because we have a vision for post-secondary education. We don’t just go out and spout promises here and there…What we are trying to do is to look at post-secondary education in terms of a vision…We want to look at access, for a wide range of people…. We need to make sure that the wages these people are getting and the recognition these people are getting is important so that people don’t feel that when they go to college it is a second class thing. But the third thing I wanted to talk about is increasing tuition fees. The government of course has put some money back into education because they were forced to do that by the NDP. In 2004 uh Martin said he was going to put money back into education but in the February 2005 budget there was nothing towards post-secondary, a broken promise, until the NDP forced them…to put something back.

BP: I know the NDP favours an increase in corporate tax. But won’t increasing corporate taxes cause companies to leave Canada for other countries where taxes are less, like India or China?

EL: I can quote CD Institute, not my favourite institution (laughs) but they have done studies…stating that companies come to your country not because you have a low corporate tax, but reasons based on the following: whether you have a good education system for the children; good public health care, because they don’t want to take the money out of their pockets for their workers; whether there is a safe community…and if you have a healthy environment. Those are the factors companies look at when they wanna come into your country. They don’t look at the corporate tax when they come to your country.

BP: But there is certain outsourcing of jobs that has occurred, particularly to India, and the Ford Plant and GM plant here as well has cut jobs.

EL: We have a lot of countries that can export their stuff to a country, but when we try to export our stuff-take a look at the cars that into this country, and there are some markets that only allow maybe 10 percent of our cars to go into their country, so we’re at a disadvantage…companies move out of here because somebody gives them a better advantage in another country. And our job as a government is to make sure we support our small businesses and big businesses.

BP: There has been a report that Laurier has seen a huge increase in STDs, and I was wondering if you wanted to comment on that at all.

EL: Uh, well, I think this is of, this is, this is not a platform policy, but on a personal point of view I think the ministry of health will have to deal with that in making sure people get the right education in terms of relationships and the kinds of things they need to use when having sexual relations, and I encourage anything that t will allow people to practice safe sex.

Green Party Candidate Pauline Richards

BLUEPRINT: What is your plan or ideas for students?

PAULINE RICHARDS: Oh, well, you know, the details of education, the education part of the jurisdiction is provincial. So at the federal level, we can set out guidelines and goals, but there’s not a lot we can do.

BP: But the green party doesn’t have any plans to transfer money —

PR: — Oh to make transfer payments? Absolutely.

BP: The Green Party plans to stop subsidizing unsustainable commercial practices. Couldn’t that lead to a decrease in the short term of jobs, if you don’t subsidize industries, especially in Ontario like the car industry?

PR: Yes, jobs are important, and not only any old jobs but jobs with high pay and benefits, which is what the auto industry has…But what we can do is start to shift the money around. If Ford knows the money from the government is in building hybrids or in something entirely different like wind turbines, we would encourage them to diversify, move the jobs around…We didn’t save any money by giving them 200 million dollars because people stopped buying gasoline SUVs. It’s not a sustainable way to spend our money.

BP: What would you say to people who say that if you’re going to vote Green, the NDP has very similar policies in regards to what you were saying about education, but also in terms of the environment, but they have a greater chance of gaining power than the Green Party?

PR: Well, we’re very similar to the NDP in our social justice agenda, but environment actually not so much. Their environmental platform is mostly about regulations, and our environmental platform, is that our whole platform is eco-centric, and we’d like to see the whole economy shift and change over time so that we’d be sustainable. It is different. Also, we’re no longer, I don’t know if we ever were, a party of the left, and we’re not a party of the right either. But some ideas lean one way and some ideas lean another. The focus is to be sustainable and to look at the long-term sustainability, not just between here and the next election.

BP: Okay, and some of the right wing policies are as you mentioned about the debt and stuff like that?

PR: The fiscal responsibility stuff…the same time, we are um, we’re not crazy about paternalistic large government. We consider ourselves to be a grassroots organization, and have the key value of participatory democracy, so we’d like to work with municipalities and work with communities and empower them to make decisions around their own programs and the way they do things that fit them instead of being top down.

BP: At Laurier there’s a really high rate of STDs. Any comments?

PR: About SUVs in the parking lot?

BP: No, STDs.

PR: I had not heard that. This is news to me. So I don’t know if I have a comment. I am somewhat surprised and alarmed. It shows that we’re certainly failing in our education attempts around sexuality, if people are getting to the university level and they don’t know how to look after themselves. That is a shame.

Liberal Candidate Andrew Telegdi

BLUEPRINT: What are you planning on doing for students?

ANDREW TELEGDI: If you want to know what we’re going to do for students, just look at what we announced yesterday (January 5th)…That’s covering fifty percent of the tuition for the first year, covering fifty percent of the tuition for the fourth year. Also making low income students eligible for the Canada Access Grants in year two and three, you know, very powerful stuff. Pouring more money into the infrastructure of the university research, uh, looking at uh, re-examining what we can do with the provinces in adjusting the interest rates on the student debt, cause that’s important. Its ironic, I can remember from my student days, when the need the money the most, after university, you have the least.

BP: Don’t you think that another Liberal victory is going to harm democracy in this country? Hasn’t it gotten too long that the Liberals have been in power?

AT: Well I don’t, you know, you look at the choices and decide as to which one you think will best govern the country.

BP: Yeah but a lot of people who wouldn’t have voted or voted differently vote Liberal out of fear of the Conservatives, and that seems like a huge erosion of democracy and a democratic culture if that’s the case.

AT: Actually Jack Layton’s been going in Saskatchewan saying a vote for the Liberals is a vote for the Conservatives…I mean this is not the Progressive Conservatives. This is a hard right party, more similar to the administration in the United States. And then you have to ask, was it a good move for the Americans to vote in George Bush?

BP: It seems to me you’re right now using that same fear mongering that Paul Martin has used.

AT: Fear mongering? Let me quote you something (editor note, he went on here to quote the Washington Times article that compared Stephen Harper to the Bush Administration).

BP: But I still don’t see how it would even help democracy to still vote Liberal.

AT: Well people will make their decision. Maybe they won’t get their first choice but they won’t get their worst choice…I really wish there was the Progressive Conservative Party instead of the Conservative Party, I think they’re going to have to balance out. They’ve got some people who’ve said some pretty strange things…you know you have a lot of people with strong views who are aligned with the religious right.

BP: Recently there’s been a report that Laurier’s had a high rate of STDs. Do you want to comment on that?

AT: I didn’t see the comment. The only thing I can say onto that is that it is very important to practice safe sex.