Answers from the Green Party

I re-sent my questions last night, and now also have a response from the Green Party candidate, Doug Warentkin. He had apparently sent responses earlier, but it was possibly caught in my sometimes over-ambitious spam filter. As before, Please click for more to see the responses, due to the length:

1)What are you doing personally to engage young voters?
Everything I can. I will participating in a town hall meeting with youth at Univesity Hill Secondary next week. I am also making an extra effort to discuss the issues with young people I meet when out canvassing. I am also doing my best to coordinate my campaign with other Vancouver area Green Party candidates, several of whom would be classed as young voters themselves (25% of Green Party candidates are under 30).

As a Green Party candidate, I am seeing strong support among young voters, and I see my most important role right now as being as accessible as possible to respond to questions and meet with those who express interest.

2)What is your stance on same-sex marriage & adoption?

I am in favour. I feel that expanding the definition of marriage to be inclusive of any couple wishing to make a commitment actually strengthens the institution of marriage, and makes it more meaningful.

3) Highlight 2 or 3 ways you will work to decrease the barriers to post-secondary education? (class-size, funding, debt, accessibility, etc)?
Federal transfer payments for post-secondary education need to be increased, but the increases should be negotiated to ensure that the result is a decrease in the proportion of costs covered by tuition. Lower tuition is the goal. Also, there should be a renewed commitment to general funding, instead of the recent trend toward adding new funding mainly through targetted research funds.

Another objective is to reduce the burden of student loans. One way is by converting a portion of the loans to grants, as budgets allow. Another approach would be to introduce a form of ‘reverse tax credit’ where loans are paid back to the government over time as a surcharge on your taxes if you earn above a certain amount.

4) What is your position on moving beyond NAFTA toward ‘deep integration’ with the US?
I would work in the opposite direction, including re-thinking NAFTA itself. Canada needs to trade, but it also needs to be able to protect its own laws and resources. I favour a shift in focus toward stronger local economies powered by the small business and co- op sectors, and working to weed out the hidden subsidies that give an unfair advantage to highly mobile, monopolostic multinationals.

5) What is your position on implementing the recommendations of the Romanow commission on health care?
As a short term measure his recommendations should help keep the system together, but it doesn’t go far enough. We need to look at the big picture of health in order to make publis health care work better. We need to address why health care costs are rising so rapidly. This includes lifestyle and environmental issues, access to healthy food, and poverty, especially child poverty.

Another key concern is the huge unnecessary expenditures for prescription drugs, prescribed by doctors who are given bonuses by the drug companies. I would like to see this practise banned.

6)What do you feel is the most pressing issue for residents of the Vancouver-Quadra riding?
I think lack of faith in government and the electoral process is the most important issue. In Vancouver Quadra, I think that the number of people who have made a conscious decision not to participate is particularly high. People recognize that government is not fulfilling its role as a democratic institution for the common good. Instead government has given up responsibility to international markets, trade agreements and multinationals.

The crucial issue is therefore how to make democracy meaningful to people’s daily lives, and to create enough openness and accountability to bring back trust that elected government can make a positive difference.

7)Once in office, how will you make yourself available on an ongoing basis to the needs of your constituents?

This would be my main priority. Besides being active and available in the riding, I would organize regular public meetings that would serve as reporting and feedback sessions. These meetings would be in different neighbourhoods and would be held in conjunction with neighbourhood groups.

I would also like to create a riding council of active community members to advise on issues efore parliament, and especially to bring forward important local issues that could be addressed federally. This is a concept that would be developed over time.

8) Please identify one aspect of one of your opponents’ platforms explain 1 or 2 ways how your position is the better alternative.

All parties are talking about supporting public health care with more funding, and trying to make it a central theme of the campaign. I feel that we need to go beyond this into broader health issues that affect the cost of health care, but are also important issues in themselves. I mentioned a few of these above, but an important issue not being addressed is food safety. There are on-going crises with mad-cow disease, avian flu, salmon farms, etc. that point to problems in our farming practices. I want to see a phase out of factory farming over a reasonable period, improved food inspection resources and reduction in the use of pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. We also need immediate mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods, and much stricter scientific and farming controls on their use.

9) How do you think Canada should proceed with regards to the Kyoto Protocols?

One tool is tax shifting, moving the tax burden away from labour and onto resource use and harmful emmissions. The most practical and least disruptive route to reducing emmissions will be through encouraging high levels of energy efficiency, investing in reduced energy use rather than additional energy production. This was done very successfully through BC Hydro’s Power Smart program in the 1990’s but has not been carried on at the level necessary.

Even without global warming, we would need to move away from our current wasteful energy use based on petroleum products, as low cost oil supplies are rapidly diminishing. We will be much further ahead if we focus on reduced energy use now..

10) Do you support a larger, smaller or same size military, and what is the primary purpose for your support?

In recent years my view has changed from wanting no military at all, to wanting a relatively small but well funded, well trained and well equipped military force. I see its primary purpose as protecting Canadian sovereignty and the security ofour coastlines, but with a secondary role in supporting UN peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. I woudl favour withdrawing from NATO unless that body were to be thoroughly reformed and committed to the UN and international law.

Regards

Doug Warkentin
Green Party Candidate
Vancouver Quadra
604 684 3850