Waterloo riding election profile: Richard Walsh, Green Party

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<strong>What drove you to be involved in politics and to be a candidate?</strong></p>

“I’ve been a candidate on numerous occasions. This is my fifth federal election as a candidate. On three of those occasions I ran as a New Democrat, the fourth occasion — the 2011 election — I ran as an independent. Last year I made the switch to the Green Party and I’m representing the Green Party in this election.” 

What about your life experiences makes you a good candidate for member of Parliament?  

“Multiple aspects of my life experience do — I’m someone who’s lived in the community since 1999. I’ve been a psychologist initially at the local mental health centre as a part of KW hospital, and then since 1986 as the professor of psychology at Wilfrid Laurier from which I retired this past July. That’s one aspect. Mainly my longevity in the community — I know the community intimately and for decades, being employed as a psychologist first in the clinical capacity and then more recently — or not so recently — for 29 years as a professor. But there are other aspects to who I am. I have also contributed since 1979, since I moved to this community permanently, I’ve also contributed almost every year to the creative arts in terms of theatre. I’m an actor, a theatre actor and theatre director, so I’ve appeared in or directed numerous dramatic productions, including several in the theatre program here at U of W and years ago at Laurier’s theatre program when they used to have it.”

What are some of the issues you consider personally important to you?

“Well as a former — I call myself former because I’ve retired — a former professor, I know the post-secondary situation intimately. And I’ve observed over the decades the diminishing amount of support federally for post-secondary education, which was initiated by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien, with Paul Martin in 1995, with massive cuts to the federal transcript payments for post-secondary education and social services and health care. The consequence at that point, tuition costs began to steadily rise and now they’re frankly unaffordable for more middle-class, working-class students and their families. This is why, for a very long period of time, at least since I’ve been running in federal elections — this goes back to 2000 — the Canadian Federation of Students has been identifying  the rising debt load of post-secondary education for students, which is unacceptable. I’m acutely aware that in other advanced nations in the world, there is no tuition. The Green Party proposes eliminating tuition by the year 2020 step by step over the next five years getting rid of it. There’s no reason why Canada can’t join the international community of developed nations and eliminate tuition. It would also put a freeze on the maximum amount of student loans mainly to $10,000. Presently we know that they average debt load is over $25,000. So from being in the classroom, I have observed particularly undergraduate students but also grad students overly burdened by their financial worries.”

Why did you choose to run for the Green Party?

“The Green Party has a comprehensive understanding of what the nature of Canadian society is, what the problems are in Canadian society, and how to rectify those problems. It is not a one-horse show. It doesn’t just focus on what we need to do to address environmental degradation and to respond to the challenges of climate change and adaptation to climate change. It understands society in a way informed by some very basic human values which are near and dear to my heart, namely ecological, economic, and social justice, and fostering of peace in Canada and internationally.”

Post-secondary education

“Well as a former professor … I know the post-secondary situation intimately. And I’ve observed over the decades the diminishing amount of support federally for post-secondary education,… with massive cuts to the federal transcript payments for post-secondary education and social services and health care. Tuition costs began to steadily rise and now they’re frankly unaffordable for more middle-class, working-class students and their families. I’m acutely aware that in other advanced nations there is no tuition. The Green party proposes eliminating tuition by the year 2020, step-by-step. There’s no reason why Canada can’t join the international community of developed nations and eliminate tuition. [The Green party] would also put a freeze on the maximum amount of student loans to $10,000. Presently, we know that the average debt load is over $25,000. From being in the classroom, I have observed particularly undergraduate students but also graduate students overly burdened by their financial worries…. It affects their capacity to complete their assignments at a level that is commensurate with their abilities. In other words, their education is compromised by the financial pressure they are experiencing. This is unjust.”

Employment

“I am acutely aware again, because of my role as a professor, that students upon graduation … find themselves in the retail industry, in the service industry, taking positions that are not compatible with the quality of the education they have received and for which they remain heavily in debt. The Green party proposes a guaranteed basic income for everyone in society. Roughly $20,000 [annually] which corresponds to the cut-off for the poverty line in Canada, as identified by Statistics Canada. But it also proposes a national, essentially youth core, that enables students to receive a federal minimum wage, at least $15 an hour, and working in local communities to support municipalities for the work that needs to be done.”

Environment

“If Canada does not exercise its moral responsibility to confront the climate concerns, we will be compromising the future of all Canadians. Future generations will suffer irreparable harm because of the lack of attention to addressing climate change in this particular time. Time is running out. Not only for Canada but for the global community. The upcoming Paris conference, the COP 21 is extremely important. If [the Conservative party] is re-elected, we will participate in that conference with an extremely weak plan and we will be far out of step with the international community. The entire global community, particularly the wealthier nations, of which Canada is one, will need to exercise their responsibility to … put a cap on carbon emissions and begin economically and environmentally moving toward dependence on renewable sources of energy.”

Bill C-51

“[Bill C-51] is a hideous piece of legislation. It’s an expression of the authoritarian or totalitarian inclinations of the Harper regime. The Green party was the first party to oppose bill C-51. Because of its undemocratic nature, it needs to be vigorously opposed. We were the first out of the starting box to oppose it.”

Technology and innovation

“The Green party believes that technological innovation is extremely important for the present and future of Canada. This region has an international reputation as a community that contributes an extremely high level globally to technological innovation. The federal government has been pinching pennies with respect to support of technological innovations over the decade and the Green party would like to see much more support particularly for startups and small- to medium-sized businesses. The Green party proposes lowering the small business tax on business income, basically taking back the tax cut effect that Harper instituted for the large corporations.”

 

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