1. How do you plan to address the affordable housing issue across the Cowichan Valley?
We will have to start by surveying the community to determine our needs and set our goals based on providing every family and every person who needs housing with a comfortable healthy affordable safe home.
I would work with local governments and school board to introduce planning for the use of land already zoned for public use in the service of a provincial and federal public housing project - aimed at not just the homeless but for all working people.
Pressure for this can be brought though the UBCM, unions, community organisations.
I would work with anyone from any party or persuasion in the Leg willing to bring about a large-scale house construction scheme through public means. A full programme of land planning and urgent action will ensure an efficient building program that will not burden the community with a crippling financial load as pricing for materials will be carefully controlled. And housing ought to be dealt with in relation to good town planning - pleasant surroundings, attractive lay-out, efficient utility services.
2. How would you transition to a sustainable economy that will support local business and create reliable, living wage jobs for residents in Cowichan?
My program is centred on expanding all public services in all our communities - when private interests need assistance to prosper they are always happy to take the advantage. We must ensure government steps in to both provide services - which have been seriously degraded by austerity- and the employment which will spring from public investment in our communities. Tax revenue is not just for incentives and breaks for the wealthy. Capital construction, road work, as well as expanding our ranks among frontline education and health workers would bring both the services and the meaningful work people in Cowichan have a right to expect.
3. What do you consider to be the top priorities for improving education and, if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
As a first step, I would work in the Leg to end funding for private schools - and redirect the $400 million this sum represents to the public system. We must return to a costing model which is not based on per pupil funding so all our communities can enjoy good schools. Fixed costs must be recognised and all downloading of MSP, utilities, software and negotiated labour costs must be covered by the province as well as including a line to accommodate inflation in the grant. Our schools in Cowichan need renovation and the protocol must be to have neighbourhood schools which are equal in their quality, access to specialised services, upkeep and staffing. We must continue to elevate the language and culture component of our curriculum to better accommodate the Aboriginal community and we need full scale efforts to alleviate poverty for the families who depend on our schools with expanded meal programs and other basic needs. We must end any fees for supplies or activities.
4. What do you consider to be the top priorities for sustaining a healthy environment and, if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
Our communities must have the democratic right to decide on any issue which will impact their environment. We need to alleviate the stress that comes with wealth inequality by removing barriers to education and training, housing, good food, leisure and preventive health care. As a MLA, I will work with like minded members of the Leg to lower the tensions poverty and economic strain heap on our population. We must protect our drinking water and our farming community and I will work with community groups and local governments to advance this. One priority will be public transportation both rail and bus to get cars off the road - including a demand for better funding from the province for our public school bussing which has the potential to greatly lower the traffic and pollution on our roads while offering safe transport to school. There has been a trend towards degrading that service much to our detriment. I would also work to bring about the construction necessary to raise the Weir and steward the Cowichan River as the jewel in our crown in this area.
5. What do you consider to be the top priorities for better health care in Cowichan and if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
We certainly need a new hospital and we also need a hospice program. We have to end the 'private for profit' elder residential care and expand quality public facilities. In the Leg I would work to end all outsourcing of housekeeping and food services and return these in house. This would bring better services for patients and without having to fund a profit margin. The food service could be enhanced to provide those in hospital with healthy enjoyable meals which would improve recovery and lift spirits.We need better cultural approaches in our hospitals to better care for members of the aboriginal community. We need more doctors and nurses and nurse practitioners trained up and working in our communities regardless of the location or size. This would require a program of free tuition for education for health professionals including built in obligations to practice in small rural or remote communities for a set period in return for this education.
6. If elected, how will you support moving forward on reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia locally within our riding?
Reconciliation has to advance in the knowledge that this process is not about past crimes and about mere closure for those who have suffered in the generations before. Rather reconciliation must recognise these crimes continue; that colonial violence and racism still persists. In Cowichan as MLA I would encourage and work to strengthen real progress in demanding Aboriginal people receive their share of services and meaningful work. In particular I would work with the Band to promote their communities wishes regarding expanded language and culture content in all our public schools including the possibility of Hul'qumi'num immersion ,seek a review from School District towards reopening Koksilah Elementary School to better serve the kids on reserve and off.
7. One Cowichan has been facilitating a petition for the federal government to allocate adaptation to climate change infrastructure funds to raise the Cowichan weir for the Cowichan River. How will you work to bring the provincial government to the table as an active partner to move this initiative forward?
There are many players in this - and the issue of who will pay should be sorted out in a statesmanlike manner but the Weir must be raised to preserve a heritage river with a heritage salmon run. The Province is responsible for the well being of the river and should pay for the construction though Catalyst being a major license holder and beneficiary of the running river should be asked to bear some of the load. As MLA, it would be my priority to finally get this sorted – there is considerable unanimity in this area for this project and except for a handful of property owners who will lose some frontage the case is clear. A strong voice speaking and acting on behalf of the communities who have rights to seeing Cowichan nurtured can resolve this with the considerable force of the aboriginal community leading the way.
8. What made you decide to run in this election?
I think there is a dearth of ideas and a downgrading of programs favouring the notions of personality and party. I have run to accentuate the need for a change in how we choose our representatives. We need proportional rep and publicly funded elections to ensure all people can participate with equality. The programs we hammer out as community members should have the depth and meaning to be worthy of our committed support every day of the year – not just for a few weeks every 4 or 5 years. We have a right to participate fully in all aspects of living which affect us now - merely being offered the dubious privilege to vote for a bland dispiriting collection of shallow promises which are likely to evaporate after the election is creating frustration and cynicism. I am running to foster a platform and raise expectations among all my neighbours here in Cowichan. I also think I would be a good MLA – I am a hard worker, a long-time campaigner for the public realm and I love the politics of solidarity and collective action.