A Discussion with Candidates of Calgary-Confederation
As the 2019 federal election quickly approaches on Oct. 21, The Weal contacted all of the candidates vying for the Calgary-Confederation seat in Parliament to introduce themselves, talk about their party’s vision for students, and get their thoughts about the election so far.
Prior to being elected 2015 as an MP for the Conservative Party, Len Webber was an MLA for the Progressive Conservative Party for 10 years.
Webber became involved in politics after founding the Webber Academy, a non-profit university prep school in Calgary with his father, becoming deeply connected with the needs of education.
As a provincial MLA and federal MP, Webber has focused much of his efforts towards finding solutions to homelessness and addiction.
He serves on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, and has worked on finding solutions to the national opioid crisis.
“My future goal, if I’m re-elected, is to try to get a better system in place for mental health and for people to get help,” said Webber.
While the Conservative’s environmental plan lacks GHG reductions targets, and the party is campaigning to eliminate the federal carbon tax, Webber believes policies focusing on tangible objectives like eliminating wastewater dumping in oceans and rivers, and investing in clean technology are the right path forward.
“The way we can contribute is through our expertise, research, and development in the oil industry,” said Webber, adding that Canada is only responsible for 1.6 per cent of global emissions, so efforts to reduce GHG emissions may not help with the big picture problem.
Webber was asked what he believes is the most interesting new idea the Conservative party is bringing to this election.
According to Webber, the Conservative’s plan for an energy corridor from coast to coast, which streamlines approvals for pipelines, electricity transmission lines, and other infrastructure is the most exciting new policy plant the party has adopted.
Liberal candidate Jordan Stein has worked in the airline industry, and as a small business owner who has started two coffee shops and a bike rental business.
“There’s a lot of start-up businesses in Calgary, there’s a lot of entrepreneurship here and that’s a big part of who I am,” said Stein.
Stein has been interested in politics her entire life, but became heavily involved in politics last year as she was asked to run in the Calgary-Glenmore riding by the NDP in the provincial election. She agreed to run because she was passionate about the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan.
“I think as Canadians we have a real opportunity to take a proactive stance, and not just be doing the right thing for the planet, but also the economic benefits and opportunities that are available on the crest of that wave,” said Stein.
According to Stein, the Liberal Party has been focused on making the lives of students better by offering and increasing amount of non-repayable grant money available for post-secondary students from $750 million in 2017 to $850 million in 2020.
The Liberal Party has also taken steps to help students with student loans by allowing students to wait on their loan payments until they are making more than $25,000 per year.
“Student debt is a huge thing. I still have lots of student debt and I still make debt payments every month,” said Stein.
Natalie Odd has lived in Calgary for most of her life, has mainly worked in the non-profit sector, but has also spent time working in government, and private sector.
She believes taking a top-down approach to the implementation of environmental measures is the easiest way to make change possible.
She was drawn to the Green Party because of the work she had done at non-profits, and was impressed with Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
“I found myself thinking this was a party leader I could really get behind,” said Odd.
The Green Party has an extensive platform dedicated to helping students get high-quality education, without being burdened by student loan debt.
Abolishing tuitions and forgiving student loan debt will be the cornerstone of the Green Party’s vision for students.
“We feel strongly that eliminating those barriers to high-quality education is an important investment in our society,” said Odd.
Although much of the Green Party’s platform deals with the rapid decarbonization of the Canadian economy, Odd believes oil and gas workers still have a role to play in this future green economy.
“There are lots of transferable skills between oil and gas workers and those in the clean tech economy,” said Odd, adding workers should take every opportunity available to get retrained in areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternate fuels.
Korol is running as the candidate for Calgary Confederation in the first-ever federal election campaign for the newly formed People’s Party of Canada (PPC), and is a former SAIT grad from the film program in 1997, but has worked in the healthcare system for the last 22 years.
He decided to get involved in politics and run for the PPC after witnessing a number of problems with recent federal Liberal and Conservative governments.
He cites recent challenges in the oil and gas industry, and the federal government pandering to the eastern provinces as his primary reason for getting involved with the PPC.
“I think that’s where a frustration grew with me a few years ago, and I thought that politics was futile in this country,” said Korol.
The PPC’s vision for improving the lives of students is rooted in their economic agenda that will create opportunities for students and citizens alike.
PPC promises to help reduce barriers for the country’s oil and gas industry, increasing free trade across provinces, and getting rid of supply management for dairy.
“The more the country prospers, and the more we develop our economy and create opportunities, the more we have to spend on social programs,” said Korol.
Note: At the time of writing there was no NDP candidate running in Calgary-Confederation.