Six Questions for Daniel Beals
A few weeks ago we invited all of the local federal candidates to answer questions that had been submitted by Kingstonist’s contributors and readers. The main goal of this initiative was to establish each candidate’s position on standard set of issues ranging from Prison Farms to usage-based billing and sustainability. If you missed yesterday’s feature chat with Eric Walton, please take a few minutes to read over his responses so that you can compare with the other local candidates. Today, Kingston’s New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, Daniel Beals, addresses our questions.
1. What do see as the biggest challenge facing residents of Kingston and the Islands over the next five years? Further, if you are elected as our federal representative, how do you propose to solve it?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to canvass some 20,000 homes so far (before and during the campaign). This allowed me the opportunity to speak with a wide variety of families and constituents throughout the riding and I’ve now become aware that housing is a top issue in this city. Seniors and youth alike are affected by this – Kingston currently has the lowest vacancy rate in Ontario – and therefore we need to be investing more into housing solutions to make life affordable and easier for people. When elected as your representative in the community, I will work with all levels of government to bring more funding into the city as demonstrated in the New Democrat National Housing Act.
2. The federal Prison Farm program was terminated last year due to supposedly high costs, and to provide more relevant employment skills to inmates. Do you agree with the reasoning behind the closure? If elected would you commit to re-examining the Prison Farm rehabilitation program?
I would commit to re-examining, reopening and renewing the Prison Farm program. I don’t believe it was ever a matter of “relevant employment skills”… the skills that are learned while working on a farm – hard work, patience, collective responsibility, compassion – are the same skills that build a strong community and a positive member of society. For the past two years, the closure of the Prison Farms has been a rallying point for community engagement – the decision was made with no public consultation and Parliament has still yet to provide a report on the costs of the program, breaking all sense of trust within the community. As your Member of Parliament, my first act will be to introduce a bill to immediately halt further sales of the prison farm land, equipment and infrastructure and initiate the re-opening of the program. The process will include releasing the official report of costs as well as commission an additional, qualitative report on the success of the farms, including results on rehabilitation, employment and recidivism. This issue speaks to the core of the rights and values that all Canadians share.
3. While most candidates will agree that all Canadians should have access to the Internet, what’s your position on usage-based billing? Should the government intervene and stop plans to meter bandwidth and charge consumers more?
Usage-based billing is just another example of decision-making that puts the interests of industry ahead of consumers. New Democrats have spoken our repeatedly in favour of protecting the needs of consumers, and our Digital Affairs critic, Charlie Angus, has a proven track record of speaking out on behalf of internet users. UBB is just one way for ISPs to shape internet to meet their needs and we need political leadership on this issue. Our party has demanded the CRTC expand the scope of their upcoming hearings – we feel that its current review will fall far short of what is really needed.
To quote Charlie Angus, “We all have a stake in ensuring that UBB caps do not constrain the full innovative potential for all Canadian citizens. The NDP believes a metered internet will lead to Canada becoming a digital backwater.” Further, Angus has introduced specific legislation to address net neutrality. Bill C-398, an Act to amend the Telecommunications Act (Internet neutrality), which aims to “prohibit telecommunications service providers from engaging in network management practices that favour, degrade or prioritize any content, application or service transmitted over a broadband network based on its source, ownership, destination or type”.
4. As out population continues to increase, and a greater proportion of Canadians enter retirement, the availability of health care becomes increasingly vital. Are you concerned that the nation is headed towards privatization, or a two-tired health care system? Would you do anything to protect public health care?
New Democrats have a long-standing history of commitment to public healthcare. It is rooted to the very core of our party from the prairies of the first CCF/NDP Government lead by Tommy Douglas. However governments of the day have encouraged for-profit care providers and services which have bleed resources away from our public healthcare.
It is our belief that health is a right, and as such needs to be protected and developed. The current Health Accords with the provinces will expire in 2014, so it is critically important to have a federal government with a strong commitment to public healthcare. A New Democrat government would guarantee strong federal funding for public healthcare in Canada to protect the existing plan as well as additions including pharmacare and homecare. Right now homecare is significantly underfunded and requires some specific investments to help seniors live their final years in dignity and in their homes.
We would also address the shortage of healthcare professionals. Currently some 5 million Canadians do not have a family doctor. New Democrats are committed to funding the training of 1,200 doctors over the next decade and creating 6,000 new training spaces for nurses over the next six years.
5. It is increasingly argued that changes to the electoral process need to be made in Canada. The most popular proposal for electoral reform is mixed member proportional representation. What are your feelings towards this kind of reform, and do you feel it will encourage more people to vote?
The NDP has been a long-time supporter of electoral reform. In the current First-Past-The-Post system, strategic voting is encouraged. Voters end up voting against the candidate they dislike the most rather than for the candidate who has been doing the work and best represents their views. Switching to an MMP system would encourage voter turnout since the vote of every Canadian is reflected in the makeup of Parliament. This would preserve the connection between MPs and their constituents.
6. Kingston has made some modest strides over the past few years to become Canada’s most sustainable city. What are the key environmental areas that you feel the city needs to improve upon? If elected, how would you and your party support continued green development in the Limestone City?
An area where Kingston can improve significantly is public transit. The New Democrats will enact a National Public Transit Strategy in order to maintain and expand public transit across the country. This requires working immediately with provincial and municipal partners.
Kingston has a tremendous amount of potential and investments into green development programs. St. Lawrence College is becoming a leader with the wind turbine ESET program and Queen’s has taken the initiative to put solar panels on every rooftop. These are both ambitious programs and require further development. The New Democrats have committed to providing stable funding for these and other programs across Canada. We will do this by transferring subsidies from the tar-sands to more renewable green power generation developers.
As well, we will redirect revenues raised through the auctioning of emissions permits equitably across Canada into investments in green technologies, business and household energy conservation, public transit, support to renewable energy development and transitioning workers to the green economy.