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Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo: Green candidate Matt Greenwood

Image Credit: compilation/Jennifer Stahn
October 15, 2015 - 3:04 PM

We don’t endorse any single candidate. Our comments on these answers are an assessment of whether the candidate gave a candid answer as we asked for (REAL) or relied on party platforms, leadership or attacks on rivals for their answers (PUPPET).

To understand this post, please read this first.



OUR TAKE: There is very little distinction between Matt Greenwood and the Green Party. If you are considering voting Green, keep Elizabeth May in mind — this candidate offers very little locally to help you.

1. The number one concern I hear from voters is:

"How do we get rid of Harper?" From long-time supporters of EVERY party, including the Conservatives!

OUR TAKE: While this is likely a popular refrain, it smells like opportunism. Surely people have more local concerns than that. (Open-pit mine, anyone?) PUPPET

2. As an MP, what could you do to ensure zebra/quagga mussels stay out of B.C. water systems?

The ONLY defense against zebra mussels is to make sure they never get into B.C.'s water systems in the first place. There are literally no methods for effectively removing them once they take hold in a lake, and they WILL kill everything else in that lake. It only takes a few live mussels clinging to a single boat from out of province to take over a lake, and from there, every other body of water connected to that lake. To that end, every single boat that crosses B.C. borders MUST be thoroughly inspected, not occasional spot-checks, not just a quick glance. While provinces are largely responsible for securing their own borders, an adequately-funded Department of Fisheries and Oceans (a federal ministry) might well be able to assist with these particular checks.

OUR TAKE: Shows an understanding of the issue and its severity, which overshadows a lack of response on what he, as MP, would do about it. REAL

3. Do you personally believe in criminal penalties for recreational marijuana use?

Mr. Harper has recently stated "marijuana is infinitely worse" than tobacco, which only makes me wonder exactly what he's smoking. Perhaps some medicinal tobacco, on the advice of his former tobacco-lobbyist campaign adviser Lynton Crosby? Quite apart from the fact that addiction is obviously a medical problem that is not effectively treated by sending people to jail, the simple fact is that at some point we have to treat people like grown-ups who can make their own decisions about what they want to put into their bodies. Criminalizing such an easily-available plant does nothing but help fund organized crime and leave consumers at greater risk, while also sucking resources away from much more useful law enforcement. Worst of all, despite the mandatory minimum sentence for possessing 6 pot plants ALREADY being harsher than the minimum for *child rape*, the strategy has already proven itself completely ineffective at "keeping marijuana out of the hands of children" in the first place! When something clearly isn't working, the solution isn't to do the same thing except more-so. It often works much better to try something else.

OUR TAKE: Next time, try for a few less ZINGS! at Stephen Harper, and just answer the question. PUPPET

4. Name one example of an issue you disagree with your party on. How would you reconcile that disagreement?

I have really seriously tried, but I honestly can't think of a particular policy I disagree with the party on! (At least not as reflected in our primary policy document .)  However, Green MPs are always committed to putting the wishes of their constituents first, something we haven't seen in this riding for many years now and highlighted most spectacularly by our MP's (non-)response to the huge outcry against Bill C-51, which she still voted for. The Greens are the ONLY party with a policy of absolutely no whipped (forced) votes, due to our belief in the strength of grassroots democracy and the principle that good leadership doesn't need to force good people to vote for good policies. If I did strongly disagree with a party policy, I would simply vote accordingly and of course work to change the policy itself at the next General Meeting if not before.

OUR TAKE: Really? Not one thing? In the whole party platform? You agree with absolutely everything? PUPPET

5. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to deal with mental health in our communities, in our courts and in our prisons? What can it do better?

As a front-line worker at a housing agency, I regularly deal with people suffering from a wide range of mental illness as well as the recently-incarcerated, and the picture isn't pretty. Emptying the institutions to promote community living sounded great in theory, but it sometimes seems like they only got as far as the 'close the institutions' part of the plan. Without a commensurate ramping up of mental health resources in the community to cope with the suddenly increased demand, it should be no surprise that what we've seen instead is a huge increase in the number of mentally ill people ending up in jail or worse. There have been many studies and many excellent recommendations on how to approach the challenges mental illness puts on the smooth functioning of society, from more long-term secure care beds to better public education about mental health and the resources available to support it, to building far better communication between the families who often provide the front-line care and the health system that's supposed to be there to support them but often, tragically, isn't.  It's long past time to start putting those studies into action.

OUR TAKE: The candidate seems to have a good grasp of this complex issue. REAL

6. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to help veterans? What can it do better?

This government's record on supporting the veterans it claims to owe such a debt to has been beyond shameful. Ms. McLeod may talk about a 2015 all-party agreement for reforming veteran care, but this begs for the question: why did it take her government 9 whole years to recognize these problems, all of which it created with its own policies in the first place? Apparently only the threat of an election year was enough to finally spur them to action. I call on whomever forms the next government to do the following:
*Disabled veterans must at the very least be given an unbiased choice between a lump-sum payment and the monthly benefit. We would strongly lean toward doing away with the lump-sum altogether, but would be guided by the wishes of veterans in this matter.
*The policy manual for Veteran Affairs Canada must be completely rewritten, to stop it from behaving much like a for-profit insurance company whose main goal is simply to get disabled veterans off its books as quickly and cheaply as possible. 
*The ministry should be proactive in letting veterans know what programs and supports are actually available to them, whereas currently VAC will NOT TELL YOU what programs are available. You must know beforehand what programs are available and whether you qualify.
*The Benefit of the Doubt clause must be reinstated, wherein if a claim is made but the situation is such that supporting evidence is impossible to produce, we trust the claimant to be honourable and extend them the benefit of the doubt. 
*End the SISIP disability-payment clawback. No civilian disability plan denies disability payments to employees based on income.  To do so for veterans is a slap in the face.
*The Veterans Review and Appeal Board must no longer be used as a sinecure for failed candidates and other friends of the party with no particular military experience or related expertise (currently only 3 people on the 25 person board have any military background at all while 1 more has medical training).
*The VRAB's bizarre organizational structure that sees appeals judged by the very same people who ruled the initial denials must be split into two separate bodies, with qualified experts on each.

OUR TAKE: Good answer, lots of detail, shows a real grasp of the issue. It's almost as if — YEP — he copied it right from the Green Party platform. PUPPET

7. Do you believe a minority government can be effective?

Anyone who claims minority governments are inherently unstable and unproductive needs to review their Canadian History. Almost all of the social programs Canadians hold most dear came about during minority governments in the 1960s and 70s, including (among many other things) the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Health Act, and our once-proud role as peacekeepers on the world stage. To the extent that our more recent experiences with minority governments have been less effective, the fault lies with party leaderships that refused to see it as a chance for representatives to work together across party lines for the good of Canadians, and instead stayed laser-focused on their own narrow partisan advantage at all times.  We should also remember that the Conservative Party itself was caught in 2007 producing and distributing actual 200-page handbooks to its MPs on how to disrupt and manipulate parliamentary committees, just before breaking their own fixed election date law on the pretense that "the opposition is making parliament unworkable". This Conservative Party is simply not the party it was before Peter McKay sold it to Stephen Harper, and anyone who grew up supporting PC candidates in the past should take a long hard look at the real record of this government since 2006 before casting their vote this time.

OUR TAKE: You had us right until you took the opportunity to bash a competitor instead of state your own view and how you could work together with other MPs. PUPPET

BONUS Will you declare your support for increasing openness and transparency in government and commit to interviews by the news media once elected? Yes or No.

It has been truly horrifying to watch the Harper government systematically deforming the role of the media in this country's political life.  Mr Harper's '5-question rule' should never have been tolerated in the first place, and to the extent that it's become an accepted feature of dealing with the Prime Minister, it is a huge black eye to an informed democracy.  Journalists from other countries literally think ours are joking when they describe the usual state of media access to our politicians! At the same time, Mr Harper always makes himself much more available for questions whenever other foreign heads of state are in the room, which only proves that he knows just how bad his usual behaviour really is.  Yes I would of course be readily available to the media, as should any elected official worth even the paper his or her votes were printed on.

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