KTW presents profiles of those seeking to become Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP in the Sept. 20 federal election.
Name: Iain Currie
Party: Green Party of Canada
Campaign office address: TBA
Family: Married with three grown children
Q: In a nutshell, why should voters cast a ballot for you and your party, as opposed to your opponents and their parties?
A: A vote for me is a vote for a better way.
1. Build a resilient economy;
2. Take real action to combat climate change;
3. Make long-term plans for a healthier country.
The reason I am running for the Green Party is not because the party has all the answers, but because we are centred on core values: sustainability, ecological wisdom, participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity and non-violence.
Ask yourself what the other parties stand for? The election was called on one of the worst days for forest fires in our history and at the beginning of the fourth wave of the pandemic, not because any of us want an election, but only because the Liberals want more power. The Conservatives did much the same thing the last time they were the government.The provincial NDP did the same thing last year. Politics doesn’t have to be a cynical game, but to have something better, you will have to vote for something better. Vote your values. Vote for me, Iain Currie of the Green Party.
Q: This summer has seen all-time record high temperatures in Kamloops and elsewhere in B.C., with an unprecedented wildfire season still raging. Do you agree this is due to human-caused climate change?
Q: What should be done to mitigate the effects of wildfires?
A: Forest fires are inevitable and natural, but as temperatures rise and extremes become more common, we will continue to see more of the large, catastrophic fires which put lives and property at risk and reduce air quality and our general quality of life. We cannot flip a switch and reduce the temperature, but we can make investments in off-season mitigation efforts including forest fuel management, controlled-burning and preserving fire-resistant old-growth forests.
While this is primarily a provincial jurisdiction, the federal government can play a greater role in promoting and funding these efforts. The Green Party has proposed a billion dollar per year fund to allow communities to hire young people to work on environmental issues like forest fire mitigation. While this seems like a lot of money, the government could have funded much more than half of this cost simply by not calling this election.
Q: What is the most important first step government should do in tackling the climate change crisis?
A: The first thing to do is to stop, immediately, wilfully making the problem worse. The government of Canada needs to stop pouring billions of dollars into subsidies for fossil fuel companies.
Q: What would you propose be done to end the pandemic and prevent the next one?
A: Obviously, the most important step is to continue to vaccinate as many people as possible and to ensure that health professionals continue to lead the response based on the best available data. How to end the pandemic is a scientific question and should not be a political one. The question of how to prevent the next one does have an important political component because the government of Canada can and should direct our tax dollars to maximize the long-term health and prosperity of Canadians.
The best way I can think to do this is to make a significant investment in higher education, to train the next generation of epidemiologists, researchers, infectious disease doctors, etc. The Green Party has proposed tuition-free universities. Education is an investment that pays dividends in so many areas, including public health.
Q: Do you support mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of health-care workers and students and staff in post-secondary institutions? If not, why not?
A: Yes for health-care workers. It is a reasonable expectation of someone working in health-care that they take all necessary steps to protect the people seeking their help. Yes and no for post-secondary institutions. I think it is reasonable to require those who could spread the virus in a classroom to be vaccinated. But our public institutions will need to accommodate those who are unable for health reasons to be vaccinated and I see no reason why they should not also make accommodations, where it is possible, for those who are unwilling to be vaccinated.
Obviously, vaccine-hesitancy is irrational and undesirable, but it is also real and resistant to reasoned argument. Policies that merely punish the unvaccinated are going to make the issue more divisive and entrench anti-science views.
Q: Reconciliation with First Nations remains a major issue. What should government’s first step be in addressing the concerns of the Indigenous population?
A: Reconciliation needs to be an urgent priority. The government has been saying the right thing, but its actions do not match its words. The question asks for the first step, so I have picked something that can be accomplished immediately — stop all appeals and litigation in the Jordan’s Principle cases. Acknowledge the government’s systemic discrimination against Indigenous children, pay up and do better.
Q: What is the No. 1 issue being raised with you when speaking to voters in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding?
A: Quality of life. We were all tired of COVID restrictions before an early and awful fire season began. As a community, we are still reeling from the horror of the discovery of the 215 children’s graves at the residential school.
Even for those of us who have been fortunate enough to avoid illness and direct impact from the fires, it is hard to avoid feeling anxious and pessimistic. Like you, I did not want an election now. I was going to sit this one out. I was going to give in to that pervasive sense that nothing I can do will make a difference. But on the Friday before the election was called, I looked out my window and saw the blue skies of my hometown turn to smoke grey and realized that giving up on my children’s future is not an option for me. I choose optimism and action. I believe that we can do better.
Q: What is the most important step that needs to be taken to begin reduction of the deficit caused by pandemic-related spending?
A: Improving tax policy. That means a wealth tax, closing tax loopholes, and establishing a non-partisan tax commission with a goal of simplifying the system in a way consistent with Canadian values. Our next government could also have a quick win by immediately ending fossil fuel subsidies.