co- authored by Jordan Porter
Arthur: An early election was called this year, how has the campaign treated you?
Nickle: It’s been a long, long campaign. At this point, I’m too busy to be tired. However, a normal campaign would have started two weeks ago. I think a number of Canadians are cynical as of why that is. There’s no doubt in my mind that this was meant to bankrupt the other parties. With the 60% rebate, the Conservatives have already paid their fees. It’s going to be tougher seeing that they have more money than both parties have together.
Arthur: Do you think this election represents a democratic vote?
Nickle: Democracy is an important issue to discuss, especially because everything else is going to flow based on whether or not we have a true democratic system of electing politicians. For me, that is really the most important issue. If we retain first- past- the- post, we are not going to have the kind of democracy that will give Canadians the kind of Government they are asking for.
Arthur: There is an issue with first-past-the-post in that it’s not the most effective way of measuring the vote, especially with more than two parties – it’s diluted. We’re glad you bring up democracy, especially with the recent incorrect voter information that has been going around. The new Elections Act was recently condemned at a Senate meeting as being inaccessible for students from out of town to exercise their vote.
Nickle: I call it the Unfair Elections Act, as it has done more to disenfranchise people. It’s a direct importation of Republican moves to disenfranchise black and Mexican voters in the southern United States. We know that the people at Elections Canada suspected about 18 people in Canada had voted without being eligible in the last two elections. Just like the niqab, the issue around the niqab, it has affected two women. However, both issues have diversely been used to make changes to what used to be considered a fair and just system.
Arthur: Touching on the niqab issue, how do you feel about the media fixating on it and distracting people from the real issues?
Nickle: I’m frustrated with our media but when you think about who owns the media and how they have profited very well from their low-tax agenda over the last 35 years, so you can understand how they don’t want democracy to be a real issue. The mainstream media hasn’t given a focus to how Mr. Harper hasn’t addressed that we’ve got hundreds of thousands of people out of work, that we aren’t creating jobs for young people, and that we have had two recessions in the last ten years.
Arthur: Is the information itself more inaccessible with the changes Elections Canada has gone through?
Nickle: There had been such real restrictions from Elections Canada for advertising, for getting people out to vote, and what people need in order to vote. You could vote today! If you can’t make the advanced polls or make the voting on October 19, you can go down to Elections Canada. That should be on a full-page ad in every newspaper, that should be on the radio and T.V.
When I was your age, I had a part-time job before every election that was called enumerating. We would go around door-to-door and my sister and I would knock on doors and say, “Hi, I’m from Elections Canada and need to know all the names of everyone in the household.” You’d get the names, the ages, and the voters list was up to date before every single election. Now, subsequent Liberal and Conservative governments thought this was too expensive. Well, democracy shouldn’t be cheap. Citizens should have the ability and right to vote because they are on the voters list.
Arthur: On average, our nation’s youth is $27k in the hole after completing an undergraduate degree. Does your party have any plans to address the issue of student debt?
Nickle: Don’t forget that students with loans used to be run by the provincial government, while now, all the loans are through private banks so you’re paying hugely in interest. The Liberals said, “We’re going to reduce tuition by 30%” but what they didn’t tell you about are the parameters, including this condition, this condition, and so on. What it ended up doing, there turned out to be a very small percentage of students that fit this criteria for the 30% reduction. Most of them didn’t get a reduction at all.
One of the things Thomas Mulcair said was that that Mr. Harper hasn’t met with the premiers in 10 years. Tom is going to be meeting with them twice a year. Once in Ottawa and once in a rotation. So, not only are we planning on eradicating the interest, but we will be in discussion with premiers about reducing tuition fees.
We are going to eradicate interest on student debt. In my ideal world, I don’t want us to go an American route but rather aim towards the Scandinavian and European route, where we reduce tuition so much that it would be non-existent.That’s not going to happen tomorrow, unfortunately, but there are lots of things we can do using Bank of Canada money. Using Bank of Canada Money at 0% interest is where I see us going with giving loans to students with 0% interest.
Arthur: The NDP have taken the stance to not run a deficit if elected.
Nickle: What Tom is saying is that we are going to spend money on infrastructure but we are not going to run a deficit. What we’re going to do is take money from big corporations and we are going to put that money into clean green technology.
We’re going to give tax breaks to the job creators; small- and medium- sized business are the innovative businesses that are going to take us into the next clean green era of jobs that will put Canadians back to work. What we’re not going to do is run up a deficit to do this.
We are going to increase the tax rate for major corporations who are sitting on about two-thirds of a trillion dollars of what they call “dead money” [that] they are not investing in Canada, which they are not investing in putting Canadians back to work.
Arthur: Peterborough’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in Canada, if not the highest. It’s an issue that is embarrassing and needs to be rectified as soon as possible. So, what is your party’s plan to improve this stat in the Peterborough-Kawartha area?
Nickle: Honestly, I had to leave Peterborough when I was a kid because unemployment was a problem even then. My dad came to play lacrosse and football in the early 1950s and he was working at GE back when they had nearly 70,000 unionized employees. They have less than 600 now. Johnson and Johnson is gone, OMC is gone. Don’t forget that GM, who used to be the largest employer in Peterborough, now has less than 3,000 employees. My own two kids had to go out west because there are no jobs here. Just as I said before, we’re going to stop giving blanket tax cuts to corporations who are missing out on tax cuts and sending our jobs overseas.
We’re going to do is stop ripping and shipping our raw materials over seas. What we’re going to do is start making sure that we have the secondary and tertiary businesses, so instead of ripping and shipping raw materials and buying finished goods, why cant we make those goods here? Bring the middle man in. I would love to be off oil tomorrow, but it’s not going to happen, so stop shipping our oil down to the states. Mr. Harper suggests to use the XL pipeline through to the United States which would create 40,000 jobs there. Well, why cant the oil industry have those 40,000 jobs here in Canada? The other thing we can do is, we’re on the cusp, as I said, we can create hundreds of thousands of clean green jobs. Oil workers are getting put out of work in the west.
Well we’ve got the technology, if you just go another half a kilometer south into the earth you’re going to hit geothermal. Why don’t we take advantage of that? Why aren’t we putting money into RND (research and development?) into tide energy and wave energy, and why aren’t we putting solar panels on every house? Why aren’t we building these solar panels? Why aren’t we building those small rooftop turbines that don’t make anybody sick? Why aren’t we bringing our new construction up to at least our 2000 code? Why aren’t we putting our Canadians back to work? Because who is going to build those products? Who’s going to install those products? Who’s going to maintain those products? We don’t need free trade, we need fair trade. And something like the TPP that is coming up, is something that is for investor protection agreements. They’re not about protecting Canadians or Canadian jobs. What we need is to make sure that corporations aren’t calling the shots anymore. My feeling is, you are perfectly entitled to make a profit, but what you’re not entitled to is greed.
Arthur: On the subject of security- there’s been a lot of talk over the duration of this campaign regarding the necessary steps to take to ensure the security of our nation. What are the NDP policies, and specifically, how is this going to translate into the First Nations community?
Nickle: Don’t forget that Mr. Harper says he wants to protect women overseas but with his insane policy that you cannot give any money to agencies that support safe abortions for women overseas. Now, he’s not going to attack that here in Canada but you have thousands and thousands of women in third-world countries that are dying because they don’t have access to safe abortions because Mr. Harper says we’re not going to invest in any social agencies in these countries that allow women to have safe abortions. So, are you really standing up for women? Please explain that to me.
In regards to Bill C-51, I’m really proud of the NDP. We are disgusted by Mr. Harper’s government for bringing it in and I am equally disgusted with Mr. Trudeau and his caucus for supporting it. How do you purport yourself to be a progressive party when you support that kind of undemocratic law? My granddad fought for 5 years during the Second World War against this exact kind of law and this kind of government so I am so proud of the NDP for voting against it. I am also proud of the Greens [as] Ms. May and her team had voted against it.
One of the things that we are going to do is, in terms of First Nations Women[,] we’re going to enact the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and we’re going to move beyond promises to action. We’re going to protect gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination on grounds of the Human Rights Act. We’re going to put rights [as well as] poverty reduction right in the heart of our foreign aid. We’re going to restore the court challenges program to make sure all Canadians can claim their rights and freedoms under the constitution. Amnesty International said Bill C-51 is a setback for humans rights in Canada and I couldn’t agree with that more.
The NDP is looking to reenact the Navigable Waters and Protection Act, the Environmental Assessment Act, and the Fisheries act. Those acts protected 2.5 million lakes, rivers, and watersheds, and guess what? Now they protect only parts of 159.