Hangin’ with the candidates – Bardish Chagger

Graphic by Lena Yang, Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Graphic by Lena Yang, Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

As a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Liberal candidate for the Waterloo riding Bardish Chagger is no stranger to Waterloo.

“Community organizer is the title I go with,” Chagger expressed when discussing her life outside of the campaign and her job at the Multicultural Centre.

Although she is a first time candidate, Chagger has a clear vision and plan for the Waterloo community.

“My campaign is committed to restoring a voice for the constituency of Waterloo,” she explained. “We are blessed in the community because we are not single industry. We’ve been leaders in manufacturing, insurance, research and development. I love this community because we have two universities and a college.”

To put Liberal ideology in simple terms, Chagger explained the most basic and fundamental aspect of Justin Trudeau’s campaign.

“What the Liberals are talking about is giving the most to the people who need the most,” she said. “And giving the least to the people who need the least.”

Chagger believes the current government is “very short-sighted” and Trudeau brings “forward thinking.”

“He’s got a vision for the future. We are talking about middle class Canadians who have never seen a cut … let’s tax the one per cent, and give a break to middle class Canadians. We’re saying let’s invest in infrastructure and let’s take care of our nation. The foundation of our nation is crumbling, and that’s because we don’t put enough in infrastructure dollars.”

Chagger’s interest in benefitting the student population is undeniable.

She graduated from UW only 10 years ago, meaning the struggles of student life are fresh in her head.

“I’ve been engaging with youth, I’ve been on your campuses, I met with your students’ unions and I think I was the first person to turn the questions around and ask, ‘what do we need to do for you?’”

A main concern of the student population is finding meaningful employment in our fields after graduation.

Chagger promises that the Liberal government will help to employ freshly graduated students.

“What we’re also recognizing is that when you’ve gone through school and you’ve graduated, you have a huge debt load. If we can find you meaningful employment, you’re not asking for a break on the debt load, you’re saying let us pay it back,” she said.

When asked about lowering the cost of tuition, Chagger didn’t beat around the bush.

Lowering tuition is not a main concern for the Liberals, but she explained the party would like to address the issue of student debt in other ways, such as creating more effective loan programs.

“Something that we’re recognizing is that we need to work with the provinces and the premiers, and that’s something that hasn’t happened in our current government. Though we’ve not made a commitment [to lower tuition costs], I know that there’s a huge dialogue within the liberal party [about tuition costs].”

Specifically, Chagger discussed the flaws within OSAP that most students are more than familiar with. Barriers include putting your parents’ income on your application and assuming that parents or guardians help pay for post-secondary education, which is not the case for many students.

“When it comes to OSAP, you declare your family income and then they might not be or they might be supporting you and then when you graduate you pay it back. [Your parents or guardians] do not have to pay it back. They are not obligated to pay it back, so then why does their income have anything to do with it in the beginning?”


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