Hangin’ with the candidates – Richard Walsh
Green Party candidate Richard Walsh has been an active member of the Waterloo community since 1979. As a husband, father, grandfather and retired Laurier psychology professor, Walsh is no stranger to engagement with students as well as the community as a whole.
“The campaign is oriented around the basic idea that Canada and the Waterloo Region need to restructure the economy so that we live in an environmentally sustainable way,” Walsh began.
“We need to green the economy at every level: locally, provincially, federally and internationally.”
As he became more specific about the Green Party’s plans for Canada, Walsh outlined the Green Party’s five main points of focus, alluding to as if they were fingers on a hand. The thumb represents the need for “environmental sustainability” and introducing a carbon fee to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“And to [encourage] the economy to rely only on renewable resources by 2050,” Walsh began.
The second finger focuses on making the economy “green” to see a massive boost in employability for all people, not just tech industries or startups. Walsh said the community needs skilled people, individuals trained in humanities and social sciences as well as people trained in professional programs with particular interests in business and environmental studies.
“The third finger has to do with the nature of our social services and the fact that they need to be revived,” Walsh said. “They need to be revived because of lack of federal funding. By social services I’m referring to health, education and social assistance.”
One of the biggest promises the student population has heard from Green Party leader Elizabeth May is regarding tuition. Walsh explained the Green Party proposes to abolish tuition entirely by the year 2020 and to forgive student debt over $10,000. Along with the student population, the Green Party is also concerned with Canadians who are living in poverty.
“The Green Party proposes a guaranteed annual income for everybody in Canadian society [of] roughly $20,000 annually,” Walsh stated. “That would eliminate poverty for everybody in Canada.”
The fourth finger, Walsh explained is to reform the electoral system in Canada, currently first-past-the-post.
“That system is undemocratic,” Walsh explained. “It’s archaic, it’s only used by a small handful of nations … most other nations in the world employ some type of proportional representation for elections to a federal parliament. We don’t.”
“The pinky finger has to do with the nature of Canada’s relations to the international community.” Walsh believes Canada needs to return to peacekeeping internationally, returning to a strong role in the United Nations.
Due to his background in psychology, Walsh has been asked by May, to be the shadow cabinet member for the portfolio of mental health. If elected, he hopes to incorporate this role into the Waterloo community.
“For this community, that would mean strengthening mental health supports … the lack of services is particularly problematic for children and youth.”
For Walsh, the student community in Waterloo is close to his heart.
“I have an intimate knowledge of and appreciation for the status of students, particularly given the extremely high financial burden that students and usually their families experience.”
Walsh specified that when talking about student needs, he is not only referring to university education, but also college and skilled trade training. His goal is to provide all students with the same benefits.