Kitchener-Waterloo candidate profiles
Peter Braid, Conservative Party
Representing the Conservative party, incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Braid is centering his campaign around fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes low. In his two-and-a-half years as the MP for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, Braid has applauded the Federal Government for many investments in the community as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
In his current campaign, Braid continues to emphasize economic stimulation and job creation. “We’re going to promote economic growth and job creation,” Braid said in an interview with The Cord. “We’re keeping taxes low for individuals and families, and we’re keeping taxes low for job-creating businesses.”
Braid believes that one area which job creation can be derived from is the purchase of the controversial F-35 fighter jets.
The Conservative Government has come under fire for what has been called a hasty purchase, as well as a lack of transparency when pertaining to the price of the jets. Despite the apparent ambiguity, Braid was clear on the price of the jets at the April 19 all-candidates debate at RIM Park.
“The cost of the fighter jets is $9 billion” he clarified. “The economic benefit to Canada would be $12 billion. That’s a pretty good ratio. It’s about jobs… I’m fighting for those jobs, and I’m going to continue to fight for those jobs.”
Much like his Federal counterpart, Stephen Harper, Braid has expressed dissatisfaction with the election, as he considers it unnecessary and the contempt vote “manufactured.” “It was the opposition coalition parties which forced the election,” Braid announced at the debate.
With the student vote being one of the most pressing topics of the current election, Braid has gone to lengths to speak with young people about political involvement. “I am using social media,” Braid told residents of Kitchener-Waterloo, referencing his activity on Facebook and Twitter. “I have young people involved in my campaign. I take every opportunity to speak to students at high school and university […] to ensure that they can be engaged in the political process.”
Braid also specified that his team has been promoting the use of special ballots for students to vote with, as many students in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding are faced with the conundrum of living away from Waterloo on the May 2nd election date.
In addition, Braid has referenced the Conservative Party’s plans to assist students with financial burdens. “Our government established the Canada Student Loan program specifically to assist low-and-middle income students,” Braid told The Cord. “We’ve also made scholarships and bursaries tax-free.”
Braid said the party has further plans to improve the loan program, including a plan to double the maximum part-time work exception. “There are enhancements… that we will want to implement when we get back to Ottawa to pass our budget.”
Braid begun his education studying political science at the University of Waterloo and then transferred to the University of Toronto where he earned a degree in international relations. During his time as a student, Braid worked for Kitchener-Waterloo’s Conservative Member of Parliament at the time, Walter McLean. It was then that Braid begun his own career in politics.
— Bree Mantha
Bill Brown, New Democratic Party
For local New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Bill Brown, “politics was a part of everyday life” during his childhood in Quebec. At the age of 27, and still a student at the University of Waterloo, Brown provides a youthful perspective on current issues facing all Canadians.
Brown’s interest in politics and the NDP was stimulated by his recognition of the importance, as well as neglect, of social services during his volunteerism with national organization Katimavik. More recently, his work as a financial advisor at a local bank strengthened his resolve in creating new opportunities and policies to help families persevere.
“I thought the NDP platform was the best platform to help Canadian families, and help people that I’ve seen as customers go through such a difficult time over the past couple of years,” Brown commented.
He has been involved in Waterloo region politics directly for several years now and has served as an executive for the NDP.
The recession, he noted, has had a dire impact on future retirement possibilities for the aging population. Job creation and pension improvement are two of the pillars of the NDP platform.
“If we look at the increased cost of living these days, paying for gas and paying for tuition,” explained Brown. “We don’t have a lot of money to put away for our retirement and for savings at the end of the day.”
While acting in concurrence with NDP plans to cut small business taxes and double existing pension benefits, his vision for propelling forward the economy is one which begins at the local level.
“A greener Waterloo region is also a greener Canada,” Brown began, explaining how environmental policies can be beneficial to the economy as a whole.
The NDP plans to take money typically spent by the federal government to develop the tar sands and use it to invest in green technologies. Brown said that the job creation through this innovation will be highly beneficial to Kitchener-Waterloo students, many of whom have been struggling to find work upon the completion of their education.
Another issue of utmost importance to Brown is tackling the mentality of strategic voting. He claims that Canadians have a tendency to vote out, rather than elect governments. “If you vote for something,” Brown concluded. “I believe you feel as if you’ve had your voice heard, and that you’ve really had your say, and you voted for a party that is hopefully going to carry your voice into the House of Commons.”
Students and community members are encouraged to attend the April 27 candidates’ debate at the UW before making their decision on the May 2nd election date.
— Lindsay Purchase
Cathy MacLellan, Green Party
A native of Neustadt, Ontario, about an hour and a half from Waterloo, Kitchener-Waterloo Green party candidate Cathy MacLellan first came to the area to attend the University of Waterloo for health studies in the early 1980s. Settling in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver after graduating, her husband held a number of jobs in the high-tech sector before returning to Waterloo in 1996 to start Arise Technologies, a Waterloo-based company that specializes in solar cells and panels for different applications.
Despite having some involvement in student politics in high school and as a representative on the UW Federation of Students, MacLellan had no political inklings until recently after spending time in Germany, where Arise has a solar cell production facility.
“My first exposure to the Green party was actually in Germany,” she explained, noting the emphasis on green and sustainable initiatives that are encouraged by the German government, whose Green party has had some prominence for a number of years.
“I came back to Canada and we had an election around then, in the early 2000s. Suddenly I realized I did not know where to put my X on the ballot.”
Conducting research on Canada’s environmental and broader policies, MacLellan said that she recognized a need for changes in policy and got involved with the Green party of Canada, specifically former K-W MP candidate Pauline Richards’ 2006 election campaign. After the election, MacLellan became president of the riding association and when Richards stepped down as candidate leading up to the 2008 election, MacLellan became the Green candidate and received 12 per cent of the riding’s support on election day.
“I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back since,” she said. “I’ve committed a good portion of my life to raising the Green party profile here.”
MacLellan has attended policy conventions and is a member of the Green shadow cabinet as the natural resources and energy critic. “I get emails from Canadians across the country on natural resource questions so I get to do a lot of research, it’s on my own time but I love it,” she said.
MacLellan said that this election campaign differs significantly from the last. “This is a really intense campaign because of what happened in the last election being so close … I’m glad I have the experience of one campaign under my belt.”
She noted the pressing environmental and green-focused issues such as light rail transit and the Waterloo Moraine that are recurring in the community and becoming more apparent.
Asked what issues have dominated this particular campaign for her, MacLellan said that she is confronting the issue of strategic voting, with the Liberal and Conservative camps being so close in the 2008 results in the K-W riding. She also mentioned the student vote, of crucial importance she said, because the major parties don’t know what to do about it. “It will be interesting to see if it influences things, it can and it’s an unknown and un-pollable, I love it because they can’t control it.”
MacLellan said that she will continue to answer to the local strategic vote by appealing to voter’s core beliefs.
“I was green first and then joined the Green party. I think people are going through that thinking process right now, if you’re living a certain way and making choices that your government doesn’t support in their policies, why are you voting for them?”
— Mike Lakusiak
Andrew Telegdi, Liberal Party
Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1946, Andrew Telegdi spent his earlier years under Soviet-imposed communist rule. However in 1975, Telegdi and his family were welcomed to Canada as refugees. Now, Telegdi is Kitchener-Waterloo’s Liberal Party candidate.
Telegdi went to school at the University of Waterloo, where he served two terms as president of the Federation of Students and it was there that he had his first experience fighting for university funding. He continued these efforts as a member of the Board of Governors of Wilfrid Laurier University from 1990 to 1993, as a chair of a community advisory board for Conestoga College and as a Member of Parliament from 1993-2008.
In an interview with the Cord, Telegdi stated, “I wanted to mention this because I want the students to know how involved I am in academia and student politics and policies.” He continued to say that it’s important “students get involved and get excited. I care, Liberals care, about the student vote.”
Telegdi is highly integrated in multiple aspects of political life, which revolve around his own personal beliefs. To mention a few, Telegdi was executive director of Youth in Conflict with the Law, which is an organization that counsels young people who have been caught in criminal activity.
He was also a founder of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention and Community Safety Committee and co-ordinator of Justice Week in Waterloo Region. As well, Telegdi has served as vice-chair of the Human Rights Committee and was elected chairman of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and chairman of the Liberal Caucus of Southwestern Ontario.
“My platform goals are of a much wider range than the conservatives,” Telegdi said. “While they focus on stealth jets, prisons and corporate tax cuts, the liberals are doing so much more.”
He continued, “We plan to invest in early childhood education as well as post-secondary education. We’re going to try and implement the education passport which will give students $1,000 per year, tax free money to support their education and $1,500 for low income families.”
Telegdi also mentioned other liberal goals such as strengthening medicare, having compassionate leave for seniors and the plan to reduce people’s carbon footprints by giving them a tax credit, enabling them to have more energy efficient homes.
“There’s a chill in Canada that’s never been felt before,” Telegdi said. “People are afraid to speak up against their government. We have to get rid of this chill. We want people engaged. There’s a lot at stake on May 2nd…. But our goal is to win and make a difference.”
— Amanda Steiner
Richard Walsh-Bowers, Independant
Independent candidate Richard Walsh-Bowers is running without a party flag in this federal election after years of involvement in partisan politics in order to get to the real issues that he believes are affecting constituents of the Kitchener-Waterloo riding.
“All the other parties, including the Green Party aren’t addressing the core issues that affect Canadian society,” expressed Walsh-Bowers. Quoting Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki who stated last month that “our economic system is trashing the planet,” Walsh-Bowers exemplified the core issue that political parties are missing.
“We will never endure environmental solutions unless we fundamentally change the nature of the economy,” said Walsh-Bowers.
What he argues for is a transformation of the economy to be based on zero-growth and low-carbon, rather than the “petroleum based globalized” system we currently rely on.
“That’s the opposite of mainstream thinking,” Walsh-Bowers stated. “Everyone, all the political parties, talk about growing the economy but that’s a philosophy that is leading to what I call eco-side, ecological suicide, on a massive scale.”
In explaining the low-carbon society, Walsh-Bowers said that it would require living within ecological means at a local level and producing necessary goods locally. Providing an example, he said, “in Kitchener-Waterloo, we’ve virtually lost the entire manufacturing sector as we become so focused on the so called knowledge economy but unless we have the products that we need locally to live a sustainable lifestyle we won’t survive economically.”
As a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University since 1986, Walsh-Bowers has found that his involvement with students can in part attribute to his role in the political arena.
“I can see the impact on many if not most students in the courses that I teach, the impact of the economic stress of trying to meet with the high cost of post-secondary education,” he explained.
Watching his students struggle with debt loads and part-time jobs throughout their academic terms, Walsh-Bowers was led to consider economies that are in practice in Nordic countries that he found exhibit no tuition cost to the student for college and university.
“It’s perfectly possible to make college and university free but that would entail changing basic conceptions of government and economic thinking,” he said.
Having been a member and candidate for the New Democrats from 1995 until recent years, Walsh-Bowers is now campaigning as an Independent candidate in order to shed party traditions and policies.
“My accountability would be to the constituents of Kitchener-Waterloo,” he said. “[Because] this is the type of representation we need in Ottawa — independent MPs standing for putting people and planet before profits.”
— Linda Givetash