Churchill-Keewationook Aski candidate questionnaire: Ralph McLean, Green Party

The Flin Flon Reminder sent 13 questions to all of the candidates running to become the next Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP in the Oct. 21 election. Four of them provided answers. People's Party of Canada candidate Kenneth Klyne did not respond.

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What do you feel are your qualifications for federal office?

I have been involved in billion-dollar capital infrastructure projects for the last 12 years in a supervisory management role where my job was to “fix chaos.” I doubt the government will be much different. Lots of talking heads in the House of Commons, but you can find your fixers in the different government agencies.

What is your plan for the future of the economy? What role will industry/mining play in that plan?

Greens aren’t against mining; we are against tailings ponds. Especially ones left behind by corporations that declare bankruptcy and then leave for the taxpayer to clean up. We have a shocking amount of lithium in the north, those mining claims could literally be what saves the world.

What have been the main issues you’ve heard from people in this riding?

Cost of living, reduction of or no government services, no help for seniors, youth, the list goes on. The fact that no one seems to be listening at all to the issues of the north or the people themselves.

What measures to benefit Northern Manitoba would you wish to add to a federal budget?

The biggest thing to boost the local economies of the north would be the universal basic income program. This one program would lift most of the riding out of poverty and give them some breathing room. There are a lot of scared seniors out there so a national pharmacare program would be a boost as well.

What is your plan regarding northern health care? What role can the federal government play in health issues?

We need major investments to get specialists up north, but we also need the equipment. It’s like no one ever looked at a population growth chart in the last 30 years and asked themselves “Hey, you know we have all these baby boomers retiring, maybe we should invest in health care?” Is anyone even thinking in Ottawa?

What are your main concerns regarding environmental conservation? Do you support a carbon tax?

The Greens have the most ambitious plan compared to any other party. It is bold, because it is necessary for the survival of our species. We are subsidizing the oil and gas industry $3.3 billion a year with taxpayer dollars! We need to stop these subsidies, that only benefit rich corporations for polluting.

Where do you stand on immigration to Canada? What impact do you think immigration could have for the north?

Unless you are Indigenous, the entire north was built on immigration. Canada’s worker to retiree ratio is about four to one, so immigration is very necessary for a healthy economy. In the north, immigration has brought a lot of positive investment with the purchases of businesses which hire local people and filling the gaps in skilled jobs.

What is your stance on electoral reform? Would changing Canada’s electoral system be a priority for you?

One hundred per cent behind it. It is insane that the Liberals got 39 per cent of the vote, and thus more than 50 per cent of the seats and 100 per cent of the power. We achieve way more as a country in minority governments than with majority rule. Minority governments encourage collaboration. Every single vote should count towards the percentage of MPs each party gets.

What measures would you propose to help remote Indigenous communities?

Universal basic income would be the most immediate positive effect to remote Indigenous communities. As an Indigenous person who is related to probably half of Northern Manitoba by now, it was important to me that the Greens had a comprehensive plan to help. Our first platform item isn’t on the climate emergency but rather reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

How do you feel about negative campaigning? Would you consider you and/or your party to be running a clean campaign? What about your opponents?

It is hard not to get frustrated, but you take a deep breath and move on. Greens have always been attacked from the other parties, especially now since we are gaining ground, have record support and record fundraising. When they fear the support you are getting, the other parties attack you.

What policy or practice do you disagree with your party on and why? Would you consider breaking rank with the party on that issue?

Greens are responsible to their constituents first, then party. I can argue with Elizabeth May all day long and she’ll ask, “Did you fight for your constituents?” When I say yes, then I did what I was supposed to do as a Green MP. Green votes aren’t whipped. So if I did have issues, I’m allowed to have them.

In 30 words or less–What is your elevator pitch for undecided voters?

I think we have been ignored for 30 years by our politicians sent to represent us. We need action, not more talk. Your children’s lives depend on it.

What question do you wish we would have asked?

I would have asked why the other candidates think they are worth $175,000 a year plus expenses. If you don’t do anything, you should be recalled. If you are going to stand for office, you should be able to give a detailed reason why you should be the MP and give the constituents status reports of your efforts.

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