Kate Storey, Green — Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa
'The biggest issue in this riding is poverty, but nobody will talk about it'
Why do you want this job?
I want to be MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa because it's time we had an elected representative who can actually represent the people of this riding. I'm running for the Green Party because that's the only party that lets an MP speak up for their riding.
What's the biggest issue for the country and in your riding?
The biggest issue in this riding is poverty, but nobody will talk about it. They're all talking about the middle class, but this riding has one of the lowest median incomes anywhere and poverty is a drain on everybody.
If we can help people out of poverty, then we're boosting the economy, we're reducing the cost of health-care services and policing services. We don't have to build as many jails. Everything works better when you work to end poverty.
What would you do with the Senate?
I would turn the Senate into a council of elders, people who are committed to building a community and strengthening Canada. I would remove the partisan connection, make it illegal for the Parliament or the prime minister to influence the Senate. The Senate has to get back to a place of sober second thought and a place of wisdom, a place that can help Canada. Right now, with the way it's so partisan, it's none of those things.
It's very difficult to get rid of the Senate because that requires opening up the Constitution, but we can do a lot to fix it.
Winnipeg was described as the most racist city in Canada. What would you do to combat racism?
I would help bring the First Nations out of poverty — simple things like improving education, working with them to instill pride and a sense of culture, making sure there's an economic base so there's jobs. I'd make sure there's bus transportation out of the community or air transportation in the north so that they can get to jobs.
This riding has 13 First Nations, and I drive by one of them fairly often. There's people hitchhiking home 30 miles to get to and from a job because there's no transportation.
Putting a bus service in that community would make such a difference. It would bring income into the community.
What role should the federal government play in dealing with climate change?
The government should use climate change as a job creator. We know we have to fight pollution, we know we have to invest in green energy, so let's create jobs. All of the elements of climate change are just a result of an economy that wasn't paying attention. We can clean it up — clean up the economy and strengthen our economy and have a cleaner climate, a cleaner world.
By creating jobs, building windmills, installing solar panels, creating hydro dams that don't flood big areas, that are respectful of the people that live there.… There's nothing worse than flooding farmland. It just doesn't make sense.
Just insulating houses themselves — one of the biggest wasters of energy and producers of greenhouse gases is the heat that leaks out of our homes during the winter. Well, that's easily fixed, and think of all the carpenter jobs it would create to insulate those homes properly.
If there was one government policy you think is done better in another country, what is it?
Germany has a policy to install solar panels on roofs, and as a result, they've cleaned up their energy production. People pay less for electricity because there's feed-in tariffs. You're producing electricity and it goes back into the grid, and you get paid for it. Plus they don't need all these big energy, coal-powered fire plants or things like that.
I would love it if Canada would start installing solar panels on roofs and enact a feed-in tariff so that people could start producing energy with their houses.
Under what circumstances is deficit spending a good choice?
I'm Green. I do not think there should be deficit spending. I believe in balanced books. I don't like debt at all.
I think the country should get out of debt and then create surpluses that can be used in times of need, just like you would do with your home finances. You put away a nest egg and you spend it when you need it.
I think in order to balance the books, you don't cut services. When you cut services, you cut jobs and you make life difficult for people. If you're balancing the books, you have to cut the spending that does not do anything. You have to take an overarching view and look at what's happening rather than just willy-nilly cutting and investing just on ideological grounds.
What do you believe is the single most effective way to fight crime?
The single most effective way to fight crime is to reduce the poverty that creates the crime. You're never going to stop all crime. You obviously need to have a police force that needs to be adequately funded, but poverty is just a crime generator. So fight the poverty, and you've dealt with a lot of the crime.
What should be done about homegrown terrorism?
I think we have to stop inspiring the terrorists, stop making the terrorists mad. I mean, our prime minister, it's like he's waving red flags in front of these terrorists. It's kind of like, "Here's Canada, bomb me."
We have to talk to people respectfully. We have to deal with the problems on an international stage with diplomacy.
We have to understand that if a Canadian mining company goes in and shoots people, those people are not going to like it, and if they happen to have relatives back in Canada, those relatives might be upset and turn into terrorists.
So Canada has to stop being an international terrorist, first of all. And we have to talk respectfully to people and I think then, the terrorism problem shrinks down to manageable levels.
If there was a gay pride parade in your riding, would you go? Why or why not?
Sure, I would go to a gay pride parade. There isn't one, but I would go because I believe that people are all valuable. Everybody is made different and people shouldn't be slandered because of their race or sexual orientation or the colour of their skin or anything — we're all people. We come in all shapes and sizes and types. So I see the gay pride parades as a celebration of diversity.
Have either you or your family had a frustrating experience with the health-care system, and what would you do to fix the problem?
I think we have the most amazing, wonderful health-care system. I have had little frustrations with it because doctors are busy and they don't listen, but all in all, we are so lucky with our health-care system.
Now, we can do a lot better. A frustration I had was that my son [at 17 years old] had ulcerative colitis. That's a lifestyle disease that can be dealt with by melding the medical knowledge with nutritional knowledge, and I got no help on the prevention, nutrition side of it.
They're there with the medicines, but we have to start adding preventative medicine into our health-care system. We have to start teaching our doctors how preventative medicine can help them do their jobs better.
What would you do to get more people to vote?
Greens are growing the vote because we're giving people a vision and something to vote for. So often, people would just use their vote to vote against, but the Green Party is looking toward the future.
That really appeals to the youth and to indigenous people and to parents, and those are the people that have not been voting. So when we speak to people's real concerns, then they start voting. Greens grow the vote and anywhere that we've won, either provincially or federally, it's been because those non-voters turned into voters.
What's a better use of federal dollars: fixing roads or building rapid transit infrastructure?
I think the best expenditure of dollars is to get the freight off the highways because it's those trucks that are wrecking our roads. Put the freight back onto the railways.
It's kind of a combination because I live in the country, right? We don't have enough people out here to build rapid transit or really much of any transit system, so we're dependent on roads.
So I'm giving you a third answer. Fixing roads is old school, we can do that forever, and rapid transit doesn't apply here, so I can't really pick one of those two.
Would you support legalizing a small amount of marijuana? And have you ever tried it?
I would support legalizing any quantity of marijuana because we want to tax it.
Marijuana is no different than tobacco or alcohol. It's just as harmful as tobacco or alcohol. It needs to be regulated, but it doesn't need to be criminalized. It should be taxed, it should be out there in the open where you can see if the kids are using it, and it should not be used as a way to fund gangs.
Prohibition of alcohol and tobacco funded the gangs. As soon as they made tobacco and alcohol legal but regulated, the gangs turned to marijuana. We need to learn our lesson here — prohibition funds crime.
No, I actually never have [tried marijuana]. I managed to get all the way through university and never tried it, so I'm very weird. I led a very sheltered life, I guess.