Erin Selby, NDP — Saint Boniface-Saint Vital

NDP candidate Erin Selby is a former Manitoba health minister and broadcaster.

'I've heard a lot of people saying that they want to see change in Ottawa'

Erin Selby is a former Manitoba health minister who's running for the NDP in Saint Boniface-Saint Vital. (Courtesy of Erin Selby)

Why do you want this job?

Tom Mulcair asked me to run for him in this seat. I've heard a lot of people saying that they want to see change in Ottawa, a lot of people saying that they're not happy with Stephen Harper, and that they're looking for someone who will listen, and a lot of people are looking for an NDP option. So I decided to enter the race because I know Tom Mulcair has the best chance at beating Stephen Harper, and I want to make sure that people had a strong NDP option in Saint Boniface-Saint Vital.

What's the biggest issue for the country and in your riding?

The thing I'm hearing most from people is that they are not happy with Stephen Harper and they're not happy with the direction the country has been going in. A lot of people say he's turning the country into something they don't even recognize. And there are a lot of different issues that people talk to me about.

I used to be the minister of health, so they often bring up the issue of health with me. It scares people that Stephen Harper is looking at cutting $36 billion from health care to the provinces. That's a pretty scary prospect if you take a look at what provinces are paying for and the budgets that they're working with.

What would you do with the Senate?

I would abolish it. The NDP don't believe in the Senate. We think that people elect officials and they're accountable, and we don't believe in an unelected, unaccountable senate.

Winnipeg was described as the most racist city in Canada. What would you do to combat racism?

I think it's really important that we are talking to everybody. I don't think indigenous people and First Nation governments have been listened to by Stephen Harper. I think that he should be dealing with people nation to nation, and that's not been happening. I also think that it's been very unfair the way we haven't allowed people to get an education if they live on a reserve. They pay way more for healthy food.

A number of our policies would go toward making sure everyone in Canada has the same thing we all would expect to have — clean drinking water, education for our kids, national food strategy. I think we need to make sure we're treating people with respect, listening to what people have to say, and also making sure that people have the necessities of life.

What role should the federal government play in dealing with climate change?

Absolutely the federal government has to have a role in it. We have seen in the last two federal governments that emissions have gone up. They went up 34 per cent under the Liberals. Harper is not even attending the conferences around the world when the G8s get together to talk about climate change. He's still in denial somehow.

We have a strong platform to protect the environment. Tom Mulcair was an environment minister in Quebec. When he was in the cabinet there, emissions went down every year under his watch. We believe in the cap and trade system and we have already committed to being at the big climate talks in Paris in November.

If there was one government policy you think is done better in another country, what is it?

I actually would say that we have some policies here that we need to take one step further. There are other countries that have good health-care systems as well. I think it's fantastic that we have universal health care, but I think we need to go one step further and have a universal prescription drug plan. We are, as far as I know, the only G8 country with universal health care that doesn't have a universal drug plan. That's part of our platform. It's time that Canada kept going with the universal plan and took it to prescription drugs as well.

Under what circumstances is deficit spending a good choice?

We don't plan to spend a deficit at all. The Liberal party has said they will run a deficit, but we have no intention of running deficits.

What do you believe is the single most effective way to fight crime?


What should be done about homegrown terrorism?

I don't think there's one simple solution. I think that we need to make sure that Canadians feel safe and secure, but I also think that what we've been doing hasn't been stopping terrorism. The approach that Stephen Harper has taken has not made the world safer. We have to have several approaches. We need to make sure that people are safe, we need to protect people, but we also need to make sure that when there's situations like the refugees in Syria, that we open our hearts and open our borders to people who are suffering, as Canada always has in the past.

It's only under Stephen Harper that we haven't been opening our borders to people that are suffering, and we need to do the humane thing, but we also need to make sure that people in countries have what they need in terms of making sure that we're giving enough aid to countries so that children are fed and go to school. Kids that have a full stomach and an education and a future are less likely to get involved in terrorist activities. Now, I'm not saying that you can take someone who is a terrorist and send them to school and make them better, but I certainly know that education and getting rid of poverty goes a long way to making people feel more part of society.

If there were a gay pride parade in your riding, would you go? Why or why not?

I have been going to gay pride for a number of years, absolutely. There isn't one in the riding but I do go to the one that's in downtown Winnipeg.

Have either you or your family had a frustrating experience with the health-care system, and what would you do to fix the problem?

One of the things we can do is recognize that 80 per cent of the health-care budget goes into salary, and to know that when you're looking at Stephen Harper's threat of cutting $36 billion, there's nowhere in health care to save that money unless you fire front-line services. The people that deliver health care — nurses, doctors, technicians, home-care workers — make up 80 per cent of the budget.

I do think people need to realize that if anybody talks about saving in health care and massive cuts in health care, the only way to do that is to fire nurses and doctors and other health-care workers. I've had great experience in the health-care system, but I do know that we have an aging population. We have seniors with more complex needs and we need a federal government that will help the provinces with all that they need to take on.

What would you do to get more people to vote?

I think if I had that answer, I would have used it by now. It's a difficult thing. What I try to do in my own constituency is go into schools when the kids are young and talk about why it's important. I know in the curriculum of Grade 4 and 5, students are talking about local politics, and they talk about provincial politics. I offer to come into the classroom and explain to them why politics matter, how it affects them, and what laws are and why they should care about it.

I hope that if we do that and if we all talk to our children, I always brought my kids with me to vote, I hope that if we get people engaged young, that they'll understand that politics and government make a huge different in their lives and that they have control over the people that they've elected into government.

What's a better use of federal dollars: fixing roads or building rapid transit infrastructure?

I think you have to do both. There's many different types of infrastructure — bridges, roads, buildings, rapid transit — I think are all important. Not only are they important for our climate, but when you get more people taking the bus, that's good for the environment. Money spent in infrastructure is always good for the economy.

Would you support legalizing a small amount of marijuana? And have you ever tried it?

Our party believes in decriminalizing and beyond that, we believe that there needs to be more research done before we would make any moves much past that. There has been a muzzle on scientists in Canada under Stephen Harper. Scientists have not been able to speak out. We want to take the muzzle off and let them do research. That would include what steps we should do beyond decriminalizing marijuana.

But no, I have not.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?