Manitoba

Don Woodstock, Green — Winnipeg Centre

Green Party candidate Don Woodstock says it’s fitting he works as a bus driver, helping to reduce carbon emissions and getting to know people in his riding.

'Guaranteed livable income will address the disparity between those who have and those who don't have'

Green Party candidate Don Woodstock, right, with volunteers at his Portage Avenue office, says his job as a bus driver has connected him with the people of Winnipeg Centre. (Evan Matthews)

Why do you want the job?

It's appalling to know that after 18 years [of having Pat Martin as MP], we have the highest child poverty rate in Canada. After 18 years, Winnipeg Centre has the highest number of people in Canada using food banks. After 18 years, we have a housing crisis preventing people from getting an affordable home. After 18 years, we see the addiction and the neglect.

It's a hard thing to see and pretend you don't know. When you drive a bus in the neighbourhood day in and day out, it makes it difficult to pretend it doesn't exist.

I'm trying to think outside of the box to achieve things and get things done. We need somebody in Ottawa who isn't spending their time talking about their shoes or their hat, but spend the time making sure that after a year or two we have less people using the food banks, more people employed and less people struggling.

I'm a result-oriented individual. I measure things based on what's being done, not on what's been said, or what's been promised.

What is the biggest issue for the country, and in your riding?

Winnipeg Centre is one of the poorest ridings in Canada, second to P.E.I. by only a little bit. This isn't something anyone should be proud of.

The number 1 child poverty rate is not some distant place, it's right here in Winnipeg Centre. I'm talking about right here where I live.

It's shameful for elected officials to pretend like they don't know these problems exist. It's also a shame for elected officials to have not put a dent into it.

What would you do with the Senate?

Parliament hasn't worked for the people. The current Senate is a rubber stamp of whoever puts them there and the prime minister.

This big PMO [Prime Minister's Office] bureaucratic system seems to think it's about them, and how they're going to shuffle people around to make sure they vote for their own specific needs.

The Senate should come back here, and people should elect them. As it is now, the Senate isn't a sober second thought, so why are we keeping it? The system hasn't worked, and nobody can tell me it has.

We need a Parliament that's going to work for the people.

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

Guaranteed livable income will solve some of this issue. Guaranteed livable income will address the disparity between those who have and those who don't have.

Nobody gets to point the finger at people this way. Nobody gets to marginalize individuals. This is where our fight is. How do we get the general public to see this and make sure they vote along those lines? If they do, Elizabeth May and the Green Party will be in Ottawa making the changes that are necessary.

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

The federal government has dropped the ball. Canada is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to environmental changes. It's again nothing to be proud of.

For a country like Canada, we are poised to take the lead if we elect Greens to the House.

Bob Marley says it best: "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." At some point, it has to come home with the numbers and statistics.

Show me what we're doing to reduce greenhouse gases, show me how we're putting people to work in green technology — show me.

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

Free tuition. Sweden and Switzerland are doing this.

Making sure every single child has access. We hear from the people they want to come out of school as quick as they can so they can help mom and dad pay for things. They give up the dream of going further and pushing that young mind.

If you get an eight- or nine-year-old thinking about that, what happens to them when they're 15? You end up with a whole generation who has lost the will to put their creative mind to good use.

This is robbing of us of potentially good prime ministers, or good ambassadors or good managers. It's robbing us of people who can change the world in positive ways.

If we can take the stress off those kids, so they don't have to worry about mom and dad finding the money, this child grows up in an environment where their brain can develop in the way that it ought to be.

Under what circumstances is deficit spending a good choice?

No circumstance. Explain to me how running a deficit is a good choice?

The bottom line is we know we have issues. Your job as prime minister, and your cabinet's job, is to work with Parliament to come up with a mix that every Canadian gets to have a decent life.

We're not talking about a Third World country like Jamaica here. Canada is a very rich country.

I left Jamaica and I see poverty there, and I come here and I see instances of worse than that. I ask why? Certain First Nation reserves don't have running water. Even in Jamaica, in places that we don't have running water we have clean springs. Everyone still has access.

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

Guaranteed livable income. All parties were given the chance to address this. Elizabeth May put it on the table for all the other the parties to address guaranteed livable income.

Yet still, there was a study done in Dauphin that showed this works. The powers that be have hidden this information because they don't want the public to know it works.

If you keep sitting on the nail and crying about how it's hurting you, it isn't going to get any better. Get off the nail, man.

What should be done about homegrown terrorism?

I watch the news here with dismay and sadness. To know some of the young minds here are taking it upon themselves to fight the government in whatever way they can, and go join these radical groups — it's very sad.

I believe we can spend more time engaging our youth better and make sure the infrastructure is there for parks, rec centres, community halls, etc., and building a stronger community base.

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

I have attended. We have to be inclusive. We have to support all.

At the end of the day, it isn't about winning votes. I know people who are gay or have different sexual orientation, different from mine. That doesn't make them bad individuals or any worse than I am, nor does it make me better than them.

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 was injured at work and the incident is on tape. The (provincial) Worker's Compensation Board here is a literal joke. They aren't there for the worker, and it's a sham in my view.

If elected I would sit down with some of the provincial government to make sure we have the support necessary for the worker. There is talk about putting the worker first, but it's all talk. Three years later I still suffer from the injury I sustained on the job.

We need to look at prevention, alternative medicine, and pharmacare is something that Elizabeth May has discussed too.

What would you do to get more people to vote?

I believe it's going to happen this time around. More people are going to come to the table.

With things like Bill C-51 and some of the issues with the First Nation community, more of them are looking at getting involved, which is good.

On its own, the system has grinded to a halt. Just based on the statistics and information, I think more people will come out to vote.

It's about giving people an opportunity to integrate in the system and the process, and make sure the people know you're listening to them.

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

The roads. The funny thing is the infrastructure is already on the ground.

There are models like Toronto, who are still using streetcars, and we need to develop the same. I'm not sure if building the current system of rapid transit is the answer.

At the end of the day, the rapid transit we're developing isn't as sustainable as people think it is.

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

Legalize it, yes.

There is a myth.

As a Jamaican, we didn't have pharmacies and doctors every second block, and that was good for us.

To have pharmacies and doctors on every corner here pumping people with pills, pharmaceutical companies don't care about people's health, but they care about selling pills.

You'll take a pill that solves one problem, but gets you hooked on another. Then they create another pill that fixes that problem.

In Jamaica, our grandparents would have bottles mixed with marijuana, alcohol, pimento, spices or other herbs. Depending on the mixture, the bottle would stay for nine or 10 years. Marijuana was always added to these mixes because there is a significant component to your body's health when it comes to herbs.

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