Green leader wants more honesty from politicians, better humour from himself
Whether the PCs or NDP are in power, nothing ever changes, James Beddome says
Manitobans head to the polls in seven days and the leaders of the province's four main political parties are live on CBC Manitoba's Information Radio this week in a bid to win over voters.
Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister, NDP Leader Wab Kinew, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont and Green Party Leader James Beddome will pitch their platforms in a job interview for the Sept. 10 election.
Beddome, a lawyer who grew up on a farm near Rapid City, Man., sat down on Tuesday for his interview with Information Radio host Marcy Markusa.
Markusa: As a leader, what do you see as your greatest strength?
B:: "I give people my straight truth, whether they're going to agree with me or disagree. I try to be forthright and frank."
M: And what is your greatest weakness?
B: "I'm not as funny as I'd like to think I am. I really wish I had a better sense of humour."
M: Where do you feel most like your real self?
B: "Sitting on the muddy banks of the Little Saskatchewan River back home on the farm, just sort of listening to the wind rustle through the grass and the river rush. I'll need that after this campaign."
M: What most frustrates you about traditional politics in Canada?
B: "I don't think there's honesty. One of my voters would describe this election from the other parties as an Oprah effect — 'You get a car, and you get a car' — [promises] without any details. I think there's not an honesty and an integrity and a focus on solutions."
To address what he calls a "climate crisis," Beddome said a Green Party government would create a $50 per tonne tax on pollution, amounting to an annual fee of about $580 to be paid out by every Manitoba household.
Asked how he expects people to support that, Beddome said "what I'm hearing from Manitobans is that they want us to deal with the urgency.
"We're seeing species lost by the day. Certainly, without a doubt, there's going to be a cost."
More than half of that revenue would be used to tackle poverty while the remainder would be used to invest in green initiatives, or what he calls "the infrastructure of the future." That includes composting programs and electrifying transportation, which will create jobs, he said.
"Instead of importing fossil fuels from outside the province, we should rely on our own electric energy here in this province and help Hydro make more money, and maybe keep Hydro rates lower," Beddome said.
"The reality is … we need both the carrot and the stick. The carbon tax is the stick but we're looking at returning it to people with a number of carrots that will make a better world for us all."
Addressing poverty will ease the strain that cascades down to the justice system, health system and child and family services system, Beddome said.
Beddome has talked about plans to be a Green candidate in the upcoming federal election, which is scheduled to take place on or before Oct. 21.
Asked if he's worried people will view a provincial vote for him as a wasted one, Beddome said he has put his federal campaign on hiatus as he awaits the outcome of the provincial election.
He said his intention to run federally was declared before Progressive Conservative Party Leader Brian Pallister called an election for Manitoba one year ahead of the Elections Act fixed date.
Should Beddome win provincially, he has a candidate lined up to take his place in the federal campaign, he said.
"I'm fully focused on winning Fort Rouge," he said about the Winnipeg riding in which he is running against NDP Leader Wab Kinew.
Asked why he decided to run against Kinew, Beddome said it would be more appropriate to ask Kinew that question.
"Mr. Kinew lives in Fort Garry, so why didn't Mr. Kinew run in Fort Garry where there is no incumbent? I live in Fort Rouge … and I have a number of supporters there," Beddome said.
"And the reality is we're not the NDP party, nor are we the PC or the Liberal Party. We're the Green Party and we have a different vision for Manitobans and we want to offer that vision to all Manitobans."
Greens will be in legislature
Whether the PCs or NDP are in power, nothing ever changes, he said.
"There isn't a focus on doing politics differently."
"Greens do politics differently. We take a more co-operative tone and try to make the focus on actual solutions and bold visions."
It's a new perspective and one drastically needed in the legislature, he said, adding that message seems to be resonating on the doorstep of voters, which makes Beddome optimistic about the result on Sept. 10.
"We're going to see some Greens in the legislature after this election. It's just a question of how many."
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