CONVERSATION WITH A CANDIDATE
Bogunovic talks federal politics coming into the 2019 elections Oct 21
PUBLISHED FRIDAY OCTOBER 18,
Rob Bogunovic is a local Social Justice school teacher and politician. He studied at UBC with Justin Trudeau and together they shared the highest marks.
I guess you'll be glad when it's over next week with this
campaigning business, you must be exhausted.
RB: Well as I've said a campaign in some ways its both sprint and marathon in the Electoral District Association (EDA) so that's going to continue so win or lose we're going to be working to build and move forward. I'm very proud of the work the guys did on this campaign.
Voice: So you're going to be involved in some things in the community in the future (politically)?
RB: Well before I became a candidate I was in many roles in the EDA and they have to be strong and healthy in order to support the candidates and so yeah we need to continue to build because we don't have the big money that some of the campaigns have so we have to build the personal connections with the individuals in order to get the message out.
Voice: I heard you talk about the veterans and I only heard one sentence, I think it was at the Cultural Centre, and you said one or two things about them. I've been in contact with those guys back and forth all year and every year it's the same thing. I've written stories for them and they put it in their newsletters back east, I don't know any of the local veterans, but the Super Annuity guys (campaigners) back east. Are you familiar with the Super Annuity campaign that they have going?
RB: Can you give me some insights?
Voice: Well they paid into their Super Annuity fund for years.
RB: Oh, yes, they changed that on them in what 2006?
Voice: Something like that, the Bridge Benefits.
RB: Yeah and there's two issues; one is they (VA) changed the disability pension so that individuals that are on a disability having been injured in the line of duty, they get a lot less and it's a lump sum and it turns out to be pennies on the dollar from what they had before. My friend Martin who is a veteran and teaches across the hall from me could go into more detail on it. They're basically not letting them collect their full military pension and Canada Pensions together. They paid both but they're not allowed to collect from both.
Voice: This is also the RCMP veterans.
RB: And that's what I've heard as well that it's basically RCMP and veterans, they've both been dinged by it.
Voice: Mark Strahl has said no to stacking of the two.
RB: You pay into both that's not stacking.
Voice: The veterans are up in arms about that.
RB: It is a big issue because we have a sacred obligation to our veterans and we shouldn't be giving them one sense of understandings then changing rules on them. If you pay into both pensions you should be able to collect it and if they can do it to veterans, they can do this to anyone. I'm a teacher and you know I'll have a teacher's pension in part supported by the provincial government. Does that mean I'm not going to get the Canada pension that I'm also paying into? Is this going to be moving forward that individuals who had pension plans won't be allowed to receive them if they have Canada Pension another pension alternate to it?
It's not an easy issue though because the pensions when they were created there was 27 workers supporting everyone on the pensions. Today there are 9 workers supporting every one of the pensions and people are living longer and longer and pretty soon, you know by the time I retire, it's expected to be about 4 or 3 workers for everyone on a pension.
So the pensions are having
fewer and fewer workers to support the pensions going
forward and so when we created the pension plan basically
the average age of a Canadian was 26 years. It's now 40
years. Healthcare costs have also gone up because again when
we created a healthcare the average age of a Canadian was
26, it's now 40 and so as the population ages things are
becoming a lot more expensive on the realm of social
welfare. And this is a fiscal crunch that's going to crush
individuals going forward.
Some of what's going on with the pensions, like, courts with military and RCMP absolutely we should not be raiding their pensions. They paid into both they should receive from both, but we also need to have some sense of whether or not we're going to be able to keep our obligations to all the other individuals who are currently paying into the pensions, both Canada and their own independent ones because the truth is it looks like it's going to run out of money. Canada's a little bit better off than the United States but in the United States they use the term "unfunded liability" and their government is on the hook for basically something like $100 trillion of what they promised to people that do not have the finances to deliver.
And what's happening with that is we know that, you know, that eventually it's going to lead to the collapse of the system in the United States the estimate that if their social security system collapses in 15 years is because it just cannot sustain itself financially.
We don't have the same kind of unfunded liability because we have a funded pension plan that has I think over $1 trillion in assets for our pensions. But again, individuals have tried to soften the blow before the time that we hit that cliff. That's the reasons why Stephen Harper was pushing the age of retirement back by two years.
Voice: The vets feel that their Super Annuity pension has paid down the national debt.
RB: Yeah, and that's exactly what was happening.
Voice: Okay, let's move on to the senate. What do you know about the senate? How important is it?
RB: (Chuckles) Well, this is it, the senate isn't an easy thing that you can deal with because you'd have to open up the constitution to actually deal with it. And there's several aspects of the senate that have to be understood; one is that at the point of confederation when different provinces joined, some provinces were very eager to make sure they had representation in the senate that was disproportionate to their population. Those provinces would include; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. That's why they get 24 senators and all of western Canada also gets 24 senators.
Voice: You're talking BC and Alberta?
RB: Yeah. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba; they all get 6 senators, same with Newfoundland. They all get 6. But Nova Scotia gets 10 and New Brunswick gets 10. Now the thing is, I don't have a problem with that because when we joined confederation we asked for a railroad and we asked for control of our crown land and 94 per cent of the land in BC is crown land. If you had to pick between a transcontinental railway and control of 94 per cent of your land, or a bunch of senators, what would you pick?
Voice: Yeah, okay.
RB: On top of that, the senators are ultimately appointed by the Prime Minister. Now that's something I think should be happening. I think premiers should be allowed to pick their own senators and also pick the means by which they pick them and if they want to put term limits they should be allowed to do that too.
Voice: So you don't think they should be elected?
RB: Well, in Alberta they want to have elected senators. I say they should be allowed to elect their senators. The premier of British Columbia wants to appoint senators. I think he should be allowed to appoint senators as long as they're not constantly changing the rules to suit them. I think that the provinces should be allowed to pick how their senators get there they represent the interests of the province and further a sober body of second thought.
Voice: When you elect a senator, they would have to represent 50 per cent of the population, correct?
RB: Well I guess it would depend on what rule they represent. If they're dealing with 6 senators, you could basically create regions in Alberta around the senate. You might have one representing Calgary, you might have one representing Edmonton, Fort McMurray, northern region. They could do it however they wanted. In the United States, they have only two senators per state no matter how big the state is and they divide the state in two and half the state picks one and half the state picks the other.
But I don't think we're necessarily talking about that, and again, the easiest solution that we could do this is simply have the Prime Minister tell provincial leaders how to pick their senators, when they come up with who their senators are the Prime Minster appoints them. So the Governor General has to accept the will of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister would have to accept the will of the premiers as to who they want as their senators.
Voice: Do you think there's been fair representation with BC only having 6 and Alberta 6.
RB: Actually Quebec has 24. Ontario has 24. The way they set it up is they created Canada into four regions; the west was given the status of a region, Ontario was given a region, Quebec was a region, Atlantic Canada was a region. Then when we added on Newfoundland and the Territories that added another 9 total.
Now, is that fair? The reality of it is that money issues don't start with the senate and the senate's not really supposed to weigh in and change the money issues and the point of a representative democracy was no taxation without representation. The senate was designed to be a sober body of second thought oversight that looks over and makes sure that those are good. They can wield disproportionate powers sometimes, it usually doesn't. The biggest problem has always been that Prime Ministers can appoint so many senators so that they can kind of rig it to their own advantage which makes the body kind of weak anyways and often times the people that they're appointing aren't even representative of the communities that they go to.
I think an example would be Mike Duffy who was basically helicoptered in to Prince Edward Island. He really wasn't a Prince Edward Island guy.
Voice: If BC were to get more senators they'd have to open the constitution up again?
RB: Absolutely. And again when we made the deal with the confederation it matters to Quebec but it especially matters to Atlantic Canada.
Voice: Then you'd have kind of a Meech Lake thing?
RB: Yeah, but here's the problem of why it would matter; Prince Edward Island had 4 members of Parliament, their populations is roughly the size of Abbotsford. Abbotsford gets one member of Parliament (MP). The reason why is that their not allowed to have fewer MPs than they have senators.
So when they were bargaining for their senators, they were also bargaining for their voice (in Parliament) and this was a concern for the small provinces in that they would be dwarfed by the larger provinces. If this wasn't a concession given in confederation days we would not have seen the Atlantic Canadian provinces join because they simply wouldn't want to be ruled over by Ontario and Quebec with their much larger populations and the imbalance in those populations has only gotten worse over the course of confederation.
Voice: There wouldn't be any mechanisms in place to resolve any issues, correct?
RB: Well, they would have a hard time being considered relevant if they lacked MPs. Right now, Prince Edward Island gets 4 MPs out of the 338. Atlantic Canada could very easily see their voice which is already small due to their population, reduced even smaller. Politics is a little problematic and sometimes we say want everything to be fair and equal. Canada has a long history of wrestling with that going back to the Active Union you had a much larger population in Ontario complaining about the fact that the people in Quebec the same number of representatives and they said that wasn't equal and the people in Quebec were saying well why should we be surrendering to your tyranny, your control, just because you have more people.
Politics isn't about the numbers game. It's also about how people feel in that they have a fair and equal voice.
Voice: Do you think there should be reform?
RB: I think the easiest reform and the fastest reform would be to have the senate being appointed by the provincial leaders. The provincial leaders would also have to manage the finances of, basically whatever finances are involved above and beyond the salary of their senators, we would just give some help some help to Atlantic Canada due to their larger numbers (of senators). So for instance, if we've got some spending irregularities, BC would only have to manage the files of 6 of their senators rather than trying to have to police 105 of them. And it would be a case where it wouldn't be the senate that's trying to overplay themselves which unfortunately I think was one of the things that was getting certain senators in trouble under Stephen Harper.
Voice: Like when they're out there raising money for the Party and things like that?
RB: Yeah, and again, they shouldn't be out there raising money for the party, they should be representing their province. Now, if they're appointed by their province, they're much more likely to represent the interest of their province.
Voice: We know that in the US, the House is constantly fighting with Congress and they can't even come up with a budget.
RB: Yeah, our system is very different.
Voice: Are you towing the Party line or are these your own thoughts?
RB: These are my own thoughts. The Party hasn't spoken into issues of democratic reform. You're asking me about the senate so I'm giving you my thoughts about the senate.
Voice: I thought this (democratic reform) is what the PPC is all about?
RB: I'm sure that the PPC is going to look at all sorts of these issues but we're only 1 year old. We had a task in front of us. Our Party platform which unites us, we have a strong faith in it, but we can't have a platform in everything because we haven't had time within the Party to wrestle the issues down. There's probably some people in our Party who think that proportional representation is a good idea and there's other individuals who would be like me who think that proportional representation would be sort of undoing the democracy that we've had. I think it can be addressed. There are ways to make this current system we have work better and still meet some of the complaints people have about the lack of a proportional system but I don't think we should ever get rid of the connection between the voters and their representatives which is "first past the post". We elect our representatives.
Economy and Debt
Voice: You mentioned at the last meeting I saw you at, the basics of how to control the rising debt?
Voice: Canada is ranked 14th in the world's most competitive economies. Hong Kong is ranked 3rd, even with all the strife they're having over there. That's out of 148 countries.
RB: We should have a high ranking because of our economic principles. We aren't typically a corrupt nation and usually what destroys competition is high-level corruption, pork barrel politics that sort of thing. That's not to say we can't always do better.
I'm always impressed by both Switzerland and Finland how good they are at managing their financial issues.
Voice: You said you'd get rid of the GST, what would you replace it with?
RB: Well, this is the thing, when I first heard, that someone told me, that the Party was planning on getting rid of the GST and my first reaction was "no, that's not something we should do" because that's what I heard and they didn't have any details, it sounded like it was just us lowering the taxes and throwing away almost $40 billion in revenue and that wouldn't be wise for fiscally prudent Party that's trying to balance the debt. But that wasn't the plan. The plan isn't to just get rid of the GST. The plan is get rid of the GST and let the provinces raise their PST's or adjust taxes to fill those gaps in other ways so that they can directly raise tax revenue without having to have the federal government manage it and then sign-off on the thing.
I'll give you the simple way which this would work. Right now we collect about $40 billion in GST. We give about $40 billion to the provinces in transfers for healthcare. We would stop collecting the GST and let the provinces raise their PSTs and then the provinces would no longer get the transfers for healthcare allowing the provinces to directly control healthcare spending.
The reason why I think this is
necessary is because if you compare us to jurisdictions in
Europe who also have single-user pay systems like we have,
we don't compare even remotely well. We have one of the more
expensive systems with the lowest performances. We rank dead
last on our wait times and our delivery of services despite the
fact that we're paying more per capita than a lot of the
other jurisdictions. They all have a single level of
government that is innovating and managing a healthcare
system. We have two. Two chefs in the kitchen. We do have
fiscal accountability; prevent innovation; that doesn't
allow adaptation, we want the provinces to be able to adapt
and adjust without having to convince federal politicians
that it makes sense for instance to allow counseling instead
of forcing individuals into drug regiments because that's
the only thing covered under the Health Canada Act.
Voice: Canada is 9th of 50 countries in the GDP.
RB: They might be on the GDP.
Voice: The private sector debt-to-GDP ratio has apparently risen to 218 per cent. The International Monetary Foundation is warning that Canada is vulnerable to economic shocks. Is that possible? What do you think?
RB: I think that Canada is facing the following situation; while our federal debt is not a disaster compared to other G7 nations, in terms of our debt-to-GDP ratio we are the lowest in the G7. However for countries like Germany, the UK, France, they don't have a province system like we have. When you factor in our provincial debt, we are now then pretty much on par with Germany as far as their debt-to-GDP ratio is concerned. So if you put the provinces debt and the federal government debt together we no longer look like we're leading the G7 outright. Then when you add or factor in that Canada has the highest household debt in the G7. You factor that in and actually now we're in the same situation as the United States.
The United States has this big massive debt, you know, $22 trillion dollars and their deficit is growing but Canada has a big massive debt, it's just not necessarily at the federal level. It's at the household level, it's at the provincial level. Ontario as an example is the most indebted jurisdiction in North America, apart from the federal government. So there's not a single state that owes as much money as Ontario does.
Voice: What do you think of stimulus spending? Would this be a good thing?
RB: PPC leader Max Bernier said in the debate that you can't spend your way into a good economy. What we have to do is to design the economy so that the investors feel inclined to invest. We want for instance to get rid of the Capital Gains Tax. That would cost the country about $3 billion a year in tax revenue but where countries have done that, it invites more investment, it invites more flow of investment properties from one hand to another and it basically unlocks the economy and the benefit of that usually will overcome the initial cost. We want to help with an accelerated capital cost allowance. Right now we have that in manufacturing and green technology. We want to extend it to the other sectors so that they are more inclined to invest as well. That reduces our initial revenue in our early stages but ultimately helps to create a stronger investment climate.
So then we want to try and make the economy a kind of economy that encourages investment and rewards investors. Now when we have that, we think that's going to drive us higher up on the rankings as far as our competitiveness. It's going to help us get more production per worker-hour and we don't think that these require spending on big massive programs. In most cases we're trying to simplify. We're trying to reduce bureaucracy. We're trying to reduce red tape. We're trying to reduce overlap of ministries that should be federal only or provincial only and we think that there's an awful lot that we can do to simplification and very straight forward tax reforms.
Voice: What do you think of a real estate bubble? If the stock market went bearish, and what if China's bubble bursts, they'd pull out of Vancouver wouldn't they?
RB: Yeah, well here's the thing; China's bubble could easily burst and in fact for the last five years it's been pretty obvious that China's real estate bubble if it exploded it would be way worse than 2009 was when the United States' bubble burst. The reason why individuals are pouring money into our real estate market is of course basically they're hedging their bets. I think they want to get money out of China so that they still have money if China's economy actually fell apart, which I fully understand why people who have the means to do that; diversify in your stock portfolio, that's basically what they're doing.
The challenge for us is that a lot of that money is driving our bubble because a lot of these foreign investors are willing to pay a lot more for the properties that they pursue. Significantly more. In the Vancouver market, I think foreign investors in the properties there spend about $50,000 more per house than in a place like Toronto and that's one of the things that sort of drives the real estate market.
So yeah, is Vancouver's real estate market vulnerable to a crash? I think it'd be silly if I suggested that it's not possible. I do think we have to be very careful how we approach it. Right now we've got rent problems out of control.
Voice: The price-to-rent ratio?
RB: Yeah. These things have to be settled. Now there aren't very many things you can do at the federal level other than trying to get the money laundering out and trying to control immigration levels because that's one of those things that helps to push demand.
The provinces are in a better position to tackle some issues because some occurrences in BC they have much more control over the land ie. the zoning issues. They can bring in "Housing First" programs like what Finland has. They could create and develop real estate the way they've created and developed other industries. We see this for instance with the movie industry. We often try to entice companies to shoot their films here when there's not really any great reason why provincial governments can't look at the opportunities that real estate in the area could create. But I don't believe the federal government should be directly involved in those things.
The provinces should have resources so that they can innovate within their own market.
Voice: What do you think of the Cohen Report?
RB: This is one of those areas... I have never been a fisherman. I've studied the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as a Social Studies teacher but I've never had much of a direct connection with them.
Voice: They spent $26 million on it. Should they get rid of net pens?
RB: That's actually a really good question. I've never been a fan of the net pens because I know it creates a sea lice issue. It has several other problems if affects on stocks like Atlantic salmon are escaping into our (Pacific) waters and I think these are valid concerns. I think it's a question of whether you are setting it up, or not, a system where it's on land rather than at sea. I think that we can create farmed salmon but it doesn't necessarily have to be in our coastal waters near natural migrating stock. That might not be the best solution. So I think we have to be very careful how we go forward with it. On the other hand, it's a big industry and creates an awful lot of food and we have a world to feed. It's one of those things where I'd have to really dig down into the numbers before I'm able to support a moratorium on fish farms because I'm sure that there are two lobbies that both compete against each other on an issue like that and the numbers that they represent are going to be favourable to their argument.
Voice: Keystone, Enbridge, Trans Mountain, do you support them?
RB: For me the pipeline question is a very interesting one. I wish the east one was going forward.
Voice: They ran into a Native wall down there.
RB: They did and part of the reason why that wall exists is the equalization. Quebec doesn't have the same concerns about developing resource economy that we have because they get so much money through equalization that they can go fund all their services and not be able to hurt. And so of course we want to fix the equalization issue and right now they're getting 70 per cent of the equalization pot, and before Harper, they only got 50 per cent.
So Harper basically changed the math to serve them and we've been living with that consequence ever since. That is connected to Energy East and of course the Premier of New Brunswick has made that argument that he wants energy to happen and he thinks the equalization—as long as he gets it as well— as it disincentives Quebec to care. They can basically attack our oil industry, pretend that they don't have any need for our energy, but all the while taking the money from the industry that they're basically hurting. So this is something that has to be addressed.
The Trans Mountain pipeline I didn't support the government buying it. I thought they paid too much for it and they created their own mess for foreign investors from fleeing Canada but they clearly made such a mess of the Trans Mountain pipeline it was hurting a big company and that was hurting our reputation.
Voice: I thought they bought it to ensure that this goes through?
RB: No, I think they bought it because they were seeing what it was doing on the investor side the equation. Lots of investors were looking at Canada and beginning to wonder whether or not we were a safe place to do business. Now certainly they could say that they want this to get through but we haven't been able to get much going on it. I think there's some movement on it now but sometimes I wonder if it's still going to go through with court challenges and all the rest of it.
The thing I would say, the big issue in Chilliwack is of course the pipeline comes right through us. I've looked at the economic benefits. I've heard those arguments. I've heard arguments that are against it. I think there are two again very sophisticated lobbies making numbers that work for both sides. It's hard to source it all out. But what I ultimately come down to is that this has become a national unity issue.
Alberta and Saskatewan are talking separation. I think there's a palatable anger in Alberta especially with individual candidates that we know out there are already saying "Look this ain't a joke". There's a real concern about this. I want Canada to stay together. Canada also has to work together. Their anger is that Canada is not working fairly for them. What we want is a fair deal for all Canadians and we will work for that and when we have succeeded to create a fair deal for all Canadians there won't be this talk of one province or two leaving.
It's the same thing with Quebec. Quebec has really been asking for a fair deal. I know a lot of people in western Canada feel that we have to spend more and more money on Quebec but the people who were voting for separation, were people voting for all that money for the rest of Canada, but they want a greater economy. So the question is; are we a nation that gives autonomy to all parts, to all of the country, so the country thrives and prospers without one side feeling like it's being picked on.
Voice: The territories too?
RB: The Territories operate on a very different system because whereas they are answerable as territories to the federal government. Provinces don't have that same relationship.
Voice: Canada only has 40 ships and 4 subs now. In WW2 they had the third largest navy in the world.
RB: Yeah and they also had the fourth largest air force and one of the largest armies but when you've defeated most of the other powers that you're up against that's kind of what happened.
Voice: So we're going back to being peacekeepers? Should they get out of NATO?
RB: I'm not going to speak about our policy as to whether or not we should get out of NATO because that would be me speaking on behalf of a Party that hasn't yet discussed that.
I do sometimes question the value that NATO has given that it was designed to be a check on communism, on Russia and NATO's a huge alliance now. There might be very significant developments from intelligence. There might be benefits connected with trade as for staying in NATO. But they are asking us, the United States is saying we have to spend 2 per cent of our GDP for expanding our military and I don't think Canadians have an appetite to spend that much expanding the military.
We used to adhere to military power, probably on par with Israel, and then Pierre Trudeau expanded every other department in government and slashed and cut the military so that suddenly they were reeling so they didn't have the equipment that they needed. They didn't have the numbers they needed.
As far as peacekeeping, we're living in a world where the idea of a peacekeeper is a good idea, it's worked in the past, but more recently when we've gotten into places like Afghanistan, then we have to take a peacekeeping role. And peacemaking and peacekeeping are very different things. So we have to be aware of how the one plays out in context to the other.
Voice: So you're saying spend money? That's what it sounds like.
RB: There are some things that the federal government absolutely has to make sure they do; they have to maintain and effective military and they have to maintain law and order and often requires investing in police and in the courts and right now and right now we haven't been doing very good at handling those two priorities at the federal level because of a lot of attention is being focused on other things that probably should be managed more directly from the provinces. But again, we are trying to balance the budget.
So I see that throughout the media; that the military is important? Yes. Absolutely. We're also trying to balance the budget in two years and Max Bernier made it clear that balancing the budget in two years is one of the higher priorities. We are making sure that we fix veterans disability issues. We want to make sure that we act on that. We want to do what we can within the framework that we are given and of course we can only do what we can based on the numbers that we have.
If Max Berneir is the lone man for the PPC in Ottawa, I don't know that were going to be able to do much more than be a voice on the issues that the Conservatives have become silent on. But if we actually have some numbers (seats in the House of Commons) in Ottawa, who knows what kind of influence we might be able to wield depending on where it's majority or minority or who knows what.
Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women
Voice: Should there be a national inquiry into murdered and missing Aboriginal women? Was it you that mentioned men too?
RB: The idea of ignoring the men in the equation makes no sense to me. 71 percent of missing and murdered Aboriginal people are male and the fact that we're only expressing concern for the 29 per cent rather than the 71 per cent seems to me to be problematic.
I believe a Royal Commission to look into this was necessary, but there were Aboriginal chiefs saying that we expand this to include the men and basically there was no appetite to do that. To me it doesn't make sense for a government to claim themselves as a feminist government and then say that feminism is equality between the sexes and then ignore 71 per cent of the problem while focusing on the 29 per cent.
And the question has to be raised that why don't we ever concern ourselves that men within our country such as they are much more likely to die in workplace accidents, much more likely to commit suicide, much more likely to be homeless, they're much more likely to struggle in our public schools and then the private schools as well. They're less likely to get scholarships going into post secondary. We don't treat those issues the same way we treat the issues about the equality threatening women. And again I'm an egalitarian; I believe in equality when there is clear evidence that there is inequality. We should be trying to address it.
What's happening is one group to be the feminists, they keep pushing what they want while ignoring the other side of the equation and then when someone tries to bring some attention to the other side of the equation that's when the knives come out and if you want to see examples of that you can just take a look at when Kathy Jay tried to bring out the documentary "The Red Pill". How she was treated within the feminist community they went to boycott the film from being shown and then they ran to the CBC and told lies about what was in the film. I think it's (The Red Pill) is one of the best documentaries that came out in that year, and it was also hugely controversial, but if you watch the film you have a hard time understanding why it's controversial.
All it's trying to do is balance out the discussion that in our culture that's not possible to have and the protests against the film prove the central tenant of the film; that we are not a culture capable of talking about men's issues the way we are able to talk about women's issues and that's really quite tragic.
Voice: You said the PPC is pro life?
RB: The PPC has no position on a social issue like abortion. But what our candidates are allowed to be doing is to voice their opinion and their aspirations on the issue like that and a number of our candidates from myself, and 50 others, have all signed on to at least make third trimester abortions that are not medically necessary something that no longer happens. Right now what we have is that Canada doesn't have a law. Lots of people in Canada aren't even aware we don't have a law. We need to start talking with Canadians about what the reality actually is.
I am pro life and the Conservative candidate here Mark Strahl he identifies himself as pro life too but the difference is that I can as a PPC member speak on this issue. He wouldn't be able to if he were part of Andrew Sheer's Cabinet.
Voice: He has to tow the Party line?
RB: Towing the Party line is that he'd be for abortion on-demand because that's what their actually constitution stays they are for, I think it's Article 71, they have to be for abortion on-demand, and Andrew Sheer has said two things; his government will actively oppose any effort to open the debate and that they're going to continue funding abortions overseas. Those are not pro life positions.
Voice: It's different, but do you support doctor-assisted suicide?
RB: Man, you're hitting on every point imaginable. Again the PPC would not have a policy on doctor-assisted suicide. But again, I'm talking as to where I stand on the issue, to me I'm pro life which means I view life as valuable and I don't buy the argument of Death With Dignity. I find that problematic because what they're really saying is that there's no meaning and purpose in a person's suffering and I read Viktor Frankl: Demeaning, it's one of my favourite books, and it's all about how we form meaning and purpose in the midst of our suffering. But I also understand that some suffering is unimaginably hard for anyone to bear it and so we are living in shifting times.
The philosophical reality is, you know for me, is that just don't support suicide. But the Supreme Court has already ruled that we must allow assistance in suicide. So at that point it's a reality that we have to do something on this issue. Now should it be doctor-assisted? This gets complicated because the truth is we're running down the same gamut that the Netherlands did on this issue where we know they started with a set of rules but the rules kept getting broken and broken and pretty soon we had depressed teenagers allowed to be assisted in their suicide.
People are acting like it's a medical issue. It's not, it's a legal issue. Because if it's a medical issue doctor-assisted suicide makes sense but this is about following a lot of legal rules and it's not about saving lives its about ending lives and what terms and conditions would be applied to that. I find it strange to me that no one has ever mentioned it should be lawyer-assisted suicide as opposed to doctor-assisted. Lawyers get to pick their own practice. Lawyers wouldn't be forced to operate against their own will. In the rare cases where you would have the country set the conditions on cases like this they would make sure those rules would be set.
If they wrote the rules that said a doctor must be present and didn't go amiss then the lawyers would ensure that this would happen because lawyers aren't going to risk their law practice over the breaking of rules. We need doctors. I don't want to see a lot of doctors suddenly being kicked out of the field because they've been pressured into doing questionable conduct. I think however if we were seeing a bunch of lawyers ruling the world, I'm not as sure as people would be missing doctors as much lawyers.
So I looked at it and said this is primarily a legal issue, not a medical one, even though it has a medical dimension, it's really a legal issue. So some conversation has to be if we're going to have to allow assistance because the Supreme Court says we have to then it is said that we'll be forcing this upon doctors, or, should we be looking into the legal profession and see what solution they could bring to the table.
Spying on Canadian Citizens
Voice: Do you think that given the Snowden revelations, do you think that Canada is spying on it's citizens, you know with this long-form census?
RB: I think the greater revelation with Snowden and the NSA what they were doing was illegal. In Canada, I'm not even convinced that it would have been illegal because have a very different legal framework on things like this than the United States has.
So my understanding what Snowden was whistle blowing on in the United States that it wouldn't have even been an issue to whistle blow on in Canada because it wouldn't be illegal to spy on it's citizens in that way.
Snowden was talking about government listening in on phone conversations between citizens. As near as I can tell, that is something that is happening in Canada as par for the course it's kind of how we gather it (info). There's always a concern.
Voice: Are they (Canadian government) overstepping their boundaries?
RB: Again what boundaries have been put on them? Most Canadians are pretty okay with authorities having access to try and root out threats and it goes back to the 1950's when the United states was engaged in a witch hunt through the McCarthy era. In Canada, we just had the RCMP secretly investigate individuals and keep files but we won't engage into the full-blown witch hunt and dragging people out into the public and basically ruining their careers. And you know I think it's always a question about what governments do with what information that they collect, it's worrisome, but again we don't know that in Canada they would-be stepping outside their boundaries because I don't know if we have put a bounds on them.
Voice: Would MPs be privy to that information?
RB: I don't know. I'm sure the cabinet would have access to that kind of information but there's a big difference between cabinet confidentiality and the principal of what MPS are made aware of. So I can't speak to what those rules would be because as an outsider and if someone were told that information and he told someone then they would be breaking the law.
Voice: The music industry has taken a big hit with this digital streaming. I know that the government propped them up with $25 million in the last two years, but apparently they lost $20 million in streaming over those two years, is enough being done to prop it up?
RB: I guess we have to ask ourselves how are our musicians going to be making their money. They used to sign with record companies and got pennies on a record label but that helped bring them exposure. Today, social media is such that individuals can put their music out there and people like that and they build an audience and then they go to concerts and that's where a lot of the money is made. I think artists who are very good they can make a very good living. That government assistance needs to continue to help our homegrown artists.
Voice: Has there been any polling?
RB: We have this polling company and we've been trying to respond. We want to get a poll out in the field. We don't believe the numbers in the polls. The polls flat-lined for the PPC heading down the stretch despite the fact that Max Bernier was in two national debates. None of it makes any sense and we're wondering if the polls are even remotely correct. Of course you take a look at every provincial election we've had over the last five years from the United States fereal elections they haven't had polls even remotely close in those elections.
Voice: Do you think that if the PC's win the election there could be a minority government?
RB: Oh I think there's definitely going to be a minority government.
Senior - Youth Vote
Voice: At the three all-candidates meetings I've been to, the majority have been seniors. Do you think you're engaging youth?
RB: At the first Culture Centre all-candidates meeting one teacher came out with a bunch of guys from Cheam Christian Academy and at the end he asked them "Who do you support, who are you voting for?" and I was the unanimous answer. I'm a teacher. I'm engaged with young people all the time.
Voice: But they're too young to vote?
RB: It's not a question of being too young to vote, or whether they're able to vote in this election. We're in a culture war. We're fighting for the culture. The Conservatives have abandoned the fight for the culture. The Liberals, the Green Party, they've got their boots on the ground. They're fighting on social media, they're saying their position and the Conservatives because of their political correctness have gone silent on the things they care about.
What's going to happen this is the Liberals, the NDP, the Green Party, are going to convince more and more and more people and the policies are going to swing more and more and more in their favour. The PPC stepped out of the box of political correctness. We're the only thing pushing back on a whole lot of issues that I say we've taken contrary positions because that's the only way we're actually going to have a debate about things like climate change or abortion, these issues matter to a lot of people but we're not allowed to speak about them. I encounter people all the time that their not climatists (sic) but their Partyists (sic).
Voice: You seem to have debunked somewhat the climate change theory, is that right?
RB: I studied it for 28 years. My training is geography and history. Geography is the field that climate science belongs to.
I look at the data and what's happening is and there's been some manipulation on how the data's presented. It's not so much the issue of the scientist, sometimes it is, most of the time it's the media and the politico's'. They grab hold of what they see is beneficial and then they run with it. There's nothing unusual that's happening with out weather.
Voice: Do you think it's cyclical?
RB: There's cycles and again if we talk about drought it was way worse in North American in 1930's than they were in the 1950's and in the last few years, there have been record low levels of drought. We had very mild drought conditions in the United States for the last two years.
When we take a look at sea ice. The ice is down from 1979 when they restarted their graphs. Antarctic sea ice has expanded. The Arctic sea ice is down from 1979 but it's about where it was in 1920. so individuals are always looking at these things and saying that the trend line will continue it's trajectory indefinitely in a negative direction and then and when the trend line turns they just stop talking about it.
We just had the coldest day in Abbotsford 2 or 3 days ago. If there was a reverse of that the hottest day I'm sure that people would be freaking out and saying it's evidence of climate change of course knowing about urban heat islands would explain those types of things. Our maximum temperature records when we had the real heat wave were all in the 1930's. That was the decade that we saw all the records falling. We're going to have some records every year simply because we have 2000 points of data that can be collected that would be record-breaking in any year. We have 365 days in a year so you would expect that you would have a certain number of records simply because the record only goes back about a hundred years yet they always somehow make it into a crisis.
Voice: They have alternative fuels. I imagine they're going to be working on those, alcohol, and they can get alcohol from algae. I was listening to a guy the other night talk about that.
RB: Yeah this is the thing there are great solutions to and there's a company in Squamish BC that's called Carbon Engineering and they're doing revolutionary work in basically pulling carbon out of the air and making energy pellets. This is incredible technology. I think we can use tidal power. It's been proven to be very effective for producing energy. Nuclear we can produce a lot energy with that. Hydro is some of what BC could develop. BC and Quebec have a lot of hydro capacity. I think there's lot's of things we can do on the energy front.
When they try to tell us that we need to use solar panels or rely on wind power which is inherently unreliable, I look at this and I see our energy bills going through the roof. It did in Germany and Denmark.
Voice: If they made us all go with solar panels then I would invest in silver and lithium for car batteries.
RB: Yeah and all the rare earths. I think if you're talking solar panels and electric cars then you're not doing the earth any good. We need to act now because we're doing more damage up front and the payback is going to be 15 or 20 years from now, well aren't we exasperating the problem right now?
I think we need to find the technological solution for this and we need to be smarter and we need to stop asking if carbon dioxide is the obvious bad actor in all of this because there are other explanations for what's going on.
NASA says 70 per cent of the earth is greening and 9 per cent is browning. I would assume that would be seen as welcome news but the environmentalists don't seem to like the fact that earth is greening even though they call themselves The Green Party movement, they don't like the fact that the earth is greening and NASA says that is because it's being driven by carbon dioxide and plants love carbon dioxide.
Voice: I've heard now a couple of times that planting a trillion trees can "save" the planet. There is also talk about conscripting youth to do that.
RB: I think we can find ways to mobilize a workforce. There actually is a job program that youth at the federal level that takes young people and gets them working in the parks. Tree planting is part of that.
Voice: They've been at that quite a while, haven't they?
RB: Yes they have. In fact Ontario has been planting 8 million trees a year but they may have to cut that program due to the deficit budget they ran. Trudeau says that he's going to planet 2 billion trees. I'm all in favour of planting 2 billion trees but the question I have for Trudeau is; on what land? I'm all for tree-planting. I also want strong protection for water and air.