George Heyman: Tackling our challenges together

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      The more people I speak with, the more I’m hearing it’s time for change. Seniors, working parents, and youth raise a wide range of issues when I knock on their doors. But there’s a common thread. They feel let down. They feel that things could be better for ordinary families if we worked together to tackle our challenges.

      Young people worry about their future. Students face an intimidating choice—keep studying and graduate with a large debt, or abandon the education and skills training they need to get satisfying, well-paying jobs. Young people also wonder if their parents’ generation will ever tackle the growing environmental deficit, or just keep talking about it. Where is the commitment to building an economy that fights climate change while supporting value-added green jobs for their future?

      Most people in Vancouver-Fairview, the heart of our city, are renters. They love our community, yet far too many say they can’t imagine raising a family here. They can’t afford it, and they can’t see the B.C. Liberals doing anything to change that.

      We all worry about what the future holds for our aging parents. Home support services that allow seniors to remain in their home and community have been cut continually. Socially and economically, it’s wrong to limit their alternatives to care homes. It’s not what seniors want—and it costs more.

      Over 12 years of B.C. Liberal rule, people in Vancouver-Fairview, like all British Columbians, have experienced growing inequality between the wealthiest and everyone else. Families that once got by, even slowly got ahead, now struggle to make ends meet. Child poverty climbed to shameful levels. The cost of living was driven ever upward by a cluster of fee hikes on everything from transit to medical premiums and tuition. Jobs were made more insecure by slashing employees’ rights and protections. And from day one their mishandling of the HST angered British Columbians and hurt small businesses.

      As they’ve failed to stand up for ordinary people, the B.C. Liberals also failed to stand up for our threatened environment. They stepped away from their responsibility for controversial projects like the Enbridge pipeline. Instead, they handed full control to a federal government that deliberately gutted environmental standards to ram through projects like Enbridge—no matter what scientists, the public, or First Nations have to say.

      In their latest deficit budget, the B.C. Liberals claim they’ll balance the books by selling assets like public land. It’s a missed opportunity. Public lands could be used to support nonprofit housing, greatly increasing affordability. Their dubious balancing act also cuts $233 million from health care. Even in an election budget, the B.C. Liberals failed to respond to our community’s priorities. It’s too late for piecemeal handouts, late-term gestures, and recycled announcements. Even the odd praise-worthy act begs the question: “Why now?”

      In Vancouver-Fairview, most people I’ve spoken with are eager for change. People want to improve their community and family life. That’s why New Democrats are committed to better health care for seniors, non-refundable grants for students who need assistance to access education, responsible use of public assets for the long-term benefit of our province, and a made-in-B.C. assessment process that relies on science to protect our environment and our future.

      Perhaps most importantly, people are looking for honesty and respect from their elected representatives. I give you this commitment. B.C. New Democrats will be practical and accountable. We will focus our energy on meeting real community needs and priorities.

      George Heyman, a leader in the environmental and labour movements, is the B.C. NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fairview.

      Comments

      11 Comments

      Concerned Northern Voter

      Apr 5, 2013 at 5:10pm

      What about fracking? As part of your commitment to be practical and accountable, will the NDP provide clarity to the electorate how the party will proceed with this controversial practice. The concern is not aquifer contamination per say as Mr. Horgan has stated in the past, the issue is the use of fresh water (i.e. Williston Resevoir) for this method. The Liberals learned the hard way with the HST that by not providing the electorate with policy positions, you will not have a mandate to govern. This is not a new issue; the standard "we need to review it after the election" from the NDP is not acceptable to the elctorate nor provides the NDP a mandate to govern.

      Dianne

      Apr 5, 2013 at 6:23pm

      Mr Heyman said - "Families that once got by, even slowly got ahead, now struggle to make ends meet."

      Surely Mr Heyman and the NDP will be committed to significant changes to address the needs of families, employers, communities. LIKE building a real child care system over the next few years. Stable child care that is affordable, universally available for those that choose to use it, high quality programs, living wage jobs for child care workers. PARENTS cant work without it, employers cant hire qualified people if they dont have child care. And the NDP cant ignore such important needs.

      Come on Mr Heyman - you and your fellow candidates in the NDP need to get on with talking and writing about an action plan for child care.

      Astro

      Apr 5, 2013 at 7:11pm

      Good points, Dianne. The BC Liberals must do the same as well. To wite "Come on Ms Clark - you and your fellow candidates in the BC Liberals need to get on with talking and writing about an action plan for child care, etc."
      Check out "Sustainable BC" for the BC NDP position on the environment. THe BC Liberals have nothing even close to this enlightened policy.

      Uncle Jack

      Apr 5, 2013 at 8:19pm

      Coming from a highly paid union hack, always pushing for outrageous wages for his people, thus increasing the tax burden for average families, is like Tony Soprano concerned about Joe Schmuck who is on welfare.

      No shame, George???

      Morg

      Apr 5, 2013 at 11:22pm

      The NDP has to end old-growth logging!

      Paul

      Apr 6, 2013 at 12:58am

      Well said, George. Of course there are other issues and details of policy that must be considered and debated, but you've set out an excellent framework. I see that Phil Hochstein is now going by handle of "Uncle Jack".

      Uncle Jack

      Apr 6, 2013 at 4:36pm

      Who is Phil Hochstein??

      James G

      Apr 10, 2013 at 5:14pm

      I was pleased to see that this was the nominee in Fairview. I am happy also to see some meat in the piece above. Not selling off assets like public land is important and using such lands where available to increase housing stock might work.

      In line with the first comment above, a position on fracking is going to be nearly as critical as one on the Enbridge pipeline. I am pleased that the NDP is on the record and entirely opposed to that!

      It may be too late to undertake a full policy position on fracking at this stage but not too late to commit to an immediate task force. I know that here in the Lower Mainland, it seems a distant problem but it isn't. It might become the defining energy issue of our time -- clean burning natural gas versus the safety of drinking water.

      I have been a New Democrat for a very very long time -- active sometimes, discouraged often and disappointed occasionally. I will happily settle for a quiet, clean little centrist government with no particular ideological agenda and a commitment to keeping the basics of the current health and welfare systems in place with more help to the least well off. Please play your part in giving me and many British Columbians just that.

      James G

      Apr 11, 2013 at 11:53pm

      Solid. Thanks!