Monday, October 1, 2012

Erin Weir Digital Town Hall

Well, that was certainly interesting. One advantage to the digital format means I don't have to rush to keep notes, simply copy and paste, which is nice from a reporting standpoint. I am going to have my own thoughts on the process and what worked and what didn't in another post after this one; but for now, here are more or less all of the questions and answers as they appeared during the town hall. Any question starred with a * means I was the one who asked the question.


Erin Weir Digital Town Hall
Q: Will the SK NDP finally come out against nuclear power and work with allies to ban nuclear waste in Saskatchewan?
A: I am opposed to storing nuclear waste in Saskatchewan and I do not believe that a nuclear reactor makes economic or environmental sense. As SaskPower itself has noted, “The SaskPower system is not designed to cope with a large nuclear plant.”

Follow-Up Question: So, I take it u will publicly oppose nuclear power/waste and issue a press release on this upon becoming Leader?

A: This will be the topic of a future campaign press release. And yes, if Erin is elected leader we can issue another one.

* Q: As a current non-member of the legislature, what is Erin's plan with regards to seeking a seat? Will he encourage a by-election, or will he operate outside of the legislature until the next provincial election?
A: I would take advantage of being outside the Legislature to travel the province and lead a party renewal process. An excellent model is Jack Layton’s leadership of the federal NDP before he was elected to Parliament.

Depending on when and where by-elections occur before the next general election, I may consider entering the Legislature that way. But my priority is to rebuild the NDP across the province rather than to seek out a by-election.

Q: Will the NDP address housing problems for people with disabilities?
A: The provincial government should invest in accessible and affordable housing, including for people with disabilities. More royalty revenue and progressive taxes are essential to finance housing and other social priorities.

Q: What will be your stance on northern issues, it seems that the Sask Party was only concerned about Saskatoon South and catering to big corporations! What are your plans for our highways to Prince Albert, North, East to West of our province? Do you have a plan in place to cut down on the high rate of unemployment for Metis and Treaty people in the North or province wide?
A: We have two capable MLAs from the north. It is well represented in the NDP and I would continue our tradition of taking northern issues seriously.

I believe that a new bridge is needed at Prince Albert across the North Saskatchewan River. Beyond that, I will not try to comment on the details of specific highway projects in the north.

However, infrastructure improvements are clearly needed. The question is how to pay for them. I believe that the answer is to collect a better royalty return from our natural resources.

I would restore the Aboriginal Employment Development Program and consult First Nations and Metis people about other plans. Policies implemented without proper consultation with aboriginal groups have often failed.

Q: In March of 2008, the Saskatchewan Party began cutting the resources of the film industry, culminating in the loss of the Film Tax Credit this year. 3 of the 5 essential pillars of the industry as identified by SMPIA in 2009 have now been removed and the recent creative industry consultation process revealed plans to remove the final 2 (The Sound Stage and SaskFilm). By the next election, there will be little left of a once thriving industry, as a direct result of the intentional and destructive actions of the Sask Party. My question: What would you do to help this industry recover if elected, and do you feel it would be possible or worth recovering given the state it will have reached at that time?
A: I am committed to rebuilding a vibrant film industry in Saskatchewan, including restoring the film tax credit. I appreciate that more may be needed to repair the Sask. Party’s damage and would cooperate with stakeholders in the industry to determine the best ways for the provincial government to help.

Until entering the leadership race, I worked for the United Steelworkers union, which has a strategic alliance with ACTRA, a major union of Canadian performers. I understand the economic, social and cultural importance of creative industries in Saskatchewan.

Q: Will the NDP in Saskatchewan change the old party stance of pro-choice to pro-life with limited exceptions, and protect both women and children in this province?

A: I believe that the next provincial leader must be prepared to unequivocally stand up for a woman’s right to choose. The pro-choice position is a matter of longstanding NDP policy.

The evidence indicates that attempting to prohibit abortion prompts more unsafe abortions outside the medical system. However, alleviating social problems and ensuring that birth control is accessible can greatly reduce the number of abortions.

Q: What's your attitude to the electoral systems used in Saskatchewan?

A: I like proportional representation in principle. But in terms of democratic reform, I see banning corporate and union donations to provincial political parties as a much higher priority. I do not see an urgent need for proportional representation in Saskatchewan’s two-party system. Regardless of the electoral system, we need to renew the provincial NDP and attract substantially more of the popular vote.

Q: In BC, the tuition freeze devastated universities and was painful to fix. How would yours work in Saskatchewan?

A: I would combine it with increased funding for post-secondary institutions. I acknowledge that a tuition freeze is just a first step and will be announcing more.

* Q: What plan do you have to enhance Saskatchewan's economy and develop an intelligent economy that supports growth in all sectors?

A:  Collect a better return from resources and invest in renewables. Close tax loopholes and use targeted tax measures to develop new industries (e.g. film tax credit).

As you can imagine, this is a fairly broad question and the answer will be in many parts. Once all our policy announcements are out we will revisit this question and hopefully give a more detailed and meaningful answer.

Q: What two measurable and quantifiable outcomes will be indicate that your time as leader was a success?

A: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and poverty. 

Q: How do you counter the framing from the Saskatchewan Party that you left the province and have now come back to be Premier.

A: That being said I think it is easy to argue that national and international experience is a boon for a leader and not a bad thing

Q: What's your big idea? What's your Medicare?

A: Climate change is not my idea, but I would be the first Saskatchewan NDP leader to propose a serious plan to combat it. Climate change is the big challenge facing our generation and we must act now. Other policies will not matter if we lose the one planet we have.


leftdog said...

Two observations:
1)Green Party leader, Victor Lau attempted to use the Town Hall to advance his party's stand on issues. Not very classy ... kinda dumb, actually.
2)One particular 'Pro-Lifer' went on and on and on with tired old anti-abortion lines. The best part was when she added a video from 'Pro-life'SunTV correspondent, Michael Coren .. the guy who wants to NUKE IRAN

Scott said...

leftdog, I couldn't agree more. And I took the time to compose a second post dealing specifically with those two in general; which you can find on the blog.

The Lau issue is a bigger thorn for me, since I see it as massive disrespectful and one of those moves in politics that makes everyone involved in the political process look bad.

As for the pro-lifer (I hate that term, by the way, just because I'm pro-choice doesn't mean I'm pro-death and we really should try to reclaim that term from the far right), it's an annoying argument and it was structured to simply get a rise out of the Weir Campaign.

As I've said before, I like facts. She brought forward no facts to support her arguments, and then yes, used Sun News as a source. Not exactly the strongest argument under the sun...(is that a bad pun?)

But I think the campaign did well to mostly just ignore the staunch anti-abortionist, rather than call more attention to them. That's usually the best way to deal with a person whose mind you can't change; let them rant and vent, but don't engage them further.