Earlier this week I met with Eugene Sidler's grade five class at Arthur Public School. We had a lively discussion about why I have chosen to enter the political arena and the key issues I hope to address.
I told them about how when I was eight I entered a church and saw a large box announcing there was a famine in Africa and a need for clothes to be donated. Despite being young, I recognized that more than used clothing was needed and I recruited my next-door neighbour and off we went caroling to raise money to send to Africa.
While this event happened about thirty years ago, it reflects how I live. Learning changes me. When I understand an issue that is leaving individuals in a precarious position, I look for ways to help.
Today one student asked whether I had wanted to be a politician when I was young. That was one of the easiest questions I've had so far in this campaign. No, the political arena has not been a dream of mine. I chose to enter because I recognize that right now we are at a crossroads. The scientists have told us that our lifestyles need to change. We need to pursue a sustainable vision for Perth-Wellington, Canada and the world.
What is sustainability? The best definition I have heard came from Chuck Hopkins of UNESCO – enough for everyone forever. As we meet our needs and desires, we need to be sure that we are not impacting the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
The New Democrats have a strong sustainable vision. We recognize that there are immediate concerns –the loss of jobs and health crises - that must be addressed while building a long-term vision that protects its citizens – universal health care, fair trade, restoring foreign relations, supporting education and training, reducing our carbon footprint, protecting food sovereignty and food security.
We are all in this together. While I am not a farmer, a nurse or a police officer, I respect that there are challenges faced that could be improved by a change in governmental policy. I may not know the details of your concerns but I welcome your valued opinion and expertise as we work together to address your concerns in Ottawa.