Environment isn't the only greens topic on voter's mind
Where will you be on Tuesday?
If you're 18 or older and a Canadian citizen, you have a date to do your duty and flex your democratic muscle at the nearest Ottawa-approved church basement or school gym for (cue the echo machine): "Federal Election XL: The Most Important Election in the Nation's History... Until the Next One!"
Hey, somebody's gotta make the race for seats in the 40th Parliament sound sexy.
I've heard enough about Green Shifts, New Kinds of Strong, and Leadership and not enough about real issues that matter. So I emailed a questionnaire to the high-profile candidates in Vancouver Centre, Vancouver Quadra and Vancouver East and here's a selection of what came back.
Q: Do you advocate an increase in federal funding to support improved sports and recreation facilities in the riding?
Dan Grice, Green, Quadra: "I would like to see increased funding for sports as well as university training facilities, but I believe a federal priority should be to improve access to facilities for children from low-income families who often cannot afford the costs associated with many organized sports."
Joyce Murray, Liberal, Quadra: "Cities need this commitment from the federal government to revitalize eroding and inadequate facilities for a growing population."
Q: Should the federal government increase funding to help Canada win more medals at Olympics and elite international sporting events, or is that the responsibility of the private sector?
Lorne Mayencourt, Conservative, Centre: "The more medals we can help them win, the more proud of them and of our nation we become, and the more our children will want to get active and participate in sports, which benefits us all."
Mike Carr, Green, East: "The Green Party of Canada does not take a position on government vs. private spending to gain more medals."
Ken Low, Liberal, East: "The federal government should increase funding to help train athletes to participate in the Olympics."
Betty Krawczyk, Work Less Party, East: "Federal funding to help win more Olympic trinkets, is, at best, sports nationalism. In place of such false patriotism, we take pride in a Canada that cares for its less fortunate and seeks to build a socially just society."
Q: Do you support greater oversight to ensure federal taxpayers that the costs of staging and operating the 2010 Winter Olympics are both transparent and kept under restraint?
Hedy Fry, Liberal, Centre: "Governments must be responsible to taxpayers for the spending of public funds."
Krawczyk: "Given that we were promised complete financial transparency--yet another broken Olympic promise--the WLP would ask for a full report on all Olympic spending to be carried out by the Auditor General."
Mayencourt: "Any time public funds are spent, scrutiny is needed."
Murray: "Should additional oversight be required, it would be the responsibility of the provincial government to provide the funds since the province is accountable for any cost overruns."
Q: Do you support swapping federal land to enable the building of proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium? Would you intervene to broker a settlement between the Whitecaps and Port Metro Vancouver?
Adriane Carr, Green: "I do not support the building of the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium in its proposed location downtown... [it] is adjacent to a waterfront park and developing residential neighbourhood which would be negatively impacted."
Fry: "This is not a question that I am prepared to answer unless I know what federal land in question is up for swapping and unless it is done in consultation with the residents."
Mayencourt: "I would intervene as MP to seek a solution to this issue because I think having the Whitecaps downtown would be great for our community and our waterfront. If we can help by swapping federal land, that's definitely something I am willing to look into."
NDP candidates didn't respond to the questionnaire, but I did sit down with Vancouver Centre candidate Michael Byers early in the campaign. In the 1980s he ran internationally for Canada in 1,500 metre and 5,000 metre events. Now a political science and law professor, Byers is running this race, in part, out of frustration over security planning for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
"If I can't, in partnership with retired judges, get the [RCMP 2010 Integrated Security Unit] to be up front about their plans, what's the next thing I can do?" said Byers, a B.C. Civil Liberties Association director. "That's run for parliament. As a parliamentarian, our national police force suddenly becomes accountable to me."
Will protesters be allowed to protest peacefully during the Games? Will the Downtown Eastside homeless be treated with civility? Will Canadians be left with a debt that robs from future investment on sport and recreation programs and infrastructure?
Questions that Byers hopes to answer if he wins the race on Tuesday.
© Vancouver Courier 2008