Meet the Candidates Federal Election 2019 edition is The Gateway’s series of interviews with candidates running in Edmonton Strathcona. This is the second of five articles. To read the first article, profiling NDP candidate Heather McPherson, click here.
With the October 21 federal election fast approaching, The Gateway sat down and interviewed candidates from the major parties running in Edmonton Strathcona.
In the second instalment of this series, Green Party of Canada candidate for Edmonton Strathcona, Michael Kalmanovitch is interviewed.
Previously, Kalmanovitch worked in mining and oilfield supply in the Fort McMurray area. In 1991, he opened a successful small business called Earth’s General Store, an environmental and health product food store.
The Gateway interviewed him to see how, if elected, he plans to represent those living in Edmonton Strathcona and students in the House of Commons.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
The Gateway: Why did you decide to run in this election?
The reason I am running in this election is because of climate change. I have been involved in fighting for a better response to this impending crisis for over 30 years. In this last year, I have been completely overwhelmed by the inaction by all levels of government. I just thought instead of standing on the outside and saying, ‘hey you guys have to change and take bold, effective, and immediate action to address the climate crisis,’ I decided to step in.
What is the single issue that is most important to you in this election?
Climate change. This is the underlying problem that will affect everybody, everything, and every issue. Your issue might be, for example, the price of getting into national parks is too expensive. And anybody who tells you they might make it free or only 20 dollars a year, may get a vote. But the parks are going to be screwed if we don’t take care of climate change. If your issue is about Indigenous rights, those settlements are already on the frontline of dealing with climate change. Injustices done to Indigenous people have to be settled as well. However, climate change is part of that.
We need to take care of climate change. All issues — LGBTQ+ rights, international trade, etcetera — need to be dealt with. But underlying them all is climate change. This is number one. Everything else will be addressed after.
What is your stance on climate change? How will your party concretely work to address it?
I think I made the first part of that question pretty clear. Climate change must be addressed.
We have the best climate action plan of all the parties. We want to incorporate more actions on a shorter timeline because the Green Party recognizes that is what is needed to be done, as well as every climate scientist in the world. We need to do much more, much faster than the heads-in-the-sand other politicians of other parties.
What is your party doing to support post-secondary education?
The Green Party is talking about reduced and possibly free tuition down the line. The issue with post-secondary is that it has become outlandishly expensive to attend for the average student. 40 years ago, it might have cost a small portion of a person’s earnings in a year. Now it is getting to the point where it is equal or greater than what a person can earn in a year. That is inappropriate.
We need to make any post-secondary, from the Northern Alberta Institute for Technology to the University of Alberta, more accessible and affordable. As many people as possible should access these systems. We need to open them up to as many people as possible to encourage people to push themselves, and quite frankly society, higher. Having a big debt load at the end of a degree or program is a huge detriment to people.
If you were to choose one initiative or area of policy, what makes your party stand out from the rest?
The Green Party’s longtime commitment to dealing with environmental injustice and degradation. They have consistently stood on that without wavering from that.
I also want this to be the actual last election using first-past-the-post. It’s time for a better alternative, like proportional representation.
Now for a joke question. Dead or alive, who is your favourite Canadian Prime Minister or the one who inspires you the most?
The one that inspired me the most and who I feel greatest about was actually Jean Chretien, specifically when he said we will not be part of the Iraq invasion. That was a very proud moment for me to be Canadian. That we didn’t just become a country that buckled under George W. Bush’s call. I wouldn’t say anything beyond that in terms of my admiration for Chretien. Just that specific moment in his time as leader; for that one moment Jean Chretien was my man.