Robert Kiley is the Green candidate for Kingston and the Islands.
How do you plan for your campaign to engage with students?
We have a youth representative on our local executive to present a youth perspective. Our Indigenous representative is a second-year philosophy student at Queen’s. So we have that relationship formally within our structure. From a policy perspective, I believe the Green Party is the only party that has policy that really captures the imagination of people under the age of 30, because we know that thee 18-24 demographic only votes 1 in 3 people. We are really trying to flip that on it’s head because we think that if the youth mobilize and vote as a voting bloc, they can actually help form the next government. We have policy that speaks to dropping the voter age. After you get your grade 10 civics education and you start to get jobs kind of around that 16-17 age, we think that youth should get a formal voice by getting to vote. We also are talking a lot about making universities, colleges and trades more accessible by way of freezing tuition by cohort.
Could you describe your main platform points or policy objectives?
We’re talking about justice. We think that politics has gone wrong and making things right is about doing justice. So we have four, what we call, guiding principles of justice. Social, economic, environmental, and democratic. Each of our policies fall under one of those four principles.
We want to end structural poverty. So people who live on social assistance — at no fault of their own – because of a disability, because of a poor job market only make max. $1250 a month. In a town like Kingston the average rent of a 1-bedroom apartment is $950 that means for someone living on disability, the majority of their money goes to rent. We think that’s a huge problem! Justice demands that we make sure that people have a basic income.
Students will be a large part of your constituency, so if elected, how will you advocate for student issues?
Well first I’ll ensure that I have students sitting on my advisory councils. I don’t think it’s good enough to have politicians speaking for students. We want to recognize that students have legitimate perspectives and their own voice. I’m a graduate of Queen’s, I did my teachers college here and my masters as well. I maintain good relationships with Queen’s and St. Lawrence.
What would a Green government do differently than the Liberals?
Many things. First we would implement proportional representation – that’s democratic justice. We’d implement a basic income guarantee – that’s economic justice, and social justice. They go hand in hand. Another hand-in-hand social and economic justice is lowering payroll taxes on small businesses so they can in-turn invest in their employees and pay them a living wage. If we did those things, we’d be very happy.
What do you see as the most pressing issues for students?
Student debt, one thing that I didn’t mention earlier is that the Green Party is committed to forgiving student debt after $10,000.
Another thing that I didn’t mention is climate change. Perhaps it’s stereotypical but we know that the impact of climate change will be devastating on our economies, on our social fabric. We’re the only party that’s being honest about putting a price on carbon. Study after study has shown that if you put a dollar figure on pollution, people will move away from that source. Currently the liberals have proposed and are implementing a cap-and-trade which essentially allows big polluters to buy their way to more pollution.
Can you tell me why you are the best candidate for this seat?
This is my third election. I ran for the first time while I was in teacher’s college in 2011. I was able to reconnect with my community. I went to Trent for undergrad in Peterborough, but I grew up here. I’ve lived in pretty much every part of the city and have developed really great relationships with individuals and organizations. I love this place. I think we’re the perfect size. I think we have all the right ingredients to be a very successful, very healthy, thriving community. Then I ran again in 2014. Between 2011 and 2014 we more than doubled our vote, which was extremely exciting. Now four years later, I feel as if I’ve created the network around me to represent people well.
If Kingstonians and Islanders want someone who’s going to think of them first, then generally the Green Party is a good vote, but I think it’s a particularly good vote because I’m the candidate.
Do you have anything else you want to add?
I want to encourage people to go to the polls. This will be an election that changes the course of our province quite dramatically. Green’s are fiscally responsible, and socially and environmentally sustainable. I want people to hear that message — you don’t have to go with the traditional three, there is a legitimate fourth option that’s making great progressive change right across the country.
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