Hutchison: seeking a fair society

The NDP’s Rob Hutchison.
The NDP’s Rob Hutchison.
Jon Wilinofsky

Rob Hutchison, the NDP candidate for Kingston and the Islands, said he stepped into the political arena because he is looking to promote both change and hope.

“I was very concerned when I was young about what was going on in my community, and I thought things could be better than they were,” he said. “I’m trying to put forward a message of hope—that the world can be a better place, but we need to democratize the public agenda.”

A graduate of Queen’s and St. Lawrence College and a long-time Kingston resident, Hutchison has been active in a number of organizations advocating social change, including the Kingston Global Community Centre, Pollution Probe and the Kingston Not-For-Profit Advisory Group. He has worked for Kingston Cooperative Housing Inc. for more than 15 years.

“I think I’m the best [choice to represent this riding as an MP] because I have a lot of grassroots experience working for the community, in organizations that have tried to improve the quality of life,” he said.

Hutchison is the father of a university student, and as such he said he understands the financial pressures involved in post-secondary education.

“I think the first issue I would raise [in Parliament if elected] is the need to improve the affordability of education and training,” he said. “I know as a father that it’s simply not affordable for middle income families to send their children to post-secondary education.

“It’s completely unacceptable for the government to not support students and their families so people can get the educations they need, and it undermines the productivity and economic growth of our country. The NDP thinks it’s more important to invest in people and increase productivity than it is to increase corporate tax cuts.”

Hutchison said he was initially drawn to his party because of their message of social justice and environmental awareness.

“I chose to run for the NDP because I believe in a fair and more equitable society, a society [that] takes environmental concerns seriously, and I found the Liberal and Conservative parties weren’t really doing those things,” he said.

“I strongly feel the Liberal and Conservative parties have been abandoning middle-income people and families and their concerns ever since the 1988 free trade election.”

Hutchison said he thinks students are drawn to the NDP for similar reasons.

“I think students should vote for me primarily because the NDP and I are interested in a fair, more equal society, with a green and more prosperous economy,” he said. “I think a lot of young people are asking themselves, ‘what can I do to make this a better world’ ... and you have to show them they can make a difference, and you have to then set the conditions to allow that.”

The NDP’s plans to reform health care and the conditions of cities will help in that regard, Hutchison said, as will their other policies promoting fairness and sustainability.

Hutchison said he supports the increase of Canada’s foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of the GDP—which was originally a Liberal idea under Lester Pearson, he noted—in order to secure proper standards of living in Canada and worldwide.

“We need to be able to regulate and reconfigure our trade agreements and economy so people can live good, secure lives with a good standard of living,” he said. “And to do that you have to help people in other countries to do the same, [or face] the conflicts that come from disparity.”

Deploring Canada’s decline as a peacekeeping nation, Hutchison said he would also advocate a re-evaluation of our actions in Haiti, where Canadian armed forces helped to unseat the democratically elected but allegedly corrupt Aristide government.

“The human rights situation in Haiti is catastrophic, and we are aiding and abetting that situation,” he said.

Such social activism is the main reason why people interested in change should vote NDP, Hutchison said.

“The more NDP MPs we have, the more decisive influence the NDP has in Parliament,” he said. “We demonstrated that by getting results in the last Parliament—things the Liberals and Conservatives didn’t want to give, things like affordable education and training.”

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