Riding the Liberal wave

The Journal talks with candidates running for the Liberal nomination on Nov. 7

Kingston and the Islands MP Peter Milliken will leave office in the next federal election. Candidates (clockwise from top right) Ted Hsu, Harvey Rosen, Bill Flanagan, Bittu George and Phillip Osanic.
Kingston and the Islands MP Peter Milliken will leave office in the next federal election. Candidates (clockwise from top right) Ted Hsu, Harvey Rosen, Bill Flanagan, Bittu George and Phillip Osanic.
Credit: 
Photo Illustration by Justin Tang

Bill Flanagan said as MP of Kingston and the Islands he would work to promote the importance of international involvement.

“I’ve worked with a number of international projects, in Russia, China and Brazil, specializing in HIV prevention and care,” he said, adding that Canadians are proud of their international involvement.

“I think Canadians have a long record of involvement in international affairs and international development,” he said. “We have a commitment to those in the world who are less fortunate than us.”

Between 1998-2004, Flanagan was a part-time executive director of the Canada AID S Russia Project which was spondored by a $3.3 million grant from the Canadian International Devlopment Agency. The project centred around HIV research and training in Russia. Flanagan said he’s running for the federal Liberal nomination in Kingston and the Islands because he wants to help change the direction
of Canada’s current government.

“I want to be part of offering a positive and compassionate alternative to the Harper Conservative government,” he said. “Like many people I’m concerned about the direction of the Harper government.”

Flanagan has been heavily involved with the prison farms controversy in Kingston. He said it shows that Kingston needs an MP who can speak for its electorate.

“[The prison farms closure] is one example of how Harper’s Conservatives are not in tune with Kingston voters,” he said, adding that the community has been protesting the closure of Canada’s six prison farms since 2009 when Corrections Canada made the announcement public.

Flanagan has been a member of Queen’s faculty since 1991 and has been Dean of the Faculty of Law for the past five years.

“Students are very interested in federal politics,” he said. “But also in education and issues that effect youth.”

Flanagan said he is committed to ensuring that Queen’s and educational institutions in general are of the highest quality in Canada.

“Investing in education is investing in our future,” he said. “University issues [and] postsecondary issues will be of great importance to me. We’re becoming a knowledge-based economy. Queen’s is at the forefront of that.”

Flanagan said this means research and teaching need to be government priorities in his mind. Sean Torrie, president of Queen’s University Liberal Association, said Flanagan is the best person to speak on behalf of Kingston and the Islands.

“I met Bill just over a year ago. He’s pretty big in the prison farm movement, which I think will be the defining issue in the next election for voters in Kingston,” Torrie, ArtSci ’11, said. “He has a lot of experience in Kingston. He’s a very outward looking guy.”

Torrie said Flanagan’s wealth of experience makes him the best candidate to be MP.

“He’s the director of an AIDS NGO in Russia and he’s done a lot for the School of Law in terms of international programming. He knows and understands local issues.”

With files from Katherine Fernandez-Blance

Bittu George

By Katherine Fernandez-Blance
Assistant News Editor

Bittu George, ArtSci ’95 and LLB’98, has been interested in Canadian politics since grade four, and his passion has driven him to a 12-year political career, serving as both a city councilor and a deputy mayor, and running for Liberal office.

“For a class assignment, my teacher wanted us to get up in the morning and talk about what was in the news, so I started watching the news, which in 1980 meant the Quebec referendum and Trudeau being re-elected,” George said. “It was fascinating to see it all unfolding, and I knew from then that that’s what I wanted to do in the future.”

George has some big plans for Kingston if elected in the Liberal nomination meeting.

“It’s a question of making sure we look after our interests in regards to various federal institutions here. We need to ensure safe working conditions for our prison guards,” George said. “I’m also very opposed to the closing of the prison farms.” If elected, George said he would like to see Kingston used as a pilot project for a national health care management system.

“We can’t reform the system because any information about patients and tests is very difficult [to access] because everything is still very paper-based,” George said, “We need to use the technology we have. The government of Canada should push for a national health management system, regardless of province.”

Being the youngest Liberal candidate has helped influence his opinions on youth voting, George said.

“Young people aren’t typically looked on as being important to the political process. I’ve suggested that the voting age should be moved to 16. This would force parties to take young people more seriously,” George said. “This is their country and their future.”

As a Queen’s student in the 1990s George was involved with Queen’s Model Parliament, AMS Assembly and the Law Student’s Society Assembly.

“I have a tremendous understanding of what Queen’s students contribute to the community,” George said. Youko Leclerc-Desjardins, ArtSci’10 and MPL ’12, first met George through volunteering at the Penitentiary Museum. He said that George is the right man for the job because he’s able to build consensus within the party.

“He’s very optimistic. He’s more of an every-man,” Leclerc- Desjardins said. “The important thing is that there is a really strong conservative candidate, and Bittu has the qualities necessary to win the election.”

Ted Hsu

By Jessica Fishbein
Assistant News Editor

Ted Hsu runs a non-profit environmental organization in Kingston and said he’s confident he could bring sustainability issues forward in Parliament.

While all the other Liberal nomination candidates are lawyers, Hsu, ArtSci ’84, has a PhD in physics from Princeton University. With a science background, Hsu said he’s used to thinking of innovative solutions to complex problems.

He said that by working to save energy, we can also save money. Hsu’s platform hinges on initiatives that combine environmental and economic initiatives. For example, putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, even a low one, would help economic growth and create incentive to stop
polluting. He said initiatives of this sort would incentivize the public to switch to renewable energies and then create new jobs as the sector grows.

Hsu has done a significant amount of environmental work and is the executive director of SWITCH, a company that advocates for economic development in the green energy sector. However, he also has business experience from his term as executive director at the bank, Morgan Stanley.

In addition to a scientific and economic perspective, Hsu was raised in Kingston and after living in this city for years, he’s confident he can provide a Kingstonian perspective as well.

“If you ask people what Kingston needs the most, it is affordable housing,” he said. “We don’t want old houses that haven’t been kept up very well. We need affordable housing, not just cheap housing.”

Adrian Bret, MPL ’10, said Hsu has solutions that help both the environment and the economy.

“The reason why I support Ted so much is because he not only talks the talk but walks the walk when it comes to solutions for the environment,” Bret said.

“He has experience in environmental conservation, especially renewable energy and also knows about finance and details about entrepreneurship.” The combination of these experiences makes Hsu an ideal candidate for the Liberal nomination, he said. Hsu grew up in Kingston but crossed the border to pursue his graduate degree, Bret said, afterwards he became executive director of SWITCH.

“He left his job working in a large corporate atmosphere to come back to Kingston and start a non-profit company. I have a lot of respect for him. He sees the advantages that Kingston has and wants to make a difference.”

Philip Osanic

By Labiba Haque
Assistant News Editor

Philip Osanic has been a “lifelong Liberal” and a local full-time Kingston lawyer since 1994. He teaches in the Queen’s Faculty of Business, School of Law and at St. Lawrence College.

Osanic, LLB ’91, said as a professor, education is very close to his heart.

“We want students to have access to postsecondary education, I think it would be a sin for bright individuals to not do so because they can’t afford it,” he said.

If elected as the Liberal candidate for Kingston and the Islands in the next federal election, Osanic hopes to formulate ways to help relieve some pressure in student loans after after graduating.

Students aren’t the only ones experiencing a shortage of cash though.

He said with much of the Kingston’s population nearing retirement, there needs to be adjustments made to government programs.

“It’s a problem that people aren’t saving enough for retirement,” he said, adding that by changing the system to benefit elderly, they would be incentivized to save and better prepared for a comfortable retirement. When individuals contribute to their Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), their contributions are not taxed, so long as there is no withdrawal. However once a person reaches the age of 65, they must convert it to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). When a senior then makes a withdrawal, it is taxed as income.

“I want to make the first $3,000 to $5,000 people withdraw, tax exempt. This will give the incentive to people to contribute to the RRSP,” he said, adding that this way the money that otherwise would have gone to the government in taxes can trickle down through the community.

Georgia Campbell Comm ’10 and ArtSci ’10 took a business law course with Osanic. She said she would vote for him because of his community involvement.

“I think so much of politics involves the legal realm; because he is a teacher [and] a professor of law, he’s able to communicate well,” she said, adding that Osanic’s knowledge in the legal sector and his good communication skills as a professor will be transferrable as a good MP.

“It’s important when talking to students that they know how he is as a teacher. It speaks a lot to what he could deliver [as MP].”

With files from Clare Clancy

Harvey Rosen

By KatherineFernandez-Blance
Assistant News Editor

Kingston Mayor Harvey Rosen, LLB ’75 said his extensive experience in provincial and national politics mean he’s do a good job as a Liberal Candidate.

“I know the players, and I know the people on both sides of the House. I’m firmly attached to the Liberal values that we’re trying to bring to Ottawa,” Rosen said.

“Canada’s reputation internationally has suffered a huge blow during the five years of Conservative rule, we need to do a lot of work to correct that.” Rosen said as Mayor he was able to secure $25 million from the provincial government for the Ravensview Sewage Control Plant in 2003.

“[This was done] through tough negotiations and it was a significant achievement that didn’t get as much recognition as it should have,” Rosen said, adding that this serves as a great example of his potential to contribute positively to Kingston if elected to the Liberal party.

“It speaks to what I could do on behalf of the municipality in Parliament.”

Rosen said that while the nomination meeting will be a close race for all candidates involved, his experience should matter most to voters.

Rosen said he was surprised with the Queen’s University Liberal Association’s quick endorsement of running mate Bill Flanagan.

“Unfortunately the Association has made a decision without speaking to other candidates,” Rosen said.

Jaimmie Riley, ArtSci ’11, said Rosen’s strong ties with the community and a list of impressive accomplishments make him the most qualified man for the position.

“I always appreciate Harvey’s policies but his enthusiasm for Kingston and the people in it—his devotion shows he wants to make Kingston a better place,” Riley said.

“I do think he’s the most qualified candidate his experience can be noted by—his accomplishments in Kingston,” Riley said. “[Rosen’s involvement in Ravensview] shows enthusiasm for Kingston infrastructure, and beyond that the [riding.]”

With files from Clare Clancy

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