meeting with Rachel Blaney

ZOOM/radio townhall meeting with Rachel Blaney

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

It started with an email forwarded to one of the Cortes Radio team. Our Member of Parliament was having a ZOOM chat. We asked to broadcast the chat over the radio. While this did not work out, it led to the ZOOM/radio townhall meeting with Rachel Blaney on September 22, 2020. 

Our MC, Ashley Zabatany, opened with, “Rachel has been our MP since 2015. She is the federal NDP whip, critic for veterans and a strong advocate for a national seniors strategy. She is also committed to ending poverty and food insecurity for seniors in Canada and tackling the rising costs of living. Rachel has lived and worked in coastal communities for over 20 years and is dedicated to protecting our coastlines for future generations.”   

Some of the topics discussed:

  • Onset of the COVID crisis: Canadian government and NDP party responses.
  • How a minority government listens more.
  • How people’s eyes were opened to Canada’s inequalities.
  • The government is usually cumbersome and slow to respond, the pandemic taught us that they can respond quickly
  • The top 1% of Canadians are receiving more and more, while the rest of the nation receives less
  • helping small businesses, veterans, students and people with disabilities
  • how can people stay at home and keep working?
  • childcare
  • the wage subsidy program
  • pharmacare
  • free dental care for people who earn less than $90,000 
  • helping low income single mothers and others in need
  • a universal guaranteed income
  • the housing crisis 
  • 94% of the funds from Canada’s National housing strategy went to Ontario and 0.5% to BC. There were some retrofits, but only one building project in our riding (North Island-Powell River).  
  • houselessness
  • food security
  • declining salmon runs, how DFO is underfunded and understaffed.
  • removing salmon farms from the ocean 
  • aboriginal rights and title
  • racism in government. 
  • Canada needs to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Hindrances to indigenous people attempting to pursue their tradition lifestyles. 
  • The struggle indigenous people on the east coast are having harvesting lobsters on the east coast.  
  • immigration issues, letting more skilled workers enter Canada, how to attract immigrants to rural communities 
  • how is Canada investing our pension plan?
  • Taking Climate Change seriously – 6,000 scientists agree that we are in a crisis – what more do you need?
  • How can the federal government support deep local adaptivity planning and adaptation?
  • creating a new green economy
  • energy efficient public transit
  • internet connectivity for all Canadians
  • economic and environmental justice
  • subsidies to the oil and gas industry
  • retraining unemployed workers in the fossil fuel sector

Setting up the meeting

Manda Aufochs Gillespie was our back up host, introduced the program and selected the questions to be handed on to our MC.

There were other, less visible, people in the Cortes Radio team. You will hear a reference to Ayton Novak in the podcast. Bryan McKinnon, Sean (the radio station’s techie) and Roy Hales also helped set up this meeting, as did Rachel’s assistant Lucas Shuller. 

Blaney had just returned to Ottawa, for the throne speech on September 23rd, and connected to the meeting from her computer. 

After a technical glitch, which momentarily disconnected everyone in the ZOOM chatroom from the broadcast, things started rolling quickly. 

There were too many questions for Blaney to respond to within the allotted hour. Our apologies to everyone whose questions were not submitted.

Top photo credit: View of Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island by Dale Simonson via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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