Thank you very much for emailing. I appreciate constituents taking the time to contact me about the issues important to them. As the MP, one of the things I pride myself on is taking the time to provide personal responses to constituents when they email or write to me. An election does not change my commitment to constituents, and am pleased to be able to continue to answer constituents questions during the campaign.
First, let me respond to your question about “personal freedom”. I very much treasure the personal freedoms we have in Canada, and absolutely will stand in defense of those freedoms. Personal freedoms however come with personal responsibilities, something many people seem to forget all too quickly. When personal actions cross the line and cause harm to others, we must draw the line, personal freedom is then subject to restriction to protect the health and welfare of other citizens.
Many people are under the misunderstanding that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees “rights” that they feel they should have. In particular people have approached me thinking that they have “the right” to supercede property by-laws, or feel that they have the “right” to a driver’s license, for example. In the preamble of the Charter however, it is perfectly clear that all of our personal rights are subject to such restrictions as are reasonable in a free and democratic society.
On government transparency, I unequivocally believe we need far greater openess and transparency in our government. I voted with the Conservatives in support of the “Accountability Act”, because although the legislation is far from perfect, it was a positive step toward a more transparent government. Unfortunately, the reality is the Harper government has been less accountable or transparent than they promised to be. Even as a Member of Parliament, my office has had to submit dozens of “Access to Information” (ATI) requests to have federal government information released to me. From policy decisions to government spending, I believe we have a long way to go toward an open, transparent, and accountable government. I would invite you to visit: http://new.ndplondonfanshawe.ca/?p=495 to see some of the examples of abuse of public funds our NDP MPs discovered through ATI requests.
The NDP has a plan to move us toward great openess and accountability, developed by long time NDP leader Ed Broadbent. I have attached a .PDF copy of this plan for you to review if you are interested.
In regard to Nuclear Power, the NDP believes that the Atomic Energy Commission must be kept under public control, not privatized. Nuclear technology is obviously something which, given the current geo-political climate, must be carefully overseen. New Democrats, however, also believe that nuclear energy is not a direction we should be pursuing in terms of Canada’s energy needs. We have an existing “baseload” of nuclear power, but nuclear plants have never delivered the return on public investment which was promised. Nuclear plant construction and maintenance has consistently run over budget and over time deadlines. Nuclear facility construction itself is also highly polluting, and we do not yet have a satisfactory means of dealing with nuclear waste. We believe it is unacceptable to simply store the waste and leave the disposal problem to future generations. That kind of short-term thinking has contributed significantly to the climate crisis we are facing today, and we cannot continue to ignore the long-term consequences of our actions. Instead, New Democrats believe Canadians would be better served by a diversified and decentralized energy network that includes a stable mix of hydro-electric, geothermal, solar, wind, and other sustainable, renewable, clean energy sources. Our Greener Communities, Green Canada plan includes retrofitting all federal government buildings (and providing direct support for provinces and municipalities to also participate) for energy efficiency, and a “Made In Canada” procurement and investment strategy that would ensure the solar, wind, and other technologies purchased by the government of Canada are manufactured in Canada–creating Canadian jobs! New Democrats believe in setting a good example through our actions, which is why we announced this week that our headquarters in Ottawa will be retrofitted with a “green roof”. You can read more about this undertaking at:
On culture, arts, and entertainment, the NDP has been very clear. First, we must reverse the recent Conservative cuts to arts and cultural programs. Quality of life is not simply a matter of profit and productivity, it is also about having the time and the means to enjoy music, theatre, film, and other art forms. Next, we must introduce modern copyright legislation, that protects both artists and consumers. As a consumer, you should have every right to copy a CD you purchase to an MP3 player, or to back-up your DVD’s to your computer. At the same time, we must recognize that artists need to eat and have a roof over their heads. They deserve fair compensation for their work. A strong, publicly funded CBC is also a component of the NDP’s commitment to arts and entertainment. While the arts and entertainment community should be funded in part by private contributions of patrons, public funding for the arts should be reflective of the benefits to our society of maintaining a strong and independant Canadian culture. Our commitment to Canadian arts and entertainment was announced publicly this morning and the details are available at: http://www.ndp.ca/page/6933
Finally, you asked about unions and international trade. New Democrats believe in FAIR TRADE, not Free Trade. We believe that Canadian agreements with foreign governments on trade matters must include standards for fair labour practices, environmental standards, and human rights. For example, the Conservative government has been aggressively pursuing a “Free Trade” deal with South Korea. However, this so called “Free Trade” deal is a one way street, providing unlimited access to Canadian markets for cheap Korean products without ensuring Canadian goods have equal access to Korean markets. I have tabled 3 petitions in the House of Commons on behalf of thousands of London-Fanshawe constituents who signed petitions opposing the government’s continued pursuit of this Canada-Korea deal. Earlier this year, NDP leader Jack Layton wrote to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama indicating our willingness to reopen and renegoiate NAFTA to ensure trade fairness for both countries. For example, under current NAFTA rules, Canada must continue to supply the USA with a guaranteed percentage of our oil production every day–even if a supply shortfall or national crisis occurs in Canada. That’s not right, and we want to change it. This dialogue even attracted the attention of CNN in the USA, and Jack Layton appeared on the Lou Dobbs show on CNN to explain our “Fair Trade” position. You can watch this by visiting my website (www.irenemathyssen.ca) and clicking on the “Irene’s Video’s” button. It is currently the third video from the top–but new videos are being added during the campaign, so you may have to scroll down to find it.
The New Democrats are the only political party in Canada with a unionized staff. In terms of unions, now more than ever, working people deserve the protection and benefits of unionized workplaces. I recognize that not all unions are created equal, and not all are as helpful and effective as they could be. Having said that, the truth is that unions are like democratic governments, the more the membership of a union participates in union meetings, elections, and activism, the better representation they tend to get from their union. The same holds true for government, the more informed and actively engaged its citizens are, the more responsive and accountable our government will be.
I hope this fully answers your questions. Please do not hesitate to write again at any time.
All the best,
Irene Mathyssen, MP
NDP Candidate, London-Fanshawe
On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 9:06 AM, Kevin Wardrop <email@example.com> wrote:
Good Day Mrs. Mathyssen,
I live in your riding and would like more information about your stance on Personal Freedom, Government Transparency, Nuclear Power, Culture and Entertainment, Unions and International Trade.
Thanks for your time,
Irene Mathyssen Re-election Campaign
1700 Dundas St. Suite G
London ON, N5W 3C9
Wow, now that’s a detailed response. This is a great deal more in-depth than Mr. O’Neail’s response but feels less personal; which one woud expect from an experienced politician. I’m still much more in the “Green” category, as their views appear to coincide with mine and as always NDP always seems to be Liberal + Tory = Libertory Lite with some concilatory language to their traditional base the Unions.
I don’t think I’ll find a political soul mate on the nuclear matter though.