CanadaVOTES: Liberal Sandra Gardiner running in Perth—Wellington

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Interview series
2008 Canadian federal election

Calgary Southwest: CHP
Edmonton—Leduc: NDP
Yellowhead: CHP

Langley: CHP*
Vancouver Kingsway: NDP

Brandon—Souris: CHP

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour: CHP

Cambridge: NDP
Carleton—Mississippi Mills: NDP
Don Valley West: NDP
Elgin—Middlesex—London: NDP
Haldimand—Norfolk: LIB, CHP
Hamilton Centre: NDP i
Hamilton East—Stoney Creek: NDP i
Lanark-Front.-Lennox & Addin.: LIB
Parry Sound—Muskoka: NDP
Perth—Wellington: LIB
Prince Edward—Hastings: NDP
Simcoe—Grey: NDP
Thornhill: LIB i
Toronto Centre: AAEV*
Toronto—Danforth: LIB, AAEV
York—Simcoe: CHP

Louis-Hébert: CHP
Westmount—Ville-Marie: NDP

Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar: Lbtn

* Asterisks designate riding incumbents or registered political party leaders.
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On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. Liberal Party candidate Sandra Gardiner is standing for election in the riding of Perth—Wellington. A Stratford resident for the last 17 years, she has worked as a Registered Nurse for the last 14, in hospital, long term, and community care settings. She is a member of Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, Canadian Association of Physicians concerned about the Environment, FarmGate5, Common Action for the Restoration of the Environment, Autism Ontario, the Planning Committee for Rotary Respite House, and board member of Optimism Place, the local women's shelter.

Wikinews contacted Sandra, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

The riding is currently held by Conservative Gary Schellenberger, who was also MP for the previous riding, Perth—Middlesex. Perth—Wellington includes the County of Perth, and the Town of Minto and the townships of Mapleton and Wellington North in the County of Wellington. Also challenging Schellenberger are John Cowling (Green), Irma DeVries (Christian Heritage), Julian Ichim (Marxist-Leninist), and Kerry McManus (NDP).

For more information, visit the campaign's official website, listed below.


Why are you running for political office, why at the federal level, why this party, and why in this riding?

I am running for office because I care about Canada and my fellow Canadians. I am worried about the future we are leaving behind to our children. I am running for Member of Parliament because it is Canada?s top level of government that carries the responsibility of overseeing which path we take in dealing with the following issues: the direction we chose for our Economy and ensure it stays on course; the way we chose to deal with the Environment; protection of our Universal Health Care System and many other issues. The Federal Government sets the tone for the rest of the Country to follow. I want to be a part of how we shape the future. The Liberal Party of Canada has come to match my values best. I support our plans addressing the following issues Economy, Environment, Healthcare, Poverty Reduction, continued support for our Arts and Culture Community, our policy on immigration and our role Internationally. I have just touched on just a few of the reasons I have come to embrace the ideas of the Liberal Party of Canada. I am running in this riding because I have been a resident here for almost 20 years. As a result I have first hand experience with some of the issues here locally. I am passionate about my community.

Previous to this campaign, have you been politically involved? How will you apply your previous work/volunteer/life experience to serving your constituents?

I became politically active when my children's child care centre was threatened with closure 4 years ago. I organized a group of parents from the Day Care and we were successful in preventing this closure. This lead me to become involved in many other activities.
I think that having first hand experience working within the Health Care System will be a crucial part to my work as a Member of Parliament and making decisions when it comes to Health Care. Being a woman and a mother also contributes to how I will make my decisions.
Finally I am a creative thinker. I am always coming up with new solutions for old problems. I believe that Canadians are looking for politicians with ideas and a vision for the future. Canadians want a Prime Minister who cares about the future of Canada and cares about all Canadians. I think Canadians are tired of the negative attack ads and rhetoric.

As you campaign around your riding, it's likely that some issues are mentioned more often by voters, than other issues. What would you say are the three hottest topics this election, in your riding?

The Economy which would include job losses we have experienced and the ripple effect that has been felt as a result. How well agriculture has been performing is also a part of our local economy here. We have the third largest pork producing region in Canada. Their industry has suffered greatly over the last few years. The beef industry has also experienced hard times. Agriculture is the largest movement of economic activity in and out of this riding daily. 1 in 3 jobs are tied to agriculture in this riding. We have watched a large number of manufacturing jobs leave this riding over the last couple of years. We have the local issue funding of the University of Waterloo Site in Stratford. The Federal Government has not committed to the $10 million requested to assist with the project. This is a contentious issue for local residents. Funding of the University will have a profound economic effect on this region.
Arts and Culture is the second issue that has been brought up at the door. Many are deeply concerned over the cuts to the programs in recent months. They are also concerned about the future of Arts and Culture under the Harper government should he be successful in winning a majority government.
I have to say I have had a number of comments over the timing of the election and constituents not feeling that the election was necessary. They would state that they felt that parliament was working and the election could have waited until the fixed date October 2009. Most are undecided in how to vote or there is a sense of voter apathy.

What would you and your party do to address these issues?

We have come out with an exciting, comprehensive platform to address all of these issues mentioned except Stephen Harper breaking his own law of a fixed election date. I can state that I will come through with the funding portion of the Federal Government for the University of Waterloo site in Stratford, provided we are governing party.
I think that hosting an ongoing open dialogue with your constituents is key to representing your riding and also working collaboratively with your partners in both the provincial and municipal levels of government. One needs to be versed and vocal on the issues, be honest in what they can promise and follow through on.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Is there any misconceptions about you, your leader, or your party and platform?

There are 2 misconceptions that we have had to contend with so far.
One is that our leader, Stephane Dion is perceived as being a weak leader. My response to that question is that Stephane is a man of integrity and honesty; by no means is he weak as a leader. I will remind those that view Mr. Dion as weak that he united Canada with the Clarity Act and stood by this. Despite all the death threats he and his family received during this time.
Secondly there have been many lies by the Conservatives during this campaign such as the Liberals will raise the GST back up to 7% and that the Liberals will repeal the Universal Child Tax Benefit. Both statements are absolutely 100% false.
The Conservatives have also panned and widely dismissed our Green Shift Plan. Stating it is a plan to simply raise taxes and that there would be a great number of job losses associated with this plan and it would cause everything to go up in price. Never before have we had such consensus amongst Environmentalists and Economists; all agreeing this is the right plan for both the Economy and the Environment. We will have income tax cuts and we will create a tremendous amount of jobs for this country.

There's a more ways than ever to get your message out, from the traditional campaign fliers and lawn signs, to new media like websites, Facebook, and YouTube. The tried-and-true routes get the message out to the masses much easier, but digital alternatives are much more measurable in how many are seeing or interacting with your campaign. What seems to be the most effective, from your experience?

I am using the web and Facebook. I am still finding though that good old fashioned meeting people appears to be the most effective way to communicate the messages of the Liberal Party and for constituents to know who I am and why they should vote for me.