By Kristy Koehler, October 1 2019—
The Gauntlet interviewed the Calgary Confederation candidates. In the interest of fairness, all candidates were asked the same set of questions. No follow-up questions were asked and the inquiries were open-ended, allowing the candidate to speak freely on the issues and address the question as they saw fit. The intention is for those in Calgary Confederation to get to know the candidates in their riding.
First up is Natalie Odd, running for the Green Party of Canada.
The Gauntlet: What qualifies you to represent the constituents of Calgary Confederation?
Natalie Odd: This is my third time running for federal office. I am very committed to working hard and I would very much like to represent the constituents of Calgary Confederation. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m raising my family here as well. I’m a professional person — my career has been in building relationships and coaching teams to tackle complex problems. I think this really provides me with a lot of good skills and experience to work as a Member of Parliament where you really have to be able to work with other people.
I really care about my community. I’m a youth soccer coach, I volunteer here and I’ve done a lot of work over the years with advocacy for human rights and for education. It makes a lot of sense for me, being such a long-time resident of this area. I’ve been working with environmental issues for 25 years and started working on climate change about 20 years ago, so this is something that I’m very knowledgeable about. But, I also care about poverty, health, housing and First Nations, Métis and Inuit issues.
G: What attracted you to the Green Party?
NO: What I really like about the Green Party is how practical it is. They look at each issue by looking at the root causes of the issue and they design cost-effective solutions that will really deliver results. I find it very practical. On top of that, I find the Green platform — because it’s not married to any particular ideology — what they’re actually trying to do is always just find the best idea. I find they come up with really bold ideas. They’re really innovative and modern. They’re smart and very compassionate — it’s very human-based at the same time as it’s very evidence-based. I feel like they are the party of the future.
G: With the Green Party being known as a left-leaning party, what would attract voters from the opposite end of the political spectrum?
NO: I think something that really appeals to Conservative voters is being fiscally responsible and I find with the way that our platform and our ideas are designed, they are very cost-effective. They are very fiscally responsible but at the same time, they actually solve problems. In order to be fiscally responsible, you need to solve the problem at its root and that’s what we’re interested in doing. Our ideas are not just pie-in-the-sky. They are fully costed out.
G: What are your plans to make education more affordable?
NO: This is one of the most important issues for me personally. I’ve been an advocate for students and for education and one of the key parts of our platform is to abolish tuition at post-secondary institutions. We want to completely do away with tuition because it’s putting students into crippling debt which is contributing to poverty in Canada. In fact, what we need to do it to ensure that our young leaders have complete access to education and that there are no barriers to that. We want to eliminate tuition at post-secondary institutions as well as cancel debt for students that have over $10,000 worth of debt.
G: What is your plan for job creation so that when students graduate, they have employment?
NO: One of the ideas that I think is really great in the Green Party is the Community and Environment Service Corps. This is meant to support youth employment. Students are very vulnerable because they don’t have the skills and experience yet to get the jobs that they’re interested in and we need to give them support in doing that. What we’d like do is take 40,000 students each year and pay them a federal minimum wage and have them work through the summer in their local communities on projects that are requested and designed by the local communities. That could be working with seniors or children. It could be in arts and culture or there could be environmental projects — this would help local communities while also giving experience to young people.
We would like to invest in the green economy and create green apprenticeship programs as well as green worker training programs. Here in Calgary, we are very keen to establish a green worker training program that teaches fossil fuel workers the renewable energy industry. We feel it’s very important to move into a modern economy and that will be green technology, renewables and energy efficiency and that’s really where we need to direct much of the training for young people.
G: What are your thoughts on Alberta’s oil and gas industry?
NO: Investing in green technology is upgrading our economy and we are shifting because climate change is a reality. It is human-caused and we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But, it’s also a great opportunity because I think out of anywhere, Calgary should be pushing for this. We’re always talking about diversifying our economy, that we want to stabilize it and not go through these booms and busts.
If anywhere, Calgary should be moving into green technology and renewable energy because we have such an educated workforce here and we see what the future is bringing. We need to adapt to a changing world. When it comes to the fossil fuel industry, we would be not be putting further investment into fossil fuels. We would be shifting into a green economy.
G: What are your thoughts on the climate crisis?
NO: The climate crisis is here. Our government has declared a climate emergency and really what this means is that we have to make transformative changes in our country and Calgary is really a place where this needs to emerge. We have to get out in front of this rather than lag behind and get left behind. From the Green Party’s perspective, we have a very ambitious goal. We believe we need to reduce our emissions by 60 per cent by the year 2030. We need to become a low-carbon economy. This is based on science. The 2018 report that came from the United Nations says that we have to reduce our CO2 emissions by this much. So, this is a chance to take bold, transformational climate action. We need to encourage green innovation and really move more into the renewable energy sector.
G: Do we have a freedom of speech problem in Canada?
NO: We have the right to speak very openly about our views. I don’t see a freedom of speech problem in Canada currently. I do think we have to be very careful around hate speech.
G: What are your plans for affordable housing in your riding?
We do think there should be a national housing strategy. One in seven people live in poverty in Canada. The guaranteed livable income is something that the Green Party is very much in favour of. Basically, that would provide a level of income that would enable people to pay for the basic costs of living to make sure that they always have that and that they can afford housing. Aside from a housing strategy, which absolutely the Green Party would invest in, we want to make sure people have money to pay their rent and for groceries and for basic needs.
G: Where do you stand on issues of national defence?
NO: I believe that our army has to have all the right equipment that they need to do their job. They have to be protected but we also need to use diplomatic means to ensure that they’re not put into dangerous positions that they shouldn’t be in.
G: Why should students vote for you?
NO: I attended the University of Calgary myself and I’ve lived in this area and I’ve grown up in the economy in Alberta. What I want to see for Calgarians and my kids who are going to be looking for work in the next few years is I want to see us adapt to a changing world so that we can modernize and have an economy that will provide sustainable, good jobs to our citizens. I want to ensure that they’re not buried in debt and poverty coming out of university. I want them to be able to spread their wings, be innovative and get jobs. I’m really committed to that and it’s why I’ve run numerous times because I really would like to implement some modern ideas.
I really believe that if we stay with the status quo that we will lose out on big opportunities in Calgary. We’ve had the same party representing Calgarians and Alberta amost entirely for many, many years— the same ideology, the same business as usual, the same status quo. We really need to inject new ideas into the community. We need to send someone to Ottawa that really represents the future of Calgary and what our young population needs — and that’s something far different than what we have right now.
Editors Note: Libertarian candidate Tim Moen and NDP candidate Gurcharan Singh Sidhu have yet to respond to an interview request.