Perth-Wellington New Democrat Party (NDP) candidate, Kevin Kruchkywich, took time out of his campaign schedule on Aug. 19, to give his thoughts to the Listowel Banner on some of the issues facing voters in the 2021 federal election.
This is the second of two Q&A instalments.
LB: Rural broadband remains a major issue for many within Perth-Wellington. How do you see that being dealt with if your party is elected?
Kruchkywich: Here’s something interesting – the NDP is going to declare that it’s essential. If they are in power we will say a high-speed internet connection for every Canadian is an essential service. So right off the bat that’s a completely different thing from any other parties. We’re saying this is necessary. This is an essential service that everyone needs to have. Getting broadband out there, the logistics of the infrastructure of doing that is pretty interesting. There is the idea that we need to dig up all the concession roads and lay out fibre optics and spend billions of dollars doing that. Farmers are early adopters of technology generally speaking. They want the newest thing that is going to help them help their margins and help their land. We’re going to find a lot of farmers in the next year when it rolls out who are going to sign up for satellite. It’s here. I’ve got a friend who already has his router. He signed on. He has a plan. He is just waiting for it to roll out. I think we are going to get there before we start getting fibre optics into the ground. I think we are way closer than other parties think and the other parties want to start throwing around billions of dollars to communication companies to rip up roads and I don’t know if it’s necessary. I think we’ve got satellites in place where we have high-speed internet instantly so I think the partnership that the federal government needs to do is to maybe look there instead of looking backwards to an old way that is going to be obsolete before they get it in the ground. We’re already going to be hooked up in the sky. That might be a little controversial and it might be not necessarily what my party has to say about it but I believe that we can get farmers internet quicker than five or seven years of digging up the roads. I think we can get it to them in a couple of years… Elon Musk is only a few satellites away from having an entire global network set up.
LB: How will your party help people who have been hit hard financially by the pandemic? Some examples are small business owners, people who work in arts and entertainment and the tourism industry?
Kruchkywich: I think we have got certain money earmarked within the platform for continued support for culture workers, hospitality workers and there are a lot of grants for our small businesses – my wife owns a small business in Stratford, a small boutique. So we’ve experienced first-hand lockdowns, the struggles to find support and the NDP want to streamline that support to get the Main Street back and working.
LB: How would you provide relief to parents of young children in desperate need of support due to the high costs of child care services?
Kruchkywich: It’s incredibly important. There is the fact that people need to work more to make ends meet so now if they need to pay for more childcare it’s a vicious cycle. We have a childcare program that we are going to lay out that is going to be subsidized to… get down to dollars a day so it can be an affordable choice and I think we’ll also see that a living wage is going to change that so you don’t have to work two or three jobs. You need to work one job and then you have your afternoon or your evening with your children so they don’t need to be in childcare as much. You are going to find that we’re going to keep families together longer but when childcare is needed childcare is going to be just dollars a day under the support subsidies that we’re going to roll out.
LB: Indigenous issues have been at the forefront of the news recently. What would you say Canadians can expect as far as the furthering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action if your party is elected?
Kruchkywich: The NDP is committed to meeting all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It’s a strong commitment and on top of that, there is a real practical commitment to getting water to these reserves that don’t have clean drinking water. It doesn’t make any sense. Before the pandemic hit the government in power said – it’s hard to find the money, we’re doing the best we can, it takes money, it takes time. The pandemic hit and we found all the money in the world to take care of people. That tells you something. It tells you the political will that the Liberals have to take care of our Indigenous people. That’s unacceptable. It’s entirely unacceptable. We can get clean drinking water to them. They have their own power, they are in charge of their own Nation so we are there to partner with them and that’s our plan. We have the money to do it. We have the political will to do it. We have the technology to do it. So we are going to do it. That’s the stance of the NDP. With Truth and Reconciliation, it’s a priority for us to meet all of those recommendations. It’s taking far too long for the government in power to address some of these. Some of the simplest ones, the easiest ones they have done. Absolutely, but some of the ones that take more conversation – have been put on the backburner and that’s unacceptable.
LB: The demographics of Perth- Wellington have changed greatly in recent years and continue to change. How would you and your party represent the needs of a more diverse riding?
Kruchkywich: I think the NDP is already a party that cuts across demographics like that. It’s an ideological party that draws a lot of young voters and I think we also have a lot of older voters who believe in the things we’re putting forward like universal pharma care, universal dental care... It’s always a challenge for every party to engage with young voters but I think under Jagmeet that engagement has increased. I think we’ve got a really strong connection with the younger demographic.
LB: Is there anything else you would like to let constituents know about what you intend to do for them that has not been asked?
Kruchkywich: I think I’ve touched on affordable housing, a living wage – those are the ones that drive me and helping our farmers be sustainable environmentally and financially is a major concern for me personally and for this community. I think we’ve touched on the big three for me. I appreciate that and I appreciate those were the questions that were at the forefront of what you are curious about. It shows that we’re all pulling the same way which is great, which is important because that’s how change happens. It’s been great. It’s a pretty Conservative riding generally. It’s been great to talk to people who are Conservative but are open and willing to have real conversations and listen. I think there’s an idea on both sides that people on the “left” and people on the “right” are just at loggerheads. I haven’t found that to be the case at all. I mean I’m from a rural background. I’m a working-class guy. So I have a lot of kinship with people so I find it easy to talk to them. How receptive people have been to some NDP guy who has come into their community to have a chat. They have been positively receptive so no matter how it all goes it’s great to know that we all want the same things. Maybe we have differences in how we get there but we all do want the same things. I always call it pragmatic compassion. We care for each other but we need to be practical about it. We need to have practical solutions. I find that a lot of conservative voters think the same way so sometimes I’m surprised why they aren’t voting NDP because they seem onboard with a lot of the stuff that we’re saying. I find it refreshing that we’re not so different and we don’t need to be on opposite sides here. We all want the same things. So far it’s been such a great experience to talk to people. I was with the Grain Farmers the other night and they are fantastic. There was a fantastic conversation and informed and passionate people. It’s great. I love it. Now, most of them aren’t going to vote for me but they were great, they listened and we had a great time so it’s been really fun and eye-opening on that front.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner