“What we are asking for is historic”- Liberal MLA Moira Stilwell on the upcoming election

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Photo: Jes Cunningham
Vancouver-Langara Liberal MLA Dr. Moira Stilwell with the Voice last week. Photo: Sascha Porteous

Vancouver-Langara Liberal MLA Dr. Moira Stilwell is confident that her party is the best contender for winning the upcoming election.

Stilwell, who has been in politics since 2009, was elected as Minister of Social Development in September 2012. She sat in with the Voice last week.

Langara is expected to have a $1 million cut to funding. One would think that if you’re doing a good job in turning out grads, we have a history of success. It seems contradictory to the budget.

“There’s no denying that everyone was asked to tighten their belt and balance the budget, you have to take more than a one year view. On whole, this government has been very good to post-secondary education. Billions of dollars of capital.”

“In the short term, this year is a tough year.”

There have been a lot of stories done on well-educated grads that are the best baristas that you can afford, what do you see addressing that problem?

“The government developed a labour market prediction tool that they launched a couple of years ago now that’s up on their website that shows the kinds of jobs and skills that are going to be required in the different regions of the provinces and where the most jobs will be.”

“Because we are a resource sector, applied science and technology, applied engineering, and those kinds of jobs, whether it’s semi-skilled to PhD, are really what’s required. We are not encouraging enough students to get competent in science, math technology in high school.”

The Liberals’ 3-year plan is cutting 70 million dollars to skills and training programs. How are you planning on maintaining a high level of education when the cuts are going to damage it?

“I don’t have the details of the latest budget, but there is no question that the post-secondary system has been asked to tighten its belt …and if they’re looking to cut skills and training programs the issue are more complicated, in that there are some programs that are undersubscribed.”

How do you see this affecting Langara given its high enrolment rate?

“It just means larger classrooms.”

Finance Minister Michael de Jong acknowledged the fact that the Liberals don’t have a very good track record, or credibility, in keeping a balanced budget. What is your reaction?

“It’s true, there’s two facts of the matter. The liberal government passed the balanced budget act requiring us to balance the budget, which is important as a stake in the ground, saying that this is what the government values. The cabinet ministers have had a holdback in their salaries, so I think that it’s about sending a clear signal.”

“The fact is that our economies are all linked worldwide and things happen in the world economy that affect B.C. happen very rapidly.”

How are the Liberals planning on getting the youth vote?

“I think young people have a variety of interests, and look at governments policies form a variety of perspectives. Ultimately young people need to make the same kinds of decisions and say that.”

“The ballot box question is probably still the same: who do I think will stimulate the economy best?”

People tend to vote on promises though.

“Sometimes people tend to vote against policies that [we] think will be the best policies.”

“You have to rebuild trust, and I think that’s why the premier decided that balancing the budget had to be hardcore, hard-lined and absolute.”

So essentially the budget is focusing on the future generations and depending on the retiring of the baby boomers, the focus isn’t on now?

“No, it’s not, because we balanced the budget. A lot of what we’re talking about is in the future.”

Why should voters not support the NDP in the polls?

“You have to look at the individual candidates and experience and say ‘do I have confidence that this group has the experience and ability to deliver on what they’re promising.’”

What can you say about each party slamming the other party?

“There is a role for partisanship to make clear to voters what their choices are and what the differences are. You see it really exaggerated now because both the NDP and the Liberals [along with the other parties] want to define themselves to voters.”

 If the NDP government hasn’t developed their platform yet, why do you think that they are getting so much support in the polls?

“Canadians don’t have a high desire for dynasties . . . it was historic when we got the third term [being in power for 12 years] what we are asking for is historic. We think that in the end people will decide to stick with us.”

You’re optimistic?

“Last week wasn’t our best week, but I am confident.  The race will tighten up significantly; it’s going to be close.”

Reported by Jes Cunningham

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