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Federal election 2021: Candidate profiles for University—Rosedale

Your choices for UTSG’s MP
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Chrystia Freeland, Steven Taylor, Nicole Robicheau, David Kent, Drew Garvie. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA, THE LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA, THE GREEN PARTY OF CANADA, THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF CANADA AND THE PEOPLE'S PARTY OF CANADA
Chrystia Freeland, Steven Taylor, Nicole Robicheau, David Kent, Drew Garvie. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA, THE LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA, THE GREEN PARTY OF CANADA, THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF CANADA AND THE PEOPLE'S PARTY OF CANADA

With another federal election coming up on September 20, a number of candidates have been campaigning in UTSG’s riding of University—Rosedale. 

Students can register to vote at a polling station or through the Elections Canada website, where they will be able to identify their riding by typing in their postal code. 

Ahead of the federal election, The Varsity broke down where the University—Rosedale riding candidates stand on hot button student issues such as student debt, housing, and climate change.

Chrystia Freeland, Liberal MP candidate

As the incumbent MP for the University—Rosedale riding, Chrystia Freeland has held the office of deputy prime minister since 2019 and has been minister of finance since 2020. She was previously a journalist and editor at The Globe and Mail, Reuters, and the Financial Times.

In an email to The Varsity, Freeland wrote that she is committed to eliminating federal interest on student loans and noted that her current budget includes expanded student grants and internship opportunities.

Freeland also touted previous budget measures focused on housing, including ones that focused on rent relief, and her support for policies aimed at repairing homes, allowing first-time homebuyers to save and withdraw $40,000 tax-free, and ending ‘renovictions,’ which occur when landlords evict tenants on the grounds of large scale renovations. 

Although the Liberals allocated an $18 billion subsidy to oil and gas industries in 2020, Freeland highlighted the party’s achievements regarding climate change, including the implementation of a carbon tax and green investments. 

Moreover, Freeland committed to reducing oil and gas corporate emissions by 75 per cent as compared to 2012, ending plastic pollution, and funding home retrofitting.

Steven Taylor, Conservative Party MP candidate

Steven Taylor, running for the University—Rosedale riding on the Conservative ticket, is currently a business lawyer. Taylor works in the corporate sector and has advised corporations, governments, and NGOs. 

In an email to The Varsity, Taylor criticized Justin Trudeau and Freeland for raising national debt to over $1 trillion and pointed to the national debt as the real reason for student debt worries. According to Taylor, an O’Toole premiership “will return Canada’s finances to balance and stop adding to the debt load.” The Conservative platform makes no explicit mention of student debt or lowering tuition.

On housing, he noted that “the answer to high rents is more competition among landlords” by increasing supply. He promoted the Conservative plan to defer capital gains tax when investing in rental housing as a means of increasing supply. 

Taylor also reiterated support for his party’s mental health proposal, the Canada Mental Health Action Plan, which proposes increasing funding to provincial mental health care, setting up a national suicide hotline, and providing tax credits to employers who offer coverage.

Nicole Robicheau, New Democratic Party MP candidate

Nicole Robicheau, running as the New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, has worked for organizations like the Red Cross in Haiti, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines.  

“Access to education should never depend on how much money your parents make or how much debt you can carry,” Robicheau wrote in an email to The Varsity. The NDP has proposed slashing $20,000 of student debt, which Robicheau clarified is a starting point for eventually abolishing student debt or decreasing tuition.

Additionally, she supports the NDP’s housing policy, which includes constructing 500,000 new affordable housing units and providing $5,000 in annual rent subsidies.

Robicheau also commented on Canada’s humanitarian work on a domestic level and abroad. She committed to creating a plan for reconciliation by working with Indigenous peoples and noted that the NDP is interested in aligning foreign policy goals with humanitarian ones. 

Tim Grant, Green Party MP Candidate

Tim Grant is running as a candidate for the Green Party. He also ran for the MP position for University—Rosedale in 2019. 

He is the publisher of Green Teacher, a non-profit magazine that, according to his website, he has also co-edited for over 25 years along with hosting other education events focused on environmental education. 

In an email to The Varsity, Grant wrote that he’s “running to let voters know about the innovative solutions we Greens are putting forth in this election to address our most challenging issues.”

Grant lists the climate crisis as among his top priorities, noting that many of the other parties, including the Liberal party, continue to support new pipelines. Grant supports the Green party’s plan to combat climate change. According to the Green party website, he wants to focus on transportation, creating a “national bus-rail transportation grid” to improve connections between communities.  

He also supports getting rid of postsecondary tuition, making education free, as well as cancelling all existing student loan debt. He wrote that this would be feasible under Green Party budget plans from 2019 and 2021. 

On the subject of youth mental health, Grant wrote that he supports creating more programs targeted at educating young people on mental health, as well as improving mental health services on campuses. He also supports funding mental health research and launching a study into the effects of phones and social media on young people. 

David Kent, People’s Party of Canada MP candidate

David Kent is the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate running for MP for the University—Rosedale riding. He is a fifth-generation resident of the University—Rosedale riding and holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in performance and ethnomusicology from U of T. Prior to pursuing politics, he held a long career as a professional timpanist and personnel manager for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

When asked about student debt, Kent expressed support for programs like the Ontario Student Assistance Program. He noted that “one size doesn’t fit all” and spoke in favour of underwriting loans.

He also spoke skeptically about climate change, claiming that the scientific data does not sufficiently support the fear that surrounds it today, and that people should not overreact to it. 

Among the scientific community, there is very little debate about whether the climate is changing, considering the overwhelming evidence that climate change is already underway. Data shows the average temperature worldwide has increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius since 1880. 

Kent also emphasized the importance of maintaining freedom of expression and non-ideological teaching in the classroom. 

Drew Garvie, Communist Party MP candidate

Drew Garvie is the Communist Party candidate running for MP for the University—Rosedale riding. After joining the Communist Party 15 years ago as a student activist at the University of Guelph, Garvie has since ran as a federal candidate in the University—Rosedale riding in 2015, 2019, and 2021.

Garvie would prioritize reversing the deep cuts to education made by the federal government, ending the privatization of postsecondary studies, and fighting for free postsecondary education.

“A lot of people from my parents’ generation went to school each semester for a couple of hundred dollars… now, [university costs] several thousand dollars per semester… [and involves] ballooning class sizes.” Garvie said in an interview with The Varsity

In response to student concerns about the increasing gap between domestic and international tuition, Garvie said that his party would push for a return to tuition parity. He pointed out that, given the benefits international students provide, “treating [them] as a cash cow for universities is bad news.”

— With files from Jessica Han

Editor’s note (September 17): This article has been edited to include a profile for Tim Grant.