Meet The Candidates - Gillian Walker - Green Party Of Canada
By Robert Thomas
Gillian Walker is the Green Party of Canada's candidate in the Moose Jaw - Lake Centre - Lanigan riding.
Born, raised and residing in Saskatoon Walker is at present an education student at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). It is a bit of a career change for Walker who already holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Degree from U of S as well as a certificate in communication from the Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development.
The Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development at the U of S College of Engineering is unique in Canada, offering professional development opportunities in both communication and engineering entrepreneurship, according to their website.
In addition to studying for an education degree Gillian is also employed by a renewable energy company with projects in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
While a high school student at Saskatoon's Aden Bowman Collegiate Walker says their favourite subjects were physical education and mathematics.
Walker is a member of the LGBTQIA2+ community and identifies as Transgender Non-Binary using gender neutral pronouns They/Them/Their according to the Green Party's web-site additionally they are the first Transgender Non-Binary individual to seek office for the Greens.
Asked to describe themself Walker said they are living learners passionate about learning and making a difference.
“I would describe myself as a lifelong learner. Granted I have only lived 28 years, but learning is my favourite thing to do. The joy of understanding and passing on knowledge is of great value to me. I am a playful person and do my very best to make life enjoyable for those around me,” Walker told MJ Independent.
Being physically active is important to Walker who is also a member of the Saskatoon cycling community and is a member of Saskatoon Cycle often volunteering for the organization. They have been an avid winter cyclist since the age of 12.
“My favourite sport at the moment is Triathlon. I find swimming, cycling and running to be enjoyable, but combine them and you have a unique challenge. Triathlon is great because performance is measured as a whole, not by a person’s strengths or weaknesses,” they wrote..
As far as the number one life achievement Gillian said it is finding the best career path as it helps others.
“Right now the achievement that means the most to me is finding a career path that makes me happy. Being an educator makes me happy because I get to help create safe spaces for people to grow and learn,” they wrote, adding “if I am to represent Moose Jaw – Lake Centre – Lanigan I wish to create a system that allows constituents to access policy without the legal jargon. As a Green Party member my vote will not be whipped but informed by constituent feedback.”
Electoral reform is what got Walker interested and seriously involved in politics. They are against the present first past the post system where the candidate with the most votes wins even if the majority of electors did not vote for them.
In the 2015 federal election Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau said he was in favour of electoral reform only to veto the idea after being elected. It left many crying foul because the first past the post system and electoral boundaries favour the Liberals
“I got seriously interested in politics during the last election. I was considerably disappointed in 2015 when the candidate who won in my riding did not receive the majority of the votes. The first past the post method of voting does a poor job of representing the values of Canadian,” they wrote.
But why did Gillian chose to be a Green a Political Party seemingly with a very poor chance of winning a seat in Saskatchewan?
Gillian said it all comes down to values and beliefs.
“In the past when voting I would either select the person I most trusted to represent me or the party whose platform best aligned with my view. For me the party that best fits my values is the Green Party. It is my belief that with Green leadership Canada will become a world leader and model a society that not only stops damaging our planet, but seeks support all life forms.”
Asked what they saw as the largest problem facing the riding of Moose Jaw - Lake Centre - Lanigan they said they did not know but an MP's job is to open up the pathways of communication with constituents and vote accordingly in Parliament.
“Allow me to be honest. I don’t know, but I really want to. Last election our riding had 74% turnout to vote and only 142 ballots were rejected. I see a large problem in the communication between MP’s and their constituents. It is the MP’s job to create community in the riding and frequently engage citizens to guild their actions in Parliament. Election day should not be the only day people get a say in government,” Walker stated.
Asked about dropping business confidence as well as the slow local economy they feel the Greens' policies would help.
“Creating and running a business is courageous. Some might even say risky. I would like to see our social support systems increased to reduce risk and allow for an environment where innovation is not just for the wealthy.
The Green Party would see pharmaceutical and childcare needs fully funded.
The Green Party would see people provided with a guaranteed livable income. These supports will reduce the stress and anxiety many people feel for their futures.”
Regarding the rapid use of Crystal Methamphetamine and how to slow and stop its proliferation Walker said they see it as a health issue and not s criminal issue and needs to be treated as such.
“It is my belief that the harm caused by illegal drugs is a health issue and not a criminal issue. Illicit drugs most often end up in the hands of our most vulnerable citizens. My idea to remedy this health issue is to create change in the systems that fail our citizens. To create systems that prevent further loss of life and provide care for those currently fighting addiction” Walker stated.
About Walker not being able to attend the Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce's public forum and the Greens now being a no-show for two elections in a row they wrote their not being able to attend in 2019 was two fold - class commitments and no bus service.
“I agree it is an unfortunate circumstance that I cannot attend forums and speak with constituents about their needs and values. What I would like to tell voters are the two reasons I am unable to attend forums. I am currently attending school at the University of Saskatchewan. I made the commitment to attending classes before I applied to be the candidate for Moose Jaw – Lake Centre – Lanigan. Should be elected, I would withdraw from my course commitments and throw all my energy into being the best MP possible. The second barrier to my forum attendance is my choice of transportation. I choose not own a car and with the closing of Saskatchewan’s bus services I am unable to attend events outside my cycling range. I agree it is an unfortunate circumstance that I cannot attend forums and speak with constituents about their needs and values. I would like to encourage voters to contact me through my email, firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out through my facebook page.
Walker said so far the campaign has been answering not only media requests for interviews but additionally questionnaires as well as questions from riding voters.
Additionally MJ Independent readers had questions we asked all of the candidates on their behalf.
A. Climate Change
Canadians are standing at a cross roads.
One road has us continuing on as usual, taking more resources than the earth can replenish, and tuning away from the consequences.
The road I am advocating for is a drastic change to suit our drastic situation. Canadians no longer have the option of inaction. We must fight to keep global warming to 1.5oC or we will be too late to reverse the damage. We have the science, we have the renewable resource technologies all that is left to do is take action.
I am frightened our government will make the wrong choice and deny my generation and the ones that follow a sustainable future.
B. Federally Funded Daycare
Yes please to federally funded daycare.
Personally I would like Canada to adopt a model of parental leave that would not require daycare. However our society has evolved to expect household to have two incomes.
With parents and guardians in the work force our need for daycare is growing.
Federally funded daycare would benefit all families and create new job opportunities. I also want to recognize that funding such a program would vastly increase the quality of life for many Canadians and begin to create equity for children.
I do not believe Canada should invest in more pipelines. A smarter investment would be to take that money and invest it in renewable energy such as solar and wind. Two resources Saskatchewan is well suited for. I imagine a country wide energy grid that allows Saskatchewan to sell its excess electricity and use that income to boost our economy.
D. Big Tech Censorship
From my perspective the censorship being advocated for is to hold large companies accountable for the content they allow on their platforms.
Technology is advancing so fast that governments, regulatory policy and citizens have trouble keeping up and this leaves us vulnerable.
As a teacher I see it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to critically evaluate sources as credible. I see people’s mental health at risk and damaged by the websites competing for our views, and I see malicious attacks. Attacks so expertly designed we don’t notice at first.
Hate groups have had success using the internet and social media sites to rally people to action that attack human rights and in some cases, cause death. The call for censorship aims to protect individuals and society from those who wish harm. I will hold off on saying if I think this is right or wrong, because at this moment I do not believe this kind of censorship is plausible.
The big tech companies in question operate globally, and even if a platform or specific content was banned in one country, the access to virtual private networks is growing and creating back doors to such content. We are grappling with global connectivity to an unprecedented level. I have no solution to this problem at the moment.
E. Carbon Tax
Carbon Tax is a tricky topic, mostly because I think it is not being done very well at the moment. I believe carbon taxes are a key to changing industry behaviour and standards. I do not think it is our only solution.
Gillian Walker will not be taking part in the All Candidates Forum on October 15th at the Cosmo Centre (7:00 pm).