Parr Tells Open Sources That Youth is Experience on Election Issues

“The nitty gritty of it is, I’m a renter, I’m an employee, and it wasn’t too long ago that I was living in my parent’s basement earning very close to minimum wage.” If you’ve been to a local debate or campaign event, you’ve probably heard NDP candidate James Parr say some variation of that line, which not only sums up his own gestalt but also is a neat encapsulation of the issues facing many millions of young people.

“I hope I can resonate well with voters,” Parr said about being the youngest candidate in this race while appearing on Open Sources Guelph last Thursday. “I feel like I can bring a very unique perspective when it comes to drafting legislation. Everyone that went to the last debate talked about minimum wage, and said, ‘It’s been a long time since any of us have earned minimum wage.’ For me, it has been five years ago.”

Labour has been a big issue this election, and it’s one that affects different people in different ways. The demands of labour are unique to each sector, but the NDP has been known for years as the party of workers, but there’s a change this election with some many unions giving the Progressive Conservatives their endorsement.

“I’m not going to ever question anyone for voting a certain way or anything, but I don’t get it,” Parr said. “We [the NDP] are promising a higher minimum wage, we want to put workers back on the boards, we want to really ensure that everyone has dental, pharma, and mental health care to make the average working person’s life better. I don’t understand the shift”

The NDP has promised a lot of big policies this election including the aforementioned expansion of OHIP, a cap on auto insurance rates, the doubling of ODSP rates, a $20 minimum wage, rental control measures, and billions of dollars in housing investments. But how fast can they make this policy happen? Parr said that change starts on day one.

“There are massive holes today that we need to fill, and that’s why we’re talking about day one doing rent control. We’re talking about rent subsidies, and trying some stop gap measures that can then be rolled into some broader legislation,” Parr said.

“On pharmacare, cancer drugs and other life saving drugs will be free from day one, we will enact legislation fill the gap, we want to increase ODSP day one, start de-privatizing PharmaCare day one, and then slowly out hit the bigger, achievable things because it does take time to draft legislation, listen to stakeholders, and make sure that we have a fully wraparound approach, and not just rules and legislation,” he added.

Along with the economic anxiety, Parr has been very candid on the campaign trail talking about his climate anxiety. He says the signs are there that a catastrophe is coming and that there’s a desperate need to act. There’s also a desperate need, Parr said, for politicians who are going to follow up climate change rhetoric with real and immediate climate action.

“There are a lot of young people who feel like giving up all together because of how many times they heard a politician say we have to address climate change, and then nothing happens,” Parr explained. “It starts to make you wonder what’s even point of getting a university degree or paying off my debt because the world’s going to burn anyways.”

While Parr acknowledges that affordability is the election’s biggest issue, he wishes it was climate change, and he’s going to work hard to make sure that the potential for future crises created by a changing planet are not lost in the process.

“There’s flooding in northern communities, there’s flooding across the border in our neighbouring provinces. Climate change is here, and we’re not talking about it,” Parr said. “I wish that we would really highlight the importance of climate change, especially going into a summer where we’re expecting global food shortages because of either conflicts in Ukraine, crop yield problems, or lack of fertilizer. We have serious climate change issues.”

You can hear the whole interview on Open Sources Guelph by downloading the episode on your favourite podcast app at Apple, Stitcher, Google, TuneIn and Spotify.

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