Matthew Watson is the Red Deer- Lacombe riding incumbent for the Libertarian Party. We asked Watson a series of questions here is a look at his responses. (All candidates have been reached out to and will be featured at different times on LacombeOnline.com)
How do you plan to get more money on jobs for Canadians after the challenge of the pandemic?
Now the economy has to be opened back up. The restrictions are kind of what's holding everybody back. Creating more jobs is kind of up to the people themselves. I don't know other than that. I don't think it's the government’s position to try to create jobs. That's the job of the people and they have a better idea of what is needed in the regions for jobs.
Canadians are saying they care a lot about the environment. What issues do you see as having the biggest impact on our environment and how do you plan on addressing it?
The environment is important to me as well. I'm an avid outdoorsman, hunter, and fisherman. If there is problems, it affects me. I like to spend time in the Canadian wilderness. It's hard, right? I would like to see green innovation continue but we need to eliminate the carbon tax which is just creating problems. I don’t think that it is helping anything. That's just my opinion.
I think if we got rid of corporate subsidies and crony regulations that make it harder for entrepreneurs to compete in the energy sector and unleash people’s potential for creating new energy technologies. It would definitely help in protecting the environment. Canada has a good record when it comes to making sure that we're not polluting. I worked in the oil and gas sector and they're very thorough. You're not supposed to spill a drop on some of these sites and everything is very clean. People do take pride in that.
How does your party plan to address reconciliation with indigenous people in Canada?
That's a tough one. My best friend actually married an Indigenous woman. The Libertarians would like to start with recognizing the treaties that exist. That hasn't happened. There's a lot of people out there, and especially in this riding who are Indigenous and they don't feel connected to the political system. They don't participate and they feel ignored and I can't blame them when you look at how these treaties weren't recognized in the first place.
Something that the Libertarians would also like to do is give them control over the minerals and the natural resources in the lands controlled by the Treaties. That would allow them to have a better say. They'd get more money going into their economies and their local communities. I think that is definitely something that needs to happen to help fix some of the issues that have happened. Let them have a say. If they want to develop the land, they can develop the land on their own terms, not on somebody else’s.
How do you plan to manage the shifting needs of the healthcare system following the pandemic?
We need to loosen the Federal Government's grasp on provincial health care. The provinces have a better idea of what needs to happen versus the politicians in Ottawa. That's something that needs to be returned back to the provinces.
There's some issues with the Canada Health Act, which puts more of the power into Ottawa and I don't believe that is the right thing to do. We need to let the provinces deal with their own needs as opposed to having a large government oversight. It's just additional steps that cost us money for no real reason. That money could be better put into other services.
What services do you think can be created or enhanced to address major social issues such as poverty, addiction, homelessness and unemployment?
That's a difficult one because how do you get people back to work if there is no jobs? Right now, that's not something that I even really see. I keep hearing everybody say that there's a labor shortage.
Some of these people are unable to do it. They have mental health problems, and that's not something that I think anybody really knows how to deal with properly or something effective would have happened already. There's been a lot of smart people that have come before me. Something that would help is ending the war on drugs.
There's a lot of countries that we can learn from such as Portugal. They're a good example that I really like. They decriminalized all narcotics, but their rate of addiction fell by 50 per cent in ten years.
The way that we're dealing with things, the rate of addiction is not falling, it's growing, and that's a hard one for a lot of people but I think that it needs to happen. We need to try something different that's kind of what I'm running on is a different approach. We can look at other countries. It's not like we're leading the way on that. There is other countries that have done it and it's helping and that's what I want. I want people to get help. The never-ending war on drugs just fuels a massive black market. It prevents these people from wanting to go and get help because they're afraid of legal repercussions. I think that would go a long way in helping their mental health. They would be able to go in and be honest about what's happening with them and in their lives, instead of hiding.
I think that would be key to helping people not be homeless, because if they can, you know deal with their addiction problems to get help for their mental health through being honest with family and friends. Then, we end the stigma on it so that they're able to get back into people's lives and get the help that they need.
How do you plan on supporting Alberta's core industries such as oil and gas tourism, forestry and agriculture?
Something that I keep hearing from the other candidates is that Erin O'Toole has effectively hamstrung his MP's who would like to put forth the pipelines. I think there's a problem with that. I don't like people not being able to speak their mind. Especially as an Albertan, we need to get our resources to the market because it helps all of Canada. That's why it's confusing to me.
The money that we are able to make on our natural resources helps everybody through the transfer payments with equalization. I don't understand why other provinces are so dead set on keeping our oil in the ground while on the other side, allowing Saudi Arabia to send oil into our ports to get refined. We know Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record and you know Canada does not. It's frustrating that some of these provinces would rather have oil coming in from other countries that don't support proper human rights and equality for women.
That bothers me when we hear the potential Prime Minister of Canada saying that the conversation is done. To me, it seems like he's willing to accept that, we'll just continue to bring in oil from people with a terrible human rights record, and we'll just ignore the nice clean Canadian oil. We have great work safety standards. The reclamation efforts up in Fort McMurray once they're done and the land is reclaimed, it looks pretty good. That needs to be brought forward more and I don't think the voice is being allowed right now. I would bring that voice and I would make sure that I would champion us to be able to get our products to the market effectively because it benefits the entire country.
What major infrastructure projects do you see as a high priority for this region?
The pipelines—that's major infrastructure.
Something that I would like the province to look at would be another hospital for Red Deer. Red Deer and the surrounding area is almost one million people and we have one hospital that is effectively dealing with this. That's not right. It results in longer wait times and it's not allowing us the standard of care that people need. Once again, health care would be returned back to the provinces but I would definitely talk to the Premier and try to get a little more effort on that.
This pandemic has highlighted our nursing shortage. The fact that they were trying to roll back their wages and whatnot when these were some of the hardest working people out there is really frustrating. I'd also like to maybe see the universities and the colleges try to push people into the trades or into nursing as opposed to some of the other white-collar trades that everybody seems to go for.
I'm a power engineer, and that program is cranking out hundreds of people a year and there is no jobs for power engineers. The market is so flooded and see you know some effort put into putting people into trades. People ask about student debt and well, why do you get student debt? You're spending a long time going through some of these programs and then they struggle through years afterwards trying to find work because the market doesn't need that many people. Yet, we have nursing shortages and skilled tradespeople can be difficult to find.
I'd like people to quit being afraid of getting their hands dirty. Changing bedpans is not glorious, but it is definitely needed. There's entire floors on hospitals that are being unused right now because they don't have the nurses to staff them. That definitely highlights a problem that we have and we should put a little more effort into it.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
So now, what is a Libertarian? People seem to hear the first few letters and they shut down and they don't realize that we're not. We're not liberals. We're a little different. We are for reduction of government. I think that the government is very bloated and as a result, our tax dollars are being spent on things that they don't need to which eliminates the ability to go into health care or national defense.
Do I know everything? Nope, I'm learning but I'm a passionate person who cares about the people in the province and in this riding. I would like to bring forward my passion and listen and if given a chance represent this area in Ottawa and hopefully bring true change to the Canadian government system.