Wednesday, July 24, 2013

McCreath responds to St. John's & District Labour Council Election Platform Questions

The St. John's & District Labour Council recently contacted me, as a prospective candidate for the upcoming St. John's municipal election, with a series of questions. Their goal was to assess to what extent my vision for the City maps with their values and objectives. It was an honour to have an organization of this nature, reach out to learn more about me, and it was a pleasure to take the time to respond.

Not only were their questions an opportunity for them to get to know me, it was a learning experience for me, as I had a chance to gain an understanding of the issues this organization feels are important. This gave me a chance to develop thoughts and positions on many of the issues which face this City.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was not able to devote quite as much time and attention to this survey as I had wished; however, I still feel my responses painted a genuine picture of my understanding of the issues, and the stances which I am taking.

I now present, a summary of the responses I provided them:

Current union affiliation:

- I currently hold a day job with the provincial public service. I am a member of NAPE. I am a Communications Technician with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, where i take internal and external inquiries and calls for police service, including 911 calls. I am also responsible for the management of patrol units, and held accountable for taking steps to ensure police officer and public safety, through the process of police service dispatching work.

Which Position Am I running?

I have not yet finalized my decision on which position to run for. An announcement will be made in August.

Have I ever been a candidate before or campaigned?

I have never run as a candidate in a government election ever before, in any jurisdiction. From June 2011 - July 2012, I was an active member of the NDP's Disctrict Association for the Riding of St. John's, North, and was a part of their executive team. I was also a card-holder member of the Federal NDP for the same time frame. My decision to resign and go independant was brought about for a variety of reasons, which I would be more than happy to discuss with anyone.

I am not currently a card-holding member of any provincial or federal political party. I take pride in being what I consider to be a neutral and independent candidate who will not be influenced by partisan politics at these levels.I take pride in being what I consider to be a neutral and independent candidate who will not be influenced by partisan politics at these levels.

Volunteer Portfolio:

- Co-Founded St. John's Pride Inc as a provincially-registered non-profit org in 2010. Acted as Board Chair and Head of Corporate Management for an 18 month period. I wrote corporate by-laws & internal policies and procedures. recruited board members and volunteers. I oversaw corporate operations, was responsible for citizen and community engagement, marketing, advertising, stakeholder engagement, partnership development. was also responsible for communications, information management, media relations, and legislative compliance. I also wrote proposals for city grants and city permits, organized educational and entertainment events for a pride week celebration. I also co-produced and directed a made-for-television educational panel discussion. Acted as the face of the organization and an ambassador for the provincial Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities.

- I founded two grass-roots organizations, The East Coast Trans Alliance, and the Newfoundland Patients Association for Transsexual Health. I collaborated with trans activists and trans allies in Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick, to lobby service providers and Government, to attempt to bring standards up to levels of global best practices, including practices already adopted and functional in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Provided advise and guidance to trans patients and their medical teams, to ensure understanding and compliance with global best practices. facilitated the completion of human rights complaints against provincial governments, including Newfoundland, with regards to transsexual and transgender issues, including fighting discrimination over health care, employment, and housing matters.

- I created a grass-roots organization called the Newfoundland Animal Appreciation Society, to combat the unnecessary torture and starvation of water fowl on the campus of Memorial University. This group has presence on Facebook.

- I am an active member of the Canadian Blood Services LGBT working group - a panel made up of national LGBT activists to advise how existing Blood policies impact members of said community.

- I am a co-founder and co-chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of International Frontrunners, a walking/running and social club that caters to members of the LGBT community, and their allies.

- I wrote policies and procedures & delivered diversity and sensitivity training with regards to transgender/transsexuals in the work place with and for the Government of Newfoundland & Labradors' Respectful Workplace Coordinators Office. I was also part of a Duty to Accommodate Committee, with regards to transgender/transsexuals in the work place.

- I am a former acting chair for Pflag Canada's Newfoundland Chapter's monthly meeting. This is an organization that provides social and peer support for members of the LGBT community, their allies, and their family members.

- I am a former member of a national Pflag 'train the trainer' program to prepare Chapter leaders to better understand transgender/transsexual issues.

- I spent a year as an active member of Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, an industry association for individuals who are employed in a field that delivers health care products and services to members of the trans community. For my duration, I was a member, and lead policy writer, of a Membership Expansion Policy Committee, where I helped the organization find ways to expand their voting membership privileges to non-medical-credentialed workers.

- I penned a gender-inclusion policy that allowed for the creation of a 3rd sex category for transgender and intersexxed athletes at an international sporting event, the World Outgames.

- I have acted as an adviser to Egale Canada, and Trans Pride Canada, two of the country's largest Human Rights organizations for the LGBT community.

- I provided consultative advise to provincial and federal governments, and opposition parties, with regards to health care and human rights policies.

- I provided advise and guidance to general practitioners in NL to ensure they were comfortable treating transgender/transsexual patients.

- I collaborated with Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) to coordinate a letter-writing campaign which ultimately lead to the cancellation of the airing on television, of a controversial homophobic advertisement by a Canadian fast food chain. This campaign also lead to the termination of this food chain's relationship with the advertising agency who created the ad. I was interviewed on local radio for this story.

- I have delivered guest lectures to university student audiences and high school classes regarding LGBT issues.

- I have offered my time and knowledge to university students who were conducting projects with regards to Access to Information and Protection of Privacy, in Government settings.

- I have volunteered at the annual Terry Rielly Teddy Bears Picnic in St. John's and managed the "teddy bear hospital" providing entertainment for children by conducting quasi medical assessments on stuffed animals and dolls.

How would I make city hall more inclusive, open, responsive:

- I will lobby provincial government to repeal Bill 29 (ATIPPA) and restore it back to pre 2012 text.

- I will promote proactive disclosure of government information that can be deemed of the public interest, to ensure the info is available without people having to ask for it.

- I will implement a personal response policy to ensure that inquiries into my office get a reply within a timely manner. I will also work with other Councilors to ensure that city as a business unit, has similar response policies that meet the wants and needs of citizens.

- I will take action to do a better job communicating information about government decision-making so citizens have a better idea how government policy works, and hence, will have a better understanding of how they can have their voices heard.

- I will hold frequent events that will allow for citizen engagement. I will hold them all over town, during days and nights. I will be open to in-person meetings with citizens and businesses to discuss their concerns. I will set up a website for inquiries coming into my office and I will review existing web contact protocol for the city to ensure they are meeting the needs. I will promote the use of citizen feedback surveys so we can get a clear and consistent idea of what gaps need to be addressed.

- I will take steps to ensure that more of Government business is conducted in public, rather than in private.

- I will take steps to better educate the public on the function of Government and public policy, so that they will have a better understanding of how to get their voices heard. I will proactively engage the community to ensure people feel welcome and valued at the decision-making table.

Open door policy: 

Yes, while Councilor positions may be considered part-time, if elected, I would treat this like a full time job, and make myself available, in a timely manner, to meet with anyone in the city (be them individuals or organizations), to discuss any they would like to, regardless of whether they are related to city politics, or otherwise.

Critical issues, in no particular order:

- growth of people / aging workforce / succession planning

- getting more high school grads into college and university, getting them good jobs, allowing them to enter workforce without heavy burden of student debt

- ensuring high quality of life for seniors and retired citizens

- dealing with health and fitness of society, including fighting obesity.

- access to affordable housing

- roads and infrastructure maintenance

- the need for better sidewalk snow clearing

- making our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians

- doing a better job with recycling and fighting pollution in our harbour and ponds - being aware of how global warming will affect this city, and developing partnerships and strategic policies to deal with them

- managing the balance between downtown development vs preserving down town's cultural heritage

- managing and improving upon what I feel is currently a challenging and hostile relationship between St. John's and neighbouring towns of Mount Pearl, Paradise, LB-MC-OC, Torbay, etc.

- managing and improving upon what I feel is currently a challenging and hostile relationship between St. John's and the Provincial and Federal Governments.

- dealing with a Provincial Government that does not have health care programs that meet the needs of the citizens of St. John's

- dealing with what appears to be an increase in crime in the city, including major crimes. Recognizing the need to form better working partnerships with the Provincial and Federal Government Departments of Justice & Attorney General, to ensure a better job is done fighting crime and undertaking proactive crime prevention work.

- Dealing with consequences of what appears to be a booming underground illegal drug industry

- Dealing with what I feel are inadequate Human Rights Programs at the Provincial level. I will be looking to implement Human Rights policies at the City level, that mirror global best-practices.

- Diversity management as the city grows: finding ways to ensure that citizens and businesses in this city become aware with how to best manage and embrace the vast diversity of people who are now moving to St. John's from all over the world, to work or study.

Public transit: 

I currently have major concerns about the state of our public transit system. I think a key starting point is getting more buses in and out of Mount Pearl, Paradise, Torbay, etc. There are so many people who drive into the city every day, because have no other way to get into town. I would like to see the development of shuttle buses from car pool spots at the edge of town off the highways, with some sort of incentive for folks to use the service. We need to find a way to get fewer cars downtown. I would also like to look at bike lanes and better sidewalk snow-shoveling so pedestrians would be more likely to leave their cars at home. I would also like to review existing bus routes and schedules, within the city, as many people have complained to me that it takes too long to get anywhere, because of long wait times, the need to transfer from one bus to another, or both.

Responsible Land use, growth development:

Existing development policies are often broken, when City Council feels it is a good idea. This is a clear sign that these policies aren't working. We need to review and revise these policies to meet best-practices, and then we need to ensure we adhere to our own policies. We need to do a much better job with being smart with our development. Inadequate urban planning is causing a bottle neck of problems. We need to to find a balance between protecting our environment, and allowing responsible growth that will allow our city and economy to strive. Studying how other cities have grown, and assessing and applying their procedures to our city, is something I would push for.

Recreation and Green Space:

I have serious concerns about the rate of green space destruction, in favour of building parking lots, dwellings, and offices. A health city requires suitable recreation and nature space that will promote the use of said spaces, by citizens. Having clean ponds, lovely forests and walking trails, and wildlife, right here in the city, acts as a tourist attraction and a gem for locals. I feel that Federal regulations are not good enough, and I will take steps to ensure that this city protects existing recreation and green space and does a better job improving their quality.

Responsible Development of Down Town:

We need a careful balance between efficient development of our Downtown, to ensure we have a downtown that maximizes what our City has to offer, as well as taking steps to preserve the cultural heritage of our City, to ensure we remain a unique tourist destination. While there appears to be significant amount of proposals to develop the harbour front properties, I see many other opportunities to develop the outskirts of the down town core, and would like to take steps to promote those. furthermore, I would like to see better development of areas of this City outside down town, so that people won't have to come down town to get products and services, if they'd prefer to get them elsewhere in the City. Likewise, I'd like to see more office space developed outside of down town, so folks who live outside of down town, won't always have to travel down town to work, if they'd prefer to work closer to where they live. The more people who can walk to work, and the fewer people that have to drive to work, is an area that will improve this City in many ways.

Responsible Development of Suburbs / Urban Sprawl:

I am going to combine my answer to these two questions as i feel they are related. As just mentioned in the last question, I'd like to see our city literally develop communities within communities. Down town, our east end, our west end, our north end, and our south end, need to start taking on identities of their own. I often look at how the Metropolitan City of Toronto has evolved. Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, etc. All of these parts of the city have all the functions and necessities of a full city.

St. John's also needs to do a much better job communicating and collaborating with neighbouring towns. The town of Paradise is a particular area of concern, as while residential properties are growing at a massive rate, businesses and town services do not seem to be meeting their needs. While I do not expect or promote the concept of amalgamation, I'd like to see all neighbouring towns adopt a partnership attitude so that we can work together as a metropolitan area, to ensure quality of living and quality of services are equally available in all geographic areas.

I'd also like to work with the Provincial Department of Municipal Affairs to ensure that high quality regulations are put in place that will lead and enforce smart development and eliminate problems often associated with urban sprawl.

Affordable Housing:

While there clearly appears to be a boom in property development in St. John's and surrounding areas, there seems to be very little focus put on the development of condos and apartments. In addition to the many houses and townhouse complexes being build, I'd like to create a program that will give developers an incentive to create more affordable housing units. I would also be open to the idea of the City taking on a role as a developer, to create sustainable housing developments and oversee the management of these units, once they are built.

Rent Control:

Rent Control has often proven an essential policy in times of extreme growth, in other jurisdictions. I feel that tenants of our city have suffered unfair harsh rental increases as of late, given the economic boom. I would like to conduct a review of other jurisdiction that have implemented rent control. I am respectful of the needs and the rights of private businesses in property rental industry, to make a living, and make a fair profit. At the same time, we need to take steps to ensure that rental increases are not disproportionately higher than the general rate of inflation and the general rate of wage increases. Rent Control is definitely something I would consider in scope for this City, but would want to take careful steps to review the pros and cons, and come up with a system that is fair and equitable to all, and one that mirrors global best-practices.

Procurement - including policies for local, Canadian, and unionized:

I think as a City, we need to find a careful balance between promoting home grown products and services, yet respecting existing free trade agreements that are in place at the Federal level. I have a particular concern about third world labour and I would like to take steps to ensure that we as a City do not promote products or services that proliferate this type of unfair practice. As far as a procurement policy specific to unions or products and services created by unionized organizations, I'd like to engage unions so I can better understand how and why giving them preferential treatment, would be beneficial to all citizens. I am open to anything, yet I want to ensure careful consideration is given to the pros and cons of all scenarios.

Environmental sustainability:

I have serious concerns about the rate of destruction of our environment and our increase of pollution, in this City. I feel that Federal regulations are not nearly good enough and i feel that existing City Council has not taken this issue seriously. I would like to reach out to environmental activists and industry associations so that we can work towards creating and implementing environmental sustainability policies and procedures that will align our city with global best-practices. We cannot destroy our environment all in the name of development.

Economic sustainability:

This is perhaps the most complex question of them all, and one that does not have a clear-cut or simple answer. As a City, we need a careful balance of ensuring growth and prosperity opportunities exist for private businesses and investors, a City that ensures quality social services and standard of living can be met by all residents, and a plan that protects our environment and protects our cultural heritage. I will be open to engaging all stakeholders and developing relationships with global experts, to ensure we can find the most efficient and effective balance on this matter.

Municipal tax system:

I am currently in a position where I need to learn more about our tax system and compare it to other jurisdictions that have tax systems that are deemed to be of global best-practices. Ultimately, we need a system that is fair and equitable to all and I will proactively reach out to a many businesses and citizens as possible, so I can understand the issues and gaps that exist, and work towards solutions that will maximize efficiency and effectiveness in City governance, and minimize hardship.


I would like to study how other Citys, such as Toronto and Vancouver, learned to manage racism, as they went through their huge economic growth periods. I would also like to reach out to various racial communities and their non-profit organizations, so I can best understand their issues and best understand how to help fight the racism that exists. I would also like to work with the Provincial Government to collaborate on anti-racism programs, including the betterment of existing inadequate Human Rights Laws. I would also like to take steps to celebrate racial diversity, including having City involvement in various programs and festivals that promote education, awareness, and celebration, of diversity. Ditto for LGBT issues.

First priority if elected:

The reputation of Governments is not good. The public currently lacks trust and confidence in politicians, political policies, and governance policies. I want to take steps to fight these myths and put the power into the hands of the citizens so they can literally help create programs, policies, and procedures, that will allow them to regain trust and faith in the political systems and the politicians they have elected to work for them. Politicians are mere custodians and stewards. The real owners and leaders of this city, must be the citizens. I will push to engage as many of them as possible, in as high a level as possible.

Contracting out public service:

I generally oppose the idea of contracting out public service. while this may be a necessary evil in times of urgent needs, when existing public service may not have the capacity to fulfill necessary requirements, I feel for the most part, that government services are best provided by government employees. An organization is only as strong as its Human resources. Having long-term permanent employees in place, will ensure personal buy-in towards the governments' mandate of serving the people. It will also ensure that skills, experiences, and knowledge, gained by employees, are retained in the organization.

Pay Equity and Employment Equity:

I am 100% supportive of taking steps to ensure that global standards are met in both of these areas. The City needs to ensure that it takes all steps necessary, to eliminate sexism, racism, able-ism, homophobia/transphobia, and all other forms of discrimination, within the public service. I also feel it is important to have a city work force that accurately reflects the diverse demographics of the population that lives here. People need to see city workers that they can relate to, in order to gain trust and respect for said workers. This includes creating an environment that welcomes, promotes, supports, and celebrates diversity of all types.

Public Private Partnerships:

I don't think it would be possible for me to make a blanket statement on PPPs. I would have to consider each instance as its own case study. Ultimately, we as a City Council need to take steps to ensure that the wants and needs of our citizens and business are met. This means that we will need to keep an open mind towards how we deliver these products and services. As mentioned earlier, having a strong public service is very important to me. At the same time, I am respectful and understanding that there may be certain circumstances and situations that require urgent action and quick fixes. Furthermore, if it is deemed that a PPP can offer a more efficient and effective delivery of a particular product or service, careful consideration would have to be given, weighing the pros and cons. Ultimately, keeping the best-interest of the public at-large, at heart, is critical.

Municipal workers rights to collective bargaining:

I am 100% supportive of municipal workers' rights to union membership and collective bargaining. As steward of public resources and as someone responsible for the best interest of the citizens, it would be my goal to ensure respectful bargaining that balances the best interests of employees and the electorate.

Living wage: 

The complete elimination of poverty, should be a key goal of this City Council. Wages are no longer keeping up with inflation. It seems that families that were once able to thrive on a single income, now require two incomes to meet basic expenses. Ensuring a system that provides fair wages for work performed, and wages suitable to sustain living, is a responsibility I feel needs to be owned by all levels of Government. I am well aware that the implementation of a Living Wage policy, at the City level, could have significant impact on many of the industries here. While I am open to considering a living wage policy, I'd like to review all other options, including existing minimum wage provincial policies, as well as other government funding subsidy programs, that exist, to help citizens meet a basic standard of living.

Accessibility and affordability of public services:

We need to all take steps to ensure that products and services that are wanted and needed by citizens and business of this city, are affordable and accessible. This will require a complex engagement program that will ensure that the City has quality information about these wants and needs. It will also have to take into consideration, a careful prioritization process to ensure sustainability. Education and awareness is going to be critical, as we can't provide services until we know what the needs are.

Other Comments:

While most of existing City Council seems to be made up of rich upper class people who have strived in the private sector, I bring experiences to the table that allow me to better relate to many of our oppressed and misfortune citizens. I understand what it is like to live pay-cheque to pay-cheque. I understand the challenges faced by minority groups, as I identify as a woman, a member of the LGBT community, and as a main-lander who has struggled to gain acceptance by Newfoundlanders. I bring experience to the table having worked in Government policy development positions & bring experience have running community-oriented non-profit ventures. I am an advocate for human rights and quality of living for all. I am passionate about citizen engagement. I am also keenly concerned about the well-being of the trust and respect of Government, as perceived by citizens.

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