Luc 4 Ward 3
Guleph+-+Downtown_edited-2422938370
Guelph & District Labour Council Questions:
1. What are you prepared to do to help our region, local businesses, and workers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic?  
Developing our new normal going forward is going to be a complicated and interconnected process that is not driven by the actions of single municipalities – what happens in Guelph is necessarily tied to provincial and federal actions. On the economic side, local economic recovery will drive provincial and national economies. Guelph should continue to look for interesting ways to support local business like the expansion of downtown outdoor seating and patio season. We also need to incorporate resilience into recovery planning and execution. Not only is this pandemic not over, it will not be the last major and disruptive event that will effect our economy.
Less talked about in terms of recovery, but perhaps even more important is personal and community recovery from the acute and long term physical effects of covid, as well as the significant mental health and community cohesion effects. One way to do this is to establish smart health communities, and this is one place where Guelph can be a leader. How does our health system integrate and work with (rather than simply beside) local and municipal services? But here we also need to be careful. COVID has pushed digitization and employee/citizen monitoring into our lives in unprecedented ways and we need to be educated and vigilant – we should never have another Clearview AI in our city.

2. What will you do to ensure that local governments celebrate diversity and promote inclusion for groups that have been traditionally underrepresented or excluded from participating fully in our community? Please consider the following groups in your response: a. Aboriginal persons b. Ethnic minorities c. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons d. Persons living with physical or mental disabilities. e. Women f. Youth g. Newcomers and refugees.
 
Is this a question about personal values and willingness to uphold social justice practices? These values are significant and important parts of my research and worldview.
Or, is this question reflexive of the public knowledge that our institutions grossly over represent white people (especially men) of certain socio-economic strata, and a certain kind of traditionalism that comes with that narrow representation? If this is the case, then the root of the problem is inherent, and must be the  starting point for any change. We must also be attentive to items like Arnstein's ladder of participation where “we” are insisting on and promoting types of involvement that amount to tokenism or other forms of perfunctory participation, rather that true participation through partnership, and actual delegation of control.

3. What will you do to ensure positive labour relations, including collective bargaining rights for municipal/regional employees and outside firms working under contract?
 
Positive labour relations are not something that occur at the individual level, but are a systemic issue related to whether the city is beholden to corporate interests, or whether the city, as a corporation but also the representative body of its inhabitants, is most interested in the rights and dignity of those it employs.

4. Do you support a living wage for employees of the municipality/region, including those of contracted firms?
 
Absolutely. EVERYONE deserves a living wage. The very nature of this question is deeply problematic as it implies that there are those who might in some way not deserve to be able to live in a capitalist economy. That erases their humanity, and by association, our own.

5. What will you do to engage meaningful citizen participation in major policy decisions and the budget process?  

I'm always open to hear from my neighbours and other members of the Guelph community, as well as to share available information about the budget process. The city already has a number of ways to access and engage with budget information, so highlighting those for community members is important.

6. Please describe your past experiences with Canada’s Labour Movement and any related experience with unions.  

I previously sat on the board and served as chair of the Lakehead University Student Union, and I am a current supporter of the University of Waterloo graduate student and sessional lecturers' bid to unionize. I am a strong supporter of organized labour, as societies with strong labour movements have better general outcomes for more people and less social disparity. Unions are organs of workers' power and disciplinary mechanisms for capital at the same time.

7. What do you believe are the most important traditional infrastructure projects (eg. public transit, roads, bridges, clean water, wastewater facilities, etc.) and social infrastructure projects (eg. child care centres, affordable housing, parks, libraries, rehabilitation and detox centres, emergency shelters, etc.) that council must address over the next term and into the future? What actions will you take to ensure these projects are supported?
 
Rather than individual projects to address, I believe that the most important infrastructural issue the city must consider is sustainability in how it moves, houses, and feeds its inhabitants. These are both traditional and social infrastructure issues. Each of the elements mentioned in this question is tied to the others in important ways, and ongoing discussions about infrastructure rarely discuss how today's expansion and building discussions become tomorrow's repair and replace discussions. We still don't have answers to maintaining our existing spaces (but we continue to talk about expanding), and have not had an answer (in 40 years) why some residents of the east end of the city don't have reliable and local access to a high quality grocery store.
If I was made to pick one, water is going to be an ever-increasing issue throughout the world in the coming years, and we are no exception. We know that major extraction from the aquifer (by one company in particular – looking at Nestle here – but major extractions overall) has negative effects for everyone that shares that aquifer. Past comments by our elected officials in Guelph (current and past) demonstrate the appallingly low level of understanding they have had about this critical issue.

8. How will you balance the need for these projects with the need to address Climate Change? 
 
These issues are not, and have never been, mutually exclusive. If we would like to avoid trying to live through the heat death of the world, we can never see these as separate or competing ideas.

9. Please provide any additional information about your candidacy, including: a. Experience in and knowledge of the workings of the council and local issues. b. Your role in the community, such as past activities and public exposure. c. Your leadership qualities and experience. d. Involvement in any political party, organization or movement.

Luc Cousineau holds a PhD from the University of Waterloo and teaches courses in Leisure and Community, Urban Recreation, and Child Development, Creativity, and Play. Local and population issues are embedded in his teaching. He has previously served on the YMCA's Peace Medal selection committee, and served on community not-for-profit boards. He is not politically affiliated.


Return to main campaign page