Transcript: Tackling generational unfairness with Jagmeet Singh

Angie Chan (00:04):

Hello everybody and welcome to Hard Truths. I'm your podcast host Angie Chan.

Paul Kershaw (00:09):

And I'm Paul Kershaw.

Angie Chan (00:11):

So this week, holy moly, get a load of this. Our guest needs no introduction. It is Mr. Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the federal NDP. And we got to sit down with him for almost an hour. What a treat. You're gonna love it. We talked all things generational fairness. Enjoy. All right, well thank you so much Mr. Singh, for spending time with us and we welcome you to Hard Truths.

Jagmeet Singh (00:39):

Thank you.

Angie Chan:

And we've been looking forward to this conversation for quite some time.

Jagmeet Singh:

Yeah, let's do it.

Angie Chan:
So the first thing we would love to get your thoughts on is around democracy. So at Gen Squeeze, we envision a strong democracy as the foundation for tackling big systemic problems. And one of our core strategies for change is empowering Canadians with information to help them understand and influence the structures, policies, and cultures that impact their lives. Throughout your political career, you have been outspoken about strengthening our democratic institutions and enabling Canadians to participate in our democratic system. Can you speak to us a little bit about what your party has done to strengthen Canadians' capacity to be democratic citizens?

Jagmeet Singh (01:23):

Absolutely. So I'll talk about some of the initiatives that we are pushed for, that we have not yet been successful and achieving, but we're still pushing forward, not giving up. We think it's really important and some of the things that we've a actually been able to achieve. So on the things that, so fundamentally we believe that that giving people power is a good thing. The more power that people have, the more that people see that their voice is being reflective, the more people participate in democracy, I think we will have better outcomes, better decisions, better results. So I really fundamentally believe we are better off. I guess it's not a surprise since our party is the new Democratic Party, we really believe in these values. And personally it's for me a lot about the idea of, of inequality, where there's those on the top that can control things and I wanna get powered back to the people.


It's something that's spiritually, energetically, philosophically, morally. I really believe that the world is better when people have the power. So the initiatives that we've been pushing for that have not, we've not yet been able to achieve that. We, I still really fundamentally believe in proportional representation. One of the best ways to give people the ability to see their vote reflected in parliament. If you get 20% of the vote, you should get 20% of the power that is, that is closer to a more direct democracy, makes our representational democracy better. I really believe in it. So that's something we push for and, and we're gonna continue to champion. The other thing that I really believe I wanna see an increase in voter turnout. And one way, one, one way to increase voter turnout and also to get more people engaged in politics who absolutely have a lot at stake.


In fact have a lot more at stake when it comes to decisions that we're making today, because they'll impact young people a lot more than they'll impact older folks, is getting young people to be able to vote. So we tabled a bill to lower the voting age to 16. We actually heard from one of the leading experts on this in this field of lowering the voting age in democratic participation from Scotland. A professor from Scotland who was there and he'd studied the Scotland experience and a number of other countries and found a couple very interesting things. One, when the voter age is lower to 16, if you compare 18 year old first time voters with 16 year old first time voters, they vote a lot more. When you're 16, the number of people that come out to vote for the first time is significantly higher.


And the second, I think, even more profound finding was that if someone starts voting at 16, one, the percentage of people voting at 16 is a lot higher, then the likelihood of them voting for the rest of their life is a lot higher, higher as well. Both of those things are true, and I thought that's a profound result of the research and it really makes the case that not only is it going to increase voter participation in the one cohort year, but it's gonna continue for the rest of their lives. So I think that's a great idea. We also we're able to ask questions about some of the stereotypes, what we younger people not know about the issues. And they found that younger people got informed on the issues quickly, had a more open mind, willing to hear from different parties and weren't as entrenched in a particular way of voting.


So more, more nimble in their ability to perhaps change parties or choose someone that was really responding to their needs. So a lot of the stereotypes were addressed and the positive outcomes were phenomenal. So those are two things that we push for, that we believe in, that we've not been able to achieve. And that what we have been able to get in our agreement where we force the government to do a number of things. One of those categories is actually in democratic reform. So we push for increasing access to voting. And to do that, we've said that the voting, the election day should be expanded to not just one single day, but a three day election day. So it's over three days that people should be able to vote at any polling station in your riding. So often you go to one school and you're told, oh, this is not the right station for you.


You've gotta go to this other station. And it seems a bit arbitrary. If they've got your information, they can confirm your identity, your, you're on the sh on the charts or on the sheets, why have to go to a particular location. So you could go anywhere, maybe the lineups are shorter in another place, go to that one then. So we, we push for that change as well among a, a number of a couple other kind of technical changes that make it easier to vote. So that's something that we've actually achieved in our agreement and we're in the midst of making sure that it is implemented,

Paul Kershaw (05:37):

You know, pushing for the voter age at 16. This is something that matters at Gen Squeeze. And I think about one of our partners, UNICEF Canada, that's actually leading the, also leading a campaign right now to try and create political cover for us to lower the age to 16 for the very reasons that you described. Yes. When we think about rejuvenating democracy at Gen Squeeze, we're also wanting people to not only think about the voting day, but influencing politics in between elections. And for us, the key thing to influence is budgets. Budgets of these as you know, better than anyone on this call, <laugh> the overriding document that shapes everything. One of the challenges we find is that not only sometimes can it be hard to motivate citizens generally to care about budgets, but parliamentarians themselves often struggle to get the best information about what's going on in the budgets brought before them in the summaries that are prepared by finance and others.


And I remember when we first had a chance to meet some months ago, and I was drawing your attention to the issues in the budget that Gen Squeeze often thinks are the most important. You really affirmed for me that the biggest changes happening in the budget aren't getting flagged for our politicians. And, you know, we chatted quite a lot about this table called outlook for expenses which Gen Squeeze tends to focus on cuz it, it showcases that over the next five years, for instance, our federal government's planning to spend 86 billion more on elderly benefits, old age security for the loved ones in our lives who are aging. But that's five times greater than say employment insurance is gonna increase or five times greater than the Canada child benefits is gonna increase or six to seven times more than we're gonna invest in $10 day childcare. And so I wonder if you can help us think through like why did you find it helpful to have that material brought forward to you in a meeting

Jagmeet Singh (07:17):

In the context, particularly of the work that you're doing around generational inequality? The way to spell out or paint out the picture of inequality is to see where we spend money. If we invest in a particular demographic and then the outcomes are that there's an inequality, well we can point to where we're, we're investing. And it's not a, it's not a by chance outcome, it's actually very much by design. If we invest more in, in young people and then we are closing the gap, that would seem to make sense. And if we're investing less proportionately in young adults or in young families or whatever the generation we're looking at and their outcomes are worse than, than it, than it adds up. So seeing it in that way, kind of looking at the differences was something that was very illustrative of, of the point you were trying to make.


And it really confirmed what, what we kind of feel and know that newer generations or younger generations now are experiencing a, a particularly dramatic inequality that has not been experienced by any, any generation in the past that hasn't been such a dramatic challenge or, or massive burden to overcome. When we look at previous generations, when they compare themselves to each other, maybe a parent and children in those generations in the past now, the massive gap, particularly I think the one that's most glaring is being able to own a home. And the massive difference between someone that was able to earn a, a salary as a, as a laborer working at their first job, they were able to earn a good living for themselves, support their family, and be able to buy a home. And now if you look at the projections for someone earning not just a, a minimum wage job or, or even earning an incredible salary in the city of Toronto, there was this recent release that if you earned something like $256,000 a year, CTV put out an article that it would take 25 years with that type of salary to have enough of a down payment saved up with the cost of living that we're experiencing to be able to buy a home in Toronto.


So that's, that's not just an everyday old salary, that's a very significant salary probably amongst the top 5% and you would still have to wait 25 years.

Paul Kershaw (09:29):

Yeah, I mean that's bread and butter gen squeeze analysis on the economy side that it used to take five years of full-time work to save a 20% down payment on an average priced home for the typical earning young person. Now it takes 17 across the country, 22 in Ontario and BC a whopping 27 in Vancouver and, and the gta. So you're, you're absolutely right that the economy there is, you know, is really not rewarding hard work for young people like it used to. And then bringing it back to the budget analysis, the budget then is somewhat slow to adapt to these new realities like economic vulnerability shifting towards a younger demographic. Do you have some thoughts about how we could, you know, what ought gen squeeze do more of to try and ensure that governments bring to talented mps like you and others across party lines? You know, information about these age trends and some of the biggest shifts happening in our budgets?

Jagmeet Singh (10:18):

Yeah, we try to make this an analysis that, that we're, it's not by chance or by by fluke that we're in the current kind of crisis that we're in. If we look at housing for example, and we look at how much we used to spend when housing was much more affordable, what was publicly invested in, in housing and, and the availability of affordable housing people that could could rent or buy. And then you look at what we're spending now and how unaffordable it is, like it's very clear that these are results by design investments and decisions made have designed and created a, an outcome which is this massive inequality for young people. But much like there was a, a lens of gender when applied to decisions around investments that, that highlighted how really in every ministry that there was an inequality in terms of how investments were made and then outcomes as a result of those investments on, on gender, so on women or or non-binary.


And, and we see now with, with more attention paid to looking through the decisions being made with that analysis of how is this going to impact genders differently, has really highlighted that existing inequalities are exacerbated or we are creating inequalities with these type of investments. So similarly, if we had that attention or that lens, like a generational lens applied to the decisions being made by ministries, having a generational analysis like the work that you do, which would highlight that it's not again by chance. And I really say that a lot because sometimes people say, oh you know, this is just the way things are. That is very rare that it's just the way things are. It is, it is far more often we are where we are because of decisions that were made. And I really believe in framing it that way because it gives agency that if we know that we're here because of choices that were made than the beauty of that is that we can make different choices and then we can change the outcomes. And so I really think getting rid of this, ah, this is just the way things are, these are just market forces, it's none of that really is, is accurately describing the way we have arrived where we've arrived. It's actually been because of decisions made, priorities that have been set, policies that have been introduced, and where we've made investments that have resulted in certain outcomes.

Angie Chan (12:37):

Thank you Mr. Singh. I really love just your framing of that. This is not a natural state where we're in, this is a result of human decisions and we can make different decisions to make things better.

Jagmeet Singh (12:47):

I saw you nodding along to tell that you're appreciating that I

Angie Chan (12:50):

Did. I'm like, yes, exactly. I I kind of wanted to continue on this theme of investments where we might see outcomes in the long-term versus investments or spending where we might see more short-term results. Cuz I, there's a tension there. I think. So you know this very well. Our country is facing some very big challenges, unaffordable housing, a strained or broken healthcare system depending on where you are, climate crisis, just to name a few. These are problems that are complex and decades even generations in the making. And we know that the solutions to these problems are also complex and it will be decades, maybe generations until we see some of the intended outcomes. And then at the same time, we appreciate that governments and politicians are pressured by voters to show tangible results in the short term. We certainly see this dynamic in healthcare when we analyze new investments proposed by the federal NDP, you often prioritize investments in medicine or treating illness over investments for building blocks of a healthy society, such as poverty reduction housing, food security, childcare. We're not discounting the value of treating illness. But health science recommends a better balance of investments in the prevention of disease with the treatment of disease. And we'd love to get your thoughts on that.

Jagmeet Singh (14:12):

Yeah, I, I would, I would push back on the, on that we prioritize responding to illness. I would say we, we absolutely acknowledge that we need to respond to people's immediate illnesses and that's something that, that people expect us to do. And I don't think you're suggesting otherwise, but I would say that if you look at some of the priorities that we've made in the budget one of our major priorities was around housing as something that didn't get as much attention, but we really focused on for indigenous by indigenous housing. And the money that we allocated is actually more than our dental care program even that we fought to put in place for indigenous by indigenous housing, the first of its kind and its focus focuses on urban, rural, and remote. And, and that's a significant amount of money because we believe housing is one of those massive social determinants of health.


And, and we look at some of the examples around the world, Finland's really strong commitment to this idea of housing first. That if any problem pe people are faced with, whether it's not being able to have a job or having issues of mental health or dependents or, or addictions issues substance use disorders, that the first thing that you deal with is their housing. If make you make sure someone has a home, then everything else can come into place. You can't start with rehab and someone doesn't have a home. It just doesn't work that way. That's just not, that's, that's not been effective. And so we really believe in that. That's why we put that is one of our major commitments is to invest in housing for indigenous people. And, and broadly speaking, our dental care piece is very much a preventative part of healthcare.


If you look at dental care in terms of the outcomes, and I was actually a bit astounded. I know of course dental care is very, very important. But when we look at the overall health of an individual, the cardiovascular health, how it's directly connected to oral health brain health and even degenerative de conditions when it comes to mental health decline being directly connected to oral health, they're just incredible connections. So what we push for is very much preventative care. What, what our dental program is going to do for seniors and children, kind of on 2 8 2 ends of the spectrum, the initial investments in children so they can live a healthy life and our seniors who age and if we can ensure they can age in a healthy way. So what we're proposing is going to actually be very preventative. It's gonna include cleanings, regular visits and all the care that you need as a, as a child or as a senior.


And that will be free from a national federal program. So that's a massive investment, the housing investment. And on childcare, while the liberals I have to acknowledge that they're the ones that pushed forward and got the deal signed, we actually fought in our agreement to make it permanent and to have legislation which they not committed to. And with just a one-off agreement, it wouldn't be something that would be there in the long term for generations to come. So we fought for legislation and in that legislation really prioritized that it'd be public and not-for-profit childcare. Cuz really what we build now with that money could be a host of for-profit childcare spaces that then develop a system that is profit driven, continuing to increase in costs and decrease in quality. We really wanna emphasize that this is an opportunity to build a public and a not-for-profit ecosystem of childcare.


So that's another piece where we really pushed hard. So those are all social determinants of health, having access to childcare, having preventative care from dental care and housing, just to name a couple of key priorities. But I do acknowledge as a society this is a very big challenge. The election cycles being short term, requiring people to make short term plans so that they can show the lecture that, look, I've got something done for you. This is a major challenge we're up against. And one of the ways that we've kind of tried to tackle that is having a broad vision and then having steps to implement it. So dental care is one of the examples where our true vision is to have a universal dental care program rolled into our healthcare system. That seems like a very massive, huge undertaking. And often people say, new democrats have great ideas, but we don't think you can actually implement it.


So we actually laid this out in steps purposely one cuz we wanna get it done and we know that it would be difficult and cumbersome to get a, a government that doesn't really want to do what we want to force them to do something completely innovative to get them to move along the way. We started with the children under 12, now we're gonna move into children under 18 and seniors and people living with disabilities. So we're building it in blocks and showing that it can be done. So the first phase had a very aggressive uptake. Nearly half a million kids qualified and over 300,000 have already applied. And it's only been maybe four or five months since this program's been available. So it's, we're showing that we can deliver things and I think that's a part of it. Have a broad vision of where you wanna go and then break it down into concrete steps.


And the last thing that I wanna share on this point, which are really to me is something motivational, is the story in Toronto. I I started my political career in Brampton and, and I'm a proud Burnaby resident and MP, but this story is a GTA story and it really hit me, it's a story of the via duct that goes over from in Toronto kind of east part of the city going towards the core, the downtown core. And there's a, a bridge that was built and when it was being built, some of the folks who were thinking of it had said, we could actually invest a bit more money and on this bridge built an attachment that would make it easy for a subway or a train to be built. We don't have the resources or the capacity for it now, but if we do this, it would be a gift to the next generation.


And there was a full out referendum on this question, some people were for and against. And eventually it was decided to do it knowing that every council that voted for this and every person that voted for us would not see it in their lifetime, but it would be a gift for their children. And that's exactly what happened because of that, that gift from the previous generation, the VIA duck was built with that extra attachment that allowed for a subway. And as in member of parliament provincial parliament, I often rode over that via duck and would hear the rumbling streak or subway underneath and think about how that was a gift from a generation that never saw that come to fruition, but had hoped that their children would benefit from it. And we did. And it was because of this investment and it would be impossible to do it after the fact. It had to be done in the initial construction. But it was a hard sell initially cuz people thought, well, we're not gonna see the benefit from it. None of the councilors that pushed for it would've seen the benefit in their election term. But that was an example of this idea of giving a gift for the next generation. And I hope we can do more of that type of long-term planning and the decisions we make. You know, it's, it's really interesting to listen

Paul Kershaw (20:46):

To you on this front because you've just given like an impassioned defense of the social determinants of health. The kind of like, oh I should bring you into, I think to our lectures at UBC at the school of population of public health. That's really, really strong <laugh>. I think that there's, we should, I wanna push a little bit farther if I can because we, you know, it's absolutely the case that your platform feels features, strong commitments to housing and I, you know, discussion at the end of the indigenous focus of housing in particular strong commitments to childcare, strong commitments to dental care, farmer care and whatnot. And when we add up the numbers of the dollars that get associated to those different thematic areas, it tends to be the case that, you know, NDP parties more generally tend to start aligning more of the dollars to the medicine side.


And I wonder if that partly reflects kind of a shared reverence that I know you have and I have and like many other Canadians do, because we identified him as the greatest Canadian ever sometime back. But the sort of love for Tommy Douglass's legacy of launching our healthcare system. And he had a very comprehensive vision in mind. And if he were here I think on the podcast today, I think he'd say, darn, I didn't get to achieve all that. I wanted people to understand about what a health system really requires. But we did make real progress on medicine. And I think that that means many members of the NDP movement as they want to protect that part of the legacy then tend to kind of be drawn into thinking about, oh, when we're our best and noblest selves, we need to do more on medicine. Especially since we know we're not our American neighbors for the South. Cuz they're lousy on that issue. And I, I wonder how do you feel about that dynamic unfolding that sort of the N D P feels that it in particular is a, is a community that has to be defending medicine first and foremost by comparison with other parties?

Jagmeet Singh (22:25):

I I think there is a certain legacy that, that Tommy Douglas left in the party. And it's not just the legacy, it really is a representation of this notion that we are better off when we take care of each other. And that is the, the fundamental value. And it's the one area where it's really broken through across party lines where everyone agrees, yes, I may not need to go to the hospital every week or every year or every couple years, but the idea that I won't go bankrupt and I won't lose everything if I do ever get sick. And the idea that getting sick is one of those things that there is some element of luck and chance breaking your leg getting a a serious injury. Sometimes it's, it's a fluke. It really is a proxy for the general idea that we are better off when we look out for each other.


We're better off when we take care of each other. And it is a jumping point. I hope to then start talking about other ways we can, we can take care of each other and to build on the legacy. While, while Tommy Douglas really initially the vision around healthcare was comprehensive and we didn't get the whole thing done. So we still feel that unfinished business about completing it, but because social determinants of health has become more and more of a, a major mainstream understanding, it really opens the door for us to say, well, not only do we take, we not only are we better off when we take care of yourself in the sense of our health directly going to a doctor or going to a hospital, but one of the biggest contributors to us being healthy is the fact that we've got a home and that we can eat food or that we are not in poverty.


Then it opens up the door to say we are better as a community when we take care of each other. And then we can start saying, well that's why if we care about healthcare and you've all been convinced, we also need to then make sure we care about our, our our neighbors that aren't able to get housed, can't find a place to rent or to own. We're also really not gonna be a healthy society if people are living in poverty, if people can't get childcare so that they can go to work and then they can support themselves and their families. So it really opens up the door and I think in a, in a beautiful way because healthcare is something people already agree with. And then we started saying, well if you are someone who's convinced by more economic arguments, we can reduce the amount that we are the cost of this beautiful program that we have. If we invest in these other areas, we'll get a good return on that. But we also can make the argument that it is an extension of this idea that you've already been convinced of. Now let's expand that to these other areas.

Paul Kershaw (24:53):

Yeah, that's, yeah, I appreciate the strategy and you know, thinking how to bridge people into thinking about not only how do we treat people's illness, but how do we slow the flow of sickness into our doctor's clinics and our doctor's offices mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and our emergency rooms because that's the the key work that, you know, investing earlier in our lives and investing in health and wellbeing in our earlier in our lives. You know, that can really be such a, a game changer for making us and keeping us well longer in our lives. Maybe I can use that as a segue to the, the, the gen fairness pledge that we've chatted with you about in the past. That pledge has a number of sort of high level mom and apple pie statements. We're trying to get at these values that are, you know, beyond disagreement in Canadian society regardless of what party you may be affiliated with and where you live, et cetera.


And there's five principles there. One of them is like, let's invest as urgently in promoting health and wellbeing as we treat illness as we've been chatting about and another's investing fairly and young and old alike, something that you've been talking about. We gotta make sure that we treat housing for homes first and investments second. We've been wanting to leave the planet in as best of place we possibly can for our kids and grandchildren. And then the fifth one is around you know, the bills that we leave for those who follow. And I wanted to pick that theme up with you because when we chatted with you and your team initially about our Gen Fairness Champions pledge, it was a a place where you push back on us, you asked us to bring more nuance and I think our original language is like, you know, let's reduce debt on younger people and be careful about our unpaid bills. And over time we've got a little bit wonky in our language and like, let's resist operating deficits during re when we're not in recession. But I wondered if you could help our listeners understand, you know, why bringing nuance today to talking about deficits and debt really matters when thinking about generational fairness.

Jagmeet Singh (26:36):

Well I think that if we don't sometimes make investments we can exacerbate generational unfairness. And one of those examples it would be the pandemic where it wasn't exactly a recession, but what was happening in the pandemic was, I, I use this analogy for, imagine it as a storm. The whole world was experiencing the storm, but people were riding out the storm in very different vessels. Some people had beautiful luxury yachts where they rode out the storm and barely felt anything and maybe found a ways to actually make more profit than ever before. And other people were riding out this very same storm in a leaky lifeboat and were just about to drown. And if we don't take steps in those circumstances, then the generational inequality just grows. Where, where some people are disproportionately impacted lower income people with precarious housing, racialized people, women, and then we see the young versus old example, the pandemic had a dramatic impact not just economically but also socially.


And so in those circumstances we have to be sensitive to the fact that we might need to make investments when things like that happen, when inflationary periods that we're going through right now. It's another example of where everyday folks are gonna feel the squeeze, it's gonna hurt them when it comes to their bills or cost of their food, the cost of their mortgages. But for big banks, they're gonna make more money than ever before. For other companies they're gonna make record profits and are already making record profits like corporate grocery stores. And if we look at oil and gas companies that are making massive profits, record profits as well. So if we wanna address inequality there might be moments that we need to make investments that offset the, an occurrence that just disproportionately benefits the older generations well-established generations or those with generational wealth.

Paul Kershaw (28:28):

Well if I could just hop pursuit that before handing it back to my dear friend Angie, you just reminded us about, you know, the need to be nimble in using public finance to address, you know, the pandemic was such a major emergency moment and in fact we were in recession throughout that. I think there are times even when not in recession, like if we were investing and going into substantial deficit because we were investing at historic levels for housing like Yeah. Or fighting climate change cuz it's a younger demographic, it's gonna get creamed on that.

Jagmeet Singh (28:56):

Exactly. I was gonna give those examples too.

Paul Kershaw (28:59):

Those reasons I find compelling and why we wanna make sure there's enough nuance there in the conversation about bills being paid or not. And, but help me out on this front because I need to sit down at moments with my mom or my in-laws, my in-laws are coming, can't wait and talk about, you know, when I look at the federal budget from this past year, it's promised another 132 billion in deficit spending and that deficit's not being driven because we are remarkably putting most of that money into more childcare or more housing or or fighting climate change. The data show that about 85% of that deficit spending can be accounted for by increases in important things like old age security and medical care for our loved ones who are over 65 now. Those things really matter. I love my in-laws, there come, I love my mom, my mom's relying on the hospital a lot these days. But how would you encourage us to engage our older family members and how might you engage your older family members in saying, wow, is this the right reasons to be incurring large deficits or do we need to have more of a conversation about paying for the things we want to use right now as opposed to leaving unpaid bills for those who follow?

Jagmeet Singh (30:07):

Yeah, I mean it is, it's a very fair discussion in terms of living within our means. Many new Democrats the same way we hold Tommy Douglass's legacy on a pedestal when it comes to Medicare. Also point to the fact that when he was premier he was very ardent about making sure we live within our means provincially and was able to balance budgets and bring down deficit so we could spend more resources on people. And there's a very compelling argument not just for the debt we leave to the future generations, but the amount of funds it takes to service the debt takes away from our ability to make those investments in the things that people need. So, so there's very compelling reasons to live within our means, to not overextend, to be prudent and and responsible with the way we spend our precious resources. Well one piece that's missing in the conversation that new Democrats would inject is that we need to also look at revenue and there's a significant amount of revenue that's left on the table.


There's revenue that agencies like the CRA have self-admittedly that that that there's billions of dollars that they are not pursuing cause they've not been given the mandate or the resources to go after that, that money. There's also things like offshore tax havens and other tax loopholes that mean we lose billions and billions of dollars of revenue. And then on top of that, there's those that are not just paying their fair share because of rules that allow them not to pay their fair share and we can change that. And then there's the unique moments where there's unprecedented excess profits being made and other countries in the world that are looking at excess profit and having taxation on those excess profits that go above and beyond the normal range of profits as a revenue tool. So we've been encouraging not just looking at the fact that we do need to invest, but that in a decision around do we invest in our seniors who you like, like you I I love my parents and and grandparents are, are, are so precious in the lives of, of our children but also in our society.


We should take care of those that have contributed so much I think go it as a responsibility to make sure we take care of them. And so how do we do both? We have to take care of our seniors but we also need to make sure that young people have a fair shot, young families have a fair shot and that there isn't this inequality that exists right now. So I think we need to do both and the way we do it is we are responsible with where we spend our resources and we also need to look at increasing revenue in a responsible way as well.

Paul Kershaw (32:31):

Oh, so many hot pursuit things there. But Hge we're running out of time so over to you.

Angie Chan (32:34):

I know, I know. I knew it would go fast. So I hope I'm not reading too much into what you're saying but sort of a theme that I have heard throughout our conversation and one that it comes up over and over again through our Hard Truths podcast is really this idea of taking care of each other, taking care of strangers, taking care of people who we will never meet. And so, you know, when I hear you talk about how do we do that, it means a lot to me personally, I'll just say like, you know, as a mom I have two kids to think about how we as a society can take care of each other. And it's not just me and my husband having to enable our kids to have a good future. Is it just knowing that there are other folks who are thinking along those same lines is very heartening at Gen Squeeze. We also think about, you know, how do we embed that purpose of all of us taking care of a future generation into our institutions? And so a key gen squeeze ask of political party platforms is to promise to appoint a minister who has responsibility for generational fairness as part of her portfolio. If you were to become Prime Minister, can you imagine drafting a mandate letter for a minister that would include this responsibility?

Jagmeet Singh (33:54):

Yes. So I was reflecting on this question about, about a minister and what the min mandate letter would be for a minister dealing with generational fairness. And I thought, well it's, it's very similar to how we started looking at applying a gender lens to all the ministries cuz there's a gender lens that works with the Ministry of Health, ministry of Housing economic Development. I can see how a gendered lens would, would benefit when analyzing all those areas. And I thought more than just one minister, it should really be a lens we apply to all the areas we think about the way we're responding to the environment. Well there's a, there's a absolutely a generational impact housing and there's such a clear generational impact that a generation of folks for them to try to buy their first home or to rent a place just seems so impossible.


That has to be an area where we apply a generational lens when it comes to the, the jobs that we develop, economic development, particularly with disruptions like AI and how we make decisions around where we invest in our training and education. All these areas really need a strong generational lens. And, and I make the case more than ever before because the, like the changes between my grandparents, my father, there was dramatic changes, but those were nothing in comparison to the changes between me and my dad or my mom. And the changes between my parents and me and myself and my children, like they're just, they're accelerating in a really rapid way so that, that it is no longer the case. There was generations where everyone who was able to come to Canada could find a job, any job that would be able to earn enough to buy a home and build a life for themselves and their kids.


And now that is not the case. It is bluntly not the case. Even if you have the best job in our country, it's not the case. So there is a clear problem there. And then there's lots of graphs that just show, if I keep on going back to the example of homes, it's just the most illustrative. You look at income wages and you look at homes like I think about when I was a young person graduating from law school, my law school tuition fees were 8,000 a year modern day law school tuition fees were 30,000 a year for that exact same law school. And when I bought my first home as a first time as a, as a young lawyer with a pretty good job when I was working at a law firm, my job was about $75,000 first year lawyer. And the home that I was able to maintain was $350,000 for a four bedroom home in the gta.


And then fast forward about 10 or 12 years, that same home became 1.2 million. So did all the surrounding homes in any other home you wanna buy. So it didn't really help you unless you wanted to sell it and move to another country. But if you wanna stay in your community, it doesn't really benefit you for it to go up so much. But that salary for a first time lawyer and I checked around and asked, you know, what that first time lawyer, first year lawyer was making maybe went from 75 to 85 certainly didn't go up by quadruple, which, which is what the cost of housing went up by. So that is just illustrated of the fact that the, the minister working on this would probably be insufficient because it's an area that impacts so many areas, impacts, like I said, housing, healthcare, the way we develop our workforce, the way we develop our education system. So I really think it would be a lens we should apply to everything.

Paul Kershaw (37:10):

Oh yeah. Well you're singing off our song sheet now cause I don't think it has to be either or. I think it's a both end approach. So, you know, just as we have GBA plus and instead of we bring that gender lens and we have a minister responsible for gender equality. Yes. So, you know, I think we absolutely need to be bringing that age lens to all that we do from, you know, requests for treasury to spend more money and also summarizing, you know, our outlook for expenses at the, in the overall budget. Like, you know, where is the majority of money going at this moment and is, are we striking the right balance? And so we need that. And I think one way that we might be able to get that and have accountability for that would be to simultaneously have a minister who in her mandate letter had that responsibility. Oh yeah, I'm the one who has to be poking around on this and when I'm in cabinet, this is part of the mandate that I remind us that, you know, we got so many things that, you know, compete for our attention and this is one of the things that we have to prioritize.

Jagmeet Singh (38:00):


Paul Kershaw (38:01):

So as we come to the end of our time with you and, and might I say that we know it is such a gift to get the best part of an hour with you, so thank you, thank you. I I wonder about a image that I took away when I first met you was a meeting where you had your daughter in your arms and I was really struck by how much of my work in the past has been an urging men to take more responsibility for caregiving and that will like help, you know, break down the glass ceiling and promote gender equality in the labor market and actually make dads happier at home. Absolutely. And you were just, were just embodying that so much. And at the same time, this having your daughter in your arms when we're having a meeting about generational fairness, it was just like, ugh, we just need this photo to illustrate like what we're trying to do with budgeting right here is, is like we're representing that.


Yeah. And so I I just wanna end with that observation of, you know, you're clearly trying to model practicing politics in a new and different way. You wouldn't have had many male leaders of parties taking meetings with their daughter in their hand. I think you're breaking gender stereotypes there. I think you're also modeling really interesting intergenerational dynamics. And so I wanted to say thank you for that and as we go and we try and encourage more and more politicians to bring that generational fairness lens into the world of politics and budgeting. And we have been asking our politicians like, Hey, post this Gen Fairness champions pledge on our, you know, your social media. You know, is that something as you've been considering, does that seem useful and safe for you to do as a political leader going forward?

Jagmeet Singh (39:35):

Yeah, the, the pledge has, it has a vast majority of things. We, I agree with strongly and, and we have a bit of nuance around the idea of deficits. But I, I understand and believe in support the thrust of the idea that, that there is a burden that we're leaving to the next generation. We've gotta be very aware of that. So I, I think it is very illustrative of providing an emphasis on something that probably gets ignored and doesn't really get a lot of attention. And so I would be happy to share the work that you're doing and let folks see it and understand it because I think it's very relevant to, to politicians and it should inform the decisions we make. Now we really need to put that in mind. And I forgot to mention Angie, you talked about this idea that it gives you some solace knowing that there's other folks kind of thinking about how we care about each other and how we look after people that we may not know.


 Part of why I care so much about it, I I share the story about Pierogis. When I was a university student, things were a little bit uncertain. So my, my dad lost his work and my mom called me and said, you've gotta take care of your brother on your own now. And I went out and panicked and got a bunch of jobs and I had to take care of my 15 year old brother and I was a 20 year old university student, so I was feeling a lot of pressure. And I remember my brother was gonna high school, I, I got him into the school and helped him sign up for his courses, helped him with his homework and sometimes did his homework for him. But I, I remember one of his friend's mom would just ask like, where are you going? Where are you hanging out?


And kind of figured out, oh, that his friend was living with his older brother and he's like, oh, how old is his brother? And he's like 20. So she figured out the two younger boys living together, there's something going on. So she would send food. I didn't ask her for the food, I never mentioned it. She would just send food home and she would just ask dietary wise. And he, he knew that we were vegetarian so he said vegetarian. So she sent home buckets of pierogis and I literally mean buy, like they would fill up our freezer. And I remember having to cook for my brother, a teenager not like, not knowing how to cook for him cause he was always hungry and I could never refill him. And then him always asking what's for dinner? And I'm like, I just cooked you dinner. And I'm like, have oh, cook something more.


And I remember once we got this bucket of pro's, my brother would ask What's for dinner? And I'd say, oh, it's, you know, it's for dinner, we're eating pro's tonight. Got real creative with how to make pro's interesting every evening meal. But that, that mom who sent home that food did not know me, had never met me, was just like, her son is gonna visit a friend that lives with a brother and they probably were as two boys maybe stereotypically are gonna be hungry. And that that genuine kindness and generosity meant the difference between us eating well some weeks and not because I was getting by in a minimum wage and it was so struggle. Like I was barely getting by sometimes. So just, I'm not here because of my own hard work. I'm here because of the generosity of strangers. I'm here because of the fact that I could've afforded to go to law school and I couldn't have afforded if the exact same struggles were going on in my family 10 years later, I just wouldn't have gone to law school.


It would've been prohibitively expensive. So I'm, I'm only here because people had made decisions. They made it so that I was able to do the things that I've been able to do. And so I really want us to make those same decisions for the next, you know, a young Jagmeet growing up or a young Angie growing up, or young Paul growing up that may not have this, may not have had the same opportunities I had, but for the fact there was so much generosity and people that helped me out along the way. I wanna pay it forward in the same way. And so I think it's a really beautiful concept and I'm only here because of that, but I see so much less fairness now that so many kids are probably falling through the cracks and not able to get by and I wanna do my part to change that.

Angie Chan (43:02):

Wow. Thank you so much Mr. Singh. I wish we had another hour cuz I would love to break that down and talk about some other wonderful themes. But it's probably best if we close off here on that, on that beautiful note.

Jagmeet Singh (43:15):

Thank you Angie. Thank you Paul.

Paul Kershaw (43:16):

Thank you Mr. Singh so much for making the time.

Jagmeet Singh (43:18):

Thank you.

Angie Chan (43:21):

Well that wraps up this episode and man, I'm gonna be thinking about it for many weeks to come. I think for all of you, thank you for joining and if you'd like to see more, go to gen for show notes. Also, we just started to post videos of our interviews, so please check out Gen Squeeze on YouTube where you'll get to see Mr. Singh and his impressive library. See you next time.


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