Interview: Filomena Tassi - Liberal Party
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As the Liberal candidate in the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas riding, Filomena Tassi believes that her party is best prepared to meet the needs of students on campus.
When asked about the work that best exemplifies the type of role she would embody as an MP, she highlighted her work as a chaplain over the past 20 years in Ancaster’s Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School.
“In that role, I’ve had the opportunity to work with youth hand-in-hand throughout many difficult challenges. We’ve dealt with things like suicide, criminal charges, loss of a loved one … I’ve been able to see the resilience of our youth, and their sense of justice,” said Tassi.
Tassi believes that her experience with youth over her past twenty years has uniquely equipped her to manage and understand the issues that students have at McMaster.
Tassi also cited several of the campaign promises made by the Liberal party that have been targeted for students, including the plan to create a Prime Minister’s youth advisory council, which will consist of a non-partisan group of young people whose ages will range from 16 to 24.
However, one of the main pillars that the Liberal party is relying on for student support is the promise to push all repayment requirements for student loans until after a graduate is earning a minimum income of $25,000. This is in contrast with the NDP promise to phase out interest on student loans over the next seven years.
“We recognize that student debt can be crippling . . . I have two children now, who are in university, so I’m experiencing it first-hand,” she said.
Tassi also explained the Liberals’ goal of increasing the maximum Canada Student Grant to $3,000 for full-time, low-income students, and $1,800 for part-time, low-income students.
“They’re saying the average student debt is $26,000. This is why we want to work with students to try and ensure that the cost of going to school is lowered, and that when they graduate they won’t have to repay [right away],” Tassi said.
The Liberal party has promised a $1.3 billion three-year plan that, amongst a suite of various initiatives, will invest $300 million annually for creating 40,000 new youth jobs and 5,000 youth green jobs each year, as well as an annual $40 million to help employers create new co-op placements for students in science, technology and business programs.
“We’re just trying to bridge the gap from education to work,” she explained. “The real difference in our plan is that it offers fairness to the middle-class and those trying to get there, and job creation through investing now.”
While Tassi has dealt with some controversy after describing herself as a “pro-life” individual in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator last year, she is planning on supporting the party’s position on abortion if elected as MP.
“My position is this: a woman has a right to choose — that’s based on the Charter — and I will not vote against that right,” she explained.
“I’m a believer in the Charter . . . and secondly, in the separation of church and state. As an MP, my role is to represent the people, and that’s all of the people.”