The 155 Podcast: Hamilton Mountain NDP Candidate Malcolm Allen

Joey Coleman

Hamilton Mountain NDP Candidate Malcolm Allen

Malcolm Allen wants to address affordability, improve health care, serve the residents of Hamilton Mountain and continue the legacy of service of recent NDP MPs Scott Duvall and Chris Charlton. This is why he is running to be Hamilton Mountain’s next Member of Parliament.

Listen to the full podcast interview below:

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Transcript

Joey Coleman
Welcome to the 155 Podcast. I’m sitting today with Malcolm Allen who is running for the NDP, here on Hamilton mountain. We are on a patio here in beautiful Concession Street, the background noise, you can hear some passing traffic. And Malcolm, thank you for joining us today.

Malcolm Allen
My pleasure. You’re right about the background noise. And the interesting thing about that is, folks, you’re actually getting back out in the street, which is a good thing to see, especially for the businesses here on Concession Street.

Joey Coleman
It really has grown into a beautiful food district in the last couple of years. First time I’ve been up here in a while and I’m thinking wow, I got to come up here more often. The first question I have, and I think everybody does is

Joey Coleman
Who is Malcolm Allen?

Malcolm Allen
Malcolm Allen is a Scotsman by birth. I grew up in Glasgow in a working-class neighbourhood came here as a kid, I was 10. When I came here, my father came to build ships, initially in Collingwood and then in St. Catharines.

Malcolm Allen
I studied history and political science at university here locally in Ontario and the University of Alberta. I’m an industrial electrician by trade. I spent 30 some odd years at General Motors in St. Catharines. I was an elected union official for about 20 years, full time, representing trades workers. Eight years as the financial officer.

Malcolm Allen
I have a lot of experience advocating on behalf of workers when it comes to Employment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation and in a number of insurance issues. I was a municipal councillor for a period of time, almost five years, and I was the MP for what Welland and then became Niagara Center, which is basically Port Colbourne, Welland, Thorold, Wainfleet, at that time, and part of the south part of St. Catharines, for seven years.

Malcolm Allen
I was the agriculture critic in the Official Opposition, In the big win in 2011 under Jack Layton.

Malcolm Allen
Unfortunately, Jack, as many of us know, suddenly died just after that election.

Malcolm Allen
And of course, Tom Mulcair was the leader after that, and that election. And in 2015, in the Liberal sweep, was swept away.

Malcolm Allen
That’s kind of some of the stuff I’ve been doing and then some of the things that I’ve been involved in over the years.

Malcolm Allen
I’m presently still on the board of directors of a housing corporation called Gateway. Which is in the Niagara Peninsula. It has a number of places that we use for, basically, it is for hard to house, folks. And I’ve been on that for a number of years now, doing a great job and making sure that folks actually have a place to live.

Joey Coleman
And why are you running for MP here in the Hamilton Mountain riding?

Malcolm Allen
This riding is very similar to where I lived, and I don’t live in Welland anymore. I did have a place in Welland. I sold it a while ago.

Malcolm Allen
I decided I wanted to get back into politics and I made a decision that, you know, when I was looking that Hamilton Mountain was a favourable place in the sense of – it was like where I came from before. Very much sort of working-class neighbourhoods, folks who have worked hard, a lot of retirees, a lot of steelworkers. I have a lot of friends up here. It kind of seemed like a natural fit. And I got a place here now. And I intend to go forward to make this place that I live.

Malcolm Allen
I understand people asking that question, you know, the sense of, well, you don’t live here, well, I do live here now, I have a place here now. And eventually, I will be here all the time, in the sense of I will sell my other property. It was the family home, out in Fenwick and then come here full time. And as far as actually residing in Hamilton, or at least on the Mountain.

Joey Coleman
Well, you have taken the next question that I was going to ask, so I’ll rephrase it slightly, which is you’re being labelled a parachute candidate by some people. You come to my door, and I say to you, well, I’ve heard your parachute candidate. How do you respond to that?

Malcolm Allen
Well, that’s a political term, right. I mean, it’s bandied about usually by your opponents. But it really is about working on behalf of folks that you represent. I’ve done that for the best part of 30 years, whether it be at the political level, it be at the union level, I have lots of experience doing that. And it’s about working on behalf of those folks you represent.

Malcolm Allen
So when I come to your door, and you say, well, I hear you are a parachute candidate, all I can tell folks is I’m going to be working on behalf of you. I am not working on behalf of anyone else, we’re going on behalf of the folks in Hamilton Mountain. That’s what they deserve. And that’s what I intend to provide.

Joey Coleman
And let’s turn to some issues. I want to ask you, what would you say are two key issues locally that you’re running on?

Malcolm Allen
Well, surely affordability which takes on kind of two parts, if you will.

Malcolm Allen
One is affordability to find a place. I know that firsthand, as someone over the last little while, who in the last number of months during the summer, was looking for a place and I found one. So I know all about the issues of affordability firsthand.

Malcolm Allen
That’s critical, folks. And when you look at especially in the rental market, folks who’ve been priced right out of the market, folks who’ve been evicted for no reason other than folks actually want to boost the rents up or gentrify some areas, as they say, put some lipstick on perhaps something and charge more.

Malcolm Allen
It really is been very difficult for folks. Affordability in housing is really, really hard for a lot of folks, and affordability in general. People’s wages have not kept up, we’ve seen how they’ve fallen behind. Part of that is if you look across Hamilton, you look across Ontario, the demanufacturing that’s happened over a longer period of time, good-paying jobs went way, we need them to come back.

Malcolm Allen
We need to make this a place where folks can get a decent job, something with benefits, hopefully with a pension, hopefully unionized, and eventually can raise a family and stay in the place that perhaps they grew up in, perhaps they move to because they want, like I, want to come here, but want to have the choice and aren’t driven away because they can’t afford to live here.

Malcolm Allen
And so those are the two big pieces I see here. It’s across the country, to be honest. But here right on the Mountain itself, folks that I’ve spoken to so far, many of them have said, You know, I gotta think about maybe I can’t stay here anymore, because I can’t afford it. And that’s upsetting because in some cases, they’ve been here all their life, and they don’t want to go, they actually want to stay. And so we need to find a way to make sure that that that can happen.

Joey Coleman
So let’s dive a little deeper into those issues. You mentioned rentals, for example, and rental regulations are at a provincial level. So I’m curious, what role do you see for the federal government in addressing rental affordability,

Malcolm Allen
it’s about putting stock on the market and affordable units. I mean, the Feds got out of the rental housing market a long time ago, and have just sort of started to creep back in with their 10-year plan.

Malcolm Allen
We can’t wait for a 10-year plan. The crisis is here. And it’s now it’s been happening for a while.

Malcolm Allen
It’s recognizable to anyone who’s looking. Lots of agencies are talking about it right here in Hamilton, folks, or you know, the ACORN group we spoke to the other day, the other folks who are advocating on behalf of folks who are looking to rent and affordability, social agencies are decrying the fact if they’ve got folks who basically don’t have places to live.

Malcolm Allen
And so the feds need to step up now, the money needs to come faster. Units need to come on the market sooner, they need to be affordable units. That helps put pressure on landlords not driving the rents up when there’s other units available to folks to actually take it affordable level. So that’s where the feds can actually make a major impact in the rental market.

Joey Coleman
What would you say are two national issues that are key that you’re running on?

Malcolm Allen
Well, healthcare is our was the big one. And healthcare breaks into a number of components. And clearly, we’ve been pushing for pharmacare for all. Unfortunately, it gets passed, you know, the motion passes in the house. And then nothing happens.

Malcolm Allen
I mean, the Liberal government hired Dr. Hoskins who was the Minister of Health here in this province under the Liberal government provincially. The federal government, the federal Liberals hire him to do a study, he does a study recommending pharmacare, and they ignore it.

Malcolm Allen
It’s clear, many folks no longer have that protection that they maybe once had with their employer. Pharmacare usually comes with an employer benefit. Many employers are no longer offering it. Many employers that folks work for no longer employ them, because they’ve laid them off. And so that’s a huge issue for folks and a huge issue for us going forward. And that is a federal issue. Yes, we’ll need to negotiate it, the province will implement it. But the feds will fund it as many programs the federal government does. We don’t necessarily run them. But what we do is we fund them, but we can’t fund them temporarily. We can’t dangle a carrot and say, well, we’ll do it for a couple of years. It has to be that folks understand long term.

Malcolm Allen
The other funding issue clearly is the Canada Health Act. It started out as a 50/50 proposition, no longer 50/50 the feds under Paul Martin’s regime in the 90s gutted the federal transfers for health care. And that’s why we see the issues we see in this province, specifically here on the Mountain and where you can’t get the services you deserve because the funding was never there.

Malcolm Allen
I spoke to a young nurse the other night on the doorstep. She works down in the city, talking about understaffing. She said it’s not about the work, I love it. She said it’s about the fact that you know, we’re run out for feet because there’s not enough staff. The reason there’s not enough staff is because of underfunding the feds need to get back in the game. We’ve talked about it as a party that we will make sure the appropriate funding is there. And so we will forward and we will make sure that pharmacare is a national program across this country.

Joey Coleman
What would you say are three words that best describe you?

Malcolm Allen
So humility, honesty and integrity are three words that I think describe myself.

Malcolm Allen
Especially someone who’s been in public service for all the best part of 25 almost 30 years. In my Union as a full-time rep. Obviously, as a municipal representative and as a federal MP, and it really is about making sure that when you say things to folks that they believe what you’re going to say, and the only way that they’ll believe you is you, you have integrity, and you are honest. And humility comes from the fact you have to listen to folks. You don’t have all the best ideas. Often they have much better ideas, and you have to be prepared to listen. Listening is hard. Sometimes, you have to work hard at that to make sure you’re listening to the folks that are you out.

Joey Coleman
The last question is, you’re at my door, and I asked you why should I vote for you? What’s the answer?

Malcolm Allen
I think it’s twofold. One is New Democrats, you’re actually working on behalf of you kind of a bit of a slogan, right.

Malcolm Allen
We’re working for you. Well, that’s true. I’ve done it in the past, did it then I can do it now have the experience. So on day one, after the election, I’m hitting the ground running, knowing what I’m doing. There is a steep learning curve to it. I know that from 2008 from my first election when I was first elected, but I don’t have that learning curve. I’m the person who’s actually going to continue the legacy here in Hamilton Mountain, Chris Charlton and Scott Duvall and working hard to represent the good folks to the mountain because that’s what I’m really all about is advocacy and working hard on behalf of regular constituents right across the right across the Mountain.

Joey Coleman
Thank you for your time today. I very much enjoyed it, best of luck during the campaign. And hopefully, we’ll get back to you before election day for a follow-up.

Malcolm Allen
And I appreciate that. Thank you for your time and it was enjoyable being on the podcast.

Joey Coleman
Thank you

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