Election candidates respond to questions

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The Driftwood posed three questions to the six candidates running in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding in the Sept. 20 federal election. Their answers are below.

Sabina SinghNew Democratic Party
sabinasingh.ndp.ca/

Q. What do you believe are the two most urgent issues requiring federal government attention at this time, and why?  

 A. Climate justice and social justice. I know there can’t be one without the other. That’s why I am standing for bold climate action that builds on the leadership of First Nations and creates good green jobs to support families and communities. Our plan is comprehensive and will address both the affordability issues that are holding us back and the climate emergency that threatens our children’s future. Jack Layton presented the first Climate Change Accountability Act in 2006, and we have built on that work ever since. We will introduce an Environmental Bill of Rights and create and fund a Climate Accountability Office, to provide independent oversight of federal climate progress. 

Q. Describe one of your party’s platform policies that you are particularly happy to promote.  

A. We will create a 10-year nature plan to reverse species loss and curb the trade of wild animals. We will protect our waters by reducing emissions, expanding marine protected areas, reducing key threats to ocean ecosystems, and implementing a national freshwater strategy. We will support Indigenous-led nature conservation, land-use and climate planning, including by growing the Indigenous Guardians Program and working together to advance the protection and restoration of wild Pacific salmon. 

  Q. How do you feel the Liberal government has handled the pandemic response? What would be the same and what would be different about your party’s response?  

A. Justin Trudeau promised to have a national vaccine passport by the end of October. Now he says it may not be in place for a full year. Like so much else it’s taking too long. We will create a passport that allows Canadians to travel internationally, and mandate vaccination leave for federal workers.

We would make it a Criminal Code offence to harass or obstruct someone from accessing medical care and amend the Criminal Code to make it a more serious offence to assault a health-care worker.   

We’d also create workplace vaccine clinics, so access is convenient, support school-based vaccination programs, restore the Canada Recovery Benefit to $2,000 and extend pandemic support for workers and small businesses.

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Elizabeth May – Green Party of Canada
https://elizabethmay.ca/

Q. What do you believe are the two most urgent issues requiring federal government attention at this time, and why?

A. The climate emergency and handling the COVID pandemic, as well as post-COVID recovery. The “why” is that we are running out of time to avert catastrophic climate change. The most recent IPCC report, dubbed “Code Red for Humanity,” should have galvanized all parties to put climate at the top of the agenda. Ideally, post-COVID recovery is aligned to the transition away from fossil fuels and the enormous economic opportunity it represents.

Q. Describe one of your party’s platform policies that you are particularly happy to promote.

A. Greens have the strongest climate plan and policy of any party. We are the only party to fully recognize that we are in a climate emergency and take the steps necessary to avoid unstoppable, self-accelerating global warming. We must reduce GHG by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. One critical key to global progress has been recognized by Greens, and no one else. That is to take on directly the obstacles to climate action created by the World Trade Organization. Our platform calls for the creation of a revamped World Trade and Climate Organization to ensure that trade is consistent with a global carbon budget.

Q. How do you feel the Liberal government has handled the pandemic response? What would be the same and what would be different about your party’s response?

A. More than a Liberal government effort, my sense of the response is that it was an inspiring non-partisan effort. Parliament acted as Team Canada. All the bills passed between March and September 2020, a total of $80 billion in emergency relief, from CERB to CEWS and various patches, business loans and other programmes, were passed unanimously. The mechanism of unanimous consent meant that any one MP could have, at any point, called out “nay” and stopped one or another element of the COVID response measures. I wish all Canadians could have heard the phone calls I had with key ministers, the emergency briefings and the fortnightly meetings between the four opposition parties and the Minister of Finance. I especially wish that partisanship had not reared its ugly head. The pandemic parliament worked well by focusing on Canadians’ health and working round the clock to help.

Greens would have ensured greater collaboration and coordination between the federal government and all provincial/territorial health officers.

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David HildermanPeople’s Party of Canada 
peoplespartyofcanada.ca/david_hilderman

Q. What do you believe are the two most urgent issues requiring federal government attention at this time, and why? 

A. The federal government should be upholding the constitution and be on the side of personal bodily sovereignty. Medical freedom is of the utmost importance and medical information should remain private. This election is quite literally the last chance for freedom in Canada. 

Also, the federal government needs to stop out-of-control spending. During the pandemic, Canada borrowed the most as a percentage of GDP of any nation in the G7 and is still spending and borrowing like a drunken sailor. Income assistance being doled out by the federal government is creating a workforce shortage and needs to end along with all lockdown measures.

Q. Describe one of your party’s platform policies that you are particularly happy to promote. 

A. Freedom. A woman sent me an email who left Poland 35 years ago. She is terrified. What she sees happening in Canada with dividing us over vaccination status as eerily similar to Poland’s history. It took 50 years to end the tyranny in Poland. We need to end the tyranny now. 

Q. How do you feel the Liberal government has handled the pandemic response? What would be the same and what would be different about your party’s response? 

A. I think the Liberal response has been nothing short of disastrous. If we had followed the science from the Great Barrington Declaration, which thoroughly described best practices for pandemic response, that would have protected the vulnerable and caused minimal harm to the rest of the population. We would have promoted early disease treatments that have been effective in other countries to drastically reduce hospitalizations and death. We would not have allowed censorship of doctors and medical researchers. Mental, physical, and economic health outcomes would have been much better for Canadians.

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David BuschConservative Party of Canada
davidbusch.ca/

Q. What do you believe are the two most urgent issues requiring federal government attention at this time, and why?  

A. The cost of living: The cost for food, transportation and housing are rapidly rising out of reach for many Canadians.  The housing supply locally is insufficient to meet the demands of our growing population with the benchmark price for a single family home now exceeding $1,000,000.

Health care: Far too many residents in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands do not have a family doctor.  Wait times for medical testing, and procedures are unreasonably long.  Recently the Saanich Peninsula hospital had to close its ER overnight to due a lack of staff.  Meanwhile Salt Spring is unable to recruit and retain needed health-care professionals for Lady Minto Hospital.

Economic recovery after the pandemic: We, as a country, need to get back to work and be as productive and creative as possible both to support ourselves and our families and to help to pay back the debt individuals and the country have incurred during the  pandemic.

Q. Describe one of your party’s platform policies that you are particularly happy to promote.

A. I am proud of our whole plan, which can be read at www.conservative.ca/plan/

Q. How do you feel the Liberal government has handled the pandemic response? What would be the same and what would be different about your party’s response?  

A. While the Liberal government obtained vaccines, they arrived well after other developed countries. Our current high vaccination rate is a tribute to our provincial health officers and the drive of Canadians.

The Trudeau Liberals failed to provide leadership on this issue. They refused to listen in January of 2020 when the Conservatives, NDP and the Bloc called for the borders to be closed. Likewise the Liberals saying in April of 2020 that masks were of no value did nothing to instill trust in the medical system.

A Conservative government would not have partnered with China for a vaccine. We would have negotiated with reputable pharmaceutical companies first to obtain vaccines in a timely manner.  A Conservative government would have worked with the provinces to provide all available information and ensure it was public so as to minimize fear and address the concerns of those reluctant to be vaccinated.

Finally, a Conservative government would not have called an election when the health officers were warning of a fourth wave, needlessly risking Canadian lives.

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Dock CurrieCommunist Party of Canada

votecommunist.com/saanich-gulf-islands-dock-currie/

Q. What do you believe are the two most urgent issues requiring federal government attention at this time, and why?  

A. The most urgent issues facing our society right now are the climate crisis and the housing crisis. Young people, working people, Indigenous people, vulnerable and marginalized people are living increasingly precarious, anxious, impoverished lives because of the unavailability and exorbitant expense of housing, and because of the looming threat of rapid anthropogenic climate change and catastrophic weather events. The Communist Party of Canada promotes the building of publicly owned, social housing, with rent geared to income such that no one need spend more than twenty per cent of their income on housing, and promotes the nationalization of the energy industry such as to rapidly transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Q. Describe one of your party’s platform policies that you are particularly happy to promote.  

A. The Communist Party of Canada promotes public ownership and democratic control over critical sectors of the economy, from energy, to finance, to telecommunications. The NDP has abandoned its normative commitment to public ownership, and their spending commitments in effect hand over public money to private interests to achieve desired ends, exactly as the Liberals do. Public investment is good, but what is required is a fundamental transformation of production, exchange, communication and distribution in our society from being oriented around the ends of private profit to being oriented around the achievement of definite, determinate, social, political, and ecological needs.

  Q. How do you feel the Liberal government has handled the pandemic response? What would be the same and what would be different about your party’s response?  

A. The pandemic took us all by surprise and dealing with it in government was a tremendous challenge. Nevertheless, our party critiques the lopsidedly pro-capitalist and imperialist elements of the Liberals’ response. First, Canada was, shamefully, the only G7 nation to raid the COVAX reserve, intended for use by the global south, and failed to make its contributions to COVAX in a timely manner. Second, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy amounts to a permanent and ongoing no-strings-attached public subsidization of the private economy, which has been paid out in huge dividends to wealthy shareholders. And, third, handing over $5.4 billion of public money to Air Canada, a private company, without making that bailout contingent on a public equity stake in the company, is perfectly representative of how the Liberals work for their wealthy donors, not everyday Canadians.

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Sherri Moore-Arbour

sherrimoorearbour.liberal.ca

Q. What do you believe are the two most urgent issues requiring federal government attention at this time, and why?

A. The two most urgent issues are climate change and continuing to support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q. Describe one of your party’s platform policies that you are particularly happy to promote.

A. We know that climate change is now the overriding environmental issue facing our communities and our planet.

Page 42 of the Liberal Platform includes a report card on key actions to fight climate change the Liberal government implemented since 2015. Two key actions we have taken include:

• In December 2020, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced our Liberal government’s new Strengthened Climate Plan for a Healthy Environment and Healthy Economy, including 64 new measures and supported by an initial $15 billion in investments to help build a better future.

• With a national price on carbon (rising to $170 per tonne by 2030) and other measures, we will cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is an increase from our previous pledge to cut emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

• In June, the Liberal government passed the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Bill C-12), to set legally binding emissions targets to reach net-zero emissions in 2050. Bill C-12 improves transparency and consistency on climate action and will enable Canadians to hold the federal government to account for meeting emissions reduction targets. Most of the leading environmental organizations in Canada, Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University, Andrew Weaver and others endorsed this legislation. 

Q. How do you feel the Liberal government has handled the pandemic response? What would be the same and what would be different about your party’s response?

A. When the pandemic began, our Liberal team quickly procured vaccines to keep Canadians safe and healthy. We provided support to the provinces and territories, and to all Canadians to ensure they have access to strong public health leadership, supplies and funding to support health services. 

Thanks to the hard work of Canadians, we’re among the top countries in the world for COVID-19 vaccinations. Canadians want to finish the fight against COVID. They want to send their kids back to school knowing they’ll be safe. They want to visit loved ones and take vacations, and our small businesses and our communities want to get back to normal.

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