On September 20, Canada goes to the polls to elect the next government of Canada. The Mission Record contacted all five candidates in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding and asked them to answer the following three questions:
1. Dire warnings about the future of the planet continue to be made by environmental scientists. Canada currently ranks 58th in the world in the Climate Change Performance Index – and is far behind its obligations set in the Paris Accords.
What is your position on these obligations? How do you feel your party’s platform is best equipped to address climate change?
2. Young Canadians often view home ownership as a pipe dream. According to monthly data released by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, the average July sale price of a property increased over 20 per cent since July prices last year. The national parties have made promises to help ease the cost of housing, what solutions does your party offer that the others don’t?
3. Economic priorities – and where to funnel federal monies – often provides the clearest picture of what divides Canada’s national parties. Where should Canada be focused when it comes to the economy? What are your biggest fears about the current, or alternative, economic trajectories, should another party win the election?
Read the answers below:
1. I have been researching what is now the Climate Emergency since I was taking a course in 2007 on the History of Environmentalism in North America at the University of the Fraser Valley and viewed An Inconvenient Truth documentary. For the past nine years I have been involved in making submissions to the National Energy Board (NEB) on behalf of PIPE UP Network in opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
One significant gap in those hearings was the refusal of the NEB to examine the impact 530,000 barrels per day of heavy crude (diluted bitumen) will have on the increase of CO2 from downstream use such as burning to create electricity in China and Asia.
The Trudeau government made Canada’s commitment to Net Zero by 2050 in Paris Nov. 2016. In spite of that obligation the Trudeau government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. To make the reduction of CO2 less likely is the $18 Billion of public funds that the Liberals and the Conservatives before them subsidize the already profitable, mostly foreign owned oil and gas industry. That does not include the $20 Billion that the Trans Mountain expansion construction will cost the taxpayers.
Jagmeet Singh and the NDP are opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion due to its impact on our air, land and water. In fact, NDP candidates pledge “to commit to do everything in my power to respond to the climate emergency with the urgency it demands.” That means stopping all subsidies to oil, gas and pipeline corporations and stopping the Trans Mountain expansion. We will also enact Just Transition legislation to support workers and communities, especially Indigenous and remote communities as we move towards a 100% renewable energy future.
2. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have a plan for 1.7 million homes which adds to our plan to take big money out of housing by:
• Building 500,000 new homes families can afford.
• Keeping wealthy speculators out of the housing market.
• Cracking down on house flipping and other activities that drive up house prices.
• Helping families buy their first home.
• Protecting affordable rental properties and taking steps to make rent more affordable.
A significant barrier for many young Canadians is the amount of student debt they accumulated in order to have an income that can sustain a mortgage. Jagmeet Singh and the NDP will eliminate interest on student loans that amounted to billions under Liberal and Conservative governments. There are steps we can take to make education more affordable right now. Five provinces have already shown leadership in eliminating interest rates on student loans. It’s time for the federal government to do the same and stop proﬁting from student debt.
New Democrats will remove interest from federal student loans, and to help lift the debt burden from young people starting out, we will introduce a targeted debt forgiveness program for graduates that will forgive up to $20,000 in student debt. In the first year alone, this will wipe out 20% of all student debt and help 350,000 borrowers save money every month.
3. First off the gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest must be narrowed. The post COVID-19 economy depends on a low carbon future. Our plan will cut greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as it will create good, family sustaining jobs in every part of the country. It will clean up our environment and make sure that the water, air and land are protected from catastrophic climate change.
It will create opportunity for today, and security for generations to come. And it will ensure that the rewards of our prosperity go to ordinary people working hard to build a better future, not to big polluters. A Just Transition means jobs in energy efficiency retrofits, affordable housing, renewable energy, infrastructure, transit, child care and more will lift up every part of the country and give families hope for the future.
This job-creation plan will be paired with new access to training and education for the low carbon future, and targeted support for impacted workers, families and communities so that the changing economy works for them. With New Democrats, no one will be left behind and there will be new opportunities in every part of the country.
My worst fear if another party wins the election is that there is little hope for the needed change. Large profitable corporations will be supported while the largest employers of Canadians – small businesses will struggle to keep their heads above water.