Federal Election 2015 Questions #2 & #3 for the North Okanagan – Shuswap candidates …

Question #2

What are the important riding-specific issues that you will champion and how will you do so? No boilerplate party talking points please just your local thoughts on local issues

Question #3:

What is your vision for Canada?

Candidates are sent the questions a week in advance and are sent a reminder a few days before the deadline as  I understand that this is a busy time for them.  Late submissions will be posted up and noted as such – as will “no responses”. The next set of questions – for next week – has been sent to the candidates as well.

Lots of readers’ questions have been coming in but there’s still room for more. Your questions should be geared to all of the candidates and not just for one of them. Click here for the criteria and how to submit that burning question for the candidates to Aim High.

Candidate Responses are  posted in the order received: Cindy Derkaz, Chris George, Mel Arnold and Jacqui Gingras

* Note: Post updated to reflect Jacqui Gingras’ responses

Here’s the very helpful  link – for those doing their research – to the Index of previous Q&A’s for the North Okanagan – Shuswap candidates.

Cindy Derkaz (Liberal Party):

Question #2

What are the important riding-specific issues that you will champion and how will you do so? No boilerplate party talking points please just your local thoughts on local issues.

We have been knocking on doors and phoning registered voters throughout this riding since January with close to 15000 attempted contacts already. I have heard over and over again that the main issues for voters here, as in other parts of Canada, are: 1. the local economy and local jobs; 2. the environment, especially protection for the lakes, drinking water and fish; and 3. effective representation in Ottawa. There is a general sentiment that we are not being heard in Ottawa; rather we just hear about Ottawa here.  

1. Local economy and jobs –

We need jobs that pay fair wages so that we can keep our young people in our small communities rather than having them head off to Ft. McMurray or Ft. St. John where high paying jobs are subject to the vagaries of  volatile resource markets.

I would champion our region’s potential in:

  • Agriculture – senior governments have focused on the issues surrounding large industrial agriculture, often at the expense of smaller farms and ranches. In the North Okanagan Shuswap, we have many small scale producers of high-quality products including fruit, vegetables and meat. We have the potential to be known throughout Canada and beyond as the “go-to” region for local food products with a spin-off on tourism. Okanagan College is already engaged in developing a program in agricultural studies in the Shuswap.

 I would consult with and work with producers and groups involved in agriculture and land use including young agrarians, First Nations, Food Action societies/co-ops, Okanagan College, municipalities and the provincial government to build our agricultural base.

  • Innovation and clean technology – the North Okanagan Shuswap is a wonderfully livable area where housing costs are still more affordable for workers than in many urban centers. There has already been a significant investment in telecommunications (fiber optics) in the riding. I would support education incentives to encourage innovation in a variety of disciplines which will lead to spin-off businesses in our communities. And I will work to improve our Canada student loan and grant system, so that inadequate finances are not a barrier to education and training.
  • Small and medium sized manufacturing – businesses need the right business climate and infrastructure to grow. While bringing new business to the region is a goal, we should be championing our existing businesses. We need to repair and invest in infrastructure including highways in order to safely and efficiently move goods.

Mr. Trudeau announced on Thursday that a Liberal government would make a historic investment in infrastructure in each of the next 10 years. Infrastructure funds will be available under bi-lateral agreements with the provinces and territories, similar to those created for the successful gas tax transfer to cities and communities.

With that announcement there is a tremendous opportunity for both well paying jobs and investment in local infrastructure, both of which will help grow the local economy. . I will work to bring federal infrastructure dollars to the riding.

For more information on Real Change Infrastructure Investment Plan, please go to: https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/08/An-historic-investment-plan.pdf

2. The Environment –

As many readers will know, I have been a champion of local environmental issues over the years, particularly in respect to the protection of Shuswap Lake and fish habitat. Mr. Harper’s amendments to the1985 Fisheries Act and elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act have weakened environmental protection. These changes directly impact our lakes and water resources in North Okanagan Shuswap.

Mr. Trudeau has announced that a Liberal government will conduct a wholesale review of the changes and restore lost protections and incorporate more modern safeguards.

 As MP, I would continue to speak up for protection of our lakes and water resources as well as other environmental protection.

For more information on Real Change Plan for Canada’s Environment and Economy, please go to: https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/08/A-new-plan-for-Canadas-environment-and-economy.pdf

3. Effective Representation –

We need an effective advocate for the North Okanagan Shuswap in Ottawa.

When I entered first year law at UBC, I started volunteering one night a week a t a free legal clinic operating out of Frog Hollow Community Office in East Vancouver (of course, under the supervision of qualified lawyers!). Thus began 40 years of helping people and community groups find their way through legal issues and   bureaucracy. As a member of administrative tribunals in BC (including the Environmental Appeal Board), I have decided many cases involving statutory interpretation of federal and provincial legislation. These skills will help me greatly in the job of MP.

I will be a fair minded and effective advocate for our riding in Ottawa.

Question #3:

What is your vision for Canada?

My vision for Canada is a country:

  • in which people live their lives with optimism and openness, not fear.
  • in which all segments of society are treated fairly and with respect;
  • that embraces its diversity;
  • that has a full partnership with Indigenous Peoples;
  • with the international reputation and respect we once had as a trustworthy middle power. We fought side by side with our allies when needed and were highly respected as peacekeepers when that was the most appropriate role. We must be aware of the changing and challenging dynamics or terrorism and do our part to combat that, but our efforts must be balanced with respect for our citizens’ personal freedoms.
  • .that participates in international efforts to deal with climate change.

I believe that we can have a better Canada. That is why I am running for change. CindyDERKAZ.ca

Chris George (Green Party):

Question #2

What are the important riding-specific issues that you will champion and how will you do so? No boilerplate party talking points please just your local thoughts on local issues.

Our riding is a small business riding. Family farms, ranches, dairy and poultry operations in the rural half are complemented by the myriad of products and services available from small businesses in our urban communities. The Small Business Assessment Act, introduced near the end of the last parliament by Elizabeth May and Bruce Hyer would require a public process to examine any legislation, including trade deals, that would have a material impact on the fortunes of the small businesses that form the core of our communities. Supporting local food initiatives is another important part of our economic focus. Family farms provide livlihoods, but they also provide food security and add resilience to our communities. Local food has a smaller carbon footprint and in many cases is healthier for people and planet. The Green plan to support building retrofits will allow many of our families to be reunited with their breadwinner. Having to travel to an industrial sacrifice zone for work does little to promote the family and community values that we all rely on for stability. Bringing these skilled people home to their families for good paying work in our communities helps us meet important social and economic goals.

The current crop of trade deals being so assidiously pursued by the Conservatives *may* be advantageous for small business in this country. The results of NAFTA say otherwise, but new trade deals may be beneficial. Investor/State dispute mechanisms, however, are simply designed to trade our sovereignty as a nation state away to multinational corporations in exchange for their capital investments in our economy. The truth is that they need our resources and our investment opportunities more than we need their capital. Corporate Canada is sitting on over $600 billion in capital that is currently at play in the casino that our financial markets are increasingly resembling. A government that is willing to create an investment climate that will pay greater rewards for investments in the real physical world can change that. Until that money is converted into productive investments it is dead to our economy.

We live in a relatively poor riding. Our median family income is $64,039, $10,100 below the BC number and $12,500 under the Canadian. Poverty and the issues surrounding it, like health care provisioning and expense, seniors housing and care, and the need for affordable housing for everyone are issues that have an especially local bite. Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) is an initiative that will address the poverty in our communities, while reducing the financial burden on the taxpayer. A recent Globe and Mail article, using numbers from the Fraser Institute, points out that our current approach to poverty could be costing us upwards of $185 billion dollars a year at all levels of government in this country. Compare this to the estimated cost of implementing a GLI of $20,000 per adult and $6,000 per child of $40 billion per year and it is clear that the taxpayers in this country would be far, far ahead than if we continue to tolerate the status quo. $140 billion per year would negate the $150 billion in new debt incurred by a decade of Harper rule and pay dividends to the future beyond anything being proposed by any other party.

In 1989, parliament unanimously promised to abolish child poverty in this country by the year 2000. I think that Guaranteed Livable Income is the only policy that has been brought forward by anyone in the past 26 years that could actually meet this moral obligation.

The impacts of climate change is the over riding environmental issue in North Okanagan-Shuswap, followed closely by watershed and biodiversity protection. Local impacts in the form of foreshore development, slides from excess rainfall events and ongoing drought with its impact on wildfires are issues that can be addressed by a committed MP working with provincial and local stakeholders. As a wild salmon riding, Kinder-Morgan and its inevitable impacts on the Fraser River watershed is a huge issue for all residents of our area. Restoration of many of the environmental protections on our water that have been removed by the Harper government is going to be critical to conserve our water for future generations. The decrease in flows that will follow the extirpation of the glaciers that feed our lakes and rivers must be planned for, as this will happen some time in the next couple of decades. Our lakes are economic powerhouses and we must take steps to insure that we are protecting them for the benefit of ourselves and our communities.

All of these issues can be addressed by the next parliament. Minority governments have generally been a good thing for Canadians, as the required cooperation leads to us listening to each other instead of constantly butting heads. A minority government is the most likely outcome of this election. Having a number of Green MPs will make it far more likely that these critical local issues will be addressed by whichever party or group of parties forms the next government. Greens are committed to working with people from all political backgrounds to make this a better country for all Canadians. That this is an unusual position for a political party to take says a lot about how dysfunctional our current system has become.

We can do better.

Question #3:

What is your vision for Canada?

My vision for Canada is one where we can look after ourselves, look after each other and look after the land. Many people who are my age remember a time when we shared these goals and were respected on the world stage for our humanity and the example we set for other countries and peoples. It is sad that we have allowed our good name to be trashed so thoroughly. A reputation that took generations to build has been destroyed in one short decade. I lament that the country I was born and raised in has allowed itself to fall so far in our global community.

I spoke to many people at the IPE yesterday who share my feelings about this. Snowbirds who used to be greeted with smiles are now viewed with disdain when they tell people they are Canadians. Canadian backpackers are taking their flags off to avoid being targeted for harrassment and theft. We have become a pariah on the international stage for our increasing militarism and our dogged pursuit of . Our government is dragging its feet on the refugee issue that is currently in the news, something that cuts against the values that we were all raised with in this country.

My vision can be summed up by stating that I would like to see us return to the Canadian values that many of us still share. We are peacemakers, not warmongers. We are a country who can still offer a better life to those who come to us seeking a safe place to work and live. We are one of the richest countries in the world and are better positioned than most to be leaders on the economy, social issues and the environment. That we need to talk about returning to the values of the past and a refocus on family, community and social justice in the 21st century is a sad commentary on the last ten years of the Canadian experience.

We can do better

Mel Arnold (Conservative Party):

Question #2

What are the important riding-specific issues that you will champion and how will you do so? No boilerplate party talking points please just your local thoughts on local issues.

In discussions with voters across the riding, there are three topics that consistently arise:

The first topic is enhancing employment opportunities in the region, particularly non-seasonal, family supporting jobs.  This topic has become more urgent because of the loss of jobs in the ‘oil patch’ as a result of the collapse of global oil prices and the job killing corporate tax increases of the Alberta NDP.

On the other hand, I am heartened to hear of increased economic activity throughout this region, from Vernon to Chase, from Sicamous to Enderby and communities in between.  This activity will provide an increase in full-time, permanent employment opportunities.  There is an economic confidence in the air which results in businesses investing in the future.

But we can, and should, do more.   And I will.

In terms of the economy, I can rely on the low corporate tax philosophy of this government, which also encourages investment.  For example, the small business tax will be decreased from 11% to 9% which will allow a more desirable rate of return on investment, which can then encourage those businesses to employ more people.  As an advocate for providing a platform for business and enterprise to grow, I will work closely with my counterparts in local, provincial and federal government.  Finally, my attitude toward providing employment possibilities will be the same as that of a local mayor I recently met:  “How can we help to make this happen”.

Another important topic that arises is quality of life for seniors.  Our government has heard seniors say that the proscribed rate of withdrawal for RRIFs is too fast as we Canadians now enjoy longer and healthier lives, so we have now relaxed those rules regarding RRIFs as a result.  I have heard consistently from Seniors that Pension Income splitting has been a very significant benefit, lessening their tax burden and helping them keep more of their money in their pockets.  Seniors also benefit greatly from the increase in TFSA limits, because RRSPs are no longer the best investment vehicle once they leave the work force.  In addition, the Home Renovation Tax Credit will become permanent so that mobility issues can be addressed as required.  And yes, once again there is still more that can be done.  I promise seniors in this riding, and particularly low income seniors, that I will advocate, loudly, for a pension structure that allows them to live with dignity.

The third issue is infrastructure.  We all, whether local businesses, local families or visiting tourists, want a safe and productive transportation corridor.  The present winter delays on the TransCanada between here and the Alberta border not only cost money and time, but are not as safe as they could be.  I have been advised by the provincial Minister of Highways that our Conservative government has never refused the partnering dollars that are required once the plan and costing is in place.  I will make sure that doesn’t change, and that our region continues to receive its fair share of infrastructure dollars.  Some of our small communities also have aging water and sewer systems.  I know that our retiring Member of Parliament was a very strong advocate on behalf of these communities, and in fact recently awarded the town of Lumby a check for $500,000, which represents the traditional 1/3 share federal committed to upgrade their lift station.  It is upon this good work and representation that I will continue to build in all our communities in the North Okanagan Shuswap.

Question #3:

What is your vision for Canada?

My vision for Canada is that our nation continues to enjoy an S & P Triple A credit rating for responsible fiscal management by minimizing debt.  The importance of this cannot be stressed enough, as every downgrade in rating costs taxpayers more money to service existing debt.   We are now positioned to post ongoing balanced budgets – now is not the time for that to change.  The bottom line for an increase in deficit spending is less money to underwrite those social programs that mean so much to all of us.  

My vision for this nation includes a first class environmental record that has resulting in Canada being responsible for less than 2% of all global green house gas emissions.  Our government has continued to address the need, not only to hold these emissions in check, but to reduce them at a rate that does not negatively impact your jobs.

My vision for our great country is to have mental health issues addressed in the same way that physical health issues are, without stigma.  Access to addiction services, counselling, psychiatry, and transitional housing as our afflicted regain their ability to interact in our communities is not only a priority for me, but must be a priority for all Canadians.

My vision for Canada is of a country that can continue to be proud of its record on human rights while protecting the safety of all people, whether within our borders or threatened by terrorists abroad. 

My vision is of a Canada that continues to earn accolades as the most respected country in the world; best country for business in the G20; best G7 job growth since 2008; first in real GDP growth among G7 since 2009; lowest net debt to GDP ratio in the G7; and in the top ten on the globe for the world’s most open governments.

Why would anyone vote for less?

Jacqui Gingras (New Democratic Party): Response submitted shortly after the deadline.

Question #2

What are the important riding-specific issues that you will champion and how will you do so? No boilerplate party talking points please just your local thoughts on local issues.

The riding-specific issues are two-fold and interdependent; the environment and jobs. As someone who is living off-grid, I understand some of the barriers to adopting a more sustainable way of living. My commitment as a champion of the environment is to advocate for support to those who wish to use renewable energy for their homes as retrofits or from the ground up. The New Democrats are prepared to shift the substantial corporate subsides and tax breaks from non-renewables to renewables. This shift will enable a significant incentive for people wishing to use solar, geothermal, wind, tidal, and so on.

Along with those supports, I am committed to helping workers transition from the non-renewable to the renewable industry. There is no reason we can’t build a thriving renewable energy industry right here in the North Okanagan-Shuswap. Many of the jobs that are currently being done in the non-renewable sector are transferrable such as metal workers, technicians, pipe fitters, electricians, construction workers, and so on. The NDP is prepared to offer support to those workers who choose to live here and work here. If families don’t have to separate for work, our communities will be made stronger.

With incentives to purchase and install renewable energy, consumer demand will increase as will the opportunity for innovation and research and development. There are billions of dollars being invested in renewable energy globally. Canada has not been an active participant in that market and that can change; adopting renewable energy in a more substantial way will help address climate change and will stimulate the economy.

Local job creation stimulates the local economy. When people earn money locally, they spend money locally. Our communities will prosper when we focus on these two issues together.

Question #3:

What is your vision for Canada?

My vision for Canada is that we will begin again to care for each other. Through efforts towards equality and justice, Canadians will work against the fear and divisiveness that has perpetuated our country for too long.

Right now, many people are struggling. More people than ever are seeking support from food banks, homeless shelters, mental health workers, and transition homes. People are working harder, but falling further behind. Household debt is increasing along with joblessness. We are now in our second recession in a decade.

My vision for Canada is that we remember and strengthen our social fabric by funding appropriately our universal health care, affordable housing, home care for seniors, mental health and addictions services, and women’s shelters. When all Canadians are secure, our ability to contribute to society is enhanced, including our ability to act to protect the environment.

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

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