Federal Election 2015 Responses to Questions #8 & #9 by the North Okanagan – Shuswap Candidates …

Question #8

What is your position on the question of Physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients? How will you vote if or when this question is put to you (Yes, No, Abstain) ?

Question #9

What are your top priorities for federal infrastructure investment in our riding? What’s your plan to get that investment?

Candidates are sent the questions a week in advance. Next week’s Q’s are on the Senate and Climate Change.

Lots of readers’ questions have been sent in and there’s no more room now. Thanks for your many submissions! Questions were geared for all of the candidates and not just for one of them. Click here for the criteria.

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

Plus, here’s the very helpful  link – for those doing their research – to the Index of previous Q&A’s . Please pass this on to friends and family throughout our riding.

Chris George (Green Party):

Question #8

What is your position on the question of Physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients? How will you vote if or when this question is put to you (Yes, No, Abstain) ?

Personal liberty is an important personal value, one I hold in balance with many others. Dying with dignity is a personal choice. Our society should not place roadblocks in people’s path. I support Conservative Stephen Fletcher, former MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia in his call to decriminalise physician-assisted suicide for persons over the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with an illness or disability that causes intolerable physical or psychological suffering, with no chance of improvement.

If legislation was presented that limited the circumstances and provided legal safeguards, as Mr. Fletcher’s bill (C-581, 41st Parliament) did, I would vote in favor of it.

Question #9

What are your top priorities for federal infrastructure investment in our riding? What’s your plan to get that investment?

Infrastructure investments need to make sense. Transitioning from fossil energy in transportation, for example, would see efficient rail and transit as priorities. Reducing waste by updating our current stock of commercial and residential buildings will reduce demand for energy, while creating jobs and reducing long term costs for Canadians. Safety upgrades to our roadways are important, there are many difficult stretches of the Trans-Canada Highway that need fixing. The section of highway from Kault Hill to the Sunnybrae turnoff, for example, may be short and expensive to deal with when compared to the stretch from Monte Creek to Pritchard, but if we were to measure effectiveness in terms of reducing pain and suffering instead of kilometres covered by a project, it might have taken priority.

By encouraging alternative transportation options we can reduce demand for further expansion of last century’s network of roads and bridges. Estimates of the maintenance deficit in our existing transportation infrastructure vary, but all of the analyses that I have read agree that we are falling further behind in effective maintenance, so this deficit needs to be a priority for the next government.

Our riding needs a low cost, convenient and efficient way to move people both between and within our communities. Support for transit in both Salmon Arm and Vernon only makes sense. I advocate for cooperation with the province on the development of a rural transit strategy for our riding. Centralization of health services is a reality that people in our communities face everyday. Providing a transportation system to move people to and from the centers where those services are only makes good sense; economically, socially and environmentally. This strategy has low up front costs and would simply require leadership from an MP to get the ball rolling. It is time that the unique geography of this riding was respected and the needs and interests of people who choose to live in small town British Columbia got some of the same considerations as our big city brethren.

Water and sewer is an ever present concern at all three levels of government in our riding, or at least it should be. The current funding model unfairly penalizes the local and lets the regional and national levels off the hook. Protecting our water is a shared responsibility and should be funded accordingly. Part of the Green platform is to dedicate 1% of GST to the needs of municipal infrastructure. This would amount to $6.4 billion per year in stable funding for municipal priorities. The people in our communities are the one’s who are best positioned to assess and address community needs. Greens would also create a national Community and Environmental Service Corps. Funded by a $1 billion annual investment, the program would fund the wages to allow municipalities to hire Canadian youth to do work that needs to be done. As with most Green policy, this has economic, social and environmental benefits for all Canadians.

What’s your plan to get that investment?

The plan is to elect a Green government. 🙂

A willingness to cooperate will be required by the MP for this riding. Political interests often prevent people in the role of MP and MLA from working with people at the other level of government because of ideological or partisan concerns. Andrew Weaver and Elizabeth May are great examples of what cooperation and collaboration can look like. I share their perspective and think that I could also work effectively with others, both inside and outside of the House. No matter which party forms government, good ideas will need promoting and bad ideas will need opposing. The idea that opposition is “required” in all cases when it is a partisan of a different stripe proposing it is silliness. It doesn’t matter who has the good idea, what matters is getting it done.

Cindy Derkaz (Liberal Party):

Question #8

What is your position on the question of Physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients? How will you vote if or when this question is put to you (Yes, No, Abstain) ?

This question hits “close to home”. My father and I cared for my terminally ill mother for almost a year and helplessly watched her suffer as the disease unrelentingly took its toll on her body. At her bedside, I had a lot of time to think about my position on this issue.

I believe that the choice to take one’s life when terminally ill is extremely personal. Adult patients suffering from a terminal disease and who are mentally competent should have the right to decide when their suffering and life ends. They should have the right to choose a dignified and peaceful death.

In February 2015 a unanimous decision, by the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the criminal prohibition against physician assisted dying is an infringement on the Charter rights of Canadians. The Supreme Court allowed Parliament and the provincial legislatures 12 months to enact new legislation that upholds these fundamental human rights.

I would vote “yes” to such legislation.

The Court made it clear that Parliament or the provincial legislatures “may” enact a law on physician-assisted dying, “should they so choose” but that they are not obliged to enact to legislation. The Court said that “If no action is taken, there will be no regulatory vacuum. Physician-assisted dying will be regulated in the same manner as other health care matters. That is, the provincial and territorial laws that apply to health care matters and the standards of the medical profession will govern physician-assisted dying. This is not only a form of regulation, it is the form of regulation that Canada and Canadian society consider sufficient for comparable end-of-life medical decision-making, such as palliative sedation.

In 2014 the Liberal Party of Canada passed the following resolutions:

BE IT RESOLVED that voluntary medically-assisted death be de-criminalized after a public consultation process designed to make recommendations to Parliament with respect to the criteria for access and the appropriate oversight system for medically-assisted end-of-life.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada commits to working with the professional medical community and relevant stakeholders in a collaborative effort to establish professional protocols in relation to de-criminalizing medically-assisted death in Canada.

I support these resolutions and would vote “yes” on legislation in keeping with them.

Question #9

What are your top priorities for federal infrastructure investment in our riding? What’s your plan to get that investment?

Liberals have committed to a transformative plan for infrastructure investment in Canada to grow the economy and create jobs: $65 billion in additional infrastructure spending over the next decade starting immediately. This commitment will double federal infrastructure spending to nearly $125 billion, making it the largest new investment in infrastructure in Canadian history.

The timing is right: interest rates for new investment are at historic lows, our current infrastructure is aging and Canada is in immediate need of a boost in economic growth. A Liberal government will pay for the investment by running a deficit of $10 billion in each of fiscal years 2016 and 2017 after which the deficit will decline and we will return to a balanced budget in 2019. Our platform will be fully costed and available before the election.

The plan provides for three distinct areas of eligibility: public transit, social infrastructure (eg. affordable housing, seniors facilities, childcare and early learning and cultural or recreational infrastructure) and green infrastructure (eg. local water and wastewater facilities, climate resilient infrastructure, clean energy etc.)

With the creation of the new infrastructure funding, the New Building Canada Fund will now prioritize investments in roads, bridges, transportation corridors, ports and border gateways.

A Liberal government will develop bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, similar to the successful gas tax transfers to cities and municipalities, to put the funds in the coffers of the provinces, territories and municipalities, giving them predictability in funding.  It will enable local governments to determine the infrastructure priorities of their communities.  

I see this as a very positive change in how projects are funded – based on identified local needs and not dependent on party politics.

As your MP I will advocate for the riding and work very hard to make sure the infrastructure plan is implemented and that infrastructure funds flow to this riding for locally identified priorities. I will build on the relationships I have with leaders and stakeholders to champion infrastructure projects and the jobs and growth they will bring to our riding.

For more information on the Liberal Infrastructure Plan check out RealChange.ca https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/  .

Jacqui Gingras (New Democratic Party):

Question #8

What is your position on the question of Physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients? How will you vote if or when this question is put to you (Yes, No, Abstain) ?

New Democrats recognize that there are profound and highly complex medical, ethical and legal implications involved in the care of terminally ill patients – and that physician-assisted dying engenders strong feelings, touching many Canadians in a very personal way.

If elected, Canadians can trust an NDP government under Tom Mulcair to make access to palliative care a priority, while taking immediate steps to implement the Supreme Court of Canada’s historic and unanimous Carter decision swiftly with balance, respect, and sensitivity.

Tom Mulcair has also committed to allowing MP’s to reflect the interests of their constituents on such profound matters and while I have my personal beliefs, I would commit to hosting a far-reaching constituency dialogue to understand the diverse perspectives of this issue prior to making a decision.

One of our long-standing MPs and previous Health Critic, Libby Davies, will be in Salmon Arm on Friday, Sept. 25 (10-11 am) at our Ross Street office to meet supporters and answer any question you might have. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity since Libby will be retiring from 35 years in public service after this campaign.

Libby will carry on to Sicamous for a meet and greet at noon. Please join us at the Haven Common Room, 1095 Shuswap Avenue, Sicamous (beside Seniors’ Activity Centre).

Question #9

What are your top priorities for federal infrastructure investment in our riding? What’s your plan to get that investment?

Tom Mulcair has outlined plans to build a new relationship with municipalities. Funds to build the infrastructure for clean drinking water, solid waste management, and roads that local families and businesses need requires a collaborative effort and federal financial support.

The NDP strategy to help build stronger communities is bold, measured, and fully costed. We will respect provincial and local decision-making, simplify application processes and remove funding barriers through direct, stable and transparent transfers to municipalities and provinces for their priorities.

Not only will this ensure the long-term success of our municipalities, but construction operation and maintenance will provide local jobs. We will start with investing the equivalent of one additional cent of the existing gas tax. This will provide additional funding in the first year that will ramp up to an additional $1.5 billion invested at the end of a first mandate. As your NDP candidate, I will collaborate with local, provincial and First Nations governments on initiatives such as upgrades to water treatment and distribution in the Vernon area, upgrades to the Salmon River Bridge on the Trans Canada Highway in Salmon Arm and the very real impact of climate change such as the catastrophic slide that occurred in Sicamous. The NDP’s program will result in annual, stable, long-term investment for infrastructure projects.

Mel Arnold (Conservative Party):

Question #8

What is your position on the question of Physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients? How will you vote if or when this question is put to you (Yes, No, Abstain) ?

It will be up to our government to consult, in a meaningful way, all of those who will be touched by this ruling; the terminally ill, the disabled, doctors, families, and the appropriate advocacy groups before any legislation may be crafted.

It would only be once the legislation was drafted and I had a full understanding of all of the implications, that I will be prepared to consider my vote.

Question #9

What are your top priorities for federal infrastructure investment in our riding? What’s your plan to get that investment?

Our Conservative government’s investment in infrastructure for this riding will remain on track, namely through continuing the partnerships we enjoy with the province and local governments. Our combined efforts will include pursuing the upgrading and four-laning of our portion of the Trans Canada Highway. In addition, the corridor between Salmon Arm and Armstrong will remain a focus in order to improve travel times and safety, particularly during our busy tourist season.  Safety is the top priority, and we will continue to undertake our share of those areas highlighted by the provincial Highways Ministry as being of highest concern.

Since coming to office, the Conservative government has invested $4.5 billion in British Columbia alone, an astounding 300% increase over the former Liberal government whose neglect of our infrastructure has us facing the costs and the issues that we do today.  Locally, the North Okanagan Shuswap has been in receipt of $43 million.  These investments for road and highway improvements include:

$9.9 million                Armstrong:  Hwy 97:  Larkin Road to Crozier Road

$6.6 million                Armstrong:  Pleasant Valley to Lansdowne

$3.3 million                Vernon Transit Maintenance

$2.3 million                Coldstream:  Grid Road Connection to Hwy 97

$13 million                 Salmon Arm:  Malakwa Bridge

$1.2 million                Lumby:  Resurfacing Hwy 6

$1.3 million                Falkland:  Hwy 97 resurfacing

$2.2 million                Falkland:  Zinkmantle passing lane

$.6 million                  Enderby:  Enderby Road replacement

$.96 million                Spallumcheen:  Otterlake Cross Road & Salmon Arm River Road

Infrastructure however, relates to more than roads, highways and bridges; municipalities rely on federal monetary injections to improve water and sewer systems, lift stations, flood protection, and other structures as required and identified by local governments.  Our retiring MP, Colin Mayes, should be recognized for his untiring advocacy in ensuring that our communities of the North Okanagan Shuswap got the lion’s share of any infrastructure program dollars that were available.  In the last year from July 2014 to July 2015 alone, the Conservative government, through MP Mayes efforts, invested a further $17 million, some of which went to the following:

$     95,000                  Riding-wide Pacific Salmon Foundation habitat projects

$9,900,000                  Little Shuswap and Okanagan Indian Bands Water systems

$1,600,000                  Sicamous Water system

$   111,223                  Shuswap Lake fish habitat protection

$   260,000                  New Horizons funding for multiple seniors’ programs & institutions

$   350,000                  Vernon Child & Youth Advocacy Centre

$3,300,000                  Vernon Canadian Forces installation upgrades

$   519,333                  Lumby Water System

$   450,000                  Riding-wide Fish habitat restoration and conservation

$   299,000                  Vernon Youth employment training

$   160,000                  Riding-wide Public infrastructure modernization

I am very proud of the recognition our riding has received in terms of federal support, and have every confidence that I can maintain this level, and more, in the future.  Our riding will be well represented by a Conservative government, and local Conservative MP, that understand the importance of good fiscal management so the focus can remain on investing in future infrastructure.

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

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