Part II (Here is a selection of some of the answers to questions posed at last Thursday’s all candidates meeting. Go here to hear a recording of the whole all-candidates meeting or go here to see a video of the meeting.
What is your party’s stand on anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51?
Rachel Blaney, NDP: So, our commitment is that we will repeal this. We know that some scary things are happening in the world and we need a good plan around that but this is not the way to do it by threatening Canadian rights and freedoms. When we see four previous prime ministers and many, many people from the justice field stand up and say this is not the right legislation, it is imperative that we listen. We’ve listened, we’ve done our homework, we will repeal this bill. Thank-you.
Brenda Sayers, Green Party: Yes, this is an interesting one for First Nations. Yesterday I attended a conference in Edmonton put on by the Assembly of First Nations and it was to promote voting amongst First Nations and this was one of the questions asked to almost all the leaders that were present at the conference. It’s a big concern for First Nations as we move to front lines to protect the natural resources not only for our communities but for all people because it all contributes to climate change and it’s imperative that it be protected. So the Green Party will rescind Bill C-51. It contains the wording economic security, which is open to interpretation. Hundreds of academics, lawyers and judges have said it is a bad piece of legislation and we agree so the Green Party will rescind it. Thank-you.
Peter Schwarzhoff, Liberal Party: So this is not the first anti-terrorism bill. The first one was introduced by the Liberals after 9-11 when the World Trade Centre was brought down and that time 14 years ago we introduced a bill. Things have changed in 14 years, we never imagined it would be possible for somebody sitting in Syria to recruit youth in Calgary so there are things in this bill that we actually like, three things. Nevertheless it is a bad bill. A bad bill because as Brenda points out some clarification is needed desperately needed to narrow the scope of it and also the oversight that’s missing; also producing powers where they were unintended. So we propose that we keep those three things, remove the rest, put the proper oversights in place, and furthermore, as far as oversights go don’t limit that only to the CSIS but expand it to RCMP border security and others that have perhaps, run amok, shall we say without proper government oversight. Thank-you.
Laura Smith, Conservative Party: Yeah, there’s a lot of misunderstandings about this bill. But it’s important to mention, I mean, we have been named by these terrorist groups as a target. We don’t want to overreact but we don’t want to under-react either. This bill provides some common sense fixes and it does not provide police authority to CSIS. Nobody’s going to bust into your home and arrest you. It does not target protestors, protestors are explicitly protected and it does not allow CSIS to spy on Canadians. But it does give CSIS tools to disrupt terrorist activities and prevent them from happening. It does enable our agencies to communicate proactively with one another instead of just,you know, “I hope they figure this out.” Thank-you.
What is your party’s plan to ensure Canada’s debt burden remains low and affordable for today’s budget and future generations?
Sayers: The Green Party of Canada uses the former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page ad we produced a budget, I believe it is, for the next five years. So the process is that we present the budget to him initially and then it goes back and forth with his recommendations and we do things to correct it and then he, finally, approves it. So, we have a balanced budget and we have on forecasted for the next several years.
Schwarzhoff: It wasn’t that long ago that Paul Martin, as finance minister, had to deal with a crushing debt that actually threatened to put Canada into bankruptcy. He did that in dramatic fashion, returning us to surplus. Recently, he stood on the stage with Justin Trudeau to say, “This is not that time.” We’re actually doing okay. The problem is we’re not growing fast enough. That’s why our standard of living is under pressure. So, he agrees with us that now’s the time to invest so we’re proposing kickstarting the economy by putting almost $10 billion of additional debt on in the first two years, roughly $6 billion in the third, returning to the black only in the fourth year of our mandate. But we believe now’s the time to make that investment, it will pay off in jobs now, growth in prosperity later and we believe that now is not the time, we do not believe that austerity can ever lead to prosperity.
Smith: We haven’t made a lot of grandiose promises this election because we feel it is incredibly important to balance that budget. We brought in balanced budget legislation to kind of provide that extra rigour in the future. The NDP have proposed a plan that while it balances in the early years it backloads its promises and in the future years, it’s not balanced at all. Kevin Page called it Swiss cheese it has so many holes. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen with that besides more cuts, tax increases or they just can’t keep their promises or some combination thereof. With the Liberal plan, they don’t even want to try and balance the budget in the first little while and this growth that they’re claiming, the C.D. Howe Institute has done an analysis and based on the incremental difference between what we’re proposing and what they’re proposing, it won’t do the job. Thank-you.
Blaney: So we’ve seen the Conservative plan, it includes selling Canadian assets and making promises and not fulfilling them. So, we have a little bit of a different plan. Ours is about making sure we have responsible taxation, making sure we’re taxing those big corporations, making sure that CEOs that are going to be paid in stock options are actually taxed appropriately, reversing the plans around tax havens for people who are at the top 15 per cent earners. Not a lot of them live in our communities. And then we’re going to have a responsible plan around paying back the debt. You know Tommy Douglas, he likes our Tom too, and what he did was he went into Saskatchewan which was a have-not province and had 17 years of balanced budgets and at the same time, and paid off their debts significantly. Our Tom is promising to do the same. Thank-you.