Election candidates Laura Smith (Conservative)

ELECTION 2015: The candidates’ responses to questions on aquaculture, economy, health care

North Island-Powell River: Candidates outline positions at all-candidates meeting

Part I (Part II runs Friday or go to this story for a complete recording of all of the questions and answers).


How do you feel aquaculture will be part of food production in the future?


Rachel Blaney (NDP): Thank you for the question. You know I’ve travelled around the riding and there’s a lot of innovative and amazing things happening with aquaculture. Food security is going to be huge issue. We know what is happening with climate change, so, yes, we see it as definitely part of food production in the future. Research has been started already in Canada and the federal government has paid into amazing projects around closed containment. I know I was just up in Namgis and talking about what they’re doing and some of their innovative ideas around closed containment as a long term strategy. We know that we have to work hard with industry and I’m looking forward to doing so. Thank you.


Brenda Sayers (Green party): We support the recommendation of the Cohen Commission for a moratorium on no new pen fish farms. We believe they must be moved out of the water. DFO has had sufficient funding to determine the effects of stocks and habitats. Until then we operate on a precautionary principle. If there is a chance that harm is being done by the using antibiotics, they must be moved out of the water. We support the shellfish aquaculture because of the minimal impact on the system. And we know that climate change has a lot to with have a negative serious effect on the ecosystem. Thank you.


Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal Party): Shellfish is included under aquaculture and that’s an industry we support although I’m very much worried about ocean acidification caused by climate change. But the problem we’re talking with salmon farming we have high hopes for the Kuterra closed containment we really hope that works but it will never be able to provide the protein that’s needed by the world. The demand for salmon is huge. Now we also have said we will adopt the recommendations of the Cohen Commission which specifically state that we need to prove that open net farming is safe for wild stocks by 2020 or we need to be out of the water. DFO responded to that challenge unfortunate because they lost their government science capacity by hiring industry to do the work. Now that industry seems to be showing that it’s safe but nobody trusts them because it’s done by industry. We will refund DFO to make sure they can do that work. We’ve got $40 million for a budget to make sure DFO tells us it’s going to be safe and we can trust DFO.


Laura Smith (Conservative Party): Yes, food security is an issue and there’s a huge and growing demand for food in the world particularly high protein food and aquaculture products have a very efficient ratio of protein to protein out so it’s a very important way to meet this growing demand and we have a great ability to do our part for filling that need. But I would point out that with closed containment our government has made some investments in the research but the jury’s still out. We’re open to that but if we’re looking for that to create jobs in the North Island, if you can grow salmon on the land you’re going to be growing it in Vancouver not here. So when it comes to jobs, we want to make sure we’re taking maximum availability of our great workers and resources. Thank-you.


If elected, what will be the economic priorities for you and your government?  List the three most pressing issues facing the economy that your government will address?


Schwarzhoff: So, that’s really the core of our platform. It’s all how do we get the economy growing because there hasn’t been sufficient growth in 10 years. Our wages have stagnated while our cost of living has gone up so we have a $60 billion reconstruction plan to kick start the economy and get it growing. We believe that this is the way to do it. If the economy grows then we have the money to do the other things that we need. We also plan to tax income above $200,000 so that we can give a tax break to those in the middle class. And those people in the middle class will spend that money in the communities and the communities will be stronger for it rather than put the money in at the top and hope it trickles down, we’ll put it in the middle and make it work. And that will let us do the other things we know we want to do but are getting very, very expensive and I’m thinking health care. Health care is getting very expensive and we have a plan to be able to fund it and ensure it is sustainable public health care.


Smith: Yeah, number one, we want to keep taxes low for everybody so that businesses can be more competitive locally and globally and that people have more money in their pockets to spend on goods and services. We want to continue to develop trade opportunities. This gives us a great advantage internationally having privileged access to so many markets. And we also need responsible fiscal management and that means not going into deficit. And when we talk making these infrastructure investments, we’ve tripled infrastructure and according to C.D. Howe Institute, the Liberal proposal will not actually kickstart anything because when you actually look at what we’re already offering it’s a fairly small incremental amount. So, we think responsible fiscal management keeps us nimble and enables us to respond to what’s happening in the world and that can be uncertain. Thank-you.


Blaney: So for us, we think the important issues are jobs. We want to make sure that we’re investing in secondary manufacturing so we’re going to have tax credits to support machinery purchases and innovation. We know that we have a resource economy in this community. It’s diversifying it and supporting it. Right now we’re seeing all our raw logs shipped away. We need to be doing something different. We also want to make sure that we’re sure that we’re investing in green jobs. Our plan is to tax some of those huge corporations that are not paying their fair share (inaudible). And the last thing is education and apprenticeships. Our plan is to invest so that young people can get to school, support them through grants, support them through interest relief on their loans and also when we build infrastructure making sure we have a plan to give young people a chance to get their apprenticeships so that they can move forward with their own careers. Thank-you.


Sayers: All three answers are related to climate change. We will establish a Canadian Sustainable Generation Fund that will invest in skills, training, education, energy efficiency, renewables and emergent technologies. Number two, we will create an infrastructure fund using one percent of the GST to address the $165 billion deficit in the municipal infrastructure that will create jobs. Number three, we will invest in First Nations and youth job plans to do the work in renewables, energy conservation and habitat restoration that needs to be done. We will also invest in local government, small business and local food economies to ensure jobs are available close to home. We will invest one billion dollars a year in this initiative.


What will your Party do to support Health care?


Schwarzhoff: In one minute? Folks, we’re not only planning to put money into it, we’re actually planning to transform it. Ten years ago we set out to do it. As you know, health care is focused on hospitals and physicians that work there, a better health care system, by far, is one that will work to keep you healthy or keep you in your home and out of hospital…(inaudible)…but then there may be some level of care that can’t be met in the home we also have a significant plan around increasing seniors facilities for the next s of care and we’re putting up to $20 billion in a pot of money we’re calling social infrastructure which would include that we also have a medicare plan, a bulk buying plan as well as transforming the way we deal with prescription drugs in Canada and in general the whole goal is not only to ensure that we remain a public universal health care system but one that works better for all of us into the future and remains table.


Smith: The federal government’s primary role in health care is as a funder. The policy is a provincial matter. What we’ve done is we have increased funding. In spite of what you might hear in the media, we’ve increased funding six per cent per year, every year, compounding. At that rate, the amount that you pay doubles every 12 years. Obviously that’s not sustainable forever so we have a plan to put those funding increases on a sustainable footing so starting 2017/18, it will be increasing at no less than three per cent but if the GDP grows by more than that it will be increased to that level growth. We think this is a very good plan. We need it to be sustainable. We are increasing funding by more than the provinces are so we think that’s working. And we do a lot of other health things as far as research investment and everything else. Thank you.


Blaney: The provinces and territories are paying 80 per cent of the costs of health care right now. We’re very concerned about that because we’re seeing privatization increase. The NDP believes that that’s at our core health care should be public and that’s something we’re willing to fight for it. We want to invest in having doctors coming into more remote communities. We also want to include nurses, nurse practitioners and health professionals. We know that we need them here. We also are going to invest in home care so that people can stay in their homes longer. That is so important for care. We also are committed to a pharmacare plan and making sure we do more bulk buying in Canada so that we can see those costs go down dramatically. It’s a huge concern. I’ve talked to seniors who talk about January, February, March not buying enough food, not paying for heat because they have to pay for their medication. That’s not okay in Canada and we’re going to work together with the provinces to make that better.


Sayers: The Green Party of Canada will work to renegotiate the national health accord with provinces and territories and ensure universal and equal access. Our plan will also include dental care to people up to the age of 18. We will also implement a national mental health strategy, a national seniors strategy that will include support for aging in place to help people who want to keep their parents at home longer and offer them that support and a national dementia program. It’s interesting to note for those of you who are worried about our health care heading towards privatization, that signing and pending trade agreements threaten this as they open our health care and other public services to privatization such as the trades and services agreement. Thank-you