By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Next Monday, Canadians will head to the polls to elect a local Member of Parliament and Prime Minister of Canada — it’s a task, not be taken lightly. Sunny South News sent out an e-mail to each Lethbridge riding federal election candidate to ask a few questions about their campaigns and few, of a personal note. In no particular order are the responses to the questions.
Sunny South News:
1. Since this is a county newspaper, what do you think are the three top issues of constituents in Lethbridge County? And, what are your thoughts on how you would assist with the issues if you and your party are elected, both locally and federally?
2. What do you personally feel are the three most important topics Canadians are concerned about heading into the election? What are some of the plans your party has to address these topics and/or concerns? How do you think you could locally address these concerns if you and your party are elected?
3. What is your favourite TV show? 3A. What is your favourite movie? 3B. What is your favourite type of music and/or musical act? 3C. What is your favourite book? 3D. Who is your favourite superhero (real or fiction or both)?
4. This Halloween you are dressing up as _______ (fill in the blank)?
5. Why is Canada and/or being Canadian important to you? 5A. What is the greatest asset you can give to Canada and Canadian voters this election?
*Christian Heritage Party Lethbridge riding candidate Geoffrey Capp
1. Agriculture — Protection of our dairy industry would be one issue. CHP believes sovereignty in our food supply is important. We should be able to maintain our own agricultural industry and protect it from being overwhelmed by imports. Personally, I would not want to see more than 10 per cent of sold goods to be foreign, and they should meet or exceed our standards of quality and reliability. I would want to consult with local producers, as to their openness, to even that small amount of foreign competition. Maintenance of infrastructure — roads, irrigation services, transportation of products to market. CHP believes we need a surplus budget to reduce outstanding federal debt but new interest-free loans from the Bank of Canada could be used to fund infrastructure programs. Food safety — cutting federal food inspectors is a mistake that can lead to loss of sales for our farmers’ produce, and a loss of trust by consumers.
2. Refugees — Canadians are compassionate but we must ensure only legitimate refugees are admitted, and be wary of refugee groups whose members have spurned aid from the Red Cross. Unlike the refugees from Vietnam in the 1980s, there is a greater danger infiltrators, if any, are bent on more than spreading ideas, but would initiate harm. Correction of Syria’s government policies is the long-term solution, and we must insist neighbouring Arab nations accept the refugees into their culturally-similar nations. Federal debt — 30 per cent of our taxes go to the commercial lenders in the form of interest charges on this debt. We must pay down this debt and free our children and grandchildren of a burden that is not rightfully theirs. Child care — Institutional daycare proposed by the Liberals and New Democrats is too costly an approach. We need to restore the family’s ability to care for their own at home by enabling families, that want to select this option, to receive a tax-free allowance that is adequate to replace a second income that can often be at minimum wage levels.
3. My favourite TV shows tend to be science fiction, like “Star Trek” (any of the five) but also oldies like “Hogan’s Heroes” or “The Brady Bunch.” 3A. Favourite movie — I like stories about real people or events, like “Gandhi,” “Apollo 13,” or “The Longest Day.” 3B. Favourite music — I like country, some early rock, classical, but the Big Band era is my hands-down favourite and dominates my MP3 player’s contents. 3C. Favourite book — Too hard to pin down. I reread out of my collection, and occasionally find a new gem to add to it. 3D. Favourite superhero — Not sure I can name one, but ones who uphold the law and treat people with an attitude of love would get my vote, and that could be true, to some extent, about nearly every one of them, from Batman to Wonder Woman.
4. Mild-mannered office clerk with the real identity being a father of three and a husband of a dear wife.
5. I was born here, and I don’t think I could give it up for anything else while I’m on this planet. Only my citizenship in Heaven is more precious. 5A. Give to Canada and Canadians. My desire to offer the truth, and my willingness to forsake potential votes by sticking to it, and not taking a position if I feel it would hurt Canada and its people. If elected, I would treat my expense account as money belonging to Canadians and I would have to believe objectively a spending choice belongs on that account before I would submit to using it, or else I’d pay it personally or not spend it at all.
*Rhinoceros Party Lethbridge riding candidate Solly Krygier-Paine
1. The three main issues facing Lethbridge County residents are as follows: *Are we supposed to root for the Flames every NHL season, or what? *The city’s “ironic nickname” of “L.A.” (Lethbridge, Alberta) is tacky and dumb. *Only one grocery store in the county offers imported instant noodles — Superstore — and their selection is not that wide. My party promises an official inquiry into all of these pressing matters. However, on a personal note, I am really supportive of calling Lethbridge “Bridge City.” I hope I can find local support on this issue. Hopefully, the passage of the TPP will expedite the delivery of import Ramen.
2. As I write this, I think there are a few issues going through the minds of the majority of Canadians right now: “Why won’t this guy get out #$%*& left lane?,” “Oh my god, is it lunch break yet? I’ve been surfing Facebook/staring at the ground for the last hour,” “Why did Tim Hortons stop selling creamy chicken rotini? That stuff was delicious.” I don’t think I can scratch the surface of the barbaric consumer culture that phased out creamy chicken rotini. As for the other two issues, the Rhinoceros Party has plans to pass a “Eat a Snickers Bar” bill, which will hopefully make everyone a little less grumpy.
3. My favourite TV show is “Rick and Morty.” 3A. My favourite movie is “12 Angry Men” (the 1957 one, obviously). 3B. My favourite variety of music is comedy. 3C. My favourite book is a tie between “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin and “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov. 3D. My favourite superhero is John Cena, :).
4. This Halloween, I will most likely be dressing up as No Face from Spirited Away.
5. Being Canadian is important to me because it means I’m not American — everyone can agree that’s what’s important about being Canadian. 5A. The greatest asset I can give to Canada is some bagels.
*Green Party of Canada Lethbridge riding candidate Kas MacMillan
1. The top three issues in the county are the TPP, the selling of the Canadian Wheat Board, and infrastructure spending for the towns. With regards to the TPP and Canadian Wheat Board, my party believes we need to start protecting our economy and not selling it to the highest bidder. We also need to support family-based farming. Infrastructure spending is at an all-time low and our municipalities are feeling it. We will use one point of our GST for infrastructure spending, equaling over $6 billion in additional funds a year.
2. The top topics Canadians are interested in this election are the economy, and responsible government. Canada’s economy is weak, largely due to the imbalance towards corporations rather than small business. Small business employs the majority of Canadians and needs the support of government to invest in our economy. Senate scandals, the PMOs overreaching ability, and MPs not being accountable to their constituents is a short list of the problems with our government the Green Party will address. We believe in an accountable Senate, limited power for the PMO to restore supremacy to Parliament, and complete transparency in an MP’s spending, as well as being completely committed to their riding rather than their party.
3. Favourite TV show: “The West Wing.” 3A. Favourite movie: “Agora.” 3B. Favourite type of music: Love all music, but Florence and the Machine is my favourite band. 3C. Favorite book: “The Prince.” 3D. Favourite superhero: Elizabeth May (real).
4. Wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man.
5. Being Canadian is important to me because we have a welcoming society known for our peacekeeping efforts, or at least we used to be. On the world stage, people respect Canadians because we have a reputation for helping average people across the world. 5A. The greatest asset I can give to Canadians this election is my passion for public service, and dedication to be the best representative Lethbridge has ever had, by being accountable and completely transparent.
*NDP Lethbridge riding candidate Cheryl Meheden
1. Based on my conversations with people who reside in Lethbridge County, I am hearing infrastructure, health care, and most recently the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are the top three issues. As we go forward, it is important to ensure these conversations continue because it is residents who know best what they need, and how government decisions affect them.
Several people have expressed Lethbridge County needs stable, predictable investment in order to provide residents with roads, bridges, and the ability to respond to emergencies like fires and flooding. Municipalities own 60 per cent of infrastructure but only collect eight cents of every tax dollar. As a result, the Canadian infrastructure deficit is a staggering $172 billion. The NDP plans to make stable investments in core infrastructure that will double the existing transfer and rise with inflation. This can be achieved by making different choices and taking one additional cent on the existing gas tax; creating an additional $1.5 billion in annual investment. The added value to this investment is infrastructure plans can create approximately 54,000 jobs, employing county residents right here at home. In addition, the NDP will restore the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program, which helps the county and their first responders when natural disasters, which are now considered the biggest public safety risk, occur. I support initiatives that provide funding and support to the county, and that allows Lethbridge County to make their own choices and decisions on infrastructure and emergency preparedness. Universal health care is under threat in this country and Lethbridge County residents are rightfully concerned about future access to medical treatment, the rising costs of drugs, and the lack of a long-term plan to address our aging population. The additional federal funding that has been put into health care falls short when the increases in population, escalating equipment and drug costs, and inflation are taken into account. The first step is to invite the provinces, who represent county residents and for the past ten years have been excluded, to contribute to a discussion on solutions. The current model is broken and the recent legislation that significantly reduces transfer payments to the provinces will result in the inevitable death of health care, as we know it. In Canada, you should only need a health care card, not a credit card, to access a doctor or receive treatment in a hospital. A national drug plan is a natural extension of our universal health care system. As has been proven in other countries with Pharmacare plans, drug costs are significantly lower, contributing to higher levels of preventative health and significant cost savings to both public and private industry, such as lower insurance premiums. Seniors are particularly vulnerable in this area, as they leave prescriptions unfilled if cost is a factor. As I represent the only party with a national seniors strategy, Lethbridge County will be able to identify their needs for home care, long-term care, and palliative care.
At the time of this interview the TPP was only just signed. There is a great deal of speculation and a few pieces of information available. As the ‘devil is in the details,’ it is premature for me to comment in great depth. I do believe if the TPP opens markets for county farmers and beef producers, this can be a good thing. I do worry about the 3+ per cent of access to our dairy market, as dairy in this country is an $8 billion dollar industry and county dairy producers contribute $90 million to that number. Because we are talking about such huge numbers, 3 per cent is significant.
2. In addition to health care, which I addressed in the previous question, Canadians are concerned with increasing inequality and their ability to get ahead.
This very long election campaign has given me the opportunity to speak with thousands of residents and I am not hearing they expect a handout, but rather they expect the system to be fair. The current system of taxation favours the most wealthy, while the middle and low income earners contribute a disproportionately high amount to the public purse. The NDP will close off tax loopholes, including tax avoidance through the billions of dollars held in offshore accounts. This proper collection of tax can be used to offset benefits that help the middle class. The NDP has a balanced, practical plan that contributes to childcare, affordable housing, and seniors’ income supplements, but with a proper collection of tax owing these programs, and new initiatives, could be enhanced. In order to do this it will be necessary to reverse cuts to agencies such as the RCMP and CRA, so they can effectively do their jobs.
The other key component of getting ahead is having a decent job. Many students make investments in education, hoping to secure meaningful employment as a result. Currently, they are entering a labour market where the youth (15-25) unemployment rate is double the national average and where most of the jobs created in the last few years have been part-time, low skill positions. The NDP will introduce paid internships that provide young people with the experience they need to transition into the workforce. These internships will include apprenticeships, which will be a requirement for infrastructure projects that receive significant government funding. Other job creation initiatives will capitalize on the trillions of dollars that are going to be spent on ‘green’ jobs in the next 25 years.
3. Unfortunately, I am not very tuned into pop-culture because I rarely watch television. As a result, I have no favourite TV show. Because I have no musical talent of my own, except for learning to play the recorder in Grade 6, I appreciate live music and often attend local performances. My musical preferences are varied — from classical to contemporary and most recently I attended a house concert in Lethbridge and an AC/DC concert in Montreal. I am an avid reader and belong to a book club. I always read the “Canada Reads” books and this past year my favourites have been Orenda and Ru.
4. This Halloween I am dressing up as the Queen mother.
5. I am a proud Canadian and am pleased to share this whenever I am abroad. I have worked in many countries, including the USA, China, Peru, Japan, France, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland but I would never consider moving anywhere else. Canada has always been highly regarded by other nations as a place where the diverse threads of our people weave together to form a strong fabric. It is important to me this reputation is maintained. 5A. In addition to a great deal of work experience that has provided me with economic sense and social sense, I also have common sense. I can leverage my business experience, my doctoral education, and my community commitment to ensure decisions are made in responsible, practical ways — while reflecting our Canadian values of fairness, justice, and opportunity.
Conservative Party of Canada Lethbridge riding candidate Rachael Harder
1. and 2. When door-knocking in the county the number one concern I hear at the doors is the strength of the economy. People are expressing concerns about job security and taxation. Our Conservative government is focused squarely on enhancing economic growth and the prosperity of Canadians by keeping taxes at the lowest levels seen in 50 years. As we move forward, our government is committed to working with small businesses in order to ensure job creation and stability. In addition, we remain committed to a low-tax, balanced budget plan.
The second most common thing I am hearing from constituents in the county, is the need for infrastructure. In particular, I understand there is a significant need for road and bridge repair. I’m committed to advocating for the constituency to ensure we receive help with our aging infrastructure. Securing further funding through the New Building Canada Fund will be my first step.
When I am at the door, people often ask me to explain what support is available for families and seniors. I am always thrilled to talk about the wide-variety of ways we have enhanced benefits for families and seniors, such as the enhanced Universal Child Care Benefit, Income Splitting, Tax Free Savings Accounts, extended maternity/paternity leave, and solid and predictable funding for health care to the provinces.
3. What is your favourite TV show? “Amazing Race.”
What is your favourite movie? “The Bourne Trilogy.”
What is your favourite type of music and/or musical act? Anything with a great beat and an independent flare.
What is your favourite book? Anything by Charles Dickens.
Who is your favourite superhero (real or fiction or both)? Superman.
4. This Halloween you are dressing up as the “Pilsbury Doughboy.”
5. In my opinion, Canada is the greatest country in the world. Even international agencies concur. Canada was voted the most admired country in the world by the International Reputation Institute four times in the last five years. Canadians represent some of the world’s most admired qualities. Canadians are known for their compassion, generosity, and their entrepreneurial spirit. We have been and remain one of the most generous donors to research, charities and international aid. I am proud Canadian.
5A. I believe the greatest asset I can offer to Canadians is my fresh perspective. I believe in bridging the gap between generations — listening to and gleaning from the wisdom of the past, while carrying energy and vision for Canada’s future. I am committed to providing strong representation for the Lethbridge constituency. I am dedicated to meeting with my constituents and listening to their concerns, while working diligently to achieve positive change.
*Due to an early deadline, responses from Liberal candidate Mike Pyne were not received by the Sunny South News to be included in this week’s issue.