What are the top five local issues that you would like to work on if elected MP? Black Press journalist Nadine Sander-Green put that question to each of the five Kootenay-Columbia federal candidates. Here are their answers:
1. The Economy: Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! This past month the Canadian economy produced over 90,000 full time jobs. The economy and job creation are most importantly local issues. We need an economy that is robust and produces a wide range of jobs. Our low tax plan allows companies to innovate, diversify, and hire more workers. That is why my number one concern is the economy and creating jobs for the people of Kootenay–Columbia.
2. Upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway. The most travelled highway is in need of serious upgrades. These upgrades will make the Trans-Canada safer for travellers and residents. A safe, upgraded Trans-Canada Highway will increase the efficiency of good transportation, which will help our economy.
3. Help for Seniors: Helping seniors in Kootenay-Columbia is another major local priority of mine. That is why our government announced an increase to the GIS by $300 million dollars, and introduced an increase from $5,000 to $10,000 for Tax Free Savings Accounts. We also introduced new crime plans to protect seniors from violent criminals.
4. Scrapping the Long-Gun Registry: The long gun registry is ineffective and has wasted $2 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. It is a burden for rural Canadians and I will vote to scrap the long gun registry.
5. Help for Municipalities: As a former Mayor, I understand the process of applying for funding from the federal government. I will work with all municipalities and regional districts from across the riding to help secure grant funding for infrastructure upgrades, projects, etc. I will also attend Council and Board meetings to find out the specific issues that each municipality is facing. We need a Member of Parliament that listens to the concerns of local citizens.
Concerns that I’m hearing at the door are healthcare and the lack of rural services. I am committed to ensuring that we get more doctors and nurses trained and into our rural communities. This is a promise that the Conservatives have broken over the last five years.
Another issue is the HST, and the fact that it has made life more costly for people and their families. This is federal tax policy that was voted on by the Conservative government and the Liberal MPs, and if provincial voters vote out the HST we will not claw back the $1.6 billion given to the province, unlike the Conservatives.
Seniors’ and workers’ pensions are another issue that keep coming up at the door. We are committed to strengthening the CPP and GIS and Old Age security, in an effort to lift seniors out of poverty. That promise would cost $700 million, and when you compare it to the $6 billion corporate tax cut, the way the Harper government has treated seniors is shameful.
On jobs, I would work with local stakeholders to improve the economic climate to attract jobs back to the Kootenay region in general. Our small business plan is to lower the small business tax rate from 11 to 9 per cent, and also to provide a $4,500 tax break for any new hires or long-term employees that a business creates in Canada. I remain committed to working with the communities of Golden and Revelstoke to ensure that Trans-Canada upgrades continue.
On Parks Canada and the environment, I would work with environmentalist and Parks Canada to improve Parks infrastructure, services, and our overall commitment to maintaining and improving the ecology and biodiversity of the parks system by ensuring that we have the proper experts within the Parks Canada system.
Betty Aitchison, Liberal Party
Liberal Party values are Canadian family values. Canadians have spoken, and spoken clearly, and we want our Canada back.
We want integrity and transparency in government, where the actions and decisions which effect Canadians are made through open and accessible processes.
We recognize that as a nation who wants to work Canada has two distinct opportunities; there are workers who need work and there are jobs that need to be done. Bringing these two opportunities together can only have positive results. By matching areas/fields where workers are needed with workers who need work the Liberal Party of Canada will increase employment, which will in turn increase the quality of life and standard of living of all Canadians.
To ensure that people are capable of doing the work that exists the Liberal party is committed to providing education, re-education, and training opportunities and incentives. This will make skilled employees ready and available for jobs that exist today and that will continue into the future.
The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to tax re-alignment, putting money back into the pockets and purses of hard working Canadians, small business and entrepreneurs. Finally the Liberal Party will allocate dollars to health care services and the training of health care professionals, to ensure that each citizen, regardless of location or means, is provided with proactive education as well as timely medical services essential to good health and a life of quality.
Bill Green, Green Party
One of the key issues in this constituency is that of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth and young families that provide family-supporting incomes. One of the ways that the Green Party will support these opportunities for young people is through the ‘green economy.’ This includes jobs and businesses in ecological restoration, alternative energy, home and building energy conservation retrofits. It also includes jobs in sustainable forestry, for example in ecologically- and socially-certified forest products businesses.
Another key issue is the infrastructure challenge to communities, where local governments don’t have the fiscal capacity to pay for the repair of aging infrastructure and its’ replacement with ‘green’ infrastructure including things like modern, efficient water and sewage systems and bike trails.
We have, in this constituency as well as throughout B.C. and in many other parts of Canada the challenge of seeking and achieving reconciliation between First Nations and non-native communities. One tool for achieving reconciliation is the modern treaty-making process, but it is far from the only tool. Mutual recognition and respect are of fundamental importance.
We have to begin the process of transitioning to a low carbon economy. A key policy of the Green Party is ‘getting the prices right,’ which includes reducing taxation of ‘goods’ and increasing taxation of things like carbon emissions. The Greens would implement a predictable schedule of carbon taxation starting initially at $50 per tonne.
Water management is also an important issue in this riding. The federal government has important water management responsibilities, including renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty (in partnership with the government of B.C., First Nations and local governments), managing transboundary waters and protecting water for fish.
Brent Bush, Independent
My No. 1 issue is to re-negotiate the Columbia River Treaty. Modernizing the 50-year-old treaty to include climate change and our own fresh water needs in the Columbia Basin are critical. Extensive public consultation and dialogue must be part of the process. I see my role as a political one – to provide the political will and energy at the federal level to ensure that Canada gives formal notice to re-negotiate the Columbia River Treaty.
2. Kootenay-Columbia must continue to re-invest in municipal infrastructure. We must be cautious however that the Harper government’s ongoing negotiations with the European Union concerning the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) do not undermine municipal control over public drinking water and waste water management systems. Government programs like the Public Private Partnership (P3) Fund are direct routes to the privatization of public drinking water. I say no!
3. Local land use decisions should stay local, whether it is the proposed resort at Jumbo Glacier or a national Park in the Flathead Valley. It was Conservative candidate David Wilks, as Sparwood’s Director to the Regional District, who moved the motion to refer the Jumbo Glacier Resort decision back to the B.C. government.
4. Taxes. Both the Conservative and Liberal parties whipped their MPs to vote in favour of Bill C-62, the federal HST implementation legislation for B.C. Does anyone remember their Conservative MP asking them if they wanted a new tax that shifted $1.9 billion in taxes from large corporations onto individuals, families and small businesses?
5. As a social democrat and concerned citizen, I support strong public health care, equal access to post-secondary education and affordable housing for the disadvantaged in our communities. As your MP I will carry those convictions to Ottawa.
Information compiled by Nadine Sander-Green, Black Press