Six questions for candidates in Scarborough Southwest

Image courtesy FutUndBeidl (via Flickr)
Image courtesy FutUndBeidl (via Flickr)

Federal candidates for Scarborough Southwest answered six questions from the Beach Metro News ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election. Below are their responses.

Scarborough Southwest voters will have another chance to hear from their candidates directly, when a candidates’ debate is held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at St. Paul’s United Church (200 McIntosh St.). The church is one block north of Kingston Road at the Sandown traffic light. Call 416-261-4222 for more info.

 

Bill Blair, Liberal Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

SSW - Bill BlairI’ve spent nearly 40 years of my working life in public service, the last 10 as the chief of Toronto Police Service, managing a billion-dollar budget and 8,000 employees. I am actively engaged in many community organizations, including the Children’s Aid Foundation, the Scarborough Hospital Foundation and Covenant House youth shelter. I have worked effectively with all three levels of government to make a positive difference in Toronto and across the country.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

Liberals have a three-point plan to grow the economy. We’ll help create good jobs by making investments in infrastructure while interest rates are low. We’ll make the tax system fairer for hard-working Canadians by cutting the middle-class tax rate by seven per cent and raising it for the wealthiest one per cent. We’ll also invest in affordable housing and child care spaces so hard-working parents and families can get ahead. Nine out of 10 families will get more from our Canada Child Benefit, and it will lift 315,000 children out of poverty. That’s real change for Canadians.

What would you do to improve public transit and urban infrastructure?

First and foremost, we have to work with residents of Scarborough Southwest to ensure they are involved in the decision making on infrastructure that will determine how our community grows – and thrives – in the coming years. At the federal level, a Liberal government will more than triple federal investment in public transit over the next four years, and over 10 years we will quadruple it. Our funding will be flexible to the requirements of municipalities as well, because they are on the front line of decision making and dialogue with the people of Scarborough. Our commitment to social infrastructure – including child care spaces and seniors’ facilities – will nearly double current federal infrastructure investment to almost $125 billion (from the current $65 billion) over the next decade.

What role should the government have in child care?

A Liberal government will ensure that working class families are able to access affordable, high-quality child care spaces in every region of the country. We will fund the creation of thousands of new child care spaces and ensure that they’re affordable by putting more money in the pockets of Canadian parents with our Child Care Benefit and middle class income tax cuts. We’ll ensure that child care is available to more families who need it by boosting investment in social infrastructure by nearly $6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over 10 years.

What would you do to address climate change?

A Liberal government will act to create a more sustainable and economically sound future for Canadians, including working with the provinces and territories to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases.

If elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau will attend the December 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and within 90 days hold a First Ministers meeting to collaborate on a framework to combat climate change, informed by the best economic and scientific analysis. A Liberal government will then move forward on an emissions reduction agreement with provinces and territories; they will have the right tools to design their own policies to meet these targets. A Liberal government will then provide them with targeted funding to help them achieve these goals.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

The government has a responsibility to help keep people safe and protect individual rights and freedoms. C-51 achieves the one but fails on the latter, and we have recognized – from the very beginning – that changes must be made. Only a Liberal government will do both. We’ll make the necessary changes to Bill C-51 to ensure that there is transparency and accountability with regard to public security, but we’ll also ensure that we protect Canadians from the very real, serious threats to our safety that international terrorism presents.

 

Dan Harris, New Democratic Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

ssw - dan harrisThis election will be my sixth as a federal or municipal candidate in Scarborough Southwest. I’ve been a member of the NDP for 20 years and MP for Scarborough Southwest since 2011. I come to this campaign with more political experience than most. Before being elected in 2011, I worked in the IT sector, including a year in Alberta’s oil sands. I was webmaster for the Make-A-Wish foundation and worked for Web Networks. I’ve also run my own web design business. I started working at age 15 in child care for Not Your Average Daycare at Corvette Public School. I have long-standing relationships with the Birchmount Baseball League (as player, coach, executive member and sponsor) and the Warden Woods community centre. My family has lived in Scarborough Southwest since the 1920s. Four generations of my family live in the area and I am intimately familiar with every corner of the riding.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

After 10 years, Stephen Harper’s economic plan just isn’t working. People in Scarborough Southwest are working harder than ever but falling further behind. Incomes are dropping and household debt is rising. Over 200,000 more Canadians are jobless today than before the recession. The jobs being created are part-time and precarious. The NDP has a plan to get the economy back on track. We want to cut the small business tax rate, implement an innovation tax credit and work with cities and towns to build and repair infrastructure. We also have a plan to crack down on unpaid internships and create 40,000 jobs for young workers across the country, create 76,000 good aerospace jobs and reinvest in the automotive industry.

What would you do to improve public transit and urban infrastructure?

Building better public transit and fixing crumbling infrastructure is of particular importance to Toronto. We are seeing the results of decades of Conservative and Liberal neglect. Canada is the only G7 country without a national transit strategy.

Packed buses, delayed trains and frustrated riders are the norm for Scarborough Southwest. Toronto needs a reliable partner in Ottawa that will provide long-term, stable and predictable funding for transit. Tom Mulcair will honour previous commitments and remove politics from future decisions by giving the city the money it needs instead of picking individual projects. The NDP’s 20-year Better Transit Fund will mean $12.9 billion in infrastructure funding for the region including $7.7 billion for transit. We have committed to providing an additional 1 cent of the gas tax to municipalities. The NDP will create a minister for Urban Affairs in order to prioritize and respond to the needs of cities like Toronto.

What role should the government have in child care?

Some families in Scarborough Southwest are paying upwards of $2,000 monthly on child care. This is simply not right. It makes life unaffordable for many families. The NDP has a plan to provide safe, affordable child care to families across the country for no more than $15 per day per child. This will help lift many families out of poverty and simultaneously provide much benefit to the economy. Child care should not be the domain of the wealthy. Child care should be a right.

What would you do to address climate change?

The NDP has a bold plan to address the very serious issue of climate change. We want to eliminate the wasteful subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and meet our climate change obligations by building a clean energy economy. Part of our plan to address climate change is building more efficient transit systems in cities across the country. We will also show up at the Paris climate change talks (unlike Stephen Harper) with targets and a plan to reach them. Implementing a cap and trade system that puts a price on carbon will help us reach these goals.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

Bill C-51 is a dangerous assault on civil liberties and must be repealed immediately. Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau want to make Canadians choose between our rights and our safety – this is a false choice. We can and must have both. As Tom Mulcair said, “We cannot protect our freedoms by sacrificing them.”

 

Roshan Nallaratnam, Conservative Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

SSW - Roshan NallaratnamMy family hails from a social service-oriented family, which is why I’ve always felt the need to help the community of Scarborough. I’ve been a front line law enforcement officer for the last six years and have been very active in the community, engaging in programs that focus on the security of Scarborough, youth, and family welfare. I am proud to call Scarborough my home. I’m raising my family here and I want to ensure Scarborough is a safe community for them to grow up in. If elected, I will work hard to make sure I energetically commit my time to represent and service the communities of Scarborough.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

I am proud to be part of the Conservative Party of Canada because we promised to balance the budget, lower taxes, and grow the economy – and we actually delivered these results. As Prime Minister Harper has indicated numerous times, we’ve come a long way to make sure our economy is protected by a balanced budget. Now is not the time for billions in new spending and higher taxes – these are things that both the Liberal Party and NDP are promising. We have to stay the course and continue to grow the economy, while delivering tax relief for all Canadians.

What would you do to improve public transit and urban infrastructure?

I believe the construction of public infrastructure, such as public transit, roads and bridges creates jobs and helps Canadian businesses prosper now and into the future. As I mentioned earlier, we have to stay the course. Since 2006, the Conservatives have invested heavily in Canada’s infrastructure – this includes the New Building Canada Plan, the largest federal investment in job-creating infrastructure in Canadian history. $70 billion dollars were invested in federal, provincial, and community infrastructure – this helps projects such as building more subways in Toronto.

What role should the government have in child care?

I believe parents are the best people to decide how their own money should be spent on their kids. This is exactly why I’m running for the party that created and expanded the Universal Child Care Benefit, created the Child Fitness Tax Credit, and recently introduced a family tax cut and income splitting for families.

What would you do to address climate change?

Climate change is an international problem that needs to be addressed in a number of ways. I definitely do not think a carbon tax is a way to reduce global carbon emissions. It would only serve to raise the price of everything, making life unaffordable for hard-working Canadians. The fact of the matter is that the Conservative government is the first government in Canadian history to reduce GHG emission while protecting Canadians jobs. Between 2005 and 2012, GHG emissions fell 3.1 per cent while the economy grew 12.9 per cent.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada. Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because they hate what Canada represents. The duty of any government should be to protect the safety of its citizens – this is why the Conservative government introduced the Anti-Terrorism Act. CSIS will only be able to act under Bill C-51 if a federal court judge believes it is necessary to keep Canadians safe and has specifically approved it.

 

Tommy Taylor, Green Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

SSW - Tommy TaylorFor the past five years, I’ve been an active promoter of civil liberties, accountability and transparency. I have worked as a professional fundraiser on behalf of NGOs that empower and assist Canadians and those in crisis around the globe such as CAMH, SickKids, the Redwood Shelter, OpenMedia, Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders. I was also part of the UN Refugee Agency’s first public fundraising campaign, focusing on the Syrian Crisis, for three years. Prior to this, I was employed by multiple arts and culture groups across the GTA in both creative and administrative roles. You Should Have Stayed Home (my award-winning play detailing the unlawful preventive mass arrests made during the infamous Toronto G20 Summit) toured across Canada to acclaim in 2013.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

I will invest in local, sustainable economies by lowering taxes on small businesses and investing in technology-based job creation.

Subsidies paid to foreign-owned oil and gas interests aren’t benefitting Canadians through jobs or at the pumps. Relying on income from the tar sands hasn’t worked out for us. Our dollar has plummeted. Good-paying jobs are disappearing as we head into another recession. Young people have little access to the job market other than unpaid internships or part-time jobs. It’s time we got real on the middle class – they didn’t disappear. They joined the nearly five million Canadians living in poverty right now. Part of building a new Canadian economy is taking care of Canadians by investing in their future with bold initiatives like the Green Party’s National Housing Strategy, Pharmacare and the Guaranteed Living Income. It’s time to invest in each other and our communities as responsible Canadians.

What would you do to improve public transit and urban infrastructure?

The first thing I would support is the Gas Tax Transfer to municipalities, to increase to five cents/litre. This dedicated funding would finally allow cities to create solutions that meet their unique local needs. Scarborough’s own transit future has too long been used as political football, partly due to the failure of Ottawa to step up. Cities like ours need multi-modal transit connections, and where appropriate, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. We need to get people moving now! Infrastructure to me is about more than healthy buildings, it’s about healthy Canadians. I want to see a Water and Waste Treatment Facilities Fund to upgrade water treatment, sewage treatment, and recycling facilities to make them efficient, safe, and sustainable. Combined with a Sports, Cultural, and Recreational Facilities Fund to support the development of green recreational and cultural facilities and refurbish existing facilities, we can make a healthier Canada.

What role should the government have in child care?

Responsible government is founded on wise planning for the future. We absolutely must collaborate with the provinces, territories and indigenous communities to establish affordable child care spaces for any Canadian family that seeks them. I want to see that any woman who wants to re-enter the workforce after having children is not held back from doing so. The Green Party will offer tax incentives to employers who create workplace child care. This strategy is advantageous because it enhances parenting time and access to children through the work day, extension of breast-feeding opportunities, improved employee productivity, and reduces the strain of multiple public transit trips when parents share their morning destination with their children.

What would you do to address climate change?

Some of smartest people on this planet are have been sounding the alarm on climate for a long time. This is not a matter of debating if, but when. We are headed towards disaster unless we take action. The good news? With the Greens, our transition to a green, sustainable economy will create good local jobs, shorter commutes, more livable cities, and cleaner air and water.

Our plan is to move to the virtual elimination of fossil fuel use in Canada by mid-century. Only Green MPs will stand up to defend our coastlines from increased tanker traffic, our rivers and parks from reckless pipeline projects, and our economy from further pursuit of high-risk extractive schemes that threaten Canada’s long-term prosperity. One needs only take a stroll down to the Bluffs to be reminded of what a beautiful and precious country we are the stewards of.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

Toronto saw firsthand the dangers hidden inside this universally condemned legislation during the 2010 G20 Summit. Illegal preventive arrests and detention were rampant throughout the city, with Toronto Police Command declaring anyone in the streets that weekend to be terrorists. In the time since, we have seen that even with current laws, accountability and transparency are almost non-existent. C-51 would loosen the rules even further, putting all our rights at risk.

Many communities in this city have their rights violated by police every day under the racist practice of carding. I would immediately fight to repeal Bill C-51 and fight to end any Charter-violating policies like carding.


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