Six questions for candidates in Beaches-East York

Election signs are sprouting up across the country, though some establishments, like the Beacher café, allow space for all candidates, alongside a message encouraging passerby on Queen Street East to take the time to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
Election signs are sprouting up across the country, though some establishments, like the Beacher café, allow space for all candidates, alongside a message encouraging passerby on Queen Street East to take the time to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

Federal candidates for Beaches-East York recently answered six questions from the Beach Metro News. Below are their responses.

Beaches-East York voters will have at least three more chances to hear directly from their candidates before the Oct. 19 election.

Starting in the Beach, Beach Metro News and Community Centre 55 will host a candidates’ debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at St. John Norway Church (470 Woodbine Ave.).

A second debate will be held for East York voters starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1 at Presteign-Woodbine United Church (2538 St. Clair Ave. E.).

Danforth-area voters will also have a debate nearby, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. It will be hosted by the Danforth East Community Association at Kimbourne Park United Church (200 Wolverleigh Blvd).

Bill Burrows, Conservative Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

BEY - Bill BurrowsI’m very proud of the work I’ve done both inside and outside of the Beaches-East York community. Over the past four years I’ve served on the Board of Directors at the Flemingdon Health Centre, one of the largest Community Health Centres in the province. I’m also a past president and board member of Kew Beach Daycare. But most Beachers know me as the co-founder and past president of the Kew Beach Neighbourhood Association. The KBNA was really one of the first grass roots neighbourhood associations in B-EY to rally such a large number of residents towards one common goal. I worked alongside residents of every political stripe as well as the local city councillor and school trustee to help negotiate a successful settlement with the city and a local condo developer that addressed planning, infrastructure and flooding concerns.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

First let me say what the government should not do – the government should not raise taxes. That will hurt the economy. What we do need to do is help the small and medium-sized businesses that drive our economy. Look around our riding and see how many small businesses are struggling and how many empty storefronts there are. We need to help small businesses succeed and create employment.

Unlike Justin Trudeau, we don’t believe that small businesses are tax shelters for the wealthy, so Prime Minister Harper has announced a number of initiatives for small business including reducing red tape, lowering small business tax rates from 11 per cent to nine per cent and a planned cut to payroll taxes by 20 per cent. I have run a small business, I understand the challenges, and I know Stephen Harper’s plans will help small businesses here in Beaches-East York.

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

This riding includes some very old infrastructure that definitely needs to be repaired or replaced and I will be a strong advocate for infrastructure renewal. I will work not only with the federal government but with my provincial and municipal colleagues to ensure our community gets its fair share of any infrastructure funding.

I know that a re-elected Stephen Harper government will continue to invest in infrastructure. Since 2006 the government has invested $12.3 billion in infrastructure right here in Ontario. By comparison the Liberal governments from 1993 to 2005 spent only $3.4 billion on infrastructure in Ontario.

I was proud to be with Prime Minister Harper when he announced $2.6 billion in funding for SmartTrack as part of the government’s Public Transit Fund. SmartTrack is the best way to take pressure off the overcrowded subway system in Toronto and help Torontonians get around

What role should the government have in child care?

When my daughter was in daycare I served on the board of Kew Beach Daycare. I got involved because I believe, as Prime Minister Harper believes, that the best people to decide how their children should be cared for are parents. I believe the government’s role in child care should be limited to helping parents make the decisions they believe are right. In order to make it easier for parents, this government has increased the Universal Child Care Benefit to $1,920 per year for children under 6 and $720 per year for children 6 to 17 years old, added $1,000 to the Child Care Expense Deduction limit, and introduced income splitting for families with children, saving families up to $2,000 per year. As well, this government doubled the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit to $1,000 to help parents of children enrolled in sports or arts programs.

What would you do to address climate change?

Personally I try to do everything I can to reduce my environmental footprint. For example, this is the second time I’ve run in a federal election so after the last election I collected and stored my signs and we’re reusing them this campaign.

The Conservative Party is working to protect the environment while protecting the economy at the same time. Greenhouse gas emissions are down and we need to continue this in a way that doesn’t hurt the economy or cost Canadian consumers. A carbon tax is not the answer, it would only raise the cost of essentials from home heating fuel to food. Instead the Conservative government has committed to contribute an additional $300 million to the Green Climate Fund that is supporting projects, programs and policies to address climate change in developing countries. This builds on the $1.2 billion of funding already delivered by the Government of Canada.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

I support Bill C-51. Unfortunately, the fact is we live in a world where Canadians are being targeted by terrorists simply because they hate our society and the values it represents. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the safety of its citizens, and that is why we introduced the Anti-terrorism Act to ensure that our national security agencies have the tools they need to protect Canadians against the evolving threat of jihadi terrorists.

Canadians understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand and the safeguards in this legislation protect both, while our police and national security agencies are working to protect our rights and our freedoms. Under our Conservative government, Canada is not sitting on the sidelines as the Liberals and NDP would do. That is why we are joining our allies in the international coalition in the fight against ISIS.


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP? 

BEY - Nathaniel-Erskine-Smith_01 (1)I am an advocate. I practise law at a commercial litigation firm downtown, where I regularly attend court. I have volunteered for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and won public interest cases before the Divisional Court and Human Rights Tribunal. Before being called to the Ontario bar, I studied politics, philosophy, and constitutional law for eight years at Queen’s and Oxford.

I’m a big believer in local advocacy, and this is my community. I was born and raised in the riding, attended Bowmore and Malvern, grew up playing baseball at Ted Reeve and Stan Wadlow, and my parents Sara Erskine and Lawrence Smith are local teachers. I now live here with my wife, Amy, a chef and nutrition professor at George Brown.

I will use my skills as an advocate to achieve real results, and I will be a strong voice for our community in Ottawa.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

A Liberal government will build a stronger economy by investing in infrastructure, in science and technology, and in Canadian citizens.

First, we will double infrastructure investment over the next 10 years to $125 billion. Second, we will invest $300 million in innovation and support for clean technologies, and provide increased funding for R&D.

Third, we will invest in people: In youth: $1.3 billion over the next three years – 13 times more than the NDP – to create 120,000 youth jobs and additional co-op placement opportunities. In First Nations: $2.6 billion in First Nations education. In families: our Canada Child Benefit will bring 315,000 children out of poverty. In seniors: we will strengthen CPP and increase the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors three times more than the NDP. In the middle class: we will lower taxes for the $44,701-$89,401 bracket.

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

A Liberal government will invest $125 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. According to the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, we have a $123 billion infrastructure deficit, and that has a significant and negative effect on our economic growth.

It is important to tackle our infrastructure deficit now, especially given how low interest rates are. When congestion costs the GTA economy $6 billion every year, our continued failure to make major infrastructure investments will cost us more in the long run. That’s why we’re investing an additional $20 billion in public transit projects, quadrupling the current federal investment in transit.

We’re also investing $20 billion in social infrastructure, including affordable housing, seniors’ facilities, and child care spaces.

Both Harper and Mulcair have instead promised balanced budgets in year one, and they simply won’t have the money to invest in infrastructure and growth.

What role should the government have in child care?

Earlier this summer, Harper sent cheques to every family with children regardless of income. Inexplicably, Mulcair has promised to keep that plan.

We will re-direct all funds to families that need help with the high cost of raising children, through a single, monthly, tax-free benefit worth up to $6,400 annually for every child under 6, and up to $5,400 for every child 6 to 17. It will be means-tested: the more a household earns, the less it gets.

Every household with an income of $150,000 or less will benefit more under our plan. The Library of Parliament estimates that our plan will bring 315,000 children out of poverty next year.

Our plan is fair, and it’s a real investment in our country’s future.

The NDP’s daycare proposal requires the provinces to pick up 40 per cent of the tab, and will take at least eight years to roll out.

What would you do to address climate change?

A Liberal government will create national emissions-reduction targets so that we do our part to limit the increase in average global temperatures to less than two degrees.

We will work with the provinces to put a price on carbon, remove subsidies from fossil fuels, and invest $300 million in innovation and support for clean technologies.

We will invest $20 billion in green infrastructure over the next 10 years, including local wastewater facilities, retrofits and climate resilient infrastructure, clean energy projects, and systems to protect against changing weather.

We will perform a full-scale review of every cut Harper has made to environmental regulation, and restore credibility to environmental assessments.

We will protect our freshwater and oceans and preserve and promote our national parks, including the National Rouge Park in Scarborough.

Finally, we will ensure that federal scientists can freely share their research, and we will use data to drive smarter decision-making.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

Having studied constitutional law and having fought for civil liberties in court, I am against C-51 in its current form and am committed to fixing it.

A Liberal government will strengthen oversight of our security agencies, ensure that C-51 does not apply to protests or other legitimate speech, and remove measures that violate Charter rights. We will limit information sharing, require the Privacy Commissioner to publicly report to Canadians every year about that information sharing, and require a review of the entirety of C-51 after three years.

C-51 needs to be fixed, but there are measures worth keeping. For example, our “no-fly” list is now on a firmer legal footing, judges can authorize the deletion of internet material that incites terrorist activity, and terrorism “peace bonds” may prove useful for law enforcement.

We will work with experts to ensure that our rights are protected without sacrificing our security.


Matthew Kellway, New Democratic Party

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

BEY - Mathew KellwaySince being elected in 2011 I have worked hard to represent Beaches-East York in Ottawa.

I began in Parliament as the NDP’s Military Procurement critic, exposing Conservative mismanagement and defeating their plans to spend $50 billion on F-35 fighter jets.

Under Tom Mulcair, I have served as Urban Affairs, Infrastructure and Deputy Transport Critic. I wrote the NDP’s Urban Agenda, which recognizes the urban character of modern Canada and sets out a path to fairer and sustainable cities with a prosperity more equally shared.

In the riding, I have hosted innumerable town halls on matters ranging from income inequality to housing to food security. I have championed the preservation of natural and farm lands as important urban issues.

In Parliament, I have tabled motions relating to ethical sourcing, cultural recognition and urban affairs and proudly introduced an updated version of Jack Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Act.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

The NDP recognizes the need for economic diversification. This is at the foundation of my Urban Agenda.

Families in B-EY are working harder than ever to make ends meet. Successive Liberal and Conservative government policies have led to dropping incomes and rising household debt. Work in urban Canada has become predominantly part-time and precarious, with a consequent growth in income inequality.

The NDP will create good jobs by cutting the small business tax and introducing a new innovation tax credit to re-invigorate our manufacturing sector. We will re-institute a federal minimum wage at $15/hour.  We will invest in urban infrastructure, creating 54,000 new jobs. We will invest in youth employment, ensuring 40,000 new jobs for Canadian youth.

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

Federal investment in infrastructure has been in decline for decades, reaching its lowest levels in the 1990s. We have been saddled with an enormous infrastructure deficit. Urban gridlock has personal, economic and environmental costs.

We will increase the transfer of the existing Federal Gas Tax for cities to spend on their infrastructure priorities, including public transit.

Our Better Transit Plan will tackle gridlock and reduce commute times in cities across Canada. The NDP plan proposes 20 years of stable, predictable funding for transit infrastructure with $12.9 billion pledged to Toronto region transit.

We will work with provinces and territories to ensure effective investments while ensuring that cities retain the power to determine their own transit and infrastructure priorities.

What role should the government have in child care?

Close to 900,000 kids across Canada do not have access to affordable childcare. The average Canadian family is paying $1,000/month per child for childcare. Parents, usually moms, are confronted with a terrible choice – sacrifice their career goals or watch their salary get eaten up by childcare fees.

Here in Beaches-East York, where we are experiencing a baby boom, the challenges are even greater – costs are higher and spaces are more limited.

A National Childcare Plan has been promised by Liberals and Conservatives alike since the 1970s. Neither party has created a single new, federally-funded childcare space in Canada. It’s about time we did. The NDP will create and maintain a million quality childcare spaces where parents pay no more than $15/day.

It makes economic sense. It makes social sense.

What would you do to address climate change?

Canada’s climate record is the worst of the world’s wealthiest 27 countries. The Liberals signed the Kyoto Accord and stood back to watch emissions grow 34 per cent above their promised targets. The Conservatives took us out of Kyoto. We have been criticized internationally as we fail to meet even modest emission-reduction targets – or even look like we care.

Last year I tabled as my own private member’s bill an updated and revised version of Jack Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Act. It remains the only piece of legislation to be tabled in parliament that mandates emission reduction targets. It forms the basis of our international commitment to arrest global warming.

We will also end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, establish a rigorous environmental assessment process that takes climate change into account, transition to alternative energy sources and build energy efficiency into cities.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

C-51, Stephen Harper’s new surveillance law, gives intelligence agencies and law enforcement overarching powers to collect and share information on Canadians.

C-51, supported by the Liberal Party, is fundamentally contradictory. It purports to preserve rights and freedoms by taking away rights and freedoms.

Former prime ministers, legal experts, civil liberties advocates, privacy commissioners, First Nations leadership and business leaders have condemned the bill. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, has launched a constitutional challenge of C-51.

Liberals pledged support for the bill before seeing it and voted for it after reading it.

As Canadians we don’t have to give up our rights to be safe. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between our security and our rights. Canadians want strong, principled leadership. The NDP will repeal Bill C-51.


Randall Sach, Green Party

BEY - Randall Sach

What past experience makes you a good choice for MP?

I have substantial experience in international development, both in Canada and overseas, and through that work I have visited some of the worst urban slums in the world. I would bring my perspective of those experiences to the job should I be elected MP. I also have earlier work experience in the cooperative and non-profit housing sector, so I understand the problems that low income people face in Canada and internationally. I would be their champion as MP.

How should the federal government encourage a stronger economy?

The federal government should be investing in infrastructure, affordable housing, retrofitting buildings to combat the loss of energy through “leaky building syndrome,” and, most importantly, it should encourage moving to 100 per cent renewable energy as soon as possible. We would lead an immediate effort to create an “army” of construction workers to repair our crumbling public buildings and social housing, and to reduce or eliminate the energy loss through badly insulated buildings, both public and private. This would create immediate employment for thousands of workers, stimulating our economy at the level of working people and not relying on tax breaks for the wealthy to “trickle down” to the rest of the economy.

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

The Green Party has committed to improving Canada’s rail and public transit systems which are in a bad state of repair. Public transit is one of the important ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We also support investment to build and maintain other urban infrastructure, which has been an area of neglect by the federal government for a very long time.

What role should the government have in child care?

We will work with the provinces, territories and indigenous communities to establish accessible, convenient, enriched and affordable child care spaces for any Canadian family that seeks it. We will support women to re-enter the workforce whenever they choose after having children. The Green Party believes that workplace childcare has many advantages.

Those advantages include enhanced parenting time and access to children through the work day, extension of breast-feeding opportunities, improved employee productivity, and improving the convenience of public transport when parents and kids share their morning destination. Tax breaks to employers for the creation of child care spaces is one tool among many we will use to ensure that families have the spaces they need.

What would you do to address climate change?

Climate change is both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity that Canada has ever faced. While the consequences of failing to address climate change would be catastrophic, 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. Our short-term target is 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, while we are calling for 80 per cent reductions below 1990 levels by 2050. These are ambitious targets, yet the scale and urgency of this challenge demands nothing less. As Canadians, we will rise to this challenge and, in doing so, create a strong, stable, and prosperous economy today and for our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

What is your stance on Bill C-51?

It should be repealed. It is an unnecessary intrusion on our civil liberties.

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Mr. Erskine-Smith’s disagreement with Mr. Trudeau (his party leader) is interesting, but considering the C-51 vote was whipped, I strongly doubt he would have any ability to change the party position on it. I’m fairly sure he used to be a member of the NDP when he was in Kingston, maybe she should have stayed with them?

I do not think Erskine-Smith disagrees with Trudeau – they both want to fix the bill and accept that some parts of of it had merit worthy of passage.

In any case with a majority government opposition parties have no powers to alter or defeat a bill, nor to even delay things for long.

It used to be that governments rarely invoked “closure” and at one time opposition parties could stop things by not showing up for a vote (letting the bells ring).

This is the real problem and we need both electoral reform (ranked ballot, mandatory voting like Australia) and as well changes to the way the federal parliament and provincial legislatures work to empower backbenchers and take power away from the PMO.

The US has political gridlock, yet debates in Congress matter and the outcome of votes is not always known… and they pass a lot of laws. Here, parliamentary debates do not influence anyone and very few laws get passed (3 votes and committees delay things) and many laws die before they make it through the Senate. We need major reforms that might break with parliamentary traditions, including the powers of the Governor General.

Lets take a very close look at the liberals. Not only do they not want to talk about how much deficit they would add to our balanced budget, Justin is just wringing his hands to implement his pot agenda and make it more accessible for our youth. One of his candidates also has said that pot smoke is not dangerous for kids. How about changing the maple leaf for the pot leaf – is this next?

One of the Conservative candidates peed in a cup in someone’s home, another pretended to masturbate on Youtube and yet another spent the past 10 years ignoring and denying climate change and making Canada an international embarrassment.
Legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana will in fact make it more difficult for young people to buy at school during recess, which is where it is currently sold by kids to other kids.
The legalization of marijuana is such a minor issue compared to the permanent and willful damage our current greedy Evangelical Christian Prime Minister has inflicted on our planet.
I am ashamed to be a Canadian.

Wineva, legalized pot and selling it in corner stores will make it as accessible as cigarettes – how has this distribution method done in stopping smoking for young people? This is a huge issue and one no one seems to want to talk about. Also – why won’t Justin tell us how much deficit he will run? Either he doesn’t know or he is not telling us.

I saw Jason Kenney on TV repeating the line that Trudeau wants to sell pot in corner stores…

Even if a candidate said something stupid, it is certainly not what Trudeau has ever said or proposed. Trudeau should sue for slander every time a Conservative says something untrue and maybe we would have a sensible debate based on what the parties actually propose not some straw man.

But, in most provinces and states, privately owned stores sell not only cigarettes but beer and hard liquor.

Privately owned bars sell liquor all the time in province

It is only in paternalistic Ontario that beer and alcohol stores are controlled by a duopoly with the government running some stores and the foreign owned brewers running the other, and a secret deal with The Beer Store letting a few grocery stores sell beer is somehow considered major progress

Brian, Trudeau has been clear for years that he wants to legalize pot and have pot to be legally sold in our community, making it more accessible. This is a part of his platform for how he wants to improve Canada, which he has spoken at length about so not sure what your point is about slander.
How will making pot more accessible in neighbourhoods like ours across Canada improve it? Come on – this is time to evaluate these candidates and if making pot more accessible for our young people against the advice of the medical community is what the Liberals are proposing, lets talk about it. Why is this such a great idea?

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