The forum was held on Facebook on Sept. 13. The only candidate to not attend was Harrison Andruschak of the Liberals.
The following are a few highlights of the forum:
Why is there an election and why is this an important election?
Shannon O’Toole, New Democrats (NDP): “Parts of Canada are burning, there’s a pandemic going on. There’s crises in Afghanistan, like all of these things. So many people around the prime minister said we don’t want an election right now. However, elections are important because we do have these things to solve and elections are an important part of our democracy. So we just carry on and go through it.”
Kelly Block, Conservatives (CPC): “Six years under this current government, I believe the future of our country is at stake. Justin Trudeau seems intent on reimagining Canada in a way that erodes many of our fundamental freedoms, and seeks to divide rather than unite Canadians. We need a federal government that protects our freedoms, unites Canadians and that will secure our future.”
Cherese Reemaul, Greens (GPC): “It’s looking like we are heading into another minority government. If we do keep electing successive minority government, it begs the question for about our electoral system that we have in our system of government, whether this Westminster system of government we have, is still relevant or not, which is why part of the Green Party platform a big part of it is the study our electoral system and and see how relevant still is and make the changes that needs to be made.”
Mike Bohach, People’s Party (PPC): “I think there’s no better time for a change than right now. The people I’ve talked to in all the small towns have been really, really excited to take this opportunity for a change. So even though his timing is extremely selfish, I think this would be a good time for people to start to vote with their hearts and vote for a change.”
Diane Pastoor, Mavericks (MP): “I have to agree with Ms. Block when she says this election is important, because we cannot continue with this current government. Their spending and the lack of accountability and corruption, it needs to end.”
How will you deal with the debt?
Block, CPC: “Even before the pandemic, the Liberal government’s deficit had ballooned beyond what they had ever promised Canadians. The federal debt now sits at approximately $1.4 trillion. To get our economy back on track, Conservatives have introduced Canada’s recovery plan. This is a plan that will recover the million jobs lost in sectors that were hardest hit by the pandemic, and policies which will result in better wages and help struggling businesses get back on their feet. Our Conservative platform also does include a plan to eliminate the deficit over the next 10 years.”
Reemaul, GPC: “If we’ve learned anything from the 2008-09 financial crisis is that you have to go big or go home else you are not going to recover from it, which is a big part of what the Green Party platform is.”
Bohach, PPC: “This is the time where we need to start looking at trimming things back. Foreign Aid, we spent $5 billion last year in foreign aid with another promise of $1.4 billion over the next four years. If we’re not taking care of people in our own backyard, why are we spending money like that? We need to start pulling back on these things, or the CBC and the $1.065 billion that goes into funding that.”
Pastoor, MP: “Our economic plan, which includes boosting the GDP and reducing interprovincial trade barriers, also ending the media bailout, encouraging an innovative economy, getting all sectors of the economy back to work so we can share the growth. Also returning girl to our world class energy sector, including Energy East, Trans Mountain and Keystone XL, which will boost investment and employment. We know the government does not create jobs. What does create jobs is business and industries who are viable and able to gain growth.”
O’Toole, NDP: “I don’t think that cutting back services is the way to address this debt. Debt has been growing since 2008 under both the Conservatives and the Liberals, and because we support people, we believe that taxing the ultra rich and having them pay for their fair share of the profits that they obscenely made over the pandemic is one way to increase revenues in Ottawa and I think that is the way to move forward not to cut back but to actually invest in the things that people need.”
What would your government do to help the canola trade dispute that’s ongoing with China?
Bohach, PPC: “We need to put more into backing up our farmers and getting a fair price. We’ve seen what happened with Australia and how China has bullied them around. We need someone who’s not going to just bow over. We need someone with a strong stance who are farmers.”
Pastoor, MP: “We will push for western provincial representatives to be at the negotiating table and participate in any international agreements that affect the interests of Western Canadians, and in particular natural resource industries. The Maverick Party will advocate for the reduction of trade barriers within Canada and promote free trade across provincial jurisdictions.”
O’Toole, NDP: “I think that one thing that came to mind with this question was the difference between small business agriculture and agricultural conglomerates and corporations that are often supplemented by our government through ridiculous tax breaks and that sort of thing. So I think that that has to be included in the question and how do we support small farmers first, before we support corporate farming.”
Block, CPC: “A Conservative government will negotiate new agreements with free countries that safeguard workers rights and the environment, rebalancing our trade priorities away from countries like China and towards the Indo-Pacific and Africa, we will reform Canada’s procurement rules to create a vital national interest category that must be sourced in Canada, and create a strategy to repatriate and diversify supply chains to move them away from China.”
Reemaul, GPC: “What the Green Party of Canada believes in doing is diversifying our economy. So we would be taking our canola and finding different uses for it, for example, using canola as biofuel, which is a big thing that’s happening in the Regina area right now... The other thing we have in place is called the green border, which means we will negotiate with people with other countries and companies who meet certain environmental and human rights standards.”
How is your party prepared to take action on acknowledging the calls to action for truth and reconciliation?
Block, CPC: “We are also committed to building a true partnership to ensure a just and secure place for thriving, self determining Indigenous nations within the fabric of Canada. And as significant employers of Indigenous peoples or natural resource industries have led the way in developing those partnerships, and providing the best chance for lifting rural, remote and isolated communities out of poverty, we will respect the right of Indigenous communities to pursue economic opportunities and benefit from the development of resources on their traditional territories.
Reemaul, GPC: “We will fund and implement all 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and additionally, we will fund and implement the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People.”
Bohach, PPC: “I think before we start getting ahead of ourselves, we need to go back and say, let’s get focused on drinking water. There’s communities with no power. We need to work with these people to get them at least up to the basic necessities of life.”
Pastoor, MP: “We know that the Indigenous people just want the truth. That’s all they really want. That’s what they say when I talked to them. The Maverick Party wants to bring the Indigenous into the discussions, to help blend Western science with their knowledge. We know that they want to help to be a part of the energy and pipeline solutions and we know that they want to get back to work – and we need their skill sets.”
O’Toole, NDP: “The NDP platform is very clear about including Indigenous people in rebuilding from our from the pandemic and also from just being right at the table, not just in consultation, but making decisions alongside the government, being part of government.”
What are your thoughts on a requirement for people to be vaccinated for universal protection?
Bohach, PPC: “The People's Party of Canada believes in the right to choose if you want to be vaccinated. Again, they are not anti-vax by any means. They're not anti-mask by any means. In fact, I actually really dislike when people wearing masks get hassled or grief when they go into a store. If you want to wear a mask, by all means you should. And if you want to get vaccinated, by all means you should, but to mandate a vaccine for five year olds is absurd.”
Pastoor, MP: “The Maverick Party believes in the rights of individuals as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights. Everyone has a right to life, liberty and security of the person. Getting a COVID shot is a personal choice made by the individual and there's no government that should ever make it mandatory... This pandemic has become more about power than it has been about science and we believe citizens should have a choice for what to put into their bodies, especially an unproven vaccine.”
O’Toole, NDP: “The NDP is about taking care of each other. And I think that looking at this question from the perspective of what's best for the most amount of people. We can have conversations about it. I think that the hot button-ness of this sort of covers up some larger questions that need to be asked that people don't want to look at: the crevices we've seen come to light during the pandemic, of wealth inequality, for example.”
Block, CPC: “I think we've been pretty clear that we believe vaccines are a safe and effective tool to fight disease, including COVID-19. We encourage every Canadian who is able to get one. However, we also support and believe that Canadians have the right to make their own health choices, and would promote rapid testing as a way to protect our most vulnerable Canadians.”
Reemaul, GPC: “The point of vaccines is to prevent suffering and to prevent death. So someone who takes a vaccine, every so far, as far as we know, the data is showing that if you do contract the virus, your symptoms are milder, and you're less likely 11 times less likely to die. So should if you don't have a vaccine, then going into a public space with lots of people, puts you at a much higher risk of contracting the virus, and then put yourself at risk of suffering or possible death. So should vaccines be mandatory? No. But should we have vaccine passports? Absolutely.”