Wednesday Sept. 8, 2021, candidates vying to be elected in the upcoming federal election for the Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding faced off in an election forum hosted by the Leduc, Nisku, and Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce speaking on their platform and plans to tackle major public issues.
Mike Lake, incumbent MP for this riding and local candidate for the Conservative Party, Hugo Charles NDP, Tyler Beauchamp People’s Party of Canada (PPC), and Travis Calliou Veteran’s Coalition Party (VCP) were all in attendance to speak at the forum.
Ron Thiering, Edmonton-Wetaskiwin’s riding candidate for the Liberal Party was not at the public forum. The host of the forum, Richard Horncastle, says that Thiering had prior commitments and that there was a scheduling conflict.
Candidates discussed platform issues on topics including affordable housing, reconciliation with Indigenous People’s of Canada, health care, tackling pandemic dept, climate change and initiatives and more.
Here is what the candidates had to say on these issues:
Lake (Conservative) says that the first issue at hand when it comes to affordable housing is handling the inflation rate. He says that the deficit needs to be tackled in order to deal with the rising inflation rate and that the Conservatives have it in their platform to restrict foreign investments into homes for people who aren’t living in Canada, and will oversee the building of one million new homes in the country.
Charles (NDP) says that an NDP government would double the tax credit for first time home buyers.
“The key here is the tax credit which will definitely help a lot of people and extending that period to which they can pay for that,” Charles says.
The PPC candidate, Beauchamp says that his party’s plan for affordable housing is firstly modify the Bank of Canada’s inflation target. “We want to stop funding social housing which unfairly competes with private developers.”
Calliou (VCP), says that the first thing they would address to is stopping funding of affordable housing in other countries and focussing on Canada first.
“It all boils back to this money that spews out all over the world,” Calliou says.
COVID-19, Vaccine Passports and Pandemic Debt
Charles (NDP) says that everyone wants to go back to normal and that having a vaccine passport is the best way to ensure that. “It seems now that we claim the freedom and right to choose into something that is vitally important.”
When it comes to paying off Canada’s pandemic debt, Charles says the answer is easy, “tax the rich. We are asking the rich to pay their fair share.”
Beauchamp (PPC) says that his party is opposed to a vaccine passport. “I find it ridiculous that our government would do this kind of overreach, even provincially. Both governments are insane right now.”
Beauchamp says the PPC’s plan to pay off Canada’s pandemic debt includes fazing out all COVID-19 spending programs and reverse new spending programs that were announced by Premier Trudeau. He says that they will get rid of the deficit by fiscal prudence and spending cuts including ending corporate welfare, foreign development aid, defund the CBC, get rid of equalization payments and stop spending for programs that are provincial or municipal responsibilities.
Calliou (VCP) says that in his personal opinion COVID-19 mainly targets one demographic and pharmaceutical companies are getting rich from the vaccine, he agrees with Beauchamp that a COVID-19 vaccine passport would step on Canadian’s freedoms.
In order to pay off pandemic debt Calliou says that the VCP would drop MP’s salary by 30 per cent would save tax payer over $12 million per session. They would also like Canadian oil to be refined in our own country and sell at fair market value.
Lake (Conservative) says that while he is double vaccinated and believes in the evidence and science behind the vaccine he thinks, “it is very problematic to do as Mr. Trudeau is doing and as the NDP is supporting—mandatory vaccination.”
“The sweet spot is probably to facilitate rapid testing for people who don’t want vaccinations to ensure that they are able to participate still in society,” Lake adds.
Lake says that to tackle pandemic debt the Conservatives first step is to kick start the economy and job market. “We have to take the handcuffs off our energy sector,” he states, elaborating that using the power of the energy sector will play a major part in reducing pandemic debt.
Candidates were asked how they are going to work with the First Nations, the Métis, and Inuit across the country and in our riding towards reconciliation.
Beauchamp (PPC) says that Canada’s Indigenous People shouldn’t be dealing with homes that are without water or falling apart- that they deserve better. He says the PPC is looking into avenues to, “promote the establishment of individual property rights on reserves to empower it’s residents.” He says the PPC will also review federal spending to ensure program spending is better targeted for each population.
Calliou (VCP) says that as a Métis man himself a huge problem is that a vast majority of Indigenous People live on crown land. He says that that land should be given back. “Give it back to them,” he says. “We need to take care of them and give them back their land.”
Lake (Conservative) states the government needs to involve Indigenous communities in future business success, “we need to make sure that Indigenous Communities are full partners.” Lake says that this is crucial when evaluating getting the economy back on track.
Charles (NDP) states that he is saddened that this is even a topic up for debate in 2021, as it is an issue that should have had more done to resolve it decades ago.
“It is appalling, it is shameful, that you have Indigenous People’s here on their lands and they are corralled on the reserve. When they try to hunt off the land, when they try to fish off the water they are condemned… They are displaced on their own lands.”
Equalization formula and its impact on Alberta
Calliou (VCP) says that the whole system is broken and needs to be redone. “Alberta’s been suffering and people are out of work everywhere.” He says that the amount of Federal power and pull that Quebec has needs to be re-examined.
Lake (Conservative) agrees with Calliou that the equalization system needs to be re-worked as a lot of money has been spend with very little transparency. He says that the Conservative Party has a plan to implement a transparency act that would force the government to have complete transparency with Canadians on how much money is going into equalization, why, and if any changes are made they will be known for all and not passed under the radar.
Charles (NDP) says that arguing about the equalization formula is a distraction from the bigger issues at hand, and that right now Canadians need to be united not picking apart each other’s provinces.
“The equalization payment is laughable. This province has been suffering for a long time now since the Liberal government destroyed our oil and gas market,” says Beauchamp (PPC). “It is really, really unfair.”
Beauchamp says that the PPC wants to make a new formula altogether to hold the provinces accountable for their policy decisions to make sure that everything is fair for all the citizens across all the provinces.
Beauchamp (PPC) says that health care is a provincial issue and they can decide whether they want a private or public system. He states that the federal government doesn’t know the problems that are going on in Alberta, so it should be up to Alberta to make their own decisions about their own health care. “We can transfer them money, they don’t need more, they just need to be held accountable for their spending.”
Lake (Conservative) says that Albertans have no interest in the federal government making decisions on their provincial health care and therefore it should be left to each provincial government to use the federal grants as they see fit for their health care system.
Calliou (VCP) says that the health cares system needs improvements and overhauls including more doctors, nurses, and equipment, but that will take money that he says the proper use of Canada’s energy sector can provide.
Charles (NDP) says, “universal pharmacare is crucial.” He states that in order to make perscriptions affordable for all Canadians a universal pharmacare program is needed. He also states that the NDP is firmly against moving to a privatized system for health care as it is dangerous and leaves room for many Canadians to not be able to afford health care at all.
Climate change and green energy
Lake (Conservative) says that his party has a very comprehensive plan for dealing with climate change, however, it needs to be balanced with the need for Canadian oil and the Canadian energy sector.
Charles (NDP) cleared the air on the assumption that NDP is inherently anti-oil and gas, stating that he himself worked in the oil and gas sector. “The fact is that we cannot ignore the crisis we have.” He states that there is a need and use for the Canadian energy sector, however, the NDP platform includes pushing to find more renewable and green energy sources in the country so that Canada isn’t completely reliant on one industry for their energy and jobs in the energy sector.
“The notion of putting all your eggs in one basket doesn’t work,” says Charles. “We are asking for more investment to diversify our economy.”
Beauchamp says that currently Canada is making some questionable choices when it comes to the environment.
“A People’s Party government we plan to withdraw from the Paris Accord, abandon all the unrealistic greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, we are going to stop spending billions of dollars in developing countries to help them reduce their emissions, then we will abolish the Liberal government’s carbon tax.”
Beauchamp (PPC) believes that Canadians are absolutely being overtaxed- and the main way to tackle this issue is to focus in on government spending and balancing the budget. “We need to balance our budget so we can reduce our taxes,” he says.
Calliou (VCP) says that there are far too many taxes, and they just seem to keep getting added. “We are being taxed to death,” he says. He agrees with NDP candidate Charles on the perspective that the government’s should be taxing the rich heavier to help reduce taxes for the average Canadian.
Charles says that the only people not paying their fair share of taxes is the rich, and taxing the rich heavier is an NDP platform promise.
“Yes, we are overtaxed,” says Lake (Conservative). “Significantly overtaxed.” Lake says that the government has to get the fiscal spending under control, not just COVID-19 spending.