Thursday, April 28, 2011
Linda M. Steinke
The Pipestone Flyer
The 2011 Federal All Candidates Forum for Wetaskiwin Riding was held on April 20 in the Rimbey Community Centre with about 40 people attending. The Rimbey Library Society—with Rimbey Municipal Library Manager Jean Keetch moderating—hosted the Forum.
NDP candidate Tim Robson (TR) and Conservative candidate Blaine Calkins (BC) were present. Liberal candidate Christopher Anderson hoped to participate in the forum via Skype. Unfortunately, the Community Centre’s internet service was not functioning. Anderson sent a video of his introductory speech.
Green Party candidate Robert Johnston did not attend the forum. According to Keetch, Johnston made no reply to her invitations to participate.
To read the complete story, including questions regarding the debt, free-trade agreements, childcare assistance, Bloc Quebecois’ request for HST compensation, voting along party lines, financial accountability of Native Chiefs and Councils, please visit our website at www.pipestoneflyer.ca and follow the links.
If the Conservatives win, will they give opposition the information they need?
BC: “…we turned over all of those documents—the first time in the history that a government has ever turned over classified, secret documents according to the Secrets Act to Parliament. We have members of each political party pouring over these documents. There is no issue.
Then, they asked for the cost of the fighter jets, they asked for the cost of the (garbled), these are documents that are classified and confidential….For 143 years, nobody has ever been forced by Parliament to turn these documents over before, but we did.
“So the Speaker…sent this thing to a committee. There are six opposition members, there are five Conservative members. That’s “democracy?” The plaintiff can’t simply turn around, become the jury, and pass judgement. So,…this election was unnecessary….
“We turned over all the documents they asked for. Then the opposition said, ‘Now you’ve given us too much information. We can’t possibly go through it all.’
“The fact that we’ve had a contempt motion brought forward and voted on in Parliament is simply a matter of math.”
TR: “That’s a different version than I understand. This is the first time a Commonwealth country…has been found in contempt of Parliament. Thirteen minority governments in Canada, it’s never happened before. Math? That’s what he calls math? It’s never happened before here, or Australia, New Zealand, anywhere. They wanted information on the Afghan detainees. They prorogued government, they still have not released it all.
“They wanted information on jails, they [Conservatives] want to send everyone to jail…. But, they haven’t said how much it would cost.
“Our jails don’t work. Right now, they’re full of recidivists, most of the people there have been there before. They may or may not go back again, that’s hard to say. But the cost is between $110-130 thousand each and to what end? So, they never gave us the information on exactly how much the cost would be for jails.
“There’s jets, these are 35s. The Americans aren’t using them….These jets come without engines and there was no cost given on that. They said they’ll cost $9 million. Peter McKay is the only one who thinks it’ll cost $9 million. Everyone else thinks the cost will be $30 million…without the engines. So I don’t know where they’re coming from.
“Freedom of information has never been a bigger misnomer than with the Conservative government that we have now. It doesn’t exist.”
What Party policies are you putting in place to make sure the Canadian pension system is sustainable long term?
TR: “I didn’t think there was a problem with the pension system in Canada. OAS is something a little different, supplementary income, but the Canada Pension Plan(CPP), I believe, is starting to invest in the market.
“Our party would like for people to have the opportunity to invest in CPP so rather than just having it through income, if you wanted to, you could voluntarily invest in it. I still don’t believe that the CPP itself is in difficulty in this country.”
Just to clarify, I’m not specifically talking CPP and OAS, I’m talking the whole system.
BC: “We have a defined contribution plans, …we have CPP and old age security, guaranteed income supplements, Quebec funds, tax-free savings account (and we will increase the amount…once we get to the next balanced budget—a couple of years out) as safety nets.
“The problem is there’s not enough money in those [to keep up] with the rising cost of living.
“We’ve increased the amount people that can contribute to their RRSPs.
“We cut our taxes and kept them low.
“We introduced policy for pension splitting for senior citizens and have proposed income splitting for families.”
Will we have agriculture in this country much longer or will we become dependent on foreign agriculture?
TR: “We believe in the family farm. We have always supported the farmer’s right to have the Canadian Wheat Board single desk working on their behalf. We’ve tabled legislation to protect Canada’s export markets against the analysis of genetically engineered seed, or GMOs.
“We’ve pressured the Harper government to take dairy and poultry supply management off the chopping block at the world trade organizations. So clearly, we need farms, we need farmers. There is a problem of farmers becoming older and more rare, and [farms becoming] bigger. I believe that’s a problem.”
BC: “We have seen a move of rural people moving into town to work…because the margins on the [family farm] returns are so small, you need volume to make up the difference.
“But agriculture is also a business and one that has to be profitable. So what we’re trying to do is give farmers market access they’ve been asking for.
“We’ve increased the number of food inspectors from CFIA. We’ve created the trade secretariats in order to help advance our trade initiatives in…emerging markets and in the European Union.
“We have revitalized CAIS and the Growing Forward programs, AgriStability, AgriInvest, Disaster Recovery Program as well. We have doubled the budget for farmers since 2006.”