Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon candidates talked climate change, child care and poverty at Wednesday’s all-candidates meeting

Five candidates took part in question-and-answer session at UFV’s Abbotsford campus

Five candidates from the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding, along with candidates from the Abbotsford riding, took part in a question-and-answer session at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Abbotsford campus on Wednesday night.

The format of the event had the participants divided by party, rather than riding.

Questions were then asked of each party, with only one candidate permitted to answer. As a result, not every candidate replied to every question.

The following is a sampling of answers from the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon candidates.

Climate change regulations:

Green party candidate John Kidder said the issue has to be dealt with head on.

“We need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in Canada by 60 per cent by 2030. That’s 11 years from now … We have a plan to do this.”

He said Canada has to shut down the tar sands and stop fracking natural gas.

“That’s what must be done.”

Incumbent MP and Liberal candidate Jati Sidhu told the crowd that climate change is real and that action needs to be taken now.

“Launching the Oceans Protection Plan is the single largest investment in history to protect our oceans at $1.5 billion,” Sidhu said.

He also noted that the Liberals plan to ban single-use plastics by 2021 and listed several other environmental programs that the Liberals have funded.

Michael Nenn of the NDP said his party would like to propose that they take action, not with words or service cuts, but by investing in Canadians.

“We want to make sure we achieve our targets by 2030. We want to invest in 300,000 new jobs, transitioning Canada from a fossil fuel economy to a clean economy,” Nenn said.

He also said his party wants to cancel fossil fuel subsidies and use that money for other services, like health and child care.

Guaranteed annual income

to help battle poverty:

Nick Csaszar of the People’s Party of Canada said the short answer is his party does not support the concept of a guaranteed income.

“Poverty is more than a lack of money. Poverty is a lack of access, a lack of community involvement and a lack of engagement on many levels. A lack of money is a symptom of poverty,” Csaszar said.

He pointed to Switzerland and Austria, calling them two of the wealthiest countries in the world, with the lowest rates of poverty.

“How is this happening? They are very pro business. They are very pro free market … The way forward is always going to be a market-based solution with just sufficient regulation from the government.”

Universal childcare:

Brad Vis, the Conservative candidate, said his party has committed to increase the health and service transfers to the provinces and territories. He called the Canada Child Benefit program generous.

“For example, in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, if you are making about $75,000 a year, combined total family income, that’s about $9,265 you are receiving tax free from the federal government … That’s a big chunk of your daycare costs.”

Sidhu said the Canada Child Benefit, a tax-free monthly payment given to eligible families, has helped to pay for things like healthy food, school supplies and other things.

“There are families getting almost $6,800 on average and will receive another $140 this year in CCB payments.”

He said children will continue to benefit from this benefit.

Clean water on

First Nations reserves:

Nenn said the NDP commits to ending all the boil-water advisories on reserves by 2021.

“Building infrastructure and investing in the First Nations themselves… it’s not just about building quality systems, but providing the education and investing in the community to operate and maintain the infrastructure.”

Csaszar said the short-term solution is easy, because Canada has the technology to fix it.

“The issue is the racist document called the Indian Act.”

He called it “the most ridiculous piece of legislation ever drafted.” He said the PPC will rewrite the Indian Act with consultation with First Nations.

Vis said the fact that there are boil-water advisories on many reserves is a national shame.

“When you look at the challenges facing many of our isolated Indigenous communities … such as addiction, poverty, suicide, mental health and deteriorating housing, this one is one we can fix quickly… This is not acceptable in Canada.”

Kidder said all the candidates can agree that it’s ridiculous in Canada for anybody to not have safe drinking water.

He said fixing the problem is not hard, but it is a part of a much larger issue.

“The Indian Act is systemic racism embedded in law in this country and administered by bureaucrats… in this one case our law defines the people as being inferior… we have put it in our policy that we want to get out of the Indian Act.”

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