Original copies of emails here:

Chris Turner, Green Party of Canada

Harvey Locke, Liberal Party of Canada

Dan Meades, New Democratic Party

NOVEMBER 10 UPDATE: Dan just sent me his answers and so that leaves only…Joan Crockatt.

NOVEMBER 7 UPDATE: Have removed Ben Christensen as he is not officially running. Just waiting on Joan Crockatt and Dan Meades now! 

NOVEMBER 6 UPDATE: Still no response from Joan Crockatt, Harvey Locke or Dan Meades. 

NOVEMBER 2 UPDATE: A sign on my lawn rests on the answers to these questions (in writing). Is that too much to ask?

I have just emailed the candidates in the Calgary-Centre byelection with the following:

I am a resident of Calgary-Centre and before I vote, I wanted to ask all of the candidates for their thoughts on issues of concern to me. There are many issues on my mind these days but I’ll narrow it down to my top five concerns:

Water
What are your thoughts on protecting Canada’s supply of potable water? How would you protect our water?

Food Safety
Canada’s food safety inspection protocols are being challenged by the XL Foods beef recall. What action would you like to see taken to reassure Canadians about food safety (for example, would you be willing to mandate new labelling on tenderized steaks so Canadians will know how to properly cook their beef for improved safety)?

Democracy
What is your opinion of the First-Past-The-Post system of voting? And would you consider looking at some form of proportional representation?

Energy
Do you support the creation of a National Energy Strategy, including alternative energy sources (such as wind and solar) in the mix? And what are your timelines for doing this?

Economy
Canada’s economy has been hailed around the world, but there are indications of concern around the levels of household debt and housing prices. Moody’s is reviewing six Canadian banks for downgrade and the provinces like Alberta are not helping build confidence by operating under huge deficits. What are your ideas to preserve our economic integrity going forward?

I’ve checked each your websites (and/or Facebook pages) and couldn’t find specifics on any of these issues but if I missed the information, please feel free to just provide a link to the relevant section. Thanks.

I will report back on the responses!

RESPONSES:

Chris Turner, Green Party of Canada, received October 30 at 5:10 p.m.

Water
What are your thoughts on protecting Canada’s supply of potable water? How would you protect our water? 

Canada’s abundance of natural bounty is well known, and there’s probably no resource more precious than our fresh water supply–1/5 of the world’s fresh water is within our borders. There are two crucial ways that I would work to protect this priceless resource: the first is by not putting a price on it, which is to say I would oppose privatizing it for short-term profit.

The second way would be to restore funding for the second-to-none freshwater research and monitoring system that was decimated by the Harper government in the omnibus bill and subsequent acts. Top of the list would be restoring funding to the world-class Experimental Lakes Area–which could have been funded for 25 years for the cost of upgrades to Tony Clement’s riding ahead of the G8 summit in 2010, and which has been responsible for discovering the causes and impacts of acid rain, phosphorus and other pollutants on our freshwater supply. Reversing the changes to the Navigable Waters Act is another priority.

Food Safety
Canada’s food safety inspection protocols are being challenged by the XL Foods beef recall. What action would you like to see taken to reassure Canadians about food safety (for example, would you be willing to mandate new labelling on tenderized steaks so Canadians will know how to properly cook their beef for improved safety)?

Again, reversing reckless Harper government cuts to the country’s monitoring apparatus is a top priority. This spring, despite warnings that it would jeopardize food safety, the government eliminated 100 food inspection jobs across Canada. The XL recall has shown us all too clearly that Canada’s food safety should not be a political issue. Labelling might help, but the burden should not be on Canadian consumers – we need proper safety inspections and we need to give the Canada Food Inspection Agency all the resources it needs to do the job.

Democracy
What is your opinion of the First-Past-The-Post system of voting? And would you consider looking at some form of proportional representation?

In keeping with Green Party policy, I am in favour of pushing Parliament to consider comprehensive electoral reform, and a proportional representation system similar to the one in Germany (where voters cast separate ballots for candidate and party) strikes me as the ideal to strive for. At present, Parliament’s makeup does not accurately reflect the democratic will of the Canadian people; 38% of voters comprise a “majority,” and new parties with fresh ideas are shut out of decision-making. What’s more, the first-past-the-post system encourages ferociously divisive partisanship in a winner-take-all government. Canadians are not well served by their electoral system at present.

Energy
Do you support the creation of a National Energy Strategy, including alternative energy sources (such as wind and solar) in the mix? And what are your timelines for doing this?

Changing the conversation about Canada’s energy future in Ottawa is a top priority of my candidacy. Right now, we are mired in an immature, divisive partisan mudslinging match about one of the most important issues facing Canadians–Calgarians, in particular. We need to have a calm, rational national conversation about energy. We need to decide how best to develop our conventional energy resources today–in a way that’s acceptable and beneficial to all Canadians–and invest the wealth this generates in building the low-carbon energy future we know we must provide for our children. I’ve spent the last 10 years researching, writing and speaking about the enormous opportunities created by investment in renewable energy sources–not just to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but also to create a new industrial sector and give everyday Canadians a chance to generate their own power on a decentralized grid.

I think this conversation would best be conducted under the rubric of a National Energy Strategy involving cooperation between the federal government and all the provinces, but in the event that proves impossible, time is of the essence. Parliament should’ve had this conversation years ago. The lack of federal leadership – creating uncertainty for the oil patch and eroding confidence in Canadian stewardship at home and abroad–is a huge and growing liability. We need to initiate this process as soon as possible, which is why it is an absolute top priority for my campaign. I think as a Green Party MP for Calgary Centre, I’d be able to bring a singular amount of political capital and focus to this issue, and I know I can build bridges between industry, governments and critics in ways that parties already stuck in the partisan shouting match cannot.

Economy
Canada’s economy has been hailed around the world, but there are indications of concern around the levels of household debt and housing prices. Moody’s is reviewing six Canadian banks for downgrade and the provinces like Alberta are not helping build confidence by operating under huge deficits. What are your ideas to preserve our economic integrity going forward?

One thing these trends tell us: this is no time to be complacent about the Canadian economy. Yes, we weathered the financial storm of 2008 better than most, but we still need to be moving with much more intensity into the real growth sectors of the 21st century economy. Simply put, we need to be targeting our “Economic Action Plans” and everything else toward becoming global leaders in the green economy. In Germany, renewable energy alone created 300,000 new jobs due to strong federal leadership; the renewal of Canada’s manufacturing sector and the best use of our technology R&D money is in an aggressive push into cleantech (not just renewables but energy efficiency, energy storage, smart grid technology, etc.). This is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy and it promises not just a healthy bottom line but new jobs, cleaner air and a return to Canada’s place of pride among the world leaders in sustainability and stewardship. It’s win-win-win-win.

I can say this unequivocally because I’ve witnessed it firsthand as a journalist, not just in Germany but in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Iowa, California, Ontario, even India. We’re in grave danger of falling behind in the race to lead the second industrial revolution. We need an aggressive catch-up plan now. I’m reasonably sure, at the risk of immodesty, that there’s no one in Parliament now who can speak to this issue with the depth of knowledge and breadth of experience that I have.

Harvey Locke, Liberal Party of Canada, Received November 7, 2012 at 9:45 a.m.

Water
What are your thoughts on protecting Canada’s supply of potable water? How would you protect our water?

WE SHOULD TREAT WATER AS A VERY SPECIAL ELEMENT IN OUR COUNTRY AND WE SHOULD MAKE CONSCIOUS EFFORTS TO HEIGHTEN SOCIETAL AWARENESS OF ITS VALUE.
WATER IS THE ESSENCE OF ALL LIFE. HEALTHY STREAMS AND RIVERS ARE THE BACKBONE OF ECOSYSTEMS. KEEPING NATURAL PROCESSES INTACT IN GRAVEL BED RIVER SYSTEMS IS ESSENTIAL TO CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION.
WE SHOULD NEVER EXPORT WATER AS A BULK COMMODITY.
WE USE WATER FOR INDUSTRIAL PURPOSES HERE AND WE NEED TO BE SURE WE DO THAT WISELY AND TAKE GREAT CARE NOT TO POLLUTE OUR WATERWAYS AND GROUNDWATER. WHERE WE HAVE, WE SHOULD WORK TO CLEAN IT UP AND FUND RESEARCH TO BE SURE WE CLEAN UP AS WE GO.
WE SHOULD ALSO PROTECT SOME WILDERNESS WATERSHEDS COMPLETELY. I HAVE WORKED AND WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY IN THIS FIELD.

Food Safety
Canada’s food safety inspection protocols are being challenged by the XL Foods beef recall. What action would you like to see taken to reassure Canadians about food safety (for example, would you be willing to mandate new labelling on tenderized steaks so Canadians will know how to properly cook their beef for improved safety)?

WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT FOOD SAFETY IS AN ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF PUBLIC HEALTH WHICH REQUIRES ADEQUATE PUBLIC INVESTMENT AND PUBLIC OVERSIGHT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT IT WORKS TO PRIVATIZE PUBLIC SERVICES THAT INVOLVE OVERSIGHT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.
LABELLING THAT DISCLOSES SPECIAL RISKS IS A GOOD IDEA.

Democracy
What is your opinion of the First-Past-The-Post system of voting? And would you consider looking at some form of proportional representation?

OUR FIRST PAST THE POST SYTEM IS IMPERFECT AS IT UNDEREPRESENTS THE DIVERSITY OF VOTERS’ CHOICES. BUT IT DOES ENSURE GEOGRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION AND THUS INCLUDES DIVERSE REGIONAL PERSEPCTIVES WHIC IS IMPORTATN TO THE WEST. AN ENTIRELY PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SYSTEM IS IMPERFECT ALSO AS IT FAVOURS HEAVILY POPULATED AREAS. I WOULD LIKE US TO EXPLORE A HYBIRD SITUATION WHEREBY A PERCENTAGE OF SEATS THAT ARE NOT GEOGRPHICALLY TIED ARE ALLOCATED BASED ON POPULAR VOTE.

Energy
Do you support the creation of a National Energy Strategy, including alternative energy sources (such as wind and solar) in the mix? And what are your timelines for doing this?

I THINK WE SHOULD FOCUS ON ENERGY AT ALL LEVELS: INTERNATIONALLY, NATIONALLY, REGIONALLY, LOCALLY, AND AT THE LEVEL OF THE CONSUMER. OIL WILL REMAIN ESSENTIAL TO POWERING CIVILIZATION. OUR GOAL SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT ENERGY RELAIBLY DISTRUBITED TO GIVE US A STANDARD OF LIVING THAT WE WANT WITHIN THE CAPACITY OF THE EARTH’S NATURAL SYSTEMS. WE SHOULD HARVEST THE “EFFFICIENCY RESOURCE” AT ALL LEVELS AND THUS USE ENERGY MORE WISELY. WE SHOULD GENERATE ENERGY FROM HYDROCARBONS, WIND, SOLAR AND BIOMASS THAT IS TRULY OTERHWISE WASTED (WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO HAVE PERVERSE INCENTIVES), I BELEIVE WE SHOULD WORK TO SHIFT HIGH CARBON INTENSITY COAL DERIVED ENERGY TO NATURAL GAS WHICH GENERATES FEWER GREEN HOUSE GASES. WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT HYDRO DEVELOPMENT BEACUSE OF ITS HUGE IMPACTS ON FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS.
WE ARE ALSO A MAJOR EXPORTER OR ENERGY AND WE NEED TO ENGAGE IN INTERATIONAL EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE THE ABOVE. ONE AREA TO MOVE ON IS TO PREVENT THE DESTRUCTION OF NATURAL ECOSTEMS EVERYWHERE WHCIH WOULD REDUCE GHG EMISSIONS BY 20%,
SEE MY ARTICLE ‘THE NATURE OF THE CLIMATE’ AND MY COMMENTS ‘IN CATCHING A RISING TIDE AN ENERGY VISION FOR WESTERN CANADA’ BY CANADA WEST FOUNDATION.

Economy
Canada’s economy has been hailed around the world, but there are indications of concern around the levels of household debt and housing prices. Moody’s is reviewing six Canadian banks for downgrade and the provinces like Alberta are not helping build confidence by operating under huge deficits. What are your ideas to preserve our economic integrity going forward?

WE SHOULD BE FISCALLY PRUDENT. WE HAVE A FEDERAL DEFICIT WHICH HAS BEEN A PATTERN UNDER THE COSNERVATIVE GOVERNMENTS OF THE LAST 30 YEARS. THE LIBERALS IN THE 1990S BALANCED THE BOOKS AND CREATED SURPLUSES THAT BEGAN TO PAY DOWN THE DEBT BEOFRE MR HARPER BEGAN DRIVING IT BACK UP, WE NEED REVENUES TO MEET EXPENSES. WE NEED TO AVOID CREATING A DEFICIT THAT WE PASS ON TO TO FUTURE GENERATIONS TO PAY. THAT MEANS WE NEED TO PAY ENOUGH TAXES TO COVER . THE SERVICES WE NEED AND WANT AND NOT BORROW TO PAY FOR THEM, WE MUST ALSO COMMIT NOW TO MAKING THE CANADA PENSION PLAN SOLVENT FOR FUTURE GERNATIONS. WE MUST PRACTISE FAIRNESS ACROSS GENERATIONS.

Dan Meades, New Democratic Party, Received November 10, 2012 @ 3:30 p.m.

Water
What are your thoughts on protecting Canada’s supply of potable water? How would you protect our water? 

This question must be answered in 3 steps: The right to water, commercialization of water, and water management on Canadian Territory

1.      The right to water. Following the adoption of Resolution (64/292) on last July 28th of the General Assembly of the United Nations recognizing the right to drinking water and to water sanitation as an fundamental right, the Human Rights Council adopted a similar resolution on September 24th of this year. In spite of this, the government of Canada has refused to recognize that the right to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right.

The failure to recognize water as a human right by Canada allows one to believe that the Canadian government fears that the adoption of such a principle could eventually infringe on commercialization of this natural resource. This position is unacceptable. Recognizing the right to water would protect us by facilitating its exclusion from free trade agreements, privatization and commercialization of water.    

2.       The commercialization of water. Water is the source of all life, of all ecosystems. It is not a product, and must not be submitted to ordinary laws of commerce. In 2007, a motion demanding that water be excluded from NAFTA was adopted in the House of Commons, but nothing has been done to implement it. As long as water is not excluded from NAFTA, any of our laws prohibiting its exportation could be challenged or even overturned.

3.       Management of water on Canadian territory.

The management of municipal infrastructure such as water sanitation and aqueducts are of provincial jurisdiction. Any environmental initiative by the federal government needs to take this into account, in order to avoid waste and duplication.

The problem is that the federal government can try to impose norms and regimentation, but if the provinces and cities do not have enough funds to implement them, citizens are no better off.

Many small municipalities still do not have the means to fund a system of sewers, filtration and used water treatment systems. Imposing norms on these municipalities without any consideration for providing the means of implementing them, or for the current state of their infrastructure, is irresponsible.

It is clear that each investment from each level of government needs to be reviewed and corrected in order to reflect the capacity of each.

Food Safety
Canada’s food safety inspection protocols are being challenged by the XL Foods beef recall. What action would you like to see taken to reassure Canadians about food safety (for example, would you be willing to mandate new labelling on tenderized steaks so Canadians will know how to properly cook their beef for improved safety)?

On April 1st 2008, multiple newspaper articles were published to the effect that “the CFIA inspects barely 2% of food merchandise, but that that low percentage represents 98% of the risks.” These affirmations at least serve to open the debate on the deficiencies in the tracking system of the CFIA and on the regimentation of labelling and food inspection. These events, linked to multiple cases of listeriosis, are extremely worrisome, as they are a part of a governmental pilot-project on industry self-regulation.

The Globe and Mail revealed on August 27 of last year that the CFIA had already endeavoured to allow the industry to do its own testing as of March 31st 2008. Not only did the government lack transparency in its way of bringing the deregulation project to term, but it endangered the health of the population, by neglecting to assume responsibility during the crisis. And the government has apparently learned nothing from the listeriosis outbreak….

Not only is this self-regulation project still alive, but what is more, the government has slashed the budget of the CFIA in its effort to cut public finances. The 2012 budget contained the following statement: “The CFIA will introduce a web-based label verification tool that encourages consumers to bring validated concerns directly to companies and associations for resolution.”

New Democrats have been demanding for a long time that Stephen Harper stop not only using CFIA as a target, but also provide more financing so that Canadians can feed their families without fear. Unfortunately, the government does not seem to be listening.

As far back as last January, the New Democratic critic for health and food safety, Malcolm Allen (Welland), warned that the compressive measures which were announced by the CFIA in its Report on plans and priorities in 2011-2012 would have significant negative consequences, and would increase risks for Canadian families.

(http://www.ndp.ca/news/conservatives-continue-to-fail-canadians-on-food-safety-ndp)

One of the most important concerns raised on food regulation and safety is that of the independence, objectivity and transparency of science with regards to the appraisal of technologies.

Therefore, we the industry should never be allowed to regulate itself completely, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency should never have the mandate to ensure full hygiene, and should always possess the funds to do its job properly.

Democracy
What is your opinion of the First-Past-The-Post system of voting? And would you consider looking at some form of proportional representation?

During the last leadership campaign, all candidates came out in favour of a serious debate on electoral system reform. Thomas Mulcair publicly stated that he subscribed to democratic principles which uphold the right to register votes of equal value; the right to be represented in Parliament without discrimination of political affiliation or place of residence; the right to be governed by a parliament whose members have been fairly elected and whose parties occupy a number of seats which closely reflect their popular vote, and; the right to be subjected to legitimate laws adopted by a majority of parliamentarians representing a majority of voters.

Taking into account the constant reduction in voter participation and the substantial power held by a majority government, (despite the fact that one can be leader of a country with only 40% of the vote), it is important to hold public consultations  on the most efficient electoral system, and the most appropriate one for our parliamentary system.

Energy
Do you support the creation of a National Energy Strategy, including alternative energy sources (such as wind and solar) in the mix? And what are your timelines for doing this?

The NDP has been calling for a National Energy strategy to protect the environment and ensure that our communities and businesses are able to profit from future energy prospects.

We believe that Canada must diversify its approach and take diverse energy sources into account, to develop a broader strategy which can be phased with a 21st century economy. In the long run, continuing to bet only on the development of gas and oil will challenge the environment and the economy.

Adequate environmental evaluations and a strict regulation must, in my opinion, be a part of an efficient energy policy in order to protect our resources and our communities. The reduction of environmental protections and inspections pose significant risks,  risks that we have the power and responsibility to minimize.

We need an energy strategy which will put the interests of Canadians first, and will help us make the transition towards clean and renewable energy.

Economy
Canada’s economy has been hailed around the world, but there are indications of concern around the levels of household debt and housing prices. Moody’s is reviewing six Canadian banks for downgrade and the provinces like Alberta are not helping build confidence by operating under huge deficits. What are your ideas to preserve our economic integrity going forward?

A few weeks ago, Thomas Mulcair gave a speech before the Canadian Club of Toronto “Building a balanced 21st century economy.” during which he highlighted the need for a better distribution of wealth in our society.

Over the course of the last 10 years. Canada has lost over 500 000 jobs – good jobs – in the manufacturing sector, and the balance deficit is at 50B$ per year. The country is losing; its jobs, its rich natural resources, its businesses and its expertise. Yet the government continues to refuse to clarify and strengthen the Canada Investment Act, which would send a clear message to foreign investors.

As Mr Mulcair said, “Our great challenge in Canada is not a lack of expertise. It is a lack of leadership.” The problem with the Canadian economy is the lack of productivity, and the fact that the Conservative government has failed to take real action. The government brags about its innovation tax credit being the most generous in the world, but in the course of the last 10 years, productivity has gone up only 1%. The government’s policy is purely short term: it does not encourage retention of the workforce, workplace training, or mentoring. It helps start businesses but doesn’t follow the process through, same goes for innovation and RS&D. The help stops at the most important part of the process. Why? It makes no sense.

We need a longer term vision and more transparency so that people, as well as families and businesses, know where they’re going and can plan for the future.

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2 thoughts on “Questions for the candidates in Calgary-Centre – Updated November 10 @ 7:56 p.m.

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