Federal election English-Language candidates’ debate for Vaudreuil-Soulanges


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Conserative party member Marc Boudreau (left), Liberal Peter Schiefke (centre) and NDP Jamie Nicholls spar on issues raised by Vaudreuil-Soulanges voters at the October 1 English-language candidates’ debate.

Your Local Journal was proud to host the debate between three of the five-area parties October 1 featuring Conservative Marc Boudreau, Liberal Peter Schiefke, and NDP Jamie Nicholls. We also extended invitations to Vincent François of the Bloc Québécois and Jennifer Kaszel of the Green Party, both who declined. Below is Part 1 of the debate featuring questions submitted by Vaudreuil-Soulanges voters. Part 2 will be presented October 15.

Q: What is your position on TransCanada's Energy East pipeline and how do you justify that position to the people in this riding who will be affected by it? Do you see any benefits for this riding? How do you plan to ensure the safety of the people in this riding?

MB: There’s no decision that will be taken before we get an independent report from the National Energy Board. The Conservative government will not accept a project that is not safe for the environment. We’re all dependent on gas at this moment. It’s going to take years before this changes.

PS: We cannot approve Energy East Pipeline because currently, there does not exist any environmental impact assessment program that has earned the trust of Canadians. It’s been lost under this (Conservative) government. And until such time we can incorporate discussions with municipalities, community groups, and citizens, we can’t approve the Energy East Pipeline.

JN: The current environmental assessment regime is not credible. We intend to put a credible regime back in place that will look at the environment and the project itself but unlike these other two parties, we’re not just interested in ‘ripping and shipping’ our resources. If we’re going to take bitumen from the oilsands, we can’t just ship it off in its raw form. We have to transform it here – otherwise we won’t benefit from it. In principal, we support the idea of a west-east pipeline to feed our refineries and have value-added profits here in Canada to benefit Canadian jobs.

Q: Hudson, Rigaud and St-Lazare have some of the highest levels of green space in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. As our Member of Parliament, what would you do to help conserve the green character of our region for the enjoyment of future generations?

PS: We have a $300 million plan to protect our environment and wean ourselves off fossil fuels by investing in research and in green technology over a 10-year-period. In 2017, the 150th anniversary of our country, entry to National Parks will be free for all Canadians.

JN: Water is the fundamental resource that we all need and it should be protected. The federal government has the tools to do this but they’ve been dismantled over the years.

MB: We’ve increased over $300 million on the fonds vert pour le climat and that needs to be added to the $1.2 million that was allocated to the effort for the climate change. We’re trying to work in a balanced manner. We could abolish all the cars in the world but would that be the smartest decision? Everybody would lose their jobs.

Q: Given the refugee crisis we are seeing now, what is your stand on Canada’s obligation?

JN: What an opportunity this is to bring Syrian children, who learn French as a second language, to francophone communities outside Quebec to help those communities get French immigration.

The refugees would find a welcome place in Canada and I think this is something we should do.

MB: Canada has an obligation towards the refugees and we have to accommodate those in danger. However, Syria is the nest of Isis and do we want to accept anybody? (We need to) make sure there’s a certain control in place so we can accept refugees as quickly, and safely, as possible.

PS: This is the worst humanitarian crisis on the globe right now. We need to do our part as Canadians to let these refugees in but there are security concerns. Our party announced $200 million in extra funding for processing and settlement to ensure anyone allowed in is vetted. Our party also announced $100 million to the United Nations relief effort.

Q: How would your government address income splitting for seniors, who have paid taxes their whole lives, to help them survive financially once they are retired?

MB: The government addressed that a few years ago when it allowed seniors to split their income and it was very welcome. Our opponents have accused us of bringing our seniors back to work. That’s not what we’ve said, but for those who want to work, you should not be financially penalized. We’ve adopted that measure by which you can split and deduct an amount you would have to pay otherwise.

PS: Mr. Harper’s been putting ads on TV alluding to the fact that Justin Trudeau wants to get rid of income splitting. It’s dirty politics and it’s not true. We want to create something called the Seniors’ Price Index to see if income keeps up with rising costs. We also want to bring the age of retirement back from 67 to 65. We also plan to increase the amount provided to single, low-income seniors by 10 per cent.

JN: We have a whole range of programs we would like to present to ensure no seniors live in poverty. When large companies like Nortel go bankrupt, we would change (the laws) so that seniors get their pensions before upper management gets their bonuses. We would also reduce the retirement age from 67 to 65 and are also proposing expanded seniors’ medicare, and an Alzheimers’ and Dementia strategy. We believe no senior should go without medication, without food, or live in poverty.

Q: As a student working in the service sector, I understand how hard the job market can be. What is your party’s plan to create jobs for those 25 and younger?

PS: We are the only party with a plan over the next three years that seeks to create over 120,000 jobs for youth under the age of 25 over the next three years. Parents tell me their children have lost the drive to go to school because in their minds, there are no opportunities. We’re proposing 35,000 summer jobs, 5000 in the ‘green’ sector and national parks, and increased funding to universities for co-op programs. We’re also funding skills programs for youth who don’t want to attend university.

JN: Over the years, we’re seeing more young people working for free in order to get (experience). We don’t think that’s right; it creates an inequality in our society. We would offer companies money to pay their interns. We think the federal government has a role to play in helping companies hiring those young people. We don’t want to put debt loads on future generations that they will have to pay.

MB: The NDP offers subsidies – we offer lower tax levels. We’ve created 1.3 million jobs since 2008 which was the worst recession since the Great Depression. We’ve kept the taxes low and made affordable targeted investment in infrastructure skilled training. One of the problems is not that there are no jobs available, but rather there are no people to do a lot of those jobs.

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