Vaudreuil-Soulanges Liberal incumbent Peter Schiefke sees multiple issues for federal election
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Vaudreuil-Soulanges incumbent Liberal MP Peter Schiefke will be running in the upcoming federal election and looks back over the party’s accomplishments over the last four years.
There are many matters important to residents of Vaudreuil-Soulanges according to incumbent Liberal MP Peter Schiefke who will again be running in the upcoming federal election.
“There are incredibly important themes such as the environment,” Schiefke told The Journal. “It’s something shared by all demographics, whether we’re talking about youth, seniors, or young families. A second important issue is that families and senior citizens have enough money to make ends meet,” he said.
Financial support for families
When Schiefke ran as the Liberal candidate in the riding in 2015, providing resources to help young families financially was a fundamental part of his campaign.
“The introduction of the Canada Child Benefit program has lifted 300,000 children out of poverty,” he noted.
In the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, 11,000 families, and 23,000 children receive an average of $500 every month, tax free, said Schiefke. “That is huge. That is one of the largest single, social investments ever made in the history of our country.” That translates into an annual investment of $72 million per year in the region’s families.
Investing in senior citizens
For Canadian seniors, there were investments made in a multitude of ways, according to Schiefke.
“We increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for over 900,000 Canadians. That investment represents an increase of more than $2 billion per year that we are investing in our seniors.” The increase was warranted because of the rise in the cost of basic supplies and prescription drugs. “We have kept income splitting for seniors,” he said. “We also reversed the retirement age back from 67 to 65,” he added.
Tax cut for middle class
The Liberal government’s income tax cut for middle class Canadians was also an important issue for the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Schiefke. “The Prime Minister wanted it to take effect immediately after the election in October, 2015. We all thought we would have the time off until January, but no, we were called back in December for two weeks to pass the middle class tax cut. He knew that would have a huge impact on people’s lives,” he recounted. The result was an average of $560 that was put back into the pockets of nine million Canadians. “We raised taxes on the top one per cent to be able to lower them for middle class Canadians,” he said.
Environment and economy
“One of the main reasons I went into politics was because I thought not enough was being done to protect the environment,” said Schiefke adding, “The list of things we have done is massive.
“We have done more and been more ambitious about environmental protection than any other government in history,” he said. “The reality is that we have ambitions and they are going to cost money.”
Similar to Norway’s environmental model, the Canadian government intends to use the revenues from the natural resources sector to invest in greening the economy, including the contentious proposed pipeline to the Canadian west coast.
“One of the main issues we face is that 99 per cent of the oil we sell goes to the United States because we don’t have enough access to tidewaters, and thus other markets.” Because the U.S. is the only buyer, they are able to demand a lower price.
“The government looked at multiple options. One was to go north with the pipeline through northern British Columbia through the Great Bear Rain Forest. That was a non-starter. That ecosystem is one of the most fragile in the world.”
The solution was to couple the proposed pipeline with an existing pipeline. “It was the least environmentally impactful way of achieving the objective of getting the price we deserve for the resources we sell.”
From an economic perspective, Schiefke calculated Canada is losing between $7 billion to $15 billion per year.
“We have pledged that all of the revenues from this pipeline will go into the greening of our economy,” said Schiefke.
Electric vehicle incentives
“We’ve put a $5000 incentive on the purchase of electric vehicles which has resulted in a 30 per cent increase in electric vehicle sales.” Federal financial support for public transportation in the form of high-speed electrical rail systems is also part of the plan for greening the economy and reducing carbon emissions. “For example, we have contributed $1 billion to Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) and the Quebec government has contributed to make this $6 billion project a reality,” he said. “It’s a privately owned project that will, hopefully, allow for the replacement of countless gas powered vehicles.”
Schiefke has pushed for the REM to be extended to Vaudreuil-Dorion. “The REM idea was proposed over a decade ago. The province has pledged to rebuild the Île Aux Tourtes Bridge in 2029 and include space for the rail line in the design so the REM can make its way into the fastest growing region at little cost to the owners,” he said.
“We also promised to grow the economy and protect the environment, meaning they weren’t mutually exclusive.”
Schiefke said over one million jobs had been created since 2015 and that 800,000 fewer Canadians live in poverty. He added Canada has the fastest growth rate in the G7 and the unemployment rate is the lowest in 40 years.
Ready for another term
In addition to serving as MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Schiefke is Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Youth and to the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Bill Blair.
Regarding the upcoming election, Schiefke is upbeat and is feeling confident in the work accomplished in the past four years.
“I’m looking forward to not only sharing with everyone in our community what we have accomplished together, but also the plans we have, moving forward, to build a stronger community in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and a stronger Canada.”