This week is the fifth instalment of a six-week Q&A feature leading up to the 42nd Canadian federal election on Monday, October 19th.
All four candidates running for Member of Parliament in the Kootenay-Columbia riding have agreed to participate and the Q&A is appearing in Black Press newspapers across the riding. The MP candidates receive two questions each week and have one week to reply in 300 words or less.
9. Whats your reaction to the United Nations report issued earlier this year that criticizes Canada for a broad range of human rights failures including the lack of safeguards in Bill C-51 to protect Canadians civil liberties and an inadequate response to missing and murdered Aboriginal women?
10. Oil companies are intent on getting their product to market, whether it be by train or pipeline. At the same time, serious environmental and public safety issues have been raised about both methods of shipment. What do you see as the solution to these issues?
New Democratic Party (NDP)
9. Under the Harper Conservative government, Canadas international reputation has been severely damaged with respect to climate change and the environment, our role as peacekeepers, the use of science and good data to make decisions, and on human rights.
The Harper Conservatives have refused to act on the United Nations commitments on indigenous rights. Our current governments refusal, for instance, to take seriously the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women, is simply unacceptable.
The Harper Conservatives, along with the Liberals, rammed through Bill C-51, the Secret Police Act, which over one hundred legal scholars and four past prime ministers say goes too far. Bill C-51 will result in the erosion of our rights and freedoms and does nothing to make Canadians safer.
An NDP government will: repeal Bill C-51, implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, protect gender identity and expression in the Human Rights Act, and call an inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women within 100 days of taking office.
By doing whats right, we can reclaim our reputation on the international stage.
10. In the short term, we need to review the safety standards of both pipelines and railways to ensure public and environmental safety. For example, there are far too few federal government railway inspectors in Canada, another important area cut by the Harper Conservatives.
We need to start to transition our economy from oil and gas towards renewable green energy. This is important from both an environmental perspective, including climate change, and from an economic perspective. Green energy creates the jobs right here at home, so that people dont have to travel to Alberta or northeast B.C. and disrupt families to earn a living.
The new solar Sun Mine at Kimberley and bio-energy power plant at the Aqam Reserve near Cranbrook are an excellent start!
Green Party of Canada
9. The July 2015 report of the United Nations (UN) Committee on Human Rights makes 15 recommendations regarding needed human rights improvements in Canada, while commending us on only five matters. This long list of deficiencies should be of deep concern to Canadians.
Security of person is a human right, but indigenous women in Canada face particularly high risk of violence. Indigenous women account for 16 percent of female homicides and 11.3 percent of missing women cases, even though they make up only 4.3 percent of Canadas female population. I support a full inquiry into our crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. If we are committed to security as a country, this must mean security for all.
The Green Party immediately opposed Bill C-51 when it was introduced in April. We share the concerns cited in the UN report, such as the bills lack of adequate legal safeguards and risks to Canadians civil liberties. We will continue to advocate for repeal of this bill.
10. In the long term and at heart, this question concerns climate change as well as environmental and public safety issues. The Green Partys very clear and achievable goal is to reduce Canadas carbon emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025 (10 years) and 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. This means that, in the short term, we have to stabilize, rather than increase, current levels of oil production (and employment), then work to shift energy industry investments away from fossil fuel extraction and pipelines and towards a new, renewable energy-based economy.
If we stabilize current levels of production, theres no need to expand beyond our existing and extensive network of pipelines. Investments can then be directed to improving both rail and pipeline safety, as well as in renewable energy resources distributed all across Canada.
Conservative Party of Canada
9. Our Government is responsible for the security and well-being of Canadians. Our legislation gives the RCMP, CBSA and CSIS the ability to share information and co-ordinate. C-51 must conform to the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms and there is judicial oversight.
The RCMP report on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women provides a road map forward. Our government introduced the First Nations Matrimonial Interests Act, which now provides families on reserve with the same rights expected by all other Canadians in the event of a marriage breakdown. We will continue to bring forth legislation so that all Canadians can prosper fully from our economy.
10. Oil companies are responding to an ever-increasing demand for oil. In Canada, our oil is found predominantly in the western provinces and we are focused on getting our product to the market. We know that the safest mode of transportation today is by pipeline and our standards for pipelines in Canada are some of the highest in the world. The National Energy Board along with other agencies oversees pipeline safety.
Liberal Party of Canada
9. The United Nations report is absolutely right. If there is any reason for Conservative supporters to say enough is enough, it is Mr. Harpers dismantling of Canadas international and human rights policies. This is not the Canada that our generation was proud to have built.
Despite perceptions about Bill C-51, Liberal policy is clear. Our MPs will stand up against anything that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unfortunately, both the Conservatives and the NDP chose to play politics with Canadas security. Stephen Harper created an Act that will be challenged in court and the NDP changed positions until they could generate fear for any government role in security. We successfully argued for three amendments to the Bill and told the Conservatives we would run an election against rights abuses. We will immediately ensure parliamentary oversight, institute mandatory legislative reviews, and narrow abusively broad definitions. Last week, we all addressed the Ktunaxa Nation Council forum and that audience knew about the Liberals 2005 Kelowna accord that the Conservatives ignored. It was a respectful action plan for government-to-government dialogue. We need to deal with the root causes of a national tragedy that led to over 1,200 murdered or missing Aboriginal women over the last 35 years.
A Liberal government will not ignore uncomfortable truths and we will launch an inquiry.
10. If we dont demonstrate to the world that we have our act together on climate change and the environment, we will find it harder to get our resources to markets. We will improve the environmental assessments with a comprehensive and fair process that ensures decisions are evidence-based and allow meaningful participation.
We will also modernize the National Energy Board and ensure it has broad regional representation and expertise in environmental science and community development. Full details are linked on my www.donjohnston.liberal.ca website.