Candidates tackle climate change, immigration and housing at Salmon Arm forum

North Okanagan-Shuswap contenders share views on topical issues

Salmon Arm residents had a chance to hear where North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates stand on a variety of issues during the community’s first public forum leading up to the Oct. 21 federal election.

The event, hosted by the Shuswap District Retired Teachers Association at the Fifth Avenue Seniors Centre on Monday, Sept. 30, welcomed the five candidates vying for a seat in Parliament: Mel Arnold representing the Conservative Party, Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz, Harwinder Sandhu of the NDP, Green Party Candidate Marc Reinarz and Kyle Delfing from the People’s Party of Canada.

Topics addressed in questions from the moderator and from the audience of approximately 100 people included climate change, housing affordability and immigration.

First to answer the question on climate change was Delfing who said the People’s Party would enable Canadians to make environmentally conscious choices by providing tax cuts. He added that his party would move to leave the Paris Climate Accords if they form government and would not promote policy moving towards a carbon-neutral economy.

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Sandhu stated an NDP government would declare a climate emergency and institute legislation with a plan to meet climate change reduction goals with regular audits to ensure the plans are being followed.

Reinharz appealed to the Greens’ longstanding climate action plan. He noted measures to fight climate change recommended by his party include removing fossil fuel subsidies and seeking to promote maximum efficiency for lighting and the transportation industry among other areas.

Arnold said a Conservative government would tackle climate change on a global scale, not with a carbon tax which he said penalizes Canadians. He said the transition away from fossil fuels will come from innovative technology developed by Canadians which can then be marketed around the world.

Derkaz spoke of the current Liberal government’s goal of net-zero emissions by the year 2050 and of current and forthcoming initiatives such as subsidies for electric vehicles and a ban on single-use plastic products.

Responding to a question on housing affordability, Derkaz noted her party was putting $55 billion into their national housing strategy.

Delfing said the best way to improve Canadians’ access to housing is to get them back to work; the solution he proposed was building pipelines.

Sandhu spoke of NDP plans to streamline the application process for building social housing projects and applying some of the funds gained from their proposed corporate tax increase towards housing initiatives.

Reinharz said the Greens would pay for initiatives to improve affordable housing by taxing digitally focused companies that operate in Canada without paying taxes, and also by halting subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

Arnold said policies enacted at the federal level have taken away incentives for landlords to invest in rental properties leading to a shortage which is affecting students, seniors and young families.

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A question about the candidates’ stance on immigration was personal for Sandhu and Reinharz who both immigrated to Canada. Sandhu stated that immigration is necessary for the economy but that her party would not compromise on security when screening newcomers. Reinharz said that the government should do more to educate Canadians on the processes involved in immigration and its impact on the country in order to correct misconceptions about it. Arnold said Canada is a country built on fair orderly immigration and that a Conservative government would halt illegal crossings of Canada’s southern border. Derkaz stated that Canada is in need of more immigrants to offset its aging population while Delfing said if his party forms government, they would cap the number of immigrants to Canada at 150,000 – down from the 300,000 to 350,000 expected to enter Canada in 2019. Delfing said his party would also strive to make it more affordable for Canadians to have children.

Other topics addressed at the forum included the parties’ targets for poverty reduction, efforts which could stop the contamination of Shuswap Lake and reconciliation with First Nations.

Shuswap voters will be able to hear out the candidates at forums held at the Sicamous Seniors Centre on Oct. 3 and at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort on Oct. 10 before election day on Oct. 21.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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Salmon Arm voters got a chance to hear from the five candidates who want to be their MP for the coming term on Sept. 30. (File Image)

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