How do you think our current electoral system (FPTP) impacts women and minority groups? What difference would a proportional representation model or other electoral reform make to these groups?
Our current electoral system impacts women and minorities in two ways. First, as potential candidates and elected officials. Both groups are already under-represented politically in Canada. As we see in Europe, countries with proportional-representation have a higher representation of women within government. In Canada, parties and leaders dominate the public discussion; so, if there is no political will to ensure that a fair representation of women and minorities exists, then it is impossible to translate that to a ruling government. In other electoral systems, there is room for further nuances which can better and more accurately represent the values of the population voting. I believe we need a new electoral system that better represents all Canadians. The second impact is on the voter who must choose only one candidate and then, either feel as if they’re not represented at all, or worse, there is no one on the ballot who speaks to their values and experience as a woman, an immigrant, someone of First Nations heritage, etc. This further disenfranchises voters. Every vote counts and all Canadians deserve a voice in Ottawa. When every one is heard, then we can have policies and laws that truly reflect our country.
The Fair Elections Act removes the provision for people to vouch for those with no ID. This has the potential to disproportionately impede people such as those experiencing homelessness from voting. What is your plan to ensure these individuals are able to vote?
Canada depends on immigration and our Canadian values embrace our social responsibility to refugees. It is in our best interests to ensure that all newcomers to Canada have access to the resources they need on their path to becoming Canadians, if they choose. We believe that immigrants should be reunited with their families abroad as quickly as possible. We also believe that refugees must have access to the health care, especially mental health care, they often need urgently after leaving countries in the midst of war and other tragedies. The recent debate over allowing more Syrian refugees into this country is an indication of how the present government’s views of refugees is not in step with the citizens of Canada.
Newcomers to Canada experience high levels of social isolation and often have multiple barriers to receiving optimal healthcare. If elected, how will you and your party address these challenges?
Canada depends on immigration and our Canadian values embrace our social responsibility to refugees. It is in our best interests to ensure that all newcomers to Canada have access to the resources they need on their path to becoming Canadians, if they choose. We believe that immigrants should be reunited with their families abroad as quickly as possible. We also believe that refugees must have access to the health care, especially mental health care, they often need urgently after leaving countries in the midst of war and other tragedies.
Please comment on Bill C24, the legislation that gives the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship and also makes it more difficult to become Canadian.
The Liberal Party is opposed to Bill C-24. Processing times for all major categories of immigrants, as well as for visitors, have skyrocketed over the past five years. At the same time, the bill proposes to increase the fee for new citizens from $100 to $300. This means would-be new citizens are getting double the waiting time for triple the fee. Further, while we agree with that Canadian citizenship is a privilege and that new citizens should be genuinely committed to our country, we disagree with their decision to extend language tests from those aged 18-54 to the broader age range 14-64. The age 14 is too young, while 64 is too old. We also believe that the Bill will actually devalue citizenship by making it harder to obtain and by providing the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration with extraordinary discretionary powers to revoke a Canadian’s Citizenship with limited access to judicial appeals. While we agree that individuals charged with serious crimes like terrorism or treason should face the severest legal penalties, it is a basic principle in our democracy that those making the laws cannot also be the ones enforcing them. This is the role of Canada’s judicial system, not politicians.
How would you address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada? Do you support an inquiry?
We can only move forward by acknowledging the failures and egregious wrongs of the past. This issue has gone on too long and without facing this head on, we have failed our entire country with this ongoing national tragedy. A Liberal government will immediately launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. We will work with First Nations and Aboriginal partners to develop a process by which it is established. That process will be fully inclusive, designed to find justice for the victims and healing for their families. An inquiry would seek to recommend concrete actions that governments, law enforcement, and others can take to solve these crimes and prevent future ones. We must acknowledge and accept the truths of why this has happened. Only then can we understand the root causes and take action to ensure it does not continue.
Education funding levels in First Nations have long been noted to be sub-standard to what is provided across Canada. On average on reserve education spending is $2000 less per student than what is offered by the provincial education systems. What steps would you take to begin closing the funding gap for First Nations students on reserve?
We are committed to closing the gap for First Nations students on reserve. An initial, immediate new investment of $515 million per year in core annual funding for kindergarten through grade 12 education for First Nations. This will rise to over $750 million per year by the end of our ﬁrst mandate. It includes not only the funding promised and never delivered by the current government, but an additional $325 million annually.
Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy. Where do you stand on creating such a strategy?
The Liberal Party of Canada believes that every Canadian has the right to safe, adequate and affordable housing. We understand that affordable housing is a possible solution to many of our society’s challenges. Child poverty, struggling veterans, high student debt, and the precarious lives of people experiencing mental and addiction issues are all addressed with better housing. Our platform will include measures to encourage the construction of new, affordable, purpose – built rental housing, investments in innovative programs for supportive housing, as well as predictable and sustained new funding for affordable housing. Liberals will prioritize significant new investments in affordable housing as part of the Liberal’s historic ten-year investment of nearly $20 billion in social infrastructure. We will provide $125 million per year in tax incentives to increase and substantially renovate the supply of rental housing across Canada and we will finance the construction of new, affordable rental housing for middle and low income Canadians. Tackling the housing shortage requires collaborative planning between all levels of government, meaningful engagement with community stakeholders and Canadians, as well as sustained funding. A Liberal government will work collaboratively with all our partners to increase the availability of affordable housing.
Federal funding for homelessness through the Homelessness Prevention Strategy (HPS) has not been increased since its inception over a decade ago. As the rates of homelessness have increased significantly since that time, would you increase funding? What other strategies might you recommend to reduce homelessness? As well the steady decline of low cost housing is contributing to the homelessness problem. What suggestions would you have to address the issue of increasing access to affordable housing?
As discussed in the previous question, the Liberal Party is committed a National Housing Strategy. We also called on the government to recognize the continued need for the HPS. As elected representatives, our duty is to stand up for all Canadians, especially those who do not have the basic neccessities. The purpose of the Homelessness Partnership Fund, originally created by the Liberal Party of Canada, was to provide funds to allow the provinces and cities to determine where funds were most needed. This partnership and the funding must continue. Only by providing people who are homeless with the services they need, from housing, to training, and addiction and mental health treatment can we lift them out of their circumstances, giving them a fair chance to feel the same dignity that all Canadians deserve.