From left, South Surrey-White Rock candidates Joel Poulin (People’s Party of Canada); Beverly Pixie Hobby (Green); Gordie Hogg (Liberal); Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Conservative); and Stephen Crozier (New Democrat).

South Surrey-White Rock candidates have their say

Local federal candidates weigh in on issues affecting Semiahmoo Peninsula residents

On Monday, Oct. 21, Canadians will go to the polls to elect a Member of Parliament who will represent them in Ottawa for the next four years.

Peace Arch News reached out to each of the candidates, posing questions on four issues that have a particular impact on local residents. Candidates were asked to answer each question in a maximum of 150 words.

Of the five, four responded. Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay declined our invitation.

The questions appear below and responding candidates are presented in alphabetical order:

1. How important is the issue of climate change and protecting the environment – including the oceans – for you in this federal election? What immediate actions would you advocate for South Surrey and White Rock?

2. What would you like to see the federal government do to ease the high cost of living for youth and families, and seniors on fixed incomes? What do you advocate to increase the stock of affordable housing?

3. What is your position on reinstating regular benefits for disabled veterans, as advocated by the Equitas Society and promised by Justin Trudeau during the 2015 election, rather than current, one-time lump-sum payments which some have complained impose hardships? What other steps should the government be taking to improve the physical and mental well-being of Canada’s veterans?

4. What is Canada doing right and what is Canada doing wrong about refugees and immigration? Given past incidents of organized human smuggling through Peace Arch Park and charges laid this year against a U.S. business owner, what would you do about making the border in South Surrey more secure?

•••

Stephen Crozier – NDP

1. Climate change and the environment:

How important is the issue of climate change and protecting the environment – including the oceans – for you in this federal election? What immediate actions would you advocate for South Surrey and White Rock?

Let’s call it what it is: a climate emergency. Because of the inaction of our governments, largely due to that fact that they are heavily influenced by corporate lobbyists, whose primary purpose is to maximize profits, the planet and its people be damned, we are well past anything resembling climate change. Also, this is a global crisis and, as such, requires a global solution; however, there are some local initiatives that we should pursue. First, both White Rock and Surrey should declare a climate emergency as other municipalities have. Also, absolutely do not build the Trudeau pipeline. Additionally, ban single-use plastic. Further, retrofit our buildings to make them greener. Next, install electric car stations. Also, quit cementing our towns; plant trees! In addition, ensure that runoff from agriculture and industry is properly captured before it enters our waterways and ocean. Finally, work toward limiting the rail transportation of harmful products.

2. Social programs:

What would you like to see the federal government do to ease the high cost of living for youth and families, and seniors on fixed incomes? What do you advocate to increase the stock of affordable housing?

Universal pharmacare, an NDP plan since Tommy Douglas fought to get universal healthcare in Canada in the 1960s, will put more money in the pockets of Canadians than any trivial Conservative tax cuts or Liberal half-measures. These two corporate parties have allowed pharmaceutical and insurance companies to pick our pockets for far too long. We are the only country with universal Medicare, thanks to the NDP, that does not have universal pharmacare, thanks to the Liberals and the Conservatives. Our plan includes dental care, eye care, hearing care, homecare: head-to-toe healthcare. If you have doubts about whether we can afford it, look at the waste of wealth, publicly and privately. Let’s get it working for us.

Furthermore, build public housing (500,000 units), something the Liberals abandoned in the 1990s, protect pensions, increasing them toward a living wage, and provide $100 million for youth programs and more for free post-secondary education.

3. Canadian veterans:

What is your position on reinstating regular benefits for disabled veterans, as advocated by the Equitas Society and promised by Justin Trudeau during the 2015 election, rather than current, one-time lump-sum payments which some have complained impose hardships? What other steps should the federal government be taking to improve the physical and mental well-being of Canada’s veterans?

I come from a military family, so I know the sacrifice men and women in the military make for their country. Veterans certainly have not received the treatment they deserve from the Conservatives, who actually fought veterans in court after closing nine regional offices that provided services, arguing that the government was not obligated to provide care to veterans. And instead of fulfilling their commitments to veterans from the last election, the Trudeau Liberals broke yet another promise and left billions of dollars earmarked for service unspent.

The NDP will work with veterans to provide the benefits and lifetime pensions they need and deserve. We will increase the number of caseworkers to one for every 25 veterans and make sure benefits are in place before service people leave the forces. We will also make the education benefit and caregiver allowance available to more people and end veteran homelessness.

4. Refugees and immigration:

What is Canada doing right and what is Canada doing wrong about refugees and immigration?

Given past incidents of organized human smuggling through Peace Arch Park and charges laid this year against a U.S. business owner, what would you do about making the border in South Surrey more secure?

It is generally recognized that, except for the Indigenous peoples of Canada, we are all immigrants historically and that immigration has, overall, made a valuable contribution to life in our country. One place we are failing is in family reunification. The backlog in this area is unacceptable. Furthermore, people apply to come to Canada and are accepted based in part on certain qualifications and then are not provided the means with which to use their education and professional experience. Also, if workers have the skills to work in Canada, they should also have the opportunity to stay here permanently.

As for making the border more secure, there should be consultation with border guards to evaluate what is needed. One thing that might help is the suspension the Safe Third Country agreement with the USA. This would allow refugees to claim asylum at official border crossings rather than risk being smuggled.

Kerry-Lynne Findlay – Conservative

(no response)

Beverly (Pixie) Hobby – Green

1. Climate change and the environment:

As an environmental lawyer in Surrey, my focus in this election is climate change. We need a bold, practicable plan to transition immediately to a sustainable energy economy. Climate security is only possible with equity. Any climate action plan must incorporate economic justice, just transition, meaningful work, and respect UNDRIP.

Immediate actions include:

• planting trees in urban areas;

• creating green spaces with pollinator-friendly plants ;

• stopping the US thermal coal trains;

• installing more electric car plug-in stations; and

• banning plastic bags and single-use plastics

2. Social programs:

A guaranteed livable income would improve the lives of poor people and the middle class. It costs less to administer than the current array of income supports.

Housing as a fundamental human right. The federal government can use its spending power to:

• Increase the National Housing Co-Investment Fund and Canada Housing Benefit;

• Create a Canada Co-op Housing Strategy;

• Make housing an ‘eligible infrastructure’, so the Canada Infrastructure Bank can fund provincial and municipal housing projects;

• Finance non-profit housing organizations and co-operatives to build and restore housing for seniors, people with special needs and low-income families;

• Restore tax incentives for ‘purpose-built’ rental housing;

• Re-focus CMHC’s mandate to support affordable, non-market and co-operative housing;

• Change laws to enable Indigenous organizations to access financing from CMHC for self-determined housing needs; and

• Remove ‘deemed’ GST when developers place empty condos on the market as rentals.

3. Canadian veterans:

I embrace the Green Party’s commitment to restoring periodic payments to veterans at pre-2006 levels.

To support all veterans, the federal government must:

• Launch a national re-examination of veterans’ issues based on good-faith engagement with military families and veterans to identify necessary reforms and changes to programs;

• Work with veterans’ organizations to review and update the Veterans Charter and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board to ensure all veterans are treated fairly and with respect;

• Repeal the section of the Superannuation Act denying pensions to surviving spouses of certain workers, including RCMP and veterans, who married after 60;

• Ensure that services to veterans and their family members are fully integrated and funded; and

• Ensure that all veterans have access to health care, mental health support and treatments, and that Military personnel with PTSD are treated as highly valued people whose health needs to be restored.

4. Refugees and immigration:

What is Canada doing right and what is Canada doing wrong about refugees and immigration?

Canada must review its immigration policy, especially with the demographic imbalance escalating so that younger generations will bear the burden of supporting our aging population. We need to attract immigrants and establish a system that is fair. The government must ensure professionals being considered for immigration have licensing requirements clearly explained before entry, and work with professionals to create a robust system for evaluating the education and training credentials of immigrants against Canadian standards.

Anticipating that climate change will bring environmental refugees to Canada, we need a national discussion to define “environmental refugee,” advocate for its inclusion as a refugee category, and accept an appropriate share of these refugees.

Security at the South Surrey border is effective. I would establish a series of ‘townhall’ sessions to hear concerns about this issue, and establish a citizens’ focus group to work with law enforcement officials to examine options for addressing human smuggling.

Gordie Hogg – Liberal

1. Climate Change and the environment:

Climate change is likely the most significant national and international issue on which there is a world-wide consensus. The challenges are enormous. World-wide collaboration is essential. Unprecedented national initiatives are required and a Liberal government will make them.

Our community is already impacted by rising sea levels, more frequent devastating storms, and reduced levels of returning salmon.

I am proud to have been a member of B.C.’s cabinet that introduced North America’s first carbon tax – a tax shown to be effective in reducing carbon emissions – without inhibiting B.C.’s strong economic growth.

A Liberal government is committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, and to providing significantly lower tax rates for a specified class of clean technology companies.

A Liberal government will protect our environment by expanding designated protected land and ocean areas, increasing protection of marine life and providing rapid response readiness to potential ocean pollution.

2. Social programs:

During our first mandate, our Liberal government lifted more than 800,000 Canadians out of poverty. Through sound management of the economy, Canada’s unemployment rate was reduced to the lowest level in more than 40 years.

Two major targeted initiatives contributed to this poverty reduction success.

The Canada Child Benefit program provided 11,000 families in South Surrey-White Rock with benefits totalling $70.1 million in 2018. The OAS/Guaranteed Income Supplement benefit was enhanced for low income single retirees – many of whom had been stay-at-home moms without CPP benefits.

Liberals are committed to:

• increasing CCB benefits by up to $1,000/year for infants in their first year;

• increasing OAS payments by 10% for retirees over age 75;

• increasing CPP survivor benefits by 25%;

• ensuring no taxes are payable on the first $15,000 of personal income, saving an average family nearly $600/year.

3. Canadian veterans:

Over the past decade and a half, treatment of veterans by both Conservative and Liberal governments has been inconsistent with our fundamental Canadian value of treating people fairly. During periods of budget restraint, governments abandoned disability pensions in favour of lump-sum payments for injuries, and closed nine Veterans Affairs offices.

When I sought election two years ago, the Prime Minister asked for my priorities. I spoke of my work with veterans and with EQUITAS and also advised that I would push hard in this area. Lifelong pensions need to be re-established and long waitlists eliminated.

Building on my work with veterans and EQUITAS, I will work unfailingly with MPs from both sides of the House to secure the health care, rehabilitation services, and lifelong disability pensions to which veterans are entitled. This is about how we, as Canadians, treat Canadians who have put their lives on the line.

4. Refugees and Immigration:

Canada’s birth rate is declining significantly; life expectancy is increasing. Immigration is essential to increase our labour force and expand our economy and tax base to support an increasing number of retirees. Our system works – our future would be bleak without immigration. Immigration targets and supporting programs are fine-tuned annually to reflect Canada’s human resources needs.

I pride myself as one who lives in a community that is different and equal at the same time – whose dynamism is enhanced by hard-working immigrant families wishing to build an inclusive, healthy, safe and sustainable community.

It is critically important that eligible refugees, landed immigrants and asylum seekers be processed through Border Services – bypassing these control points is unacceptable. Unobtrusive, effective technology and adequate staffing are needed along Zero Avenue to prevent illegal crossings of people and guns – in fairness to all Canadians, including those who followed the rules.

Joel Poulin – PPC

1. Climate change and the environment:

How important is the issue of climate change and protecting the environment – including the oceans – for you in this federal election? What immediate actions would you advocate for South Surrey and White Rock?

The environment is a top priority for both myself, the People’s Party of Canada and future generations. The People’s Party wants to focus on protecting our environment by improving air, water and soil quality.

When it comes to climate change – the world’s climate has always changed and will continue to change.

Given uncertainties over the scientific basis of global warming – but certainties about the huge costs of measures designed to fight it – there is no compelling reason to jeopardize our prosperity with more government interventions at taxpayers’ expense.

The PPC will prioritize implementing practical solutions to make Canada’s air, water and soil cleaner including bringing clean drinking water to remote first nations communities. If elected, I will represent the concerns of South Surrey White Rock at the federal level in order to achieve necessary funding or support to continue on the path towards a cleaner environment.

2. Social programs:

What would you like to see the federal government do to ease the high cost of living for youth and families and seniors on fixed incomes? What do you advocate to increase the stock of affordable housing?

A People’s Party government will:

• Decrease taxes and simplify the system;

• End supply management of eggs, milk and poultry, saving families an average of $400 per year;

• Kick the CRTC out of the telecom industry to allow more competition and lower rates for cellphones, internet access, and television. Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world and up to 40% more than Americans;

• Abolish capital gains tax;

• Abolish handouts of taxpayers’ money to all corporations;

• Lower air travel costs by privatizing airports and increasing competition;

• Stop the flow of illegal migrants from the U.S. into Canada, saving taxpayers $300 million a year;

• A People’s Party government will not interfere in matters pertaining to provincial and municipal jurisdictions, such as housing. The policies advocated above will directly put more money in the pockets of Canadians, therefore, increasing affordability.

3. Canadian veterans:

What is your position on reinstating regular benefits for disabled veterans, as advocated by the Equitas Society and promised by Justin Trudeau during the 2015 election, rather than current, one-time lump-sum payments which some have complained impose hardships? What other steps should the federal government be taking to improve the physical and mental well-being of Canada’s veterans?

Canadian Veterans who sacrificed for our country deserve to be prioritized, and the Canadian Government has an obligation to honour our soldiers by giving them the support they deserve.

The People’s Party of Canada will:

• Reinstate the fair disability pension as previously provided for by the Pension Act. The pension will apply retroactively to 2006 and lump-sum payments received since then will be treated as advance payments;

• Enshrine in legislation the country’s obligations to our veterans in a Military Covenant between the government and those who serve in the Armed Forces;

• Instigate a line-by-line review of the New Veterans Charter (including the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act of 2011), to determine which policies and programs should be retained, simplify the system and make it easier to navigate;

• Reemphasize the legislative guarantee of the “Benefit of doubt” standard under the Pension Act.

4. Refugees and immigration:

What is Canada doing right and what is Canada doing wrong about refugees and immigration?

Given past incidents of organized human smuggling through Peace Arch Park and charges laid this year against a U.S. business owner, what would you do about making the border in South Surrey more secure?

What Canada does right is we welcome people into our Country.

Currently only 26% of all the immigrants and refugees who come to Canada are chosen because they have the right qualifications for our economic needs. The rest are dependants, costing Canadians billions of dollars. The intake levels of immigration continue to rise and at current rates, every three years we will replace the population of Nova Scotia (1M+). This threatens the cultural character and social fabric of our country. Since 2016, more than 45,000 illegal migrants have crossed our borders – costing taxpayers billions of additional dollars to house, feed, process claims and, if necessary, deport them which occurs 45% of the time. The People’s Party will fix these issues by reducing immigration, increasing the economic ratio and simply enforcing our borders most notably at Roxham Road in Quebec and right here at the Peace Arch border crossing.

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