Editor’s note: The Journal invited the six local candidates in the federal election to participate in a Q&A on issues. The answers of the five who participated are presented this week, in alphabetical order. People’s Party of Canada candidate Brian Everaert did not respond.
1 – What do you see as the most pressing issue in Sarnia-Lambton right now, and why?
With a community as multifaceted as ours, it’s difficult to narrow down a single issue that is most pressing. That being said, I believe the first thing on everyone in the community’s mind is affordability. It doesn’t matter if you are a senior or a youth, the cost of living is getting higher, making it more difficult for people to thrive. Housing is getting less affordable and that’s why the NDP is committed to creating 500,000 affordable housing units. That investment would be spread across the country, not just limited to large metropolises, so communities like Sarnia-Lambton would benefit directly. Childcare, dental care, and pharmacare will also relieve the stress of how to pay for help people need.
2 – Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? And what should Canada do about it?
The science on this is clear: Climate change is caused and expedited by human activity. We need to invest in the green economy in Sarnia-Lambton. There is a false dichotomy of strengthening the environment or strengthening the economy. Creating good jobs and restoring a healthy environment can happen simultaneously — in fact, they go hand in hand. We will protect our land and water by investing in better waste management, banning single-use plastics, and developing a national fresh water strategy to ensure that we can enjoy our beautiful community and country for generations to come. Investing in retrofitting buildings to reduce their environmental impact is another positive way to reduce emissions and create jobs locally and across the country.
3 – Residents know Sarnia is in the grip of a serious addiction problem. Any solutions?
The first thing an NDP government would do is announce a public health emergency. This allows better access to the federal funds needed to save lives in Sarnia-Lambton. The next step is to end the criminalization and stigma surrounding addiction. This allows those who have become addicted to seek the treatment they need while getting tough on the real criminals — those who traffic and profit from illegal drugs. We will also invest in overdose prevention sites, because we believe in compassionate treatment and focusing on saving lives, allowing those to overcome their addiction with treatment on demand. Lastly, we would launch an investigation into the role of pharmaceutical companies in fueling the opioid crisis, seeking meaningful compensation for the public costs of the crisis.
4 – Despite a robust economy, none of the major parties are promising to balance the government’s books in the next four years. Is that a mistake?
We need an economy that works for everyone. Right now, life keeps getting harder for Canadians and people are having a hard time getting by. It’s more important than ever that we invest in the programs and services people need — like housing, childcare, pharmacare, and dental care. These are our priorities as New Democrats, and to ensure we can fund them sustainably, we’re proposing a new deal for tax fairness that protects family budgets and forces big corporations and the super wealthy to start paying what they owe. New Democrats will manage debt and deficits responsibly — defending the services that Canadians and their families rely on, and moving to balance when prudent.
5 – Sarnia-Lambton’s economy rests heavily on the oil and gas industry. How should this community position itself in a world moving away from fossil fuels?
We have to transition our world to be less reliant on fossil fuels. We can do it by leveraging the expertise we already have in the petrochemical industry and using the skills of our talented workers to foster new green technology investments. In addition to transitioning skills to new industry, we will ensure job training to upgrade skills so they fit into the new economy. We also plan to invest in retrofitting all housing stock in Canada by 2050 and our large-scale building retrofits in all sectors will create jobs, while reducing energy demand, and saving Canadians and business owners money on utilities. In partnership with Canadian automobile manufacturers, the $15,000 rebate on made-in-Canada vehicles will promote Canadian-made zero-emission vehicles and invest in Canadian workers.