Q1 – The climate crisis and changing attitudes globally have put fossil fuels in the crosshairs. Any ideas on transitioning the Sarnia-Lambton economy to one less reliant on oil and gas?
KILNER: Sarnia-Lambton has been a vital part of the Canadian energy sector for over a century. We commit to ensure that workers remain employed with competitive wages, as well as lending our expertise to abate the climate crisis.
Sarnia-Lambton is at the forefront of innovation and ready to lend its expertise. We also care about our workers and expect this country to invest in those involved in the energy sector for the ongoing transition to renewable energy.
Working with industry leaders so that together we can attract high-tech industry to diversify our manufacturing workforce. Vision and collaborative leadership at the local level is required to create this transition.
New Democrats are fundamentally collaborative and support unions. We will drive toward diversification in the energy sector.
Q2 – Many of our young people are drowning in student debt and home ownership has become a pipe dream. What can be done to make life more affordable for young people in our community?
KILNER: New Democrats commit to $20,000 student debt forgiveness and interest-free student loans to assist students and promote skilled labour training and apprentice pathways to fill the known employment gap.
Sarnia’s skilled labour force is an essential sector for economic success and growth.
Rising housing costs have several influences. The NDP commits to waiving GST/HST on new construction of affordable rental units and doubling the homebuyers tax credit to $1,500. Reintroduction of the 30-year mortgage terms with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will avail smaller mortgage payments. Our “Fast Start” program will allow municipal projects easier and faster access to planned housing projects.
To protect Canadian buyers, we shall limit foreign non-residential buyers by assigning a 20% foreign buyers tax.
Q3 – Vaccine passports. Where do you stand, personally, on government requiring citizens to provide proof of vaccination to attend events and access non-essential services?
KILNER: I believe that these vaccines are safe, easy-to-access, and necessary to move us into a post-pandemic reality. I certainly encourage anyone who is able to consider getting the vaccine as soon as possible.
The vaccine is one of a number of tools that will reduce lockdowns and sustain local businesses. I care deeply about this community and am looking to prevent further hardship.
Q4 – Canada’s federal debt surpassed a mind-boggling $1 trillion this year and is growing at the rate of $17 million each and every hour, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Are you concerned about federal spending, and if so, what can we do without?
KILNER: We are all concerned regarding our national debt. We are still in a global pandemic with harsh economic impacts. Canada has maintained a AAA+ Credit Rate according to Standards and Poor Global Ratings, so we are in great shape as a nation regardless of the global health crisis.
Like every country our deficit reduction post pandemic will take time and intelligent governmental fair taxation of the 1% (ultra rich). What can be cut from the budget is difficult for me to say. Like most non-incumbent candidates I’ve not seen the books, but once in Ottawa with Prime Minister Jagmeet Singh, I will let you know.
Q5 – What, to you, is the most important issue in Sarnia-Lambton right now, and why?
KILNER: There are a number of pressing issues critical to our residents. Housing Affordability, I see the struggles personally, as a minister and community activist. We see rent and home ownership becoming unreachable for even the middle class let alone the minimum wage earners.
Mental Health and Addiction services are lacking, exacerbated and highlighted during the pandemic. The NDP has historically supported community services addressing these social issues.
The fact that our current MP voted against the ban on Conversion Therapy, an accepted negative impact on mental health, is simply the wrong message to our 2SLGBTQ+ community who, when exposed to this barbaric practice, are twice as likely to commit suicide. Refusing to support a ban on conversion therapy is refusing to support mental health and wellbeing.