Every Friday until the Oct. 19 federal election, the Nelson Star will bring you responses to a series of questions posed to the four candidates in the Kootenay-Columbia riding. The questions were compiled by Black Press editors throughout the riding. This week’s questions are:
1. What’s your reaction to the United Nations report issued earlier this year that criticizes Canada for a broad range of human rights failures including the lack of safeguards in Bill C-51 to protect Canadians’ civil liberties and an inadequate response to missing and murdered aboriginal women?
2. Oil companies are intent on getting their product to market, whether it be by train or pipeline. At the same time, serious environmental and public safety issues have been raised about both methods of shipment. What do you see as the solution to these issues?
DON JOHNSTON, Liberal Party
1. The United Nations report is absolutely right. If there is any reason for Conservative supporters to say “enough is enough” it is Mr. Harper’s dismantling of Canada’s international and human rights policies. This is not the Canada that our generation was proud to have built.
Despite perceptions about Bill C-51, Liberal policy is clear. Our MPs will stand up against anything that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unfortunately both the Conservatives and the NDP chose to play politics with Canada’s security.
Stephen Harper created an act that will be challenged in court and the NDP changed positions until they could generate fear for any government role in security.
We successfully argued for three amendments to the bill and told the Conservatives we would run an election against rights abuses. We will immediately ensure parliamentary oversight, institute mandatory legislative reviews, and narrow abusively broad definitions.
Last week we all addressed the Ktunaxa Nation Council forum and that audience knew about the Liberals’ 2005 Kelowna accord that the Conservatives ignored.
It was a respectful action plan for government-to-government dialogue. We need to deal with the root causes of a national tragedy that lead to over 1,200 murdered or missing aboriginal women over the last 35 years. A Liberal government will not ignore uncomfortable truths and we will launch an inquiry.
2. If we don’t demonstrate to the world that we have our act together on climate change and the environment, we will find it harder to get our resources to markets.
We will improve the environmental assessments with a comprehensive and fair process that ensures decisions are evidence-based, and allow meaningful participation.
We will also modernize the National Energy Board and ensure it has broad regional representation and expertise in environmental science and community development.
BILL GREEN, Green Party
1. The July 2015 report of the UN Committee on Human Rights makes 15 recommendations regarding needed human rights improvements in Canada, while commending us on only five matters. This long list of deficiencies should be of deep concern to Canadians.
Security of person is a human right, but indigenous women in Canada face particularly high risk of violence. Indigenous women account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women cases, even though they make up only 4.3 per cent of Canada’s female population. I support a full inquiry into our crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. If we are committed to security as a country, this must mean security for all.
The Green Party immediately opposed Bill C-51 when it was introduced in April. We share the concerns cited in the UN report, such as the bill’s lack of adequate legal safeguards and risks to Canadian’s civil liberties. We will continue to advocate for repeal of this bill.
2. In the long term and at heart, this question concerns climate change as well as environmental and public safety issues.
The Green Party’s very clear and achievable goal is to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025 (10 years) and 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.
This means that, in the short term, we have to stabilize, rather than increase, current levels of oil production (and employment), then work to shift energy industry investments away from fossil fuel extraction and pipelines and towards a new, renewable energy based economy.
If we stabilize current levels of production, there’s no need to expand beyond our existing and extensive network of pipelines. Investments can then be directed to improving both rail and pipeline safety, as well as in renewable energy resources distributed all across Canada.
DAVID WILKS, Conservative Party
1. Our government is responsible for the security and well-being of Canadians. Our legislation gives the RCMP, CBSA and CSIS the ability to share information and co-ordinate. C-51 must conform to the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms and there is judicial oversight.
The RCMP report on missing and murdered aboriginal women provides a road map forward. Our government introduced the First Nations Matrimonial Interests Act, which now provides families on reserve with the same rights expected by all other Canadians in the event of a marriage breakdown. We will continue to bring forth legislation so that all Canadians can prosper fully from our economy.
2. Oil companies are responding to an ever-increasing demand for oil. In Canada our oil is found predominantly in the western provinces and we are focused on getting our product to the market. We know that the safest mode of transportation today is by pipeline and our standards for pipelines in Canada are some of the highest in the world. The NEB along with other agencies oversees pipeline safety.
WAYNE STETSKI, New Democratic Party
1. Under the Harper Conservative government, Canada’s international reputation has been severely damaged with respect to climate change and the environment, our role as peace keepers, the use of science and good data to make decisions, and on human rights.
The Harper Conservatives have refused to act on the United Nations commitments on indigenous rights. Our current government’s refusal, for instance, to take seriously the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women, is simply unacceptable.
The Harper Conservatives, along with the Liberals, rammed through Bill C-51, the Secret Police Act, which over 100 legal scholars and four past prime ministers say goes too far. Bill C-51 will result in the erosion of our rights and freedoms and does nothing to make Canadians safer.
An NDP government will repeal Bill C-51, implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, protect gender identity and expression in the Human Rights Act, and call an inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women within 100 days of taking office.
2. In the short term, we need to review the safety standards of both pipelines and railways to ensure public and environmental safety. For example, there are far too few federal government railway inspectors in Canada, another important area cut by the Harper Conservatives.
We need to start to transition our economy from oil and gas towards renewable green energy. This is important from both an environmental perspective, including climate change, and from an economic perspective.
Green energy creates the jobs right here at home, so that people don’t have to travel to Alberta or northeast BC, and disrupt families, to earn a living.
The new solar Sun mine at Kimberley and bio-energy power plant at the Aqam Reserve near Cranbrook are an excellent start!