2019 Federal Election

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- by Lynne Lundberg, Special to the OwenSoundHub

Questions prepared by the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce at the October 2 all candidates meeting were read and responded to with the order of candidate’s responses changing with every question. What follows is a synopsis of the answers attributed to the candidates by name rather than by party.

Chamber Question 1: What support programs and/or other initiatives does your party propose so that Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound is well positioned to benefit fully from the economic, social and cultural contributions of refugee and family class immigrants?

Ruff and Townsend were most interested in economic refugees and Little wants the borders opened. Den Tandt pointed out that everyone here is an immigrant except the Indigenous people and Canada was built on that. He would encourage more refugees to come to this area. Stephen would welcome newcomers and get rid of the backlog and red tape in immigration. Valiquette stated that the obstacle in this area is rural transportation and her focus is working with professional associations to facilitate educated immigrants to work in their field.

Chamber Question 2: What would you do to ensure that rural Grey Bruce is no longer economically and competitively disadvantaged waiting for high-speed internet?

Ruff would facilitate collaboration between all levels of government and the industry and Townsend would rewrite the regulations to enable smaller communications companies to get involved. Den Tandt explained that the government is already working on it through the Connect to Innovate program and are discussing with Telesat, the lowering of satellites to provide service to this area. Little would get rid of the CRTC and “expand free markets to meet our needs”. The other candidates acknowledged the need for it.

Chamber Question 3: What would your party do to make affordable, subsidized, accessible rental housing and home ownership more affordable and available for low-income, seniors and the millennial generation in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound?

Townsend’s People’s Party of Canada would restructure the tax system and eliminate capital gains. Den Tandt outlined the Liberal programs available such as First Time Home Buyers Program, National Housing Strategy and Housing Benefit for Renters. He would reduce foreign speculation that drives up housing prices and then make sure that all federal benefits are brought here. Stephen’s NDP will build 500,000 houses, bring in a 30 year mortgage, reduce foreign investment and increase the First Time Home Buyers Program. Valiquette’s Green Party would build 25,000 new homes every year for 10 years, increase housing co-investment and increase other Liberal programs. Ruff’s Conservatives would “knock down regulatory barriers” so that more people could qualify for mortgage renewal. He would bring in a 30 year mortgage so that people could “stop wasting money renting” and get into the real estate market. He criticized the FTHB program because you have to pay back the assistance you received when you sell your home. Little would abolish subsidies and rent controls which would “spur the creation of rental units” and he would eliminate capital gains. Apart from Ruff’s general comment about regulations, no one specifically addressed seniors.

Chamber Question 4 concerned the revitalization of the Owen Sound Harbour.

Den Tandt pointed out that removing the toxic sludge from the harbour is expensive. He suggested that all levels of government and First Nations need to negotiate a solution and cost out options that have been successful in other parts of the world. Townsend said that because the harbour is owned by Transport Canada, the “Feds should lead”. He would like to “push the Feds”. Stephen was not aware of the issue but promised to inform his party. Valiquette was opposed to dredging because of the risks and expressed that Saugeen First Nation does not want the harbour dredged. Little suggested that the harbour be sold to private enterprise. He commented that currently ships cannot take full loads from Owen Sound because they will run aground. Ruff would bring together all stakeholders to determine the best option and stated that his experience bringing people together in Ottawa and Iraq would facilitate that.

Chamber Question 5: What steps would your party take, and how quickly, to make the carbon tax on gasoline at the pump fully effective? Or what other policies or taxes to combat the climate crisis would you implement?

Stephen’s NDP Party would increase the carbon tax and hit big polluters harder. Valiquette expressed that this was a tool that the Greens had lobbied for. They would go further and eliminate pipelines and fracking. Little’s Libertarian Party favours free market solutions and increased carbon capture technology. Ruff’s Conservatives would eliminate the carbon tax, promote green technology, “take the fight global”, provide a green home tax credit and standardize recycling. Townsend’s PPC party would get rid of the carbon tax and not replace it with cap and trade. He said that if you tax the big polluters they will pass on the costs to the consumer and suggested instead, concentrating on clean water and clean air. Den Tandt defended the carbon tax, stating that is a free market idea used around the world and it is working in the UK and BC for example. His Liberal Party would keep it in place but make it better.

Next came questions submitted by the audience and chosen by Moderator, Trent Gow. Candidates were allowed one minute responses.


 

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