Good evening Lethbridge! Thank you everyone for joining our online that with your federal candidates tonight. We have 4 candidates joining us this evening: NDP candidate Cheryl Meheden, Liberal candidate Mike Pyne, Green Party candidate Kas MacMillian, and Christian Heritage Party candidate Geoffrey Capp.
We are going to get right into your questions for the candidates. Our first one is from JFirth:
Who would like to go first?
My party has openingly stated that we are willing to work with other parties since we are in Parliament for Canadians and not ourselves.
Geoffrey you can go next.
As for myself, my part does not have a party whip which means that I can always put Lethbridge first and leave party politics at the door.
Whoever forms the government should be willing to work with an opposition party to arrive at a compromise on legislation so that both parties achieve some of their objectives. It makes sense, as Canadians will not vote for any of the parties by a majority of popular vote. This could be a challenge for Stephen Harper as he has to back down on some of his policies. A formal coalition is not required, but simply each minister or his/her advisers engages in discussions with opposition members to determine with which party they can achieve a suitable compromise to pss in Parliament.
My experience as a team builder will certainly be valuable as we do the important work of serving Canadians. I fully understand the necessity of identifying the larger issue and working towards a common goal. This is professional, responsible behaviour.
Mike would you also like to respond?
The conditions of which you speak are a new way of doing politics in Canada under the Harper Govt. We must find common ground among all concerned. For instance our platform calls for a replacement for the 1st past the post system of balloting.
Thank you candidates! We will move on to our next question, which is from Brian
Who would like to respond first?
This reform will be delivered by an all party committee under a Liberal Govt.
Anyone want to answers this question?
Canada has always been a mosaic of culture. It is the strong threads that weave together to form the even stronger fabric of our nation. We need to find ways to celebrate and take advantage of our diversity, rather than allowing it to be divisive. There are many ways to do this and Lethbridge exemplifies this in how we have recently settled our Bhutanese newcomers.
There is no comparison between the Southeast Asian immigrants (mostly Vietnamese) who came in the late 70s and the Syrians today. The Vietnamese quickly integrated and became part of our communities. There are indications within the Syrians of a significant number of individuals who will not accept our culture (i.e., refusal of Red Cross aid), and we need to insist, first, that the wealthy Arab states, culturally similar, accept significant number of the refugees, while we take a share who are compatible to our culture.
I think that our identity is a global country. We are globally interwoven into other cultures and countries which brings us to refugees. Many people came to Canada as refugees and they have always made our country better socially, culturally and economically. To answer your question Brian, it is a matter of scale. 10,000-25,000 refugees cannot have that great of power over a country of over 30 million. They will adapt to our way of life before we would adapt completely to there's.
Would anyone like to challenge another candidates response?
The diversity in our country is what makes Canada one of the best places to live in the world. There are not many places in the world where you can come to and be who you are, no matter what your name is, who your parents are, what your religion is, or who you love. Canada's immigrants come here to live a better life because of our freedoms and opportunity. They don't come here to change our way of life. Its only the Harper government, in its quest for easy votes, that has turned our diversity into a weakness
As a member of the United Nations, Canada has a responsibility to assist with the immigration process of displaced people. By cutting the services, as the Harper government has done, we are unable to integrate newcomers as effectively because programs such as language training and foreign credential recognition are not able to be provided. These simple things would significantly increase the newcomers ability to integrate.
I would also like to point out that refugees do not get a free ticket into Canada. Having worked with Canada Immigration, I know that the fees and costs associated with transport and processing to get to Canada are billed to the family. This amounts to tens of thousands of dollars owing. The argument that these folks get something for nothing is a fallacy.
Thank you for that candidates.
Our next question is from Leth Grad
We have a humanitarian crisis happening right now. We need action. We don't need fear mongering.
There are many emerging opportunities for new grads to work in Lethbridge. For example, the Tec Connect incubator hosts start up technology companies and they recently identified that 70-80% of the hires from these companies are recent grads from Lethbridge.
The Green Party is advocating to eliminate tuition by 2020 and for people like yourself who have already graduating with large sums of debt we are creating a student debt forgiveness program. Anyone who has over $10,000 in debt would all be forgiven except for the base $10,000 which you can pay back interest free. By helping you to eliminate your debt you can more easily afford to invest in the housing market in Lethbridge.
We have a limited job market until we can encourage free enterprise and small business, and we need to enable families, which are holding several part-time jobs in order to try to pay their bills, to be able to sustain on a single income. Our party's family friendly tax-free allowance will offer them a choice they would not otherwise have. That would open job opportunities. Housing is a difficult issue - the government cannot regulate house prices, but something needs to be done to keep foreign buyers from driving up our real estate prices.
The NDP platform identifies that internship and training opportunities are necessary for grads to break the 'can't get a job without experience' cycle. One way to accomplish this is to provide infrastructure dollars from a 1 cent gas tax reallocation that creates good jobs. These jobs that receive federal funds would have requirements to hire interns and apprentices. We also have a recruitment and training grant program for professionals.
Apprenticeship programs are also a CHP policy.
In order to buy a home, you also need to have more disposable income. A direct savings comes from the NDP reduction of interest on Canada student loans. Loans for education are a necessity for many, and Canada needs an educated workforce so they too should be willing to invest in education by forgiving interest costs on those loans.
The Liberal Party will work to create 40,000 good youth jobs over the next three years by investing $300 million more in the renewed youth employment strategy. We will more than double the almost 11,000 Canadians who access the Skills Link program. We will also invest $40 million each year to help employers with Co-Op placements. As the MP for Lethbridge, I will work to ensure that these investment reach Lethbridge youth, so they cane make a fulfilling career here.
Cheryl will now debate Mike
Mike, this is a good idea, to invest, but I would like to see solid action plans. For example, the NDP has an internship program that is supported through placements in not for profit, private sector, and pubic service employers.
These will provide meaningful experiences that allow students to ladder into good jobs.
Kas you are welcome to respond
Cheryl and MIke, I think you both have decent plans but you are trying to put a band aid on a bullet wound. What we need to do is address the fundamental cause of why students are having problems after graduation and that is the overwhelming debt that they have over their heads for years and even decades after graduation.
Also, I hope, Kas, Cheryl, Mike, that there will be no deficits involved with this and if necessary to borrow money, that you will take a page from Mackenzie King and our CHP policy book, and have the Bank of Canada issue interest free loans.