City releases federal parties' answers to Calgary-specific campaign questions

Oct 15 2019, 2:07 pm

The City of Calgary launched an online platform in September to inform voters and hold candidates accountable leading up to the 2019 federal election, and have just shared the parties’ answers to questions that impact Calgarians.

YYC Matters, a subsection of the city’s website, was launched on September 12 — just one day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the election would be held on October 21.

The platform is designed to provide a place for residents to inform themselves on the key issues at play for the city on a federal level, as well as providing answers from candidates within YYC.

“This advocacy campaign is two things. First, it’s a research tool for Calgarians to help them see what the parties have planned for our city,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a release. “Second, this is an accountability tool, so whichever party leads Canada after this election will be on the record about their commitments.”

The questions that YYC Matters sent to candidates fall under three main categories, according to the city’s website: promoting economic recovery, honouring commitments, and supporting Calgarians.

A release from the city states that the platform was updated on October 11 with information from Alberta’s five main federal political parties: The Conservative Party of Canada, The Liberal Party of Canada, The Green Party of Canada, The New Democratic Party, and The People’s Party of Canada.

Here’s the list of questions that were sent out to candidates in the lead up to October 21, and their answers:

Strategy for supporting Calgary’s recovery

Q. What is your party’s strategy to support Calgary’s recovery as we reshape our future?

Conservatives: “The Conservative Party of Canada is proud of Canada’s oil and gas industry. We recognize the vital role of Alberta and its energy sector in contributing to the health of the Canadian economy, jobs for Canadians in every region of our nation, and providing sustainable funds to support social programs for every jurisdiction.” Expanded answer

Green: “The transition to a sustainable economy offers both challenges and opportunities. Jobs in the fossil fuel sectors will inevitably decline and this will be disruptive and stressful for workers and their families. However, new opportunities will abound in the green economy. In 2017, 268,000 people were already employed in the clean energy sector in Canada.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “For Canada to thrive the federal government needs to support economic opportunities right across the country. The Liberal Government’s Western Canada Growth Strategy is encouraging economic diversification, helping businesses to trade in new markets abroad, investing in the skills of our workers, and strengthening our communities through increased connection to broadband access and digital resources.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Calgary and Alberta have been the driving force of our national economy for years and, as we work to transition to a low-carbon economy, will continue to power our economy going forward. A New Democrat government will work with the city and the province to support the diversification of the economy and create the new good jobs that families deserve.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “Currently the People’s Party of Canada and Maxime Bernier is the only party that is committed to getting Alberta Oil to tidewater and back onto international markets. This is significant in Calgary’s recovery and future in a province that relies on its natural resources to stimulate and grow any kind of economy in Alberta.”  Expanded answer

Supporting our responsible energy industry

Q. What will your party do to support our responsible energy industry and ensure our resources get the best price?

Conservatives: “The Conservative Party of Canada is proud of Canada’s oil and gas industry. We recognize the vital role of Alberta and its energy sector in contributing to the health of the Canadian economy, jobs for Canadians in every region of our nation, and providing sustainable funds to support social programs for every jurisdiction.” Expanded answer

Green: “The Green Party will collaborate with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples and the public to develop a Pan-Canadian Energy Strategy that gets us to a carbon-free energy system by 2050; phases out bitumen production for fuels by 2030-35; prioritizes Canadian jobs and supply; reduces energy demand across all sectors by 50 per cent; and ensures energy security for Canadians throughout this transition.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “It is a core responsibility of the federal government to help get our natural resources to market, but that is only possible if we achieve the required public trust by addressing environmental, Indigenous Peoples’, and local concerns. 99 percent of Canada’s oil exports are sold to a single customer: the United States.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Calgary – and Alberta’s – energy workers have the expertise, talent and drive that will be essential to the success of our low-carbon economy. We know that the downturn has been hard on workers and families, but New Democrats have always been on the side of workers and everyday families and we’re going to continue to be on their side.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “Currently the People’s Party of Canada and Maxime Bernier is the only party that is committed to getting Alberta Oil to tidewater and back onto international markets. This is significant in Calgary’s recovery and future in a province that relies on its natural resources to stimulate and grow any kind of economy in Alberta.” Expanded answer

Clear and fair regulatory review process for infrastructure

Q. What will your party do to establish clarity and certainty in regulatory processes for timely decisions on critical Canadian infrastructure projects in the public interest?

Conservatives: “The Conservative Party strongly supports the timely development of critical public infrastructure projects.” Expanded answer

Green: The City has not received a response from this party.

Liberal: “We understand the importance of timely decision making, and a re-elected Liberal government will continue to work with provinces through a coordinated process to ensure that good projects get built in Alberta.” Expanded answer

NDP: “As the impacts of the climate crisis get worse, be it increased flooding or more intense fires, it is essential for governments to invest in infrastructure to protect our cities and the people that live there.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada are looking to streamline the regulatory process and make it both simpler and quicker in order to get boots on the ground on important projects.” Expanded answer

Improving federal-municipal relations

Q. What is your party’s plan for building strong cities in Canada?

Conservatives: “With a majority of Canadians living in urban centres, the federal government must have a strong relationship with the leaders of its municipal government in order to ensure the needs of urban Canadians are met.” Expanded answer

Green: “It is time to create a mechanism with a seat at the table for municipal governments. A Green government will support the model of collaborative federalism. Greens will create a Council of Canadian Governments, based on the one in use in Australia.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “Strong cities drive a strong country forward, and our Liberal government believes in strong partnership with our municipal partners in a wide range of areas. Modern public infrastructure is key to promoting economic growth, strengthening the middle class and developing healthy, sustainable communities.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Strong cities are healthy cities and Jagmeet Singh’s New Deal for People will make people and communities healthier from coast to coast to coast. Our commitment to head-to-toe Medicare for all – including national public pharmacare and dental care – will ensure that everyday families get the care they need without having to worry about breaking the bank.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “Because the Federal government does not have legal jurisdiction or oversight on cities it is important to establish positive relationships with all parties involved. It is important to recognize that the strong cities encourage strong economic growth for the provinces and Canada.” Expanded answer

Investing in public infrastructure

Q. Does your party commit to funding a portion of the construction of these important community facilities?

Conservatives: “Per above, Canada’s Conservatives are committed to working with the City of Calgary to identify key infrastructure priorities and work collaboratively to ensure that projects move forward.” Expanded answer

Green: “Please refer to our answer in the section on the gas tax for complete information. The Green Party supports municipalities building arts and culture and sports facilities to build healthy, connected communities.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “Our government committed in August to helping fund one-third of the Arts Commons building project, as currently proposed, with an $80 million investment. As a party, we are pleased to support this important cultural project in the heart of Calgary, along with our provincial and municipal partners.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Unfortunately, thanks to Liberal governments’ failure to invest and years of conservative government cuts, cities and towns across the country are dealing with a massive infrastructure deficit. Our cities and towns, and the people who live there, deserve better than empty liberal talk or conservative cuts.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “The People’s Party of Canada believe that it is important that the funding for community projects be responsible and accountable. It is important to recognize city and provincial jurisdictions in these matters.” Expanded answer

​​Immigration as a driver of economic growth

Q. What is your party’s position on immigration to Canada, and how will you ensure cities see the benefits of this immigration?

Conservatives: “Canada is a nation of immigrants that stands on the traditional territories of, and shoulder to shoulder with, First Nations and Indigenous persons.” Expanded answer

Green: “Canada must review its immigration policy, especially with the demographic imbalance escalating to the point where younger generations will be required to bear the burden of supporting our aging population.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “To keep our economy strong and growing, we will move forward with modest and responsible increases to immigration, with a focus on welcoming highly skilled people who can help build a stronger Canada.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Immigration makes Canada stronger. We welcome new talent and energy from around the world to build our communities and boost our economy. Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world – and we are richer and stronger for it.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “The People’s Party of Canada’s position on immigration is to listen to Canadians when it comes to numbers allowed.” Expanded answer

Q. How will you ensure municipalities have access to the best employees and protect them from legislation like Quebec’s Bill 21?

Conservatives: “The Conservative Party of Canada strongly believes that the freedom to practice religion is a fundamental right of all Canadians.” Expanded answer

Green: “Elizabeth May said in April 2019 that “Religious intolerance of this kind has no place in our society,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) as she affirmed her party’s strong opposition to the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s proposal to ban public employees in a position of authority from wearing religious symbols.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “Canada is a secular state and that is reflected across the full depth, breadth and history of our institutions. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of every citizen.” Expanded answer

NDP:

People’s Party: “Immigration makes Canada stronger. We welcome new talent and energy from around the world to build our communities and boost our economy. Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world – and we are richer and stronger for it.” Expanded answer

Permanent, higher funding for infrastructure from the Gas Tax Fund

Q. Does your party support existing (Gas Tax Fund) or other mechanisms to directly and permanently fund the renewal and construction of municipal infrastructure?

Conservatives: “It was our previous Conservative government that understood the importance of the Gas Tax Fund and extended it, doubled it from $1 billion to $2 billion annually, and legislated it as a permanent source of federal infrastructure funding for municipalities and communities.” Expanded answer

Green: “To fund investments in municipal infrastructure and public transit, a Green government will:​ Institutionalize federal transfers to municipalities through the creation of a Municipal Fund, renaming the Gas Tax funds, which were delinked from gas tax revenue years ago.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “Yes. To make sure that the infrastructure that people and communities need is built, we will require that all provinces and territories identify and approve all of their long-term infrastructure priorities within the next two years.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Whether it’s Calgary’s Peace Bridge or the upcoming Green Line, high-quality modern infrastructure doesn’t just make our cities more accessible, it makes them the envy of the world.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “The People’s Party of Canada believes in less government interference in the lives of Canadians. The PPC recognize the importance of the Constitution and its roll it plays in the governance of Canada.”

Fair share of cannabis revenue

Q. How will your party ensure that cities actually receive the federal funds needed to cover the administration and enforcement costs of legalization?

Conservatives: “During the debate on the Liberal’s cannabis legislation, Conservatives were virtually the only voices raising the issue of the lack of planning on the part of Trudeau’s government as it relates to the cost burden the legislation would have on municipalities.” Expanded answer

Green: “Greens are happy to work through the newly-formed Council of Canadian Governments (for more details please see previous question response) to establish an equitable distribution of cannabis revenues.​” Expanded answer

Liberal: “As Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said: we believe that cities must receive what they are owed through the cannabis excise tax framework, to cover the costs that they are bearing through the administration and enforcement costs of cannabis legalization.” Expanded answer

NDP: “Years of Conservative cuts and liberal underfunding have left cities struggling to keep up with more and more responsibility on a shorter and shorter budget. Now with cannabis, the Liberals have again downloaded their responsibility.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “The People’s Party of Canada recognizes and respects the Constitution and the role of the provincial governments. The People’s Party of Canada recognize that it is important to balance the federal budget prior to making any financial commitments and respecting provincial jurisdictions.”

Public transit funding

Q. How will your party support long-term transit funding to build and extend transit in Calgary?

Conservatives: “A Conservative Government will work with municipalities such as Calgary to identify key infrastructure priorities and work with all stakeholders involved to make sure that important projects move forward. We must do better than Trudeau’s Liberal government – and that is what Canada’s Conservatives plan to do. We will prioritize projects that reduce commute times.​” Expanded answer

Green: Please refer to our answer on the Gas Tax Fund​.

Liberal: “To give cities the predictable transit funding they need to plan for the future, we will move forward with making the federal commitment to fund public transit permanent, and will make sure that it keeps up with the rising cost of construction over time.​” Expanded answer

NDP: “Investing in public transit doesn’t just make life better it makes our communities safer and healthier as well. For years cities across Canada have been telling Ottawa that one of their top priorities was support for modern and expanded public transit, yet each year conservative and liberal governments alike responded with silence.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “The People’s Party of Canada recognizes and respects the Constitution and the role of the provincial governments. The People’s Party of Canada recognize that it is important to balance the federal budget prior to making any financial commitments and respecting provincial jurisdictions.​” Expanded answer

Mental health and addictions

Q. What is your party’s plan to address this crisis? Will your party commit to high-level federal representation on Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy?

Conservatives: “Mental health and addictions are two serious public policy challenges that Conservatives are committed to taking immediate action to address.” Expanded answer

Green: “Greens will address the opioid crisis as a health-care issue, not a criminal issue, by declaring a national health emergency. Recognize that fentanyl contamination is why deaths are more accurately described as poisonings than overdoses.” Expanded answer

Liberal: “Our Liberal government has worked to save lives turn the tide of this national public health crisis with a response that is compassionate, collaborative and evidence-based.” Expanded answer

NDP: “The opioid crisis has impacted every part of the country, from the busiest big city downtowns to the most remote and smallest towns, and the effects of this crisis have been devastating.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “The People’s Party of Canada recognizes and respects the Constitution and the role of the provincial governments. It is important to recognize and support the changing needs of first responders in identifying the kinds of risks they face daily.” Expanded answer

Made-in-Alberta mortgage rules

Q. Does your party support creating market- and regionally-specific mortgage rules?

Conservatives: “The federal government should be prepared to take a regional approach to mortgage qualification rules when necessary as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has done in the past.” Expanded answer

Green: “The Green Party is happy to examine market-specific and regionally-specific mortgage rules as a tool to address the housing affordability crisis.​” Expanded answer

Liberal: “This policy helps ensure Canada maintains a strong and stable housing market in which borrowers do not take on too much debt. The mortgage stress test was developed by independent market regulators, and it is best administered by them, not politicians.​” Expanded answer

NDP: “The housing affordability crisis is hitting cities all across the country. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto the high cost of housing has meant that young families struggle to afford their first home, if they can afford one at all.” Expanded answer

People’s Party: “Freeing our economy from these interprovincial trade barriers would help families and businesses. It would also increase competition, raise productivity, and unite our country.” Expanded answer

Of course, if Calgarians have any questions that are not being covered on YYC Matters, they are encouraged to ask candidates themselves.

“When the candidates come to your door, tell them to get to the facts,” Nenshi said in the release.

“Simply ask them, ‘What is your plan for Calgary?’”