Thanks so much to the The South Surrey—White Rock Chamber of Commerce for inviting all of the Federal election candidates to a zoom debate on Thursday September 9th. Below are the questions that were asked and the answers by Kerry-Lynne Findlay.
Q1 If elected, what will be the economic priorities for your government be to help small businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic and help them grow in the future, including your party’s plans on extending or stopping government benefits for small businesses?
Conservatives’ Canada Recovery Plan (www.conservative.ca/plan), gives the steps needed to put Canadians back to work and our economy back on track.
Q2 If elected, where on your government’s list of priorities would be lowering the national debt and what measures would you take to make this happen?
Justin Trudeau broke promises even before the pandemic by running massive deficits and has now created $1.148 trillion in debt. This increases by $424 million per day! Some of this was unavoidable and I voted in favour of pandemic subsidies, but we were already unnecessarily vulnerable. Our debt to GDP ratio has gone from 31% under Conservatives to 118% which is unsustainable. Families are struggling to pay for their children’s needs, buy a home or pay rent, with inflation and prices going up. We know the Liberals are looking to increase government’s revenues and now we have evidence that they want to tax your homes.
Conservatives got us out of the last recession in 2008-2009 without raising taxes through efficiencies and taking responsibility for government spending. We will do it again without jeopardizing your children’s future.
Conservatives do think about monetary policy. We will balance the books within 10 years by creating the conditions for economic growth, with optimism for investment and hope for the future.
Q3 Labour shortages are a significant concern in our community. What is your party proposing to address this and what role do you think immigration should play?
Immigration can play a big role in curbing labour shortages. Those who want to come to Canada need clarity and a process that treats them with dignity, compassion and respect. The Trudeau Liberals have allowed rampant mismanagement and corruption, and created years-long backlogs and failure.
Our plan also includes policies to recognize foreign credentials. We will create a task force to help us remove barriers for the skilled professionals we need. Helping newcomers maximize their success by allowing them to work in their field of knowledge and expertise is good for Canada and our economy.
To help the agriculture sector, Conservatives will closely consult and implement an Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Strategy to facilitate the timely entrance into Canada of international farm workers. We will also take steps to attract skilled workers to our meat processing sector (30,000 worker deficit now).
The Canada Job Surge Plan also addresses phasing out of current subsidies in a timely way.
Q4 For many Canadians, homeownership has become out of reach. Some argue housing affordability is a provincial and municipal issue that can only be solved with solutions at the local level. What is your party planning at a Federal level to help Canadians finance their first home purchase and realize their dreams of owning or renting a home affordably?
We don’t build enough homes to keep up with our growing population, with the lowest number of units per capita in the G7. Foreign money laundering is a real problem and we will work with the BC’s inquiry to address it. Foreign investors are sitting on homes as investments and leaving them empty. This pushes up prices and worsens availability, putting home ownership out of
We have a plan to build 1 million homes over the next 3 years and ban foreign ownership if buyers don’t plan to move to Canada. We will make 15% of the federal government’s real estate portfolio available to build; and prioritize building homes near transit. We will scrap the latest mortgage stress test and help first time home buyers get into the market. We will also address unfair and corrupt practices that have driven up prices and address the soaring cost of renting a home by partnering with municipalities and the private sector to create new rental units.
Q5 How do you and your party plan to reconcile relationships with Indigenous groups across the county and more specifically with the local Semiahmoo First Nation. What is your party’s plan and roadmap to the calls to action in UNDRIP’s (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People)?
The Trudeau Liberals have been cherry-picking the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This Commission was set up by the then Conservative Government and led by Justice Murray Sinclair following a very touching apology on the residential school policies delivered on behalf of all Canadians by Prime Minister Harper.
Conservatives will work with all Indigenous Peoples to make them our partners in prosperity. We will do the hard work of tackling issues such as ensuring access to clean drinking water on Reserves, providing mental health support, and helping to end human trafficking that has targeted Indigenous women and girls. We will focus on actions and support that will improve the lives of Indigenous peoples across the country.
Semiahmoo First Nation has recently been hooked up to City of Surrey’s water supply which is a big step forward. As Member of Parliament, I have met with advocates for SFN both in Ottawa and at home to support economic development and provide for SFN children.
Q6 How will your party support provinces with the vaccine passport programs, as well as small businesses in the restaurant and fitness sectors who are being asked to be the gatekeepers of the program?
Canada was caught off-guard by the pandemic and slow to react. Conservatives have a detailed self-reliance plan to never be unprepared again for future crises or pandemics. Health falls under the responsibility of provincial governments under Canada’s constitution. I am acutely aware that BC businesses worry about their ability to be health gatekeepers and I encourage them to let the Province know their concerns.
I want to be very clear that Conservatives will not introduce a national mandatory vaccine policy nor introduce passports for domestic use. We encourage Canadians who choose to be vaccinated to do so and would like to see 90% of eligible Canadians vaccinated by personal choice. For those who choose not to get vaccinated or are exempt for medical or Charter of Rights protected reasons, we encourage use of rapid testing, mask wearing, and physical distancing. We will work with provinces to ensure Canadians who travel to foreign countries get a recognized proof of vaccination when the foreign country requires such proof.
Q7 Childcare services is an important essential service to keep women in the workforce. It’s a sector that needs more support but the proposed $10/day childcare by different parties has raised significant concerns from many private childcare providers in our community. They feel it is an inaccurate description of what it costs to care for a child. Quality childcare cannot be provided for the same cost of two coffees a day. By eliminating profits, leaves little funds to raise the livable wages of staff and reinvest in the businesses that have historically been built and run by women entrepreneurs. It will also be a burden on tax payers to pay for such a program if offered to ALL families regardless of income. How does you party respond to these concerns?
The Conservative childcare plan will enable more women who chose to do so to get into the workforce. We will provide direct funding to parents so they can make the best choice for their own families unlike the Trudeau Liberals’ approach of “Ottawa Knows Best”! After 3 decades of broken promises (the federal Liberals first promised this in 1993), Trudeau again makes this promise in an unnecessary election.
Our plan is based on the premise that Canadians are responsible adults and can be trusted not to use these funds to “buy beer and popcorn” as federal Liberals suggested in the past. By giving families freedom of choice, they will choose the best option for them and will most certainly support women entrepreneurs who are operating for-profit childcare services like my niece.
As a working mother of 4, I wish I had this level of support when raising my children. Many parents work part-time, shift work, and non-conventional hours, which mandates flexibility. Parents need choice and our plan will give it to them.
Q8 How will you work towards implementing recommendations from the Canada-BC Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability, released in June 2021, such as making new infrastructure investments conditional on Official Community Plans, zoning bylaws and other local policies to allow for increased density and a mix of housing types?
The Liberal Housing Strategy is broken. Despite their commitment of over $70 Billion, few took them up on sharing equity in their homes and we still have a housing crisis with insufficient supply and rising costs. The success of a federal housing strategy cannot be defined by the number of tax dollars spent, but by the number of Canadians who can access the homes they need.
There is a lot of foreign money flowing into BC’s housing market. Some of it can be directly traced back to the proceeds of criminal activities. In other cases, foreign investors are leaving houses sitting empty which leads to price increases. Conservatives are committed to working with provincial and municipal authorities to ensure that more homes are built near publicly funded transit and opening up access to federal government lands and buildings. The result?
Increased density and housing types. Our commitment is to build 1 million new homes within 3 years and encourage the building of rental units.
Q9 As a border community, Canada-US relations is even more important. The COVID-19 pandemic has made those relations more complex. If elected, what actions will you and your party take, if any, to work towards open more cross-border travel, business and trade?
Our international relationship with the United States is the most important one we have. For geographical and historical reasons, we have developed such a close friendship with our neighbours that it is sometimes difficult for people who do not live close to the border to understand the tremendous daily impact that COVID-19 has had. Families are separated and normal routines have been disrupted.
Conservatives, business groups, and travellers have been calling on the Trudeau Liberals to put forward metrics for a safe border re-opening, yet they remain unclear. There is little or no coordination with US authorities. Canada opened its US border to Americans but the US has not reciprocated. Our Peace Arch Park remains an anomaly which upsets Summerfield residents and flies in the face of provincial restrictions and rules.
It is a personal priority of mine to ensure we can go back to normalcy while ensuring the safety of our community, and we need to save our Duty Free small businesses who have been hit very hard by the pandemic.
Q10 There are increased calls for racial justice and reconciliation due to the discovery of unmarked graves of indigenous children at former residential schools and the alarming violence against visible minorities across the country. What are your party’s specific commitments to address these issues?
As a former Human Rights Tribunal Judge and lawyer advocate, human rights and racial justice are close to my heart. We must all model inclusivity, and condemn anti-Asian, anti-semitic, and any racially motivated hatred.
Canada’s multicultural society is a valued reality and Conservatives promote the need to foster understanding and equality of opportunity. We recognize the rich, diverse make-up of the Canadian population and the contribution of these communities to the Canadian way of life.
Erin O’Toole has stated, “I believe that whether you are black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago, whether you are doing well or barely getting by…you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party…”
Conservatives pledge a swift timeline and funding to deliver on the TRC Calls to Action 71 -76 involving missing children and providing healing for families. We should build Canada up, not tear it down, and embrace a future where we all belong free of discrimination and barriers.
Q11 How does your party rate the importance of addressing climate change against the country’s economic priorities and what specific commitments do you have to address issues like BC’s wildfires in the future?
Conservatives have a serious plan “Secure The Environment” to combat climate change that will meet the Paris Accord targets and not kill jobs or the economy, independently analyzed and praised by Navius Research. Green House Gas emissions have gone up every year since Trudeau came to office. None of his promised 2 billion trees were planted until some this summer – maybe – at double the projected cost. His plans don’t work!
A price on carbon efficiently reduces emissions, but we won’t increase your taxes like the Trudeau Liberals. Our Low Carbon Saving Accounts will help Canadians make greener lifestyle choices, by deciding what works best for them.
Promoting electric and hydrogen vehicles, we will introduce a zero-emission vehicle mandate, based on BC’s, requiring 30 % of light duty vehicles to be zero emissions by 2030.
Internationally, we will promote Canadian technology to combat a global problem. We will work to ensure that our own businesses are not penalized by companies based in countries where environmental regulations are weak or non-existent. Locally, I will work toward stopping thermal coal going through our railways and ports, a real worry for local residents and farmers.
Q12 What commitment will your party be able to provide to communities like South Surrey & White Rock that are desperate for better and more investment in infrastructure and public transportation to provide affordable options to travel not just to other jurisdictions but within our own 2 cities?
Conservatives are committed to working to ensure Canadians have the quality infrastructure we deserve, giving priority to projects that secure our recovery, create jobs and improve our quality of life. I am proud of my advocacy for South Surrey-White Rock on this issue, and that my Party leadership has listened.
Q13 Although we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will likely not be the last pandemic the country will have to deal with. What lessons have you and your party learned to better respond in the future? How would your party handle things differently to prepare people, businesses and the economy?
We must never be caught unprepared as we were when COVID-19 hit last year. Conservatives will make Canada more resilient, reduce our reliance on foreign countries like Communist China and take seriously our responsibility to protect the health of Canadians. Caught unprepared, the Trudeau Liberals made bad decisions that cost lives and crippled our economy. They were slow to recognize the threat despite briefs from the intelligence community, and slow to react such as closing down international flights where necessary. The UK ramped up domestic production of PPE, and Taiwan was temperature testing and invoking PPE protocols at airports, when we were floundering.
We will ensure our country is ready to face future pandemics and other crises, including the risks of bioterrorism through production of novel pathogens. We will increase domestic production, work with the US to strengthen the North American supply chain of pharmaceuticals, reduce our dependence on imports, overhaul the country’s National Emergency Stockpile System to ensure we are supply ready, and upgrade our intelligence gathering systems including restoring the Global Public Health Intelligence Network shut down by the Trudeau Liberals.
Q14 To date, parties running in the current election have made many spending commitments. With regards to your own parties’ spending commitments, how does your party plan to pay for them and how do you plan to secure funding for any commitments made specific to our riding?
With the only shrinking economy of the G7, Trudeau Liberals have nothing to show for running reckless deficits and spending more than all of the previous Canadian governments combined. We cannot afford 4 more years of this and tax hikes and saddling future generations with mountains of debt.
Through Canada’s fully costed Recovery Plan, we will pursue a responsible and measured approach to balancing the budget over the next 10 years by running a disciplined government that limits the growth of future spending and makes no cuts. We will maintain the current federal spending commitments for public programs in 2021-22 while reducing the deficit by 85% over the next 5 years from $168 Billion this year down to below $25 Billion in 2025-26.
We will incentivize job growth, innovate with ultra-competitive tax rates, advance technological research, overhaul our tax system, reduce red tape, invest in small business and attract investment back to Canada that has hemorrhaged under Trudeau. This is how we will pay for our SSWR infrastructure promises and bring prosperity back to this community.
Q15 What would be your party’s strategy be to conduct diplomatic and trade relations with nations contravening human rights conventions, like China and Afghanistan?
Negotiation and diplomacy through strength and an unwavering human rights commitment.
The Trudeau approach to Communist China has failed and weakened Canada’s standing in the world. Under our leadership, Canada will conduct an open-eyed foreign policy that will stand up to the threats of the China Communist Party and partner with like-minded countries across the Indo-Pacific region enhancing security and trade with countries who value liberty and play by the rules. Our relationship with China is complicated, and we understand that China is an economic powerhouse that requires diplomacy through strength. However, Conservatives will defend human rights by immediately banning imports of products made with enslaved Uyghur labour.
On Afghanistan, we will not recognize the Taliban Regime. Period. We will do everything in our power to rescue our allies and citizens still trapped within the ruthless grasp of the Taliban and look to welcoming those who will now be brutalized by this terrorist group. While Trudeau dissolved Parliament, Kabul fell, and Canadian veterans are devastated by the abandonment of those who saved Canadian lives.
Q16 What is your Party’s position on Bill C-6 which calls for the ban on conversion therapy
Conservatives agree that conversion therapy is wrong and should be banned. All the witnesses that appeared before the House of Commons Justice Committee, including faith leaders, agreed Canadians should not be forced to change who they are. We know many Canadians have been
harmed by this practice. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. I voted for Bill C-6, despite all its flaws. The legislation should have protected against coercive practices, while also clearly protecting good faith conversations.
If the Liberals were serious about this, why did they wait until the last days of the parliamentary session – as the government, the Trudeau Liberals controlled the legislative agenda – to get this Bill in front of Parliament? Again, this is just another example demonstrating they are playing politics and trying to divide Canadians, as opposed to building bridges and uniting Canadians. Bill C-6 died with Trudeau’s dissolution of Parliament.
Secure the future, help elect Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives and get Canada’s economy back on track.