Today was the All Candidates panel discussion hosted by SUCCESS and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. I was joined (apparently by chance) by the NDP, Liberal and Conservative candidates from the newly formed "Battleground Riding" of Vancouver Granville. Mira Oreck, Jody Wilson-Reybould and Erinn Broshko. The following is my full transcript of my opening statement. The panel discussion was very diverse but centered on immigration, seniors issues, jobs and the economy, fiscal policy and security. It was moderated by Charlie Smith, Editor or the Georgia Straight.
For generations Canadians have prided ourselves on being a compassionate country, inclusive and welcoming, a peacekeeping country that values rights and freedoms, and plays a constructive role in the international community. The Harper Government has withdrawn from important global treaties, failed to ratify agreements like Kyoto, and enacted unconstitutional and intrusive legislation all in the name of restructuring Canada’s economy and public policy around the oil and gas sector.
Now in a recession, we have seen this was reckless economic policy, but we can correct our course by embracing the diversity in Canada’s numerous sectors. The Green Party believes the Federal Government should focus on industries and sectors that will provide sustainable long-term growth and prosperity, from the clean energy sector to tourism, arts and culture and small businesses that make our communities unique and vibrant.
We will lower small business taxes to 9% freeing up these companies to circulate more money in their communities.
We want to see student debt above $10,000 eliminated, freeing up recent graduates to invest in their own businesses or homes. We want to see economic thinking that puts healthy communities with healthy local economies above the desires of multinational corporations.
Yes Canada is a resource based economy, but our single greatest resource is Canadians themselves.
It’s time for the Federal Government to re-invest in Canadian Cities by allocating 1% of GST to closing the infrastructure gap, building badly needed transit, housing and other things. This $6.4 billion per year will generate a range of jobs in cities and regions, where the majority of Canadians live and work.
To do this we need an efficient and clear immigration policy to ensure that Canadian companies have the teams they need to be successful. We need clarity around accreditation and education, so that new immigrants have opportunities to work in the fields they are passionate about and have the skills, experience and education in.
According to our own federal research into labour trends 100% of net labour force growth will come from immigration by 2016.
We want to eliminate the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and increase immigration where labour shortages have been identified. Yes citizenship is something that should require work, but once attained it is not a privilege, it is a right.
We want to repeal Bill C-24 which creates two classes of Canadian Citizens and we want to deal with the injustice of Canada’s immigrant detention centres where people are being detained for years in a legal grey zone, separated from their families.
For Canadian Seniors we have an ambitious strategy that integrates both national Housing and pharmacare strategies, and have a strong commitment to expanding the Canada Pension Plan while creating a Gauranteed Livable Income so that no Canadian, including senior citizens, lives in poverty.
In terms of security, we want to see a federal government that stops acting like it’s the United States, thumbing its nose at Russia and dropping bombs on far away villages. We want to invest in the safety of our rail and other transportation systems, of our food inspection systems, climate proofing our cities, and returning to a diplomatic force for peace and cooperation in the 21st century.
We believe we can achieve these things in a parliament that works together.