October 15, 2015 - 3:03 PM
We don’t endorse any single candidate. Our comments on these answers are an assessment of whether the candidate gave a candid answer as we asked for (REAL) or relied on party platforms, leadership or attacks on rivals for their answers (PUPPET).
To understand this post, please read this first.
OUR TAKE: Cathy McLeod benefits from being an incumbent. She knows the issues, she knows the game. She surprised us in her candour in some answers. For the most part, she just answered the questions and kept the attacks on rivals to a minimum. We were perhaps overly kind by tagging her as a party puppet on only three answers to our questions but clearly she is an asset to her party and if you're thinking of voting Conservative, you should give them bonus points for her representation.
1. The number one concern I hear from voters is:
Going door to door, meeting with constituents on the streets, and at events across the riding, I have heard many concerns on a wide range of issues. However, here in our riding, the common concerns have been the economy, taxes, and the natural resource industries which are integral to our region’s success.?? Our Conservative Party understands that the economy is key and that is why it has been a priority as part of our Economic Action Plan to balance the budget while taking prudent action to lower taxes, create jobs and economic growth. In fact the deficit has been reduced from $55.6 billion at the height of the global recession to a projected surplus of $1.4 billion for 2015–16.?? Since 2006, our Government has managed taxpayers’ money responsibly. We paid down $37 billion in debt before the global recession, an important reason why Canada’s net debt level is so low – Canada’s net debt to GDP ratio is less than half the G7 average. A balanced budget allows our Government to cut taxes further for hard-working Canadians everywhere.?? Key parts of our Economic Action Plan include:
Lowering taxes on families and Canadian businesses including, most recently, the largest tax cut for small- and medium-sized businesses in over a quarter century;
Concluding free trade agreements with 44 countries, including the European Union and South Korea, to significantly increase export opportunities for Canadian businesses and create jobs for Canadian workers;
Providing support to Canadians completing apprenticeships, and establishing the Canada Job Grant to ensure skills-training leads to future employment;
Reforming Canada’s immigration system to ensure that it complements the country’s economic needs;
Launching the longest and largest investment plan for public infrastructure in Canada’s history;
Helping firms invest in new technologies and research and development through targeted tax relief and funding partnerships with Canada’s universities and colleges.
This Economic Action Plan has helped Canada become a leader among industrialized countries. However, our policies are vastly different from what the other parties offer.
With the NDP, we have a party that has shown inconsistency, from not being clear on where it stands in regards to the long gun registry, to how much their laundry list of election promises are going to cost taxpayers. Even the former Parliamentary Budgetary Officer was quoted referring to these promises as a ‘Swiss-cheese fiscal costing platform’.
With the Liberals, we have a party that has insulted small business owners by suggesting that our Government’s low tax plan is being abused by millionaires to dodge taxes. They promise to raise taxes on middle-class families by replacing our Government’s Family Tax Cut with the Liberal Family Tax Hike.
On natural resources, I recognize that the development of these resources is essential to the growth of our country’s economy. It is also imperative that they be developed and transported in a manner that protects the safety of Canadians and the environment.
That is why our Conservative Government has established the Responsible Resource Development plan. This plan is streamlining reviews of major projects by ensuring more predictable and timely reviews, reducing duplication, strengthening environmental protection, and enhancing consultations with Aboriginal peoples.
To provide one example here at home, the forestry sector is a major industry in our region. Our Government has supported the industry by specifically funding jobs in the sector and forestry management projects. At the same time we made a $74.9 million investment in the Domtar Corporation under the Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Fund to improve environmental performance and contribute to a more sustainable pulp and paper industry, while increasing capacity to produce renewable energy and reduce particulate emissions.
OUR TAKE: It was a pretty simple question about what people are interested in talking about. Is this how you answer them? PUPPET
2. As an MP, what could you do to ensure zebra/quagga mussels stay out of BC water systems?
In Government our Party has understood the threat of invasive species, particularly when it comes to Canada’s water systems. Aquatic invasive species and their potential damage to Canadian aquatic ecosystems pose a multi-faceted problem with no easy solutions. The scope of the problem, combined with the fact that it will continue to grow if left unchecked, leaves no doubt that immediate steps must be taken.
Canada’s ballast water regulations set out mandatory safe handling practices for the ballast water used by ships to maintain vessel stability. Without proper handling, the millions of tonnes of ballast water discharged at Canada’s ports and harbours each year could introduce foreign species into Canada’s waters, damaging our ecosystems and creating economic losses for those who depend on marine activities for their livelihood.
Due to this, our Government, in Economic Action Plan 2013 provided $4 million over three years for Transport Canada to continue to monitor and enforce ballast water regulations.
OUR TAKE: The candidate does seem to understand the issue and while she brags about how her government responded, that's entirely open to her as an incumbent. And she managed to avoid slinging mud, so.... REAL
3. Do you personally believe in criminal penalties for recreational marijuana use?
As someone who has come from the healthcare industry I do hold concerns and reservations in regards to legalization. There has been recent discussion by the Minister of Justice and other Parliamentarians in regards to making the possession of marijuana a ticketable offence rather than one for which criminal charges are laid- this is a position which the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police came out in support of last year and that I myself do support.
OUR TAKE: WOW. Not what we expected, at all. This is a departure from the Conservatives in this campaign. An honest, well conceived answer. REAL
4. Name one example of an issue you disagree with your party on. How would you reconcile that disagreement?
Our Party’s weekly caucus meetings over the years have proven that there is a wide range of views held by our MPs, and that has led to some lively and significant debate. Our Government’s platform is the product of these discussions in which diverging views are certainly present. As well, according to voting records, Conservative MPs have been the most independent in House of Commons votes this past session. Our party has been proud that it allows its members to vote freely, and are given the opportunity to support bills across party lines and take diverging stances, rather than being whipped to the extent that the opposition parties have been.
OUR TAKE: Just one example. That's all we were looking for. And we might give points on the second part of the question if the candidate didn't cherry-pick instances of free votes. PUPPET
5. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to deal with mental health in our communities, in our courts and in our prisons? What can it do better?
Good mental health helps people realize their full potential, contributes to strong communities and helps support a more productive economy. These factors are part of why in Government our Party has been working hard to support those dealing with mental health illnesses. In fact, during my tenure as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour, I was proud to be tasked with studying mental health issues in the workplace and contributing to a departmental strategy to address the matter.
One of our Government’s most important contributions includes the Mental Health Commission of Canada, established in 2007, as an arm’s length not-for-profit corporation that supports improvements in the mental health system in Canada. The Commission has achieved a number of important milestones since 2007, including creating a national mental health strategy, developing a national anti-stigma initiative to help reduce discrimination faced by Canadians living with a mental illness, and establishing a knowledge exchange centre as a source of information for governments, stakeholders and the public. The Commission has also been involved in training Canadians on how to respond to mental health crises, and developing best practices to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.
Economic Action Plan 2008 provided one-time funding of $110 million for the Commission to support innovative research demonstration projects to develop best practices to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.
Now, Economic Action Plan 2015 announced the Government’s intention to renew the mandate of the Mental Health Commission of Canada for another 10 years, beginning in 2017–18 so that the Commission can continue its important work to promote mental health in Canada and foster change in the delivery of mental health services, including suicide prevention.
Economic Action Plan 2015 also proposed to provide ongoing funding of $2 million per year, beginning in 2016–17, to support specialized mental health services in First Nations communities. The proposed investment will continue support for four multidisciplinary mental wellness teams, ensuring the presence of a team in each region served by Health Canada. The teams provide specialized and culturally appropriate treatment to individuals living in First Nations communities who are facing mental health issues. The proposed investment complements the Government’s annual investment of approximately $235 million per year for community-based mental health and addiction programs for First Nations and Inuit.
The Government additionally supports general health research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). With an annual budget of $1 billion, the CIHR is the single largest investor in health research and innovation in Canada. In 2013–14, the CIHR awarded more than 3,600 operating grants that fuelled the ideas and supported the research teams of 6,844 investigators. This included $55 million to support research related to mental health and behavioural conditions as well as traumatic brain injuries.
In addressing mental health issues in our justice system, last year in government we launched a comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan for federal offenders that is addressing their serious mental health needs. The Action Plan contains five pillars which are: timely assessment, effective management, sound intervention, ongoing training, and robust governance and oversight. In combination with the preventative measures outlined above, which will help those with mental illness address their illnesses within their communities before getting involved with the justice system, the Action Plan will work with them within the system as well to support these individuals.
OUR TAKE: That's a long list of 'accomplishments' but ignores the concern that our criminal justice system is still where we catch, identify and warehouse people with mental illness. PUPPET
6. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to help veterans? What can it do better?
Our Party places the highest priority on making sure Veterans and their families have the support and services they need, when they need them. We have continued to make significant investments in programs and services to ensure Veterans receive the care and support they need now and in the future.
During our time in office, our Conservative Government has invested almost $5 billion in completely new funding to enhance veterans benefits, programs and services - and with close to 90% of the department’s budget going towards direct services and support for veterans, Canadians can be confident we are delivering for our Veterans. The Government is committed to ensuring that all veterans are better off in the end.
To put it simply, the New Veterans Charter, enacted in 2005, replaced the former benefit system with a wider range of benefits to injured veterans. The Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act of 2011 created new monthly benefit programs on top of this while enhancing veterans’ benefits in the New Veterans Charter. With these enhancements, we are ensuring that seriously ill and injured veterans have the financial help and support they need and deserve, and the chance for rehabilitation.
While we have invested significant funding, there may remain those who face challenges, and in response, our Party has committed to continuing to cut red tape and introduce new supports for those Veterans who are the most seriously injured, including support for their families.
For example, last summer our Government conducted a comprehensive review of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter in committee. In response to the recommendations of the committee, and to further strengthen support for Veterans and their families, our government took immediate action to improve the application of the Charter. Subsequent phases of recommendation implementations introduced investments towards the rehabilitation and medical care of Canada’s Veterans.
We have announced further commitments during this campaign, including the decision to issue a Canadian Veterans Card (CVC) to every Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. These would recognize the service of all Veterans and make it easier to access the services they need. We also announced that we will enable Veterans receiving the extended Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) to earn up to $10,000 in employment income without affecting their benefit payments. Through action like this, we can improve access to the benefits made available in the New Veterans Charter, as well as introduce further measures.
Our Government has also been focused on ensuring Canada’s younger veterans are supported so that they may be able to return to the workforce. Recently introduced was the Veterans Hiring Act to help Veterans find meaningful employment after their time in uniform is complete. Canadian Armed Forces personnel and honourably released veterans will be given more access to federal public service job opportunities. As outlined in Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government of Canada is proposing changes to the Public Service Employment Act to enhance employment opportunities in the federal public service for Veterans.
Qualified Veterans who have at least three years of military service will be given preference in advertised, external hiring processes for five years after the date of release. Additionally, Veterans and CAF personnel with at least three years of military service will be allowed to participate in advertised, internal hiring processes for a period expiring five years after their release date.
These measures build on the Government’s recent announcement that veterans who were medically released due to a service-related injury or illness will get the top level of priority consideration for job openings in the public service. This means eligible Veterans whose military service is cut short by a career-ending injury or illness suffered in the line of duty will be given statutory, priority access in the federal public service.
Through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, injured Veterans can also get financial assistance of up to $75,800 to help them re-train for new career opportunities. Veterans taking part in VAC’s vocational or rehabilitation programs may also receive the Earnings Loss Benefit, which ensures a Veteran will continue to receive a fair income while they focus on their health or re-training. ?
As you can see we have made significant changes in this last year and can be compared to any other international jurisdiction. However, we will continue to listen to the needs of our Veterans and make important changes when necessary.
OUR TAKE: This is a complicated issue with many ways to find an answer. As an incumbent, we should expect a defence of a governing party's record... and at least she didn't attack rivals. REAL
7. Do you believe a minority government can be effective?
I have had the opportunity to work in both minority and majority Parliaments during my time in office. While we can certainly work with the opposition to move forward with our platform in a minority government, a majority in Parliament facilitates achieving all of our platform goals.
OUR TAKE: Not what we expected to hear. Good answer. REAL
Bonus: Will you declare your support for increasing openness and transparency in government and commit to interviews by the news media once elected? Yes or No.
Yes. I have always made it a priority to provide local media with direct access to me personally while in office and will continue to engage in this open dialogue with those in my riding.
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