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: Now and again, there are exceptions to the rule and Ron Cannan is an exception. While you are most likely to vote on party lines, and Ron Cannan would perhaps be an entirely different MP working in an opposition party, he shows in his answers (and his track record) that regardless of party colour, this is how an MP should be. Not one swipe at an opponent, knowledgeable and experienced on local issues, willing to listen to others and yet speaks his mind both inside and outside the party. He complements his party, doesn't just ride the coattails. Is he a party puppet? We scored him at just two out of seven and were perhaps unkind in that assessment.
1. The number one concern I hear from voters is:
When I’m knocking on doors and speaking to people, there are a lot of diverse issues that come up. Often the conversation turns to how I work with local officials and organizations to help secure funding for their local priorities.
If I had to choose a No. 1 issue, the majority of people from day one of the campaign have been in some way focused on the economy, whether it’s helping create good-paying jobs in the Okanagan or keeping taxes at their lowest level in 50 years.
Our government’s focus on helping job seekers through skills training programs is working to keep jobs in the riding. Also, working with Okanagan college so we can match education and training with the skills our businesses are looking for helps people studying here further their career path.
Trade is opening new markets for business and creating jobs.
We shouldn’t forget that investments in research and development, infrastructure and innovation are helping our local economy by supporting education at UBC’s Okanagan campus and organizations like Accelerate Okanagan.
When constituents can see results locally, it gives them confidence that the economic outlook is positive. If any region in the country can be optimistic about the future, it’s the Okanagan.
OUR TAKE: Ron asks not what are concerns from voters, but what concerns he can take to voters. Really? They want to talk about how you work with local officials? PUPPET
2. As an MP, what could you do to ensure zebra/quagga mussels stay out of B.C. water systems?
These mussels have been identified as a threat to Okanagan water quality, tourism, property values, beaches and ecology.
New federal regulations announced this year by the Conservative government ensure that the southern border is protected against invasive aquatic species. The new federal regulations were put in place after a series of consultations with stakeholders and governments across Canada. The regulations will improve our ability to prevent the intentional or unintentional introduction of species into Canada. For example, Canadian Border Services Agency officers will have the ability to order a vessel back to a U.S. washing station before allowing it to enter Canada.
The new regulations also set a framework for responding to invasions and managing the spread of these species. Every year, the federal government invests over $14 million a year to address the issue of aquatic invasive species, to foster healthy, safe and sustainable Canadian waters.
Spreading awareness about the risks posed by zebra and quagga mussels is extremely important, and I’m impressed by the Don’t Move a Mussel campaign from Okanagan Waterwise. I plan to continue to work with local partners, like the Okanagan Water Basin Board, as well our local MLAs, First Nation, B.C. Wildlife Federation and the Okanagan Fisheries Federation in helping to educate the public.
OUR TAKE: One of the best answer we've seen on this question yet. Awareness is a key factor and people listen to leaders. REAL
3. Do you personally believe in criminal penalties for recreational marijuana use?
This is a challenging issue that, as many people know, hits close to home for me.
I watched my brother get involved in drugs at a young age and it changed the course of his life. Now as a parent and grandparent, I worry about the possible repercussions of legalizing marijuana and the message that decision might send to our young people. I’ve spoken to many here who feel the same. Personally, I don’t see legalization as the answer right now.
It’s important that we, as a country, have a serious discussion about this issue.
Whether my constituents are for or against a loosening of the laws, I certainly agree with the consensus that the status quo is not working. We’ll continue to discuss this issue in government, as well as listen to our police associations and our health authorities. As a country we might not agree yet on the way forward but hopefully the fact that questions like this are being asked this election will open up a dialogue that will help guide us in the right direction.
Whatever we do it must be a Made in Canada policy that works for the majority of Canadians.
OUR TAKE: Again, one of the best answers we got on this topic. Obviously personal, reasoned, articulate and thoughtful. REAL
4. Name one example of an issue you disagree with your party on. How would you reconcile that disagreement?
My answer can be applied across the political spectrum, not just in relation to the Conservative Party.
I believe voters would have more interest in politics if it didn’t feel like political parties were always campaigning, including between elections, and if more was done to focus on local issues.
Locally, there is not enough focus on what has been achieved through strong partnerships, and not enough debate on what still needs to be done to continually position the Okanagan as a leader.
My commitment is to being open and accessible, as well as providing relevant and timely information through my columns and letters. I let constituents know when I think the government is doing something that will benefit them, and I respect their right to disagree. I’ve always welcomed and encouraged candid feedback. Direct communication is the best way to get to the heart of important issues and know how constituents are being affected.
While in Ottawa, we have a weekly Caucus meeting where I get to raise issues and concerns of my constituents with Prime Minister Harper and Cabinet Ministers. Also, Prime Minister Harper stays until the very end of every meeting and meets individually with MPs who want to discuss local issues and ideas.
OUR TAKE: The candidate doesn't make this easy. This is really two questions. He has a well explained answer to the second part. He's also got a good answer to the first, except that he sidesteps it altogether. Tie goes to the runner. REAL
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?
Our government invests one billion dollars a year in health related research, mental health and addiction primarily through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Because it is collaborative in nature, it can inform policies across all sectors and jurisdictions, and supports provincial and territorial health authorities, health professionals, community partners and individuals.
As a result we are making gains in areas such as early detection, quality of life and how best to provide adequate and appropriate health services related to mental health and addiction, as well as aging diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The issue of mental health is a personal passion as our eldest daughter is 30 years of age and has suffered with a mental health disorder for over a decade. We have worked closely with our local Canadian Mental Health Association and we appreciate the great work they do in our community as well as various other organizations including the Mental Health Commission of Canada which our government established in 2007.
Our Conservative government has recently renewed the mandate for the Commission for another decade, which is spearheading Canada's Mental Health Strategy.
The MHCC anticipates launching the Mental Health Action Plan for Canada in the fall of 2015. It will address emerging issues within the mental health system and will lay a foundation for the MHCC’s future work.
As well, through the Mental Health Commission of Canada and its 308 Conversations initiative, I and my colleague Dan Albas hosted a suicide prevention roundtable with local mental health organizations to raise awareness and open the dialogue on mental health in our community. It was well-received.
The federal government also funds local organizations that provide supports for mental health and addiction through the departments of Employment and Social Development, Veterans Affairs Canada and Health Canada, which includes support for our aboriginal communities. Under Veterans Affairs, for instance, we are expanding and enhancing the Operational Stress Injury Clinic Network and increasing the number of caseworkers for our Veterans.
Finally, our ongoing increase in health and social transfers will assist provinces and territories to deliver services that meet their identified priorities.
OUR TAKE: That's one way to list a resume, but it misses some greater points we wanted addressed and specifically asked about: How police officers and judges often wind up being front line workers with mental health. PUPPET
6. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to help veterans? What can it do better?
As a member of the local Legion Branch #26 and the Army Navy & Air Force Veterans Unit 376 (ANAF), I regularly get an opportunity to meet with veterans. It is one of my personal priorities to ensure veterans and their families have access to the services they need. I would also like to thank Legion service officer Jim Jones and ANAF service officer Don Stirling for the great work they do for helping to connect our local veterans with the variety of services provided by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
As a government, we’ve increased spending on veterans and their families by 35 per cent since 2006. We’ve also increased funding for education and training and worked hard to make paperwork less cumbersome for our vets.
There is a full-time Veterans Affairs client service officer at the Service Canada office on Queensway Avenue in Downtown Kelowna eliminating any need for a veteran to travel any great distance. The local VAC staff member is excellent at taking care of the small number of veterans who come in each week (on average, between one and five veterans per week come into the office). If a veteran needs a case manager or health professional to come to their home that can arranged. Snow removal, grass cutting and home care is also provided under the Veterans Independence Program (VIP). In addition, folks often know to call my office if they need any further assistance and I personally ensure they get the help they need.
We always have to look to the future, and the face of our veterans is changing. We need to ensure we are addressing the needs of younger veterans and their families, especially in areas that are health and income-related. For instance, as I said earlier, we are addressing the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by increasing our operational stress clinics and the number of caseworkers.
In terms of income, one of our promises is a tax benefit that enables veterans to earn up to $10,000 in employment income without reducing their benefits. That will make it easier for them to pursue job opportunities if they wish to do so. I think we all recognize that our veterans have unique life experiences that can enrich many work environments.
Supporting our Veterans, those men and women who have sacrificed their all for our freedom is a non-partisan issue. We need to work together to make sure we do all we can to support our Veterans and their families. That means recognizing that the programs and benefits have to be able to change with their needs.
OUR TAKE: More resume here and that's to be expected from a long-serving MP. We sided against Ron on the last question; we'll give him this one, in part because while he lists accomplishments he resists taking swipes at opponents. REAL
7. Do you believe a minority government can be effective?
I’ve worked as an MP in two minority governments. They are challenging. But they can also galvanize support behind important issues, especially for instance when the country needs to stand united with its allies to serve and protect beyond our borders or when we are hit with a financial crisis like the global recession in 2008 and we have to run targeted deficits to protect industries and keep the economy on stable footing.
At the local level, the two minority governments I was a part of did not prevent me from being able to work with my provincial and municipal partners to get taxpayers dollars back to the riding to support important projects that support the local economy like roads and sustainable water projects or supporting our tourism and agriculture sectors.
OUR TAKE: This was not at all the answer we expected from an incumbent. You gotta's give him props. 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 a long history of promptly returning phone calls to reporters and my constituents.