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North Okanagan-Shuswap: Conservative candidate Mel Arnold

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
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.

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OUR TAKE: If you are considering voting Conservative, look closely at the remarks and platform of the party and its leader. Mel Arnold is following that script closely and won't budge much. Offering nothing unique in six of seven questions, this candidate won't help you make your decision. 

1. The number one concern I hear from voters is:

Voters young and not so young describe the need for more local, full time, family sustaining jobs. 
Our Conservative government has a proud record of fiscal responsibility which has maintained a healthy economy, even through the most globally devastating times.
We have provided an atmosphere where business has the confidence to invest, and when they invest, jobs are created. Our low tax, can-do attitude encourages that.
In speaking to local business people and municipal council representatives, they have consistently cited their optimism for the future, of new start-ups or expansions that are just on the horizon; I plan to assist in keeping that optimism high and the door open for business to do what it does best: provide jobs.

OUR TAKE: We asked what the candidate hears from voters. Jobs sounds legit, but it also sounds more like that's his sales point as he engages voters, not the other way around. Not what we want to see from a prospective MP. PUPPET

2. As an MP, what could you do to ensure zebra/quagga mussels stay out of B.C. water systems?

I support the initiative to have prevention efforts focused at entry points into BC. I know from experience the remediation costs of dealing with invasive species after they are established is far greater than implementing the preventative measures needed to protect our waterways.
In June of 2015 our Conservative government enacted legislation to strengthen the prevention of aquatic invasive species in Canada. The Canadian Border Services Agency is now able to enforce regulations on the transport and release of Zebra and Quagga mussels. Government currently spends over $14 Million annually dealing with aquatic invasive species.
 
As MP, I will ensure my fellow MPs are aware of the importance of prevention programs and the risks to our environment and economy.  I will work with local and provincial governments to put education, monitoring and enforcement systems in place that efficiently complement each other.

OUR TAKE: The candidate shows an understanding of what's needed here, including the gravity. Education, monitoring and enforcement are important as is cooperation. REAL

3. Do you personally believe in criminal penalties for recreational marijuana use?

Since 2000, court rulings have made it legal for Canadians to possess and grow small amounts of cannabis for medicinal purposes.  I have become aware that there are approximately 9000 medicinal marijuana users in Vernon alone, representing close to 1 in 4 adults.  My concern remains, as it does with the Conservative party, that young people under the age of 16 who become regular users may have negative health outcomes.

OUR TAKE: Important points, to be sure. But the candidate evaded the question entirely. PUPPET

4. Name one example of an issue you disagree with your party on. How would you reconcile that disagreement?

I would not so much say that I disagree with the party on any one issue, as to say that there is always room for improvement.  No one government is perfect, despite the claims of the opposition parties.
There are two specific areas that I am perhaps more passionate about on behalf of our local residents, for which I will focus advocacy and lobbying efforts once in Caucus.  One of them is described below in Question 5; the other is our low-income seniors.
Seniors, or the ‘grey tsunami’ as this demographic has been called, outnumber those under the age of 15 for the first time in Canada’s history; their sheer numbers present both unprecedented challenges and opportunities for our governments. 
We in the Okangan Shuswap benefit greatly from their residency in this region, their needs provide employment in local business and services, we have recreational opportunities that may not have otherwise existed, and the compendium of knowledge and experience they bring to our various communities is a wonderful asset to our younger generation.
Low income seniors, however, require our attention. 
Over 400,000 seniors no longer pay taxes as a result of the Conservative Government’s initatives.  We have introduced the largest Guaranteed Income Supplement raise in 25 years.  We have raised the Age Credit and doubled the Pension Income Credit.
Still, there are seniors who struggle.  It is my guarantee that I will lobby tirelessly on behalf of seniors for a pension system that allows our elderly to live in dignity.

OUR TAKE: You know the impression you get in a job interview, when you ask someone to describe a personal flaw, and they answer 'I work too hard.' Yeah, that. 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?

There is a growing recognition of the need to address mental health challenges in a more positive, meaningful way in our country. 
I have been in consultation with a number of local agencies who administer services to the mentally ill, the addicted, the homeless and the disabled.
I feel strongly that this is a segment of the population that requires the most advocacy, whether it is more, and more timely, access to programs, transitional housing, encouragement of support by the larger population, and finally, simple recognition that ‘illness means illness’.  We need to recognize that a physical ailment or a mental ailment require the same care and concern.
Health care, however, is administered by the province, as we know.  I will, once elected, continue to consult with local health authorities and agencies, as well as provincial authorities, to determine how we can create a multi-pronged approach for successful outcomes.  CAMH has begun some fine work.  But we can, and should, do more.

OUR TAKE: The candidate's concern is clear, however understanding of the problem — and specifics of the question — elude him. PUPPET

6. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to help veterans? What can it do better?

Our government has been working hard to provide Veterans and their families with the care and support they need.
In fact, since forming government, we have invested over $5 billion in funding towards programs and services for Canada’s Veterans. Programs and services that provide Veterans with the supports they need and deserve.
The average spent per Veteran has increased by 35% since we formed government while the consumer index has only increased by 18.9%.
The Family Caregiver Relief Benefit which provides Veterans who have a service-related injury with an annual tax-free grant of over $7,200 to provide caregivers in the home with flexibility or relief while ensuring that the needs of the seriously injured Veterans are met.
We tripled the timeline for the renewal forms for the Veterans Independence Program to three years and increased the amount of time to complete their renewal to six months, as opposed to 30 days. Forms and correspondence will also be simplified to reduce red tape for our Veterans and their families.
During the decade of darkness the Liberals cut spending on our armed forces, showing how little they care about protecting our country and our service people.
Our government will leave no stone unturned as we continue to find innovative new ways to build on the supports available to Veterans and their families.

OUR TAKE: Telling us what your government has done and will do, while not answering the question is one thing. Dumping on a rival from more than a decade ago, however, is too much. PUPPET

7. Do you believe a minority government can be effective?

I believe that a minority government cannot be as effective as a majority government that has been given a mandate by the electorate.  A minority government remains under constant threat of non-confidence votes as we saw most recently in each of 2006 and 2008. 
In a minority situation, governments must rely on the support of other parties to stay in power, providing less stability than a majority government.  A case in point is during the 2008 global economic meltdown, when the Liberal and NDP parties forced the Conservative government to undertake significant deficit budgets to bolster their particular voter base, such as the auto workers with the GM share purchase. These deficits that they had a hand in underwriting are now a part of their attack ads on the Conservative government.
At the federal level no minority government (excepting the odd case of the 14th) has lasted a standard four-year term. Most minority governments have lasted less than two years. These over-frequent elections are obviously another drain on taxpayer dollars when the money could have been used to much better purpose on behalf of the Canadian people.

OUR TAKE: This is exactly what we expected candidates to say. Rather than accepting the electorate's will in a minority government and cooperating, more finger pointing and blaming others. PUPPET

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.

There is a biased premise in this question.  What I will commit to is being available to every single resident in our riding regardless of their background, political belief, culture or need as time permits -and that will include then even the media.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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