Liberal, NDP and Green party candidates addressed students last week
The Liberals, NDP and Green party candidates of the Ville-Marie riding met at Concordia University on Sept. 23 to talk to students about their platforms.
The conference was held on the 12th floor of the Hall building and open to all students. It was organized by the Political Science Student Association (PSSA) to raise awareness of the riding leaders and to increase youth participation in elections.
“Undergraduates need to have direct access to the candidates in their riding,” said PSSA president Jason Poirier Lavoie. “With school and work, often students don’t have the time to go and meet the candidates themselves, so the PSSA brought the candidates to them.”
This is the first federal election of the newly formed Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-Des- Soeurs riding, which includes Concordia’s downtown campus. On Oct.19 there will be a polling station located at Sir George Williams campus where faculty and students can vote.
Conservative Party candidate Steve Shanahan and Bloc Québécois candidate Chantal St-Onge were invited to speak as well, but organizers say neither responded to the PSSA’s request.
Liberal Party of Canada
Liberal party candidate Marc Miller was first to speak. Miller, in international and commercial law, talked to students about the Liberal party’s goals for Canada and the benefits for students it hopes to implement.
Miller described the Liberals as a party with a national view, with the goal of benefitting nine out of every 10 Canadians by cutting the middle-class income tax bracket, investing in more jobs and infrastructure development .
The Liberals, he said, are “not left, not right, but going forward.”
Miller said the Liberals plan on investing over $1 billion in new jobs for students by creating 120,000 jobs over three years.
“Five thousand of these jobs per year are dedicated towards green jobs, in parks and recognized green [spaces],” said Miller.
Miller also said the Liberal party plans on investing $750 million into adult education for “re-educating and giving basic skills for those people in the workforce needing a new skill set, through our interprovincial labour agreements.”
“$50 billion will be [invested in] the aboriginal education skill set,” he added.
Miller emphasized the Liberal party’s willingness to take action and listen to Canadians.
“Whether it is the reinvented family allocation, tax breaks, the immediate investment in infrastructure, I dare to believe that we are able to rekindle the economy on day one,” said Miller.
Miller also brought up electoral reform and the Liberal party’s goals to make the government of Canada more proportional and representative of the population by including more women. Miller said the Liberal cabinet will be made up of an equal number of women and men.
The Liberal platform on infrastructure would increase social housing and spending in the Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-Des-Soeurs, said Miller. “The program enables access to new housing, and plans to remove GST on new houses for new purchases,” said Miller.
New Democratic Party
The second speaker was NDP candidate Allison Turner, who worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and is experienced in international law.
“I think that my experience could be a strong contribution towards what the NDP wants, which is a strong democracy, a fair economy and a clean environment,” she said.
Turner said a priority for the NDP is dealing with student unemployment and reducing overall student debt. The NDP want to create 40,000 jobs across Canada for students said Turner. “These jobs are developed and created with students in mind.” She also said the NDP will implement incentives for city governments to hire students.
Turner said the party is planning to improve the economy by reducing tax rates on small and medium-sized businesses. The NDP “want to … decrease the tax rate from 11 to nine per cent,” said Turner. “The NDP also want to offer tax credits for innovation, research development and purchasing of equipment.”
She also said the NDP is aiming to decrease Canada’s oil and gas dependency and invest in these small businesses instead, where she said 80 per cent of new jobs will be created.
Turner discussed the importance of a democracy and the necessity of modifying Canada’s current electorate system. “The current system doesn’t reflect what Canadians want,” she said. “What the NDP wants to do first and foremost is modify or amend the electoral system so that we have in place a proportional representation system [of Canada’s population].”
She also talked about the NDP’s stance on abolishing the Senate. “We don’t see why an unelected body[…] that is not accountable and not transparent to anyone, should have a say in the legislation that Canadians want,” said Tuner. “Only with a proportionate representation system can Canada say that the points of view in Ottawa reflect Canadian needs.”
Turner addressed the NDP’s mission on the national inquiry of the missing indigenous women. The NDP plan on investigating and following suit for the missing women in order to solve the problem said Turner.
Green Party of Canada
The Green party’s Daniel Green was the last political candidate to speak at the conference. Green is an environmental scientist and deputy leader of the Green party. He spoke to students about his experience working as an environmental scientist during the Marathassa oil spill. The spill led to the death of 40 Canadians and motivated him to join the Green Party. He advocates reducing and monitoring the impact of toxic substances across Canada and focusing the country’s investments in different sustainable outlets.
Green’s talk focused on students and the party’s economic plan.
“The advantage of being a fifth party is that the Green party can be creative and propose new innovative ideas—and not just on the environment,” he said.
The Green party is for the legalization and the taxation of marijuana, said Green.The party believes that the “repressive” laws against marijuana are not helpful and lead to organized crime. “By regulating [cannabis] and controlling it, we will solve one-problem and fund other things with the revenues of the product,” said Green.
He also spoke about the party’s social agenda on being the new left wing of Canada. The Green party has proposed a “guaranteed livable income for everyone across Canada.” This will benefit everyone and reduce the poverty cycle, Green said. “This project could be funded through the reduction of mine and oil subsidies, which will generate more money into the economy.”
The Green party platform proposes the elimination of post secondary education fees. “We need to get our next generation out of debt,” said Green. The Green party want to “abolish post secondary fees, so that education is free in Canada … [and] to reduce student debt [the government must] place a cap on the current student debt of $10,000.”
Green described the First Nations in Montreal as “refugees in their own land” that need a place to stay. Green captured the audience through his proposal “to hand over the [former site of] Montreal Children’s Hospital so that we can put in place a community centre for these First Nations and Inuits for social housing.”
The Canadian Federal Elections will be held Oct. 19. First time voters must register before voting. Voter registration can be checked at Election Canada’s website.