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Sturgeon River-Parkland Candidates talk economy and energy issues

Delhi News-Record 2019-09-21 04:21:41

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has been a major issue in Canadian politics. File photo

Over the election campaign, the Reporter/Examiner will run pieces featuring candidates from the Sturgeon River-Parkland riding sharing their views on issues. This week we focussed on the economy and energy.


The 43rd Canadian federal election has seen candidates and voters express views on a variety of energy and economic issues. Pipelines, the carbon tax, housing and the unemployment rate have all generated different perspectives from the local candidates seeking the Sturgeon River-Parkland seat in Parliament.


The Conservative Party of Canada, The Green Party, Liberal Party of Canada and People’s Party of Canada nominees all differ on how to handle the economy and energy.


On Petroleum and Pipelines


Pipelines, the need for further capacity and general trouble in the energy sector has been a point of conversation for much of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first term in office. The Liberal government has said they support getting oil resources from landlocked Alberta to market and did purchase the repeatedly delayed Trans Mountain Pipeline. But, repeated court delays and other legislation passed has had critics saying the Liberal Party and Trudeau are paying lip service to industry concerns and do not care.


“I do not understand why things are so complicated getting pipelines built,” People’s Party of Canada candidate Tyler Beauchamp said. “We are losing billions and billions and cannot delay this longer.”


The current government has argued for patience and said new laws or invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to get work done would just create further fights down the road. Beauchamp did not say he was in favour of the clause or new law, but instead said another section of the Constitution could help.


“They have to use 92 (10) of our Constitution and declare the project an advantage to Canada and force the build,” he said. “I guess that would still be my stance on it as well. I just want to build more pipelines.”


The section in question establishes federal control over interprovincial and international transport over rail, canals and “other works and undertakings.” Further powers can declare a project to be for the advantage of Canada or two or more of the provinces. It has not been used since 1993, though PPC leader Maxime Bernier has pledged to use it if elected and claimed the courts would not be able to stop him doing so.


On the other side of the spectrum, Green Party candidate Cass Romyn has said she is not be in favour of getting this work done and said she was not in favour of the “social license” model Trudeau has followed on pipelines. In her view, the best course is to direct people into cleaner forms of employment.


“I think we are working to get more Greens elected so we can change the conversation and diversify the economy more so,” Romyn said. “In our platform we have quite an ambitious energy worker transition.”


“Inevitably, jobs in the fossil fuel sectors will disappear,” the party platform says. “[This transition] will include measures such as income protection, jobs guarantees, retraining and worker resettlement.” For Romyn, the potential for a worker to not fit in a new field is something not likely to be the reality.


“Skilled workers can be easily transferrable to the renewable sector,”she said. “We need plumbers, electricians and pipe fitters for retrofitting. So I think it would be that big of a stretch for people.”


Balanced Budgets


Another major economic issue is the federal budget. Trudeau came into office in 2015 pledging to run modest deficits and has since ran numbers almost double the size of his original $10 billion pledge. The Conservative Party has been one of the strongest critics of this fiscal policy. When leader Andrew Scheer was seeking the leadership in 2017, he rejected claims he could not balance the federal budget in two years, but has since amended this promise to ideally a five-year timetable.


“I think it’s very important to have an ambitious timeline to return this country back to balanced budget,” Scheer said in May. “Because every year that we are in deficit, we are borrowing money from my children.”


Incumbent Conservative MP Dane Lloyd defended this change. He said he would hold Scheer accountable if reelected and that the public should not expect to have services quickly cut to get the budget in black.


“People do not want to see drastic spending reductions,” he said. “We are looking at a gradual path.”


One thing he said could help with that is the party’s recently announced tax cut on the lowest bracket of earnings between $12,069 and $47,630. It will go from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent if Scheer wins.


“It would help families that are really struggling right now,” Lloyd said.


Liberal candidate Ronald Brochu defended the current deficits as necessary for a strong economy and said, with a future Liberal government, things could only get better for Canadians.


“Canada currently has the best net debt-to-GDP ratio among all G7 countries,” he wrote in an email. “I believe under the right plan this, along with our economic growth, will only continue to improve.”


epretzer@postmedia.com

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