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Tax, transport, and pirates: Trinity-Spadina candidates are put in the hot seat

April 15th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Compiled by Emina Gamulin, Perry King, and Beth Macdonell

The Riding

Trinity-Spadina neighbourhoods include Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Kensington Market, the Annex, Seaton Village, Harbord Village, University of Toronto,  Koreatown, Queen West, King West, the West Waterfront and the Toronto Islands. The riding is one of the most rapidly changing areas in the city due to the increase in condo developments. More than 41 per cent of residents listed a language other than English or French as their mother tongue.

The Candidates

Question One: A national transportation vision
Question Two: Urban and rural Canada
Question Three: G20
Question Four: Copyright law reform
Question Five: Elder in-home care
Question Six: Canada the corporatocracy?
Question Seven: Debt and deficit

The Statistics

Population: 115,361
Immigrant population: 41%
Median age of the population: 34.9
Median income: $66,296
Home owners: 46%
Political History:
2008 Election: New Democrat
2006 Election: New Democrat
2004 Election: Liberal
Source: Statistics Canada

The Candidates

Olivia Chow

NDP candidate Olivia Chow is Trinity-Spadina’s incumbent and has been a member of Parliament since 2006. She was first elected to office in 1985 as a school trustee, and was Toronto’s first Asian female councillor. Previous to political life, she studied art and supported her career as a sculptor by working for a number of social service agencies.

Olivia and her husband, NDP Leader Jack Layton, live in Trinity-Spadina’s Chinatown with Olivia’s mother Ho Sze in a house that they transformed with a “green” renovation.

Rachel Barney

Rachel Barney, the Green Party candidate, was born and raised in downtown Toronto, attending high school and university in the riding. As a student at the University of Toronto, Barney was a member of its Governing Council, and sponsored the motion which led to U of T divesting from apartheid South Africa. She received a PhD at Princeton, and has taught at Ottawa, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. Barney now lives near Christie Pits, and teaches at U of T, as Canada Research Chair in Classical Philosophy.

Christine Innes

Born near Stratford, Ontario and living in Trinity-Spadina for 25 years, Liberal Party candidate Christine Innes is the current chief of staff to Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Before that, Innes practised commercial litigation for ten years and ran a small business.  A member of the Annex Residents’ Association, a founding committee member of the Bloor-Borden Farmers’ Market, and an active supporter of the Alexandra Park Community Centre, Innes competed against Olivia Chow in Trinity-Spadina during the 2008 federal election, and came in second place by a margin of roughly 3,500 votes.

Gin Siow

Educated in Malaysia and Singapore, Conservative candidate Gin Siow immigrated to Canada in 1982. He is the founder of the Malaysia Association of Canada. A married father of two children and co-owner of Markham Mazda, Siow was the recipient of the Outstanding Asian Canadian Community Award by the Canadian Multicultural Council in 2009. Siow ran for Ward 4 city councillor in the city of Markham last October, placing second.

Cartoonist Chester Brown is running in Trinity-Spadina for the Libertarian Party, but declined an interview with the Gleaner. Nick Lin is running on behalf of the Marxist-Leninist Party, but the Gleaner was not able to contact him in time for this story.

 

The Questions and Answers

1. Please provide a national transportation vision that works together with and provides a funding structure for provincial and municipal governments.
—Astra Burka

CHOW: It’s very timely given what’s going on. The first priority would be a national public transit strategy, which I tabled in the House of Commons about a month ago, that brings together the different levels of government and the transit authority to provide long-term, predictable, and sustainable funding for public transit. We have a plan; once you have a plan you can move ahead. Canada is the only industrialized country that does not have such a plan. In the next five years there will be an 18 billion dollar gap in transit structure needs, and an average of 53 per cent of the costs are from passenger fares which is really too high. In Toronto it’s like 75 to 80 per cent, so it’s not sustainable. The vision should also have accountability measures so they can all work together, increase access of public transit, and share best practices. What’s exciting is that the legislation I came with is applauded by the Canadian municipalities and the Canadian Urban Transit Association. They’ve been asking for one for a long time. Rather than waiting I did it with the Big City Mayors’ Report.

BARNEY: The big bullet point is the Greens are deeply committed to revitalizing our rail system … we need to seriously upgrade passenger rails. As things stand now, VIA rail piggybacks on freight lines. We don’t even have a serious passenger rail system, and it doesn’t cover nearly as much of small town and rural Canada as it should. That’s a real economic, and of course, an environmental problem: it contributes to smog and all sorts of bad things. We would reinvest in a big way in our national rail system and we would very much support an increase in the gas tax transfer to municipalities to help with municipalities and regional transportation initiatives. We are very passionate about helping transportation both within cities, and from one city to another. Obviously, all those initiatives have to be collaborative with various levels of government but that shouldn’t be a problem because municipalities want that gas tax transfer money precisely to use for public transportation projects. We just need a federal government that will get onside and give them the money to do that.

INNES: First and foremost I want to tell you how committed I am to public transit both as a user of it and someone who spent a lot of mornings on streetcar tracks and watching the very long waits. This morning I was at King and Bathurst, people were waiting up to 20 minutes or longer as full streetcars passed them by. So in terms in national transportation strategy, absolutely, there needs to be some national leadership on public transit. Micheal Ignatieff and the Liberal Party last fall, when I spoke to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I spoke clearly about the need for a more direct partnership with the federal government and the municipalities on two key issues. Not just public transport, although that was the first priority, but also affordable housing. Details of a funding structure are something that needs to be worked out collaboratively with the all levels of government. Liberal record in terms of public transit, we are the only government that had a Minister of Cities and Infrastructures and that’s because we believe deeply in the need to better fund and better coordinate transportation. You have to work out agreements with the municipality, so in this case the City of Toronto, and there’s a provincial jurisdiction too. So, for me to say unilaterally there’s a funding structure, to me that’s not leadership. To me what leadership is, is bringing all the key players together, and work it out based on each of the key levels of government. But there has to be national leadership to direct that, and a commitment to put their money where their mouth is.

SIOW: The first thing I’d probably have to say is that transportation—basically, the provincial government looks after that, but I know that in 2009 we [the Conservative government] provided $5.5 billion dollars for infrastructure funding—four billion would the stimulus fund, one billion would be for infrastructure, the other would be for the Building Canada fund. There are many components. We’re streamlining the process of infrastructure projects and hopefully we’re getting the shovel in the ground. That’s what is going on at the federal level. Recently, I’m sure you have heard that the mayor made the announcement about the new [subway] lines. There are [infrastructure] issues, certainly, and there are improvements there that need to be done.

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2. In 2007, former mayor David Miller ran the aggressive “One Cent Now’ campaign, asking the federal government to give one cent of the GST to cities. Today, 80 per cent of Canadians live in cities. Do the feds need to rewrite how money is divided between urban and rural parts of the country?
—Beth Macdonell, contributing editor, Gleaner Community Press

CHOW: Oh, it’s more than that. The federal government must provide, again, stable, long-term funding to the amount of at least one cent of the GST, which would include public transit, housing, child care, infrastructure needs. One cent GST is approximately 6 billion dollars, I believe, so some of the problem is also structural. Toronto pays about nine billion dollars in taxes to Ontario and the federal government and gets about a billion dollars back. So we must get more back. To quote my colleague Cash for Toronto, yes, we need to get to more cash for Toronto. It needs to be enshrined in legislation infrastructure funds so its long-term and predictable. Right now every time there’s an election or political parties want to get some votes they announce some funding, it’s like the stimulus funds, they’re finished after two years, so you can’t plan the city with a stop-and-go impetus for vote-buying style. You have to be long-term because building a road, or a police station, or a community centre takes a long time; you have to plan ahead.

BARNEY: Yes, and I’ve already talked about that. I went straight there [to the federal government] talking about the gas tax transfer. The beautiful thing about that is that’s a mechanism of the authority in place. Even the Tories finally gave in and are now transferring 2.5 cents of the gas tax to municipalities. We want to see that doubled, we want to see a five cent transfer, basically doubling the amount of money that would go to municipalities, especially for revitalizing and expanding the public transportation systems. That’s absolutely key for us, it’s going to be one of my main bullet points on this campaign.

INNES: The way you phrased the question, with all due respect, is a bit divisive. I think we have enough divisions that pit rural people against urban, which I think we do not have to do. I think what we do have to do is getting more funding to municipalities. Liberals have dedicated funding from the gas tax and other forms, to get direct funding to cities. So that is something that we have put in place, and that is something that we will continue to support and hope to grow, because there has to be greater funding for our cities because, I mean, we are the engine. Our growth, our quality of life depends on it, and so absolutely, we are a fierce advocate of it for insuring funding, but I don’t like the phrasing as if it’s one or the other. It’s just striking a better balance.

SIOW: As far as I know, the federal government giving out one cent of the fuel tax money is substantial enough to support the cities, but one per cent of the GST, I doubt has been tabled. I also believe our government has been reducing the GST from 7 to 6 to 5 [per cent] and I guess the one per cent [reduction] could probably answer one of Beth’s questions. Instead of increasing our capital liability laws, and then [giving cities] the one cent, I guess the way we are doing it now is by reducing [the GST] by one per cent, it will benefit everybody, not just the 80 per cent [of Canadians] that are living in cities. I think that is a broader range that we are aiming for in Stephen Harper’s economic action plan.

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3. Should the government hold a public inquiry into the G20? If elected, how will you address the issue in Parliament?
—Beth Macdonell, contributing editor, Gleaner Community Press

CHOW: Absolutely. The report from the standing committee on public safety clearly recommended it. This report in the hearing at the House of Commons was caused by myself and my colleague Don Davies. We called for the hearing, and we called for a public inquiry. The report from the public safety committee, which is the standing committee of parliament, recommended an independent public inquiry because there are many unanswered questions: massive violations of human rights; massive amounts of money wasted on the fake lake or glow sticks; the largest arrests in Canadian history; and all of the small businesses lost millions—restaurants alone lost $83 million. I asked the question in the House of Commons several times, no other parties pushed as hard as we did for both the compensation and most important the public inquiry. In fact, Ignatieff didn’t even mention it when he was in Toronto talking about the G20. Large amounts of restaurants in Trinity-Spadina were deeply affected by the G20. Thank god I was able to manage to move the public protest zone out of Trinity Bellwoods park. Can you imagine? It’s bad enough that it was in Queens Park when the horses started charging and police started rounding people up.  The kettling—I had several friends who just happened to be walking by Queen and Spadina and got rounded up in the pouring rain for hours.

BARNEY: This is an issue that is close to my heart. I am still angry about the G20, and I hope very much that everyone in Trinity-Spadina is still angry about it. I have to say, I’m a little skeptical about this Canadian tradition of always calling an inquiry and having a royal commission. Very often, it just means two years of delay, and then the findings are shelved. So I’ll go out on a limb and say I want more than an inquiry: I want Bill Blair fired, I want cops who beat up innocent protestors to go to jail, and I want small business people—whose storefronts were smashed—to get the recompense that they’re legally entitled to, that the government has been incredibly slow and obstinate about paying. I want to see things happen. I don’t think we need an inquiry, I think we know what happened. Stephen Harper imposed martial law and it went downhill from there. I think we should actually see justice done.

INNES: Absolutely. First of all, there does need to be an inquiry. It’s a ridiculous situation, and in terms of the funding that was spent on the G20, I think all of us could agree there were a lot better choices [than a] billion-and-a-half in terms of funding and the unilateral imposition on the residents of Trinity-Spadina. It was a decision made without any consultation, and our residents continue to sort of suffer from it in terms of the outcome, damages, and loss of business as a result of it. It is something I would address very early on and in fact, the Liberal party earlier this week spoke to this quite clearly in the speech that Micheal Ignatieff gave on this issue.

SIOW: I guess it is history, so it cannot be changed, so I would just say we should look forward ahead, about how we should build a better Canada together, instead of going backward. We should move on. Our priority is to make sure that everybody gets a job. We are in the process of recovery in this recession.

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4. Copyright reform is long overdue in this country. We have been called pirates by the global community. Bill C-32 is now dead and it’s back to the drawing board. Do you support the copyright reform bill? How important is the issue of piracy to your party and how do you think it should be addressed?
—Karen Bliss, music journalist, Harbord resident

CHOW: Yes we need clear legislation, we are very, very behind. We need to compensate artists, so that when people reproduce their work they get a portion of [the money], that’s a very important component. We also need to make sure that the students would not be hurt if they are studying and in need of sharing materials. But, yes, we need to, rather than suing people, we need to save the money and the lawyer fees and make sure the artists get paid. Our critic Charlie Angus has several policy components. One is fair dealing for the students, the other is for artists, so the fair dealing part is non-commercial for education proposes, the other is some kind of levy to make sure that writers, actors, singers, and songwriters all get a share, because artists are poorly paid. This is the key one. We have it in a private members Bill C-499, also with a kind of blueprint for the government. The Conservative government did a long consultation period across the country which we participated in, and we were willing to work with the government to have a copyright bill be passed in the House. But they didn’t see it as a priority, so they delayed it into bringing forth discussion or debate, so it got stuck in the committee and it didn’t come out on time. So we are working with singers, and actors, and different professional organizations representing these people.

BARNEY: That is a tough question, and it’s one that I have thought about a bit. There are competing concerns on both sides. On the one hand, it is very important that our artists, as they now get called “content producers,” get fair recompense for their work. That should be non-negotiable. Trinity-Spadina is a hub of our creative communities, and I know a lot of musicians, artists, and writers who are worried about how their work is going to be sustainable in an digital age where everything is out there. At the same time, it does seem clear that to really reap the rewards of all the new technologies out there, we have to have a bias in favour of liberalism, small ‘L’ I emphasize. It should be easy to do mash-ups and parodies, and easy for students to get access to work that they can learn from. I think it’s an incredibly difficult balancing act, and I don’t think that Bill C-32 necessarily can resolve it correctly. I don’t know how exactly to do it. We do need a lot of public deliberation and hard thinking about how to get that balance right, because I’m not sure that any country in the world has it right yet.

INNES: Copyright absolutely needs to be a priority coming back. This issue has been debated well over 10 years. Bill C-32, while not perfect, seems to be a consensus in terms of intellectual property issues that we need to get started. We’re laggards in the world on this issue. Other countries have a much better approach. It’s an economic issue and it’s an artistic issue. I would be a champion on getting something back on the table as soon as there is a new government, working to get the right balance. And I think we need to understand we are so far behind globally on this issue that we need to at least get some movement on it, and legislate some reforms, and keep working on it to ensure that the balance between users and the industry, the best balance is struck.

SIOW: Being an entrepreneur myself, I can sympathize with those who invested lots of money into it, and obviously I’m against it, and we should have a law to protect against the pirating. It’s certainly not healthy—I grew a tree and somebody is plucking the fruit, so I am against it. I am strongly in support of tougher laws against piracy. We have to put some efforts into it and, obviously, the corporations will probably demand what they feel should be done. This is an area that should be looked after, we should protect investments, and the same [protect] the artists. They spend all that time and effort, and it is their hard-earned right.

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5. Elder in-home care promises to be financially far more viable than any alternative. Is this a thought, AT ALL, in the future policies of ANY of the parties platforms?
—Walter Babiak, Albany Avenue resident

CHOW: Oh yes. Very much so. Families shouldn’t be separated because they don’t have in-home care. Some families just don’t have the loved ones to provide the support for the family member to stay at home. So a comprehensive home care program is the second phase of the Tommy Douglas medicare vision. That includes both homemaking, cleaning, shopping, these kinds of services and nursing care, plus daily support. So it’s a host of different services delivered in a comprehensive and affordable manner. I held a forum and brought together the Canadian Home Care Association, doctors who do house calls, and nurses to talk about a national home care strategy. It’s unfortunate that, just like child care, the government has promised action since 1993, and yet we still don’t have a national plan. We’ve put together one, but we need a government to make it a reality. Just giving tax credits or EI funds for relatives is not enough because sometimes they, most often the wife, are not able to collect or provide the type of nursing care that is needed. Or are not physically able to provide that kind of support, so we need a host of different people providing a host of different services, from shopping, and cleaning, to helping give a sponge bath. It actually saves money because it frees up the hospital beds, and people can be able to stay at home and it’s much more humane if couples can stay together, rather than one going to a nursing home.

BARNEY: Yes, absolutely. That is something we have detailed policies on, and it includes a “balance of care” model—trying to shift care from an institutional context to enabling people to stay in their homes, and continue to be in their communities. Walter is absolutely right, that it is more cost efficient, as well as being what people actually prefer. That is exactly the kind of thing where we think the government should be shifting funds in a big way, not necessarily taking funds away from hospitals and so on, but we need to accept that that’s not good enough anymore as a model of the national health care system. We need to start funding stuff that takes place outside the hospital, and things that can keep people out of the hospitals. This is an absolute prime example of that.

INNES: It is actually a key part of our existing Liberal platform. We announced a home care program months ago. It’s something very near and dear to my heart, particularly in relation to residents here in Trinity-Spadina. Couldn’t agree with you more about your premise about it being a much more effective method of care, and our family care plan is really gaining some strength nationally. It is a plan that’s designed for family members to have the opportunity to keep, not just elders, but anybody that needs family support at home through different initiatives, and building on that, and working towards home care. Throughout this riding, there are many, many seniors who are struggling and could absolutely benefit from a better program for home care and family care.

SIOW: If you remember the budget we had presented, Harper had presented the $840 [subsidy] for couples and $600 for singles. Because of the baby boomers, we will have a lot of retirees and a lot of seniors. It is an area where we have to look into it, and as a matter of fact, our Prime Minister has that in his agenda and it was part of the budget. I have to tell you, I am the past president of the S.E.A.S. Centre. It is a success-enhanced access services [program]. It has been [around for] 25 years, we have five offices across the GTA, and we initiated with Regent Park. We have a program where we look after seniors, and during my presidency we helped a lot of seniors move into those low-income housing projects. We helped a lot of the seniors moving into the Regent Park area, where we have all those problems right now. We had that program as a non-profit charitable organization, we were supported by three levels of government as well as affiliated with the United Way. I have done my share in the community, I have helped raise funds to build gazebos for seniors’ homes. I have parents as old as them, and I’m sure we will definitely make a better quality life for them in their communities.

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6. In the U.S., you see statements along the lines of “Wall Street owns Washington.” Not just Wall Street and the big banks, Megacorporations too. GM, BP, and now in Japan, as a proxy for the global nuclear industry, TEPCO. Monsanto in food. My question for the candidates would be: Has democracy in Canada become an oligarchy or plutocracy or corporatocracy? Are our governments and media being controlled to a dangerous degree by big banks and megacorporations? What would you do, if anything, to address this issue?

—Brian Shaughnessy

CHOW: The answer is yes. The only way we can overcome that is mass participation of the public in daily workings of the government, and a refusal to vote for people who bow down to the big pharmaceutical companies that just killed the NDP bill to send AIDS drugs to Africa because the Liberal-Conservative Senators did not approve the bill in time. They recently killed the GMO bill; another NDP bill to limit genetically modified food production. Again, there was good support from the crowd but the big corporations moved in pretty quick. The environment bill, the senate killed it also from the big lobbies from the multinationals, oil sands well, oil giants I should say. So there are many examples of how these huge companies—oh, credit card companies—we mounted a huge campaign and mounted a voluntary code of conduct and we are still getting ripped off by the big banks, the big companies that control credit card services. So small businesses get ripped off and ordinary consumers get ripped off. I can give you more examples. Cell phone and Internet fees, my God, we have one of the most expensive in the world, and fairly poor service compared to other parts of the world. All of this because, in some cases lack of competition, and government being in the pocket of these giant corporations.

BARNEY: I think the short answer is yes, even though it’s not as obvious as in the US, or not as bad here. I do think that our bias in the Green Party is very much pro-business, actually. This may not be what your questioner wants to hear, but we are big believers in free enterprise, entrepreneurship, getting markets to work, but with the way the system works, that puts us very much on the side of the small entrepreneur rather than the big entrenched business or the banks. These issues are close to our heart because we end up subsidizing those entrenched interests in various ways—we end up with a regulatory framework that favours them. Very often, those old entrenched interests are not serving the interests of society: they are polluting, and they’re stopping us making the transition we need to a green economy. This is a big worry for us. The very fact that the Tories would think they have some kind of a winning issue in corporate tax cuts in our current economic climate just tells you how distorted our political spectrum is. That’s a really lousy way to get an economy back on track coming back from a recession. In terms of what we believe in doing, we do have some strong and complicated policies on the media and ownership of the media. We want to reduce concentrations of ownership of the media, we want to beef up traditional safeguards to make sure we do have a free flow of information that isn’t too distorted by corporate interests.

INNES: I think our democracy has been seriously challenged. I wouldn’t say it fits into any of these categories now, but we are at risk and that’s why in this election it is so important, and why I am focusing on the streets and talking to people about the substantive issues. I’m finding people really understand that it’s about getting people to be engaged, and fight for the Canada that we want. I would say that our current government is really at risk of that, Liberal governments, of the past and moving forward—not a chance as long as I’m a member of a potential caucus. I will be a fierce fighter of any of that. One of my strengths is connecting with people and talking about engagement and not just in a partisan way, but actually getting involved in your community, and fighting for the shared vision we have for Canada.

I would do what I have always done and continue to do: meeting and talking with people. I’ll give you an example: often people will shy away from the political process and say they are not political. I do a lot of speaking with youth groups, et cetera, [and ask], “Is there an issue that you care about and care about deeply?” And most people do. My view is, that when people understand you actually care about an issue, you need to be political. It doesn’t mean you need to be partisan, but you need to stand up and get involved, and so I would tirelessly work to get people to be involved in their broader community and fighting for both a strong and tolerant Canada that’s very inclusive. If we talk about our vision of Canada being one that’s inclusive, and creating opportunities so people are not left behind, the megacorporations, the threats of oligarchy that you mentioned, can’t take hold.

SIOW: I certainly don’t want to make comments in relation to what is happening in the States, and obviously our Conservative government’s priority is to put the economy back. That will be our priority right now, and as far as across the border, the government has done a good job in releasing barriers in cross-border trades—cutting red tape [for]  business on both sides of the borders. We certainly need huge corporations, which is why our mandate is tax reduction, corporate tax reductions. The big corporations are the ones who are creating these jobs. Obviously small business plays a very important role as well, but I have a friend who works in a huge computer firms who volunteers in this campaign. She couldn’t find a job when her company moved to the Philippines. We have to try to stop all this. Obviously, the Conservatives stopped corporate donations to parties, and they probably lost 80 per cent of their funding. Being an entrepreneur myself, the best thing that we have right now is the Economic Action Plan. As far as the Action Plan and strategy is in place, I think that should be more than enough. How influential it is I really cannot tell you. I know that there are some areas that where I can work is the lefty influence. The media is hugely influenced by lefties, so where do I go from here? As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to do my very best, just go talk to the people who are going to vote. It is my job to translate, I can speak many dialects and languages, to remove that barrier where I can communicate with [constituents] comfortably.

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7. What is your plan for fiscal control around the deficit and debt, so we don’t leave an ugly burden for our children and future generations?
—Grant, last name withheld

CHOW: Fiscal control starts with who is not paying taxes right now. We would have more money coming in, we would have more revenue, there would be less deficit. That includes corporate tax cuts for companies that then go layoff staff, to multinational oil companies that pollute our air and our environment. Smart spending means whether it’s home care so we spend less in hospital care, or we spend less if we do early childhood education and less on prisons, and if we spend more on peace development and development to lift people out of poverty. Then we spend a lot less on the war in Afghanistan, or any number of wars. Military spending, I refuse to call it defense, we are not defending Canada, we are invading others. So bringing our troops home would save some money. 18 billion spent so far. At least a billion, minimum, per year, and at least ten per cent of it goes to war fighting. And I haven’t even started on the fighter jets, and that won’t be signed for three or four more years so we can do something now, i.e. bring our troops home now. All of them. We can save another 2 billion dollars if we stop giving tax subsidies to oil companies, to the tar sands operations.

BARNEY: We do believe very strongly that we’ve got to get our debt under control. For us, with politicians, the question is how are we going to do it and why should you trust us when we say that. One reason you should trust us is that we do have a big-picture view about the future of the Canadian economy, and it involves taxing the stuff that we’re doing wrong and using it for taxes on stuff that is economically and socially useful. We’re talking about a carbon tax, we’re the party that believes in that. NDP is passionately against it, Liberals don’t want to think about it. The Tories don’t even believe in climate change, as far as I can tell. That carbon tax, the point would be to make it revenue neutral, so we would be lowering taxes on everything else. In particular, lowering payroll taxes which should make it easier for small businesses to hire people. We have a vision of what a prosperous Canada would look like in 20 years. That green economy would be one that could keep its house in order and pay its debts. We would not be subsidizing polluting industries anymore. We would not be subsidizing the auto industry and other “dinosaur” industries anymore. There are a lot of things that we would not be spending money on, and we would have new revenue streams. What can I say, we do take these debt and deficit issues very seriously, because we do not want to be a country that is at the mercy of the international banking system. We’re very concerned about Canada’s ability to set policy independently, and we’ve seen recently what happens if you don’t keep your financial house in order. You end up having to be bailed out by the international banking system. We can’t have that happen here. we’ve got to run a tight ship. That’s fine, we believe in running a tight ship, anyway.

INNES: Well, that’s why the Liberals quite frankly are very serious and couldn’t support the budget that has been put forward. The funding choices being made right now, when we have the largest deficit ever, simply cannot be sustained. So whether you take the $30 billion on fighter jets, $9 billion on the mega-prisons, or the $6 billion in corporate tax cuts for the largest corporations and banks, those are the wrong decisions right now. Liberals are saying right now about our fiscal balance in terms of continuing … look, we have to pay down the debt. I ran a small business, I understand the fiscal issues. I’m a lawyer, and I’ve run my own business. You have to take care of the debt, but you can’t take care of it at the expense of the investments in people. So we are balancing, our commitment is to continue to strike the balance, to continue to pay down the investment, while at the same time making strong economic investments in health care, family care, and education; lifelong learning. Liberals have a strong record of getting the fiscal house in order and I think people need to remember, the last time the Conservative government ever ran a balanced budget was the year the Titanic sank, 1912. I think that tells a story in of itself. It is about striking a balance, we can’t pay down the deficit without at the same time risking the supports that family and individuals needs.

SIOW: I think the key here now is our government, for the last few years, has done a tremendous job. As an entrepreneur myself, I really like the Economic Action Plan. We have plans, we have systems [in place]. We don’t tell you today this, and tomorrow say another thing. We have to work to recover job losses. We are adamant that by 2015 we are going to bring the deficit back to zero. We are on target, the unfortunate part here is who can deliver? Before even the budget came out, [Jack Layton] confirmed he was going to reject it. Come on! How can you have someone represent the country and reject things he hasn’t even seen? It is just ridiculous. What we have done here is our free trade and the Economic Action Plan. We are about to start a second phase, and if we were to continue to do our job, which we have done a tremendous job in the past, we will be able to fully recover by 2015 with no more deficit. Isn’t that a good thing that we can all enjoy?

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