Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke candidates speak out on housing, climate and COVID-19

Candidates in the 2021 federal election for the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding answer Black Press Media’s questions relating to current issues. (Black Press Media file photo)Candidates in the 2021 federal election for the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding answer Black Press Media’s questions relating to current issues. (Black Press Media file photo)
Harley Gordon is the Green Party candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of Harley Gordon)Harley Gordon is the Green Party candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of Harley Gordon)
Laura Frost is the Conservative candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of the Laura Frost campaign)Laura Frost is the Conservative candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of the Laura Frost campaign)
Randall Garrison is the NDP candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of the Randall Garrison campaign)Randall Garrison is the NDP candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of the Randall Garrison campaign)
Tyson Riel Strandlund is the Communist Party candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of Tyson Riel Strandlund)Tyson Riel Strandlund is the Communist Party candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of Tyson Riel Strandlund)
Doug Kobayashi is the Liberal candidate in the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding. (Photo courtesy of Doug Kobayashi campaign)Doug Kobayashi is the Liberal candidate in the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding. (Photo courtesy of Doug Kobayashi campaign)

In the runup to the Sept. 20 federal election, Black Press Media asked the candidates in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke a series of questions.

BPM: With homeownership out of reach for too many in Greater Victoria and rent for an average one-bedroom reaching $1,700, what will your party do to stabilize housing costs?

Harley Gordon – Green: Rent and house prices are too high in Greater Victoria. As your MP I will work to stabilize housing costs through a foreign buyer’s tax and by increasing federal funding for transportation infrastructure, with incentives for municipalities to add additional housing near transportation hubs. The Green Party will also invest in affordable social housing to provide all Canadians with a secure place to call home.

Laura Frost – Conservative: We are not building enough homes to keep up with demand. New housing affordability depends on government allowing builders to build affordably. The challenge is more supply through efficient rezoning and regional planning. The reality is that the federal government has no authority over municipal rezoning and regional planning. But the federal government can contribute. Our platform includes a capital gains tax rollover for building new rentals that will help locally. Most important is our plan to free federal land for development, which would make a substantial contribution to supply. This is also an opportunity to become a reliable partner to address housing needs of Indigenous communities and implement a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” housing strategy in the spirit of real reconciliation.

Randall Garrison – NDP: We have to fix Trudeau’s housing crisis. The NDP will make this a priority by increasing the supply of affordable housing in the market while also taking the greed and speculation out of housing. The NDP plan will build, renovate and preserve 1.7 million homes over the next four years, including 500,000 new affordable units in the next 10 years. We would take on the big money investors that are driving the market by introducing a foreign buyer’s tax. And we know that this will take time so would ensure that people are able to access emergency rent relief so that they aren’t left without housing.

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Tyson Riel Strandlund – Communist: Our party is committed to constructing one million units of green affordable social housing over the next 10 years for rent and for sale. By flooding the market with low-cost public housing, the commodity price of private housing would also fall dramatically. This will stimulate the economy through job creation, not only in construction and trades, but in spinoff jobs in manufacturing. We would further increase federal funding for housing to the provinces while ensuring Indigenous peoples administer their own housing programs.

Doug Kobayashi – Liberals: I would work with all levels of government; non-profits and developers to better understand local housing needs/challenges/opportunities and where/why gaps exist/persist. Then we can formulate and implement the party’s plans intended to stabilize the local housing environment, including: Building a range of new housing stock to meet a range of current and future needs, from young people starting out to fixed income seniors who want to age-in-place; introducing a Rent-to-Own Program to make home ownership more accessible for more people; and investing in building retrofits and revitalizations to help increase affordable rental stock to meet a range of housing needs.

Rob Anderson – PPC: The housing shortage and cost has been a direct result of irresponsible immigration and poor financial practices. When Trudeau was elected, his government was determined to increase the number of immigrants to levels that swallowed up available rental housing. This while in a manufactured depression through irresponsible government spending. The end result is the high inflation and unavailable housing that we are experiencing today. We will limit future immigration to sustainable levels, and allow the housing market to stabilize while making government spending accountable and responsible to Canadians.

BPM: What sacrifices must Canadians be willing to make in order to reach our targets for climate change?

Laura Frost: Is “sacrifice” necessary? Conservatives will work with the provinces to implement a national Personal Low Carbon Savings Account. It will incentivize Canadians to make greener lifestyle choices that reduce emissions while also allowing them to decide what works best for their family and community. Electric and other zero-emission technology for vehicles are essential to meeting our climate goals. Conservatives will introduce a zero-emission vehicle mandate, based on British Columbia’s, requiring 30 per cent of light-duty vehicles sold to be zero emissions by 2030.

Randall Garrison: Canadians understand that fighting the climate crisis requires both individual and collective action, but the entire burden can’t fall on working families or we will never reach our goals no matter how much individuals recycle and reduce their energy use. We need to end all subsidies to fossil fuel industries and shift that funding to renewable energy jobs and energy creation projects in communities all across the country right now. That’s why in the last Parliament I introduced Motion M-50 to do just that.

Election 2021: Who are your Greater Victoria candidates?

Tyson Riel Strandlund: Our party rejects the idea that a just green transition needs to come as a sacrifice to working people. We see this transition as an opportunity to create countless well-paying jobs in renewable energy and environmental conservation programs, to put energy and resources under public, democratic control, and to substantially expand mass public transit including buses and high-speed rail, while eliminating fares. We would rebuild publicly owned and democratically controlled provincial electrical utility systems that include production, distribution, transmission and a bulk electricity system market, ensuring a reliable power supply for industrial and residential use. Rather than cap-and-trade and carbon tax schemes, we’re fighting for strict legal limits for pollution and hard caps on emissions, especially from industrial sources, to reduce emissions to zero by 2050.

Doug Kobayashi: We need to share the burden necessary for us to shift to a circular economy, which helps prevent waste and its negative impacts. Governments can provide the enabling conditions to help us adapt our communities to climate change, but we will all need to shift our individual behaviours. We could probably all benefit from practicing more self-awareness and self-discipline about waste, whether that is food waste, water, or the energy we use to heat our homes. Perhaps most important, we need to embrace change and innovation and let go of the notion of ‘the way we’ve always done’ things.

Rob Anderson: Climate change is a natural event. We have experienced global warming ever since the last day of the last ice age. While this summer we had forest fires through the B.C. central interior, the year before we had practically none. I also believe that we need to be responsible for the footprint we leave. While Canada is a carbon-negative nation, the carbon tax is nothing more than a tax grab. The green energy being produced is far more damaging to the environment than many traditional forms of energy production. Canada needs a national energy corridor with the use of our own resources. We also need to utilize Canada’s nuclear power and LNG technologies which are the safest and most environmentally friendly in the world.

Harley Gordon: Climate action is not a sacrifice, it is an investment in our future. The cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of acting now. We have deadly heat waves, out-of-control wildfires, and stage 5 droughts on Vancouver Island, we need to act. As your representative, I will cancel the taxpayer-funded pipelines, end subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and protect endangered ecosystems, including old-growth forests. By addressing the climate crisis, the Green Party will reduce fossil fuel emissions, protect the environment, and grow our economy sustainably and equitably. It is not sacrifice; it is an investment in a better future for all Canadians.

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BPM: What is your view of the provincial and federal measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Randall Garrison: During the COVID-19 pandemic New Democrats made sure that the federal government provided adequate supports to help Canadians through difficult times. The Liberals’ initial plans weren’t enough to make sure that people and families would be able to weather the storm and stay afloat financially while still keeping each other safe. We know that COVID-19 isn’t over, we need to make sure that we continue on the path to recovery where people get the help they need, get the paid sick days they need so that they can stay home when they or their kids are sick, and that everyone who can gets vaccinated.

Tyson Riel Strandlund: The pandemic has exposed the pathetic state of our underfunded health-care system, as well as private, for-profit long-term care facilities, which should be replaced by public, not-for-profit care. Millions of workers have been left without jobs, homes, or in economic precarity, all while the government has protected skyrocketing corporate profits instead of working people’s health, safety, and financial well-being. Canada has shamefully hoarded vaccine supplies at the expense of poorer countries around the world rather than working together with other nations so pharmaceutical companies can make a killing on vaccine patents.

Doug Kobayashi: I believe all levels of government worked together effectively to inform the public about the global pandemic, enact and enforce health orders, and help the public better understand the risks of spread, and the actions they should take to protect themselves from COVID-19. Testing and vaccination programs were introduced quickly and effectively managed. Domestic and foreign travel was curtailed in an effort to contain the spread of a still evolving public health threat. Both the federal and provincial governments introduced emergency benefit programs quickly to help alleviate the serious financial impacts triggered for many people by the pandemic.

Rob Anderson: Canada’s COVID response has been a dismal failure. The government’s approach has done nothing except cost people their livelihoods and families through divide and concur tactics. Pushing experimental mRNA gene therapy under the disguise of a vaccine is not acceptable. COVID is being used to control the masses, and “vaccines” need to be a personal decision, not manipulation or coercion. Canadians, vaccinated or unvaccinated, need to respect each other’s decisions and protect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There needs to be open debate among the world’s professionals, not just the ones supporting the government’s narrative. There’s no logical reason a vaccinated person should fear an unvaccinated person.

Harley Gordon: In 2020 politicians remembered that they have a job to do. Canadians came together to address a global pandemic. Unfortunately, the solidarity and collaboration did not last. We are now in an unnecessary election, during a pandemic, because one party wanted all the power. The pandemic also exposed problems in our long-term care homes and government measures to protect seniors failed. As your representative, I would fight for better protection for our seniors and create national standards in long-term care. The federal government was able to purchase vaccines for all Canadians, however, due to neglect of the biomedical manufacturing industry, Canadians had no domestic supply of vaccines. As your MP I support strengthening Canada’s bioeconomy and investing in manufacturing.

Laura Frost: B.C. has done a very good job limiting the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines are the most important tool in the fight against COVID-19. The federal procurement of vaccines was needlessly delayed by a year due to the initial, inept decision to procure the Sino vaccine, which has since proven to be very weak in effectiveness. Border control is an important tool at the federal level. The Liberals were too slow to protect Canadians from the initial spread by simply initiating stricter borders controls.

Editor’s Note: This file has been updated to include People’s Party candidate Rob Anderson, who responded after Black Press Media’s press deadline.

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