Federal Election 2021:  CCKT Questions to the Candidates

CCKT sent four questions to all five of the candidates registered for the King-Vaughan riding, and invited each one to respond to the questions with the goal of posting the four questions and candidate answers on the CCKT website.  In addition CCKT is circulating the questions and answers to CCKT members and to the wider community.

Themes for the questions include:

  1. Climate Emergency;
  2. Bio-diversity;
  3. Sustainable and Affordable Housing;
  4. Food Security and Land Use

After five days, CCKT only received answers from two of the candidates, Deb Schulte and Anna Roberts.  We are posting the four questions and the detailed answers received from each candidate.  Important to note, we had asked for fairly concise answers up to about 250 words for each question.  You will find some of the answers very lengthy, however, we have posted the complete answers received to the questions.

Please have a good read, and perhaps followup with direct questions to the other candidates.  CCKT believes it is important to be well-informed on relevant issues and the positions of the candidates when voting.  Thank you for your attention and interest.

Bruce Craig, Chair, on behalf of CCKT

Question #1. Climate Crisis.

What incentives will your government put in place to help citizens and businesses reduce their emissions? Please describe the highlights and timeline of your party’s plan to transition jobs away from the oil and gas industry to a “clean, renewable, green” economy.

Answers from Candidate, Deb Schulte, Liberal

Climate change is the greatest long-term threat of our time, but it is also our greatest economic opportunity. We have the skilled workforce, innovative spirit, and natural resources at our fingertips to succeed, and our plan has created new jobs and growth across Canada.

A re-elected Liberal government will move forward with an ambitious plan to accelerate climate action for more jobs, cleaner communities, and less pollution.

  • We’ll cut pollution by building a net-zero electricity grid and ending thermal coal exports, create cleaner communities by making it easier and more affordable to own a zero-emission vehicle, and create new jobs in the clean economy while supporting all workers so that no one is left behind.
  • With regards to the oil and gas sector, we’ll make sure it reduces emissions at a pace and scale needed to achieve net-zero by 2050, with 5-year targets to stay on track to achieving this shared goal. And driving down pollution starts with ensuring that pollution from the oil and gas sector doesn’t go up from current levels.
  • We’ll also establish a $2 billion Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador to support local and regional economic diversification and specific place-based strategies. We want to grow new job opportunities from the ground up and provide workers with the tools they need to succeed as we move to a net-zero future.

Answers from Candidate, Anna Roberts, Conservative

Canada’s Conservatives will work with the provinces to implement an innovative, national, Personal Low Carbon Savings Account. This will put a price on carbon for consumers without one penny going to the government. It will be completely transparent and engage consumers in the process of building a lower carbon future.

Canadians will pay into their Personal Low Carbon Savings Account each time they buy hydrocarbon based fuel. They will be able to apply the money in their account towards things that help them live a greener life. That could mean buying a transit pass or a bicycle or saving up and putting the money towards a new efficient furnace, energy efficient windows or even an electric vehicle.

Canadian families and businesses have been trailblazers in the use of affinity or rewards programs and have great expertise in both managing and using them. This program will operate similarly and may be managed by a consortium of companies as the INTERAC system is.

We’ll scrap the consumer carbon tax backstop. Wherever carbon taxes have been tried, governments have been unable to resist the billions of dollars they bring in. This is true in Canada today, where the Trudeau government is only returning to Canadians some of the revenue the carbon tax brings in – and where some Canadians, particularly farmers and those living in rural areas, are unfairly penalized. Justin Trudeau has already broken his promise by increasing the carbon tax, so Canadians cannot trust that he won’t be tempted to use the carbon tax revenue to fund his big government plans.

Our plan will ensure that all Canadians can do their part to fight climate change, in the way that works best for them, and at a carbon price that is affordable: starting at $20/tonne and increasing to $50/tonne but no further. Even at this lower carbon price, we will ensure that this does not place an excessive burden on low-income Canadians and will protect farmers by ensuring that they have affordable options.

Businesses that aren’t subject to the Output Based Pricing System but buy fuel will have a Small Business Low Carbon Savings Account that will operate similarly.

• Please describe the highlights and timeline of your party’s plan to transition jobs away from the oil and gas industry to a “clean, renewable, green” economy.

The highlights of our parties plan to help make Canada’s economy greener are: a Renewable Natural Gas Mandate requiring 15% of downstream consumption to be renewable by 2030; Lower Carbon Fuel Standard to reduce carbon emissions from every letre of gasoline; Carbon Capture, which focuses on ensuring energy is produced as cleanly as possible; invest in natural climate solutions to reduce carbon emissions in Canada’s agricultural and forestry sectors; and our Carbon Border Tariffs, which is a key part of our Natural Clean Energy Strategy. You can find more information about that in our official party platform, found at this link.

Question #2. Bio-diversity. 

Global bio-diversity loss has been very significant in the past several decades. Nationally, as of 2019, Canada has protected 11.4 percent of its lands and inland waters — far from its 17 percent target. As of December 2020, just 10.7 per cent of Ontario’s land and freshwater was protected. 

What is your party’s plan, including clear timelines, to protect Canada’s terrestrial areas from future development and loss, as well as safeguard wildlife and ecosystems — particularly in southern Ontario? 

Will your party follow the European Union’s Biodiversity Strategy released in 2020, which would make biodiversity considerations an integral part of Canada’s overall economic growth strategy?

Answers from Candidate, Deb Schulte, Liberal

To protect and conserve nature across the country, the Liberal government made the two single-largest investments in nature conservation in Canadian history—$1.3 billion in Budget 2018 and $3.3 billion in Budget 2021—which will allow us to protect a quarter of our lands and marine areas by 2025. A re-elected Liberal government will build on this progress and continue to protect more nature by:

  • Continuing to work with partners to ensure Canada meets its goals to conserve 25% of our lands and waters by 2025 and 30% of each by 2030.
  • Establishing 10 new national parks and 10 new national marine conservation areas (NMCAs) in the next 5 years—doubling the size of the existing national parks and NMCA system in Canada.
  • Working with Indigenous communities on co-management agreements of these national parks and NMCAs.
  • Working to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 in Canada and achieving a full recovery for nature by 2050. This includes championing this goal internationally to ensure that the world protects the intact nature required to reverse the biodiversity collapse and protect our climate.

Answers from Candidate, Anna Roberts, Conservative

No answer given

Question #3. Sustainable Housing and Affordability. 

Canada is facing two major crises: shortage of affordable housing and climate change. A worsening shortage of housing supply and affordable housing has resulted in a housing crisis in Ontario that threatens the health and well-being of low- and moderate-income Ontarians, and undermines the province’s economic recovery and competitiveness.

What policies will your party introduce to encourage more complete communities that integrate “green” building standards and renewable energy into homes, buildings and transportation?

What policies would your party implement to provide housing (both home ownership and rental housing) that is more affordable and is sustainable in terms of the use of natural resources and land?

Answers from Candidate, Deb Schulte, Liberal

Energy efficiency

The more energy efficient we can make our homes and buildings, the lower our monthly bills are and the less we pollute. In order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, we have to retrofit almost every building in Canada. This presents a real opportunity to kickstart a vibrant retrofit economy, with good middle class jobs in all our communities. A re-elected Liberal government will:

  • Continue to help Canadians improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their energy bills, providing grants of up to $5,000 for home retrofits and interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for deep retrofits.
  • Launch a National Net-zero Emissions Building Strategy, which will chart a path to net-zero emissions from buildings by 2050 with ambitious milestones along the way.
  • Accelerate the development of the national net-zero emissions model building code for 2025 adoption.
  • Accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-based heating systems to electrification through incentives and standards, including investing $250 million to help low-income Canadians get off home-heating oil.
  • Require EnerGuide labeling of homes at the time of sale.
  • Create a Low-Carbon Building Materials Innovation Hub to work directly with entrepreneurs, municipalities, provinces and territories, and Indigenous governments to ensure Canadian innovations are best positioned to succeed.
  • Enhance investments in the Forest Industry Transformation program, working with partners to create jobs in the forest-based economy and bring forward new innovations in sustainable, low-carbon building materials.
  • Launch a community-led net-zero homes initiative that supports projects that pursue multiple concurrent retrofits in a community or neighbourhood, to reduce overall costs. This initiative will be modeled on the Dutch “Energiesprong” program.

Housing affordability

A re-elected Liberal government will move forward with a three part housing plan. A Home. For Everyone will:

  • Unlock Home Ownership: Liberals will help renters become owners and save for a down payment faster, reduce the monthly costs of mortgages, and double the Home Buyers Tax Credit to help young Canadians buy their first home sooner. This plan will save a family buying their first home up to $30,000.
  • Build More Homes: Liberals will build, preserve, or repair 1.4 million homes in four years to help increase the supply of homes available to Canadians, create jobs, and grow the middle class.
  • Protect your Rights: Liberals will create a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights to make the process of buying a home fairer, more open and transparent, and ensure homes are for people and families. Our plan includes banning blind bidding, establishing a legal right to a home inspection, and banning new foreign ownership for two years.

This plan builds on the work that the Liberal government has done since 2015, including:

  • Helping more than two million Canadians have a safe and affordable place to call home;
  • Building thousands of new homes, creating jobs, growing the middle class, and reducing chronic homelessness through the National Housing Strategy and Rapid Housing Initiative; and
  • Introducing the First Time Home Buyer Incentive to help Canadians across the country purchase their first home with only 5 percent of the mortgage down, making home ownership more affordable.

Answers from Candidate, Anna Roberts, Conservative

Energy efficiency

  • There is a real opportunity to reduce our emissions in this sector because improving building efficiency leads to long-term cost savings and the emissions reductions tend to be durable. However, there are challenges to realizing these benefits: the up-front costs are a significant barrier for many people, and we don’t have enough people in the skilled trades to do these retrofits at the scale we will need by 2050.
    In order to kick-start building emissions reductions by 2030 and achieve significant, broad-scale reductions in building emissions by 2050, Conservatives will: 

    • Provide a regulatory and financial framework that will facilitate Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC). This is a model that involves the private sector in financing and implementing retrofits and then being paid back through savings. Our program will be modelled after the SOFIAC program in Quebec.
    • We will work with provinces and territories to promote ESPC for government and publicly- funded institutional buildings, including a “2030 Bonus” that will provide an additional benefit for those buildings that complete their retrofits prior to 2030.
    • Develop a Net Zero Foundations program to begin putting in place the building blocks required to meet our net zero goals. This will include:

Plus More

We’ll also take further actions to cut emissions by:

  • Creating an accelerated Impact Assessment process for projects that will reduce GHG emissions.
  • Investing a billion dollars in Small Modular Reactors, to get this zero emissions source of electricity and heat to the point that it starts to be deployed across the country, including in the oilsands.
  • Studying the potential for introducing new taxes on frequent flyers, non-electric luxury vehicles and luxury second homes to deter activities that hurt the environment.

Canada’s Conservatives will take this plan to the provinces but, unlike the current government, we will work with them, knowing that by doing so we’ll achieve more.

As much as leadership begins at home, the truth remains that Canada only accounts for less than 2% of global emissions. If we are going to pull our weight globally, we need to do our part to help other countries cut their emissions – particularly those not blessed with our wealth or resources. To do so, Canada’s Conservatives will:

  • Implement a Liquified Natural Gas export strategy to displace coal in electricity generation. Using natural gas instead of coal cuts emissions in half, and countries across Asia are eager to buy Canadian natural gas. Red tape imposed by the Liberals means that massive projects like Kitimat LNG are in danger of cancellation – hurting the planet and costing Canadian jobs.
  • Develop export markets for Canadian nuclear technology and uranium, to help countries generate more electricity with this zero emission energy source.
  • Increase exports of our cleanest resources and products to replace items made with higher pollution. For example, Canada produces aluminum more efficiently than the rest of the world and it will get even cleaner as Canadian producers continue to innovate. As we raise standards at home, we have the opportunity to help the world while creating jobs here.
  • Export Canadian emissions reduction technology around the world.

Our plan has been independently analyzed by Navius Research

Canadian leaders in quantifying the impacts of energy and climate policy, Navius simulated the expected outcome of our plan using a model that accounts for all economic activity in Canada.

This model is used by most provincial governments and the federal government to assess the impact of climate policy.

Navius found that our plan would be expected to achieve substantially the same emissions reductions by 2030 as A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy – the government’s December 2020 plan to meet our Paris commitment, while resulting in a boost to jobs and the economy.

Housing affordability

It’s time to face the fact: We have a housing crisis in Canada. Affording a home – to rent, let alone to buy is slipping out of reach of Canadians across our country. The primary cause is that supply simply isn’t keeping up with demand. Governments have not let Canadians build enough housing to keep up with our growing population.

We need action – from all levels of government. We need to treat this like the crisis it is. Years of study and delay will just leave more and more Canadians and newcomers trapped in inadequate or insecure housing. We need shovels in the ground building enough housing not just to keep up with but to get ahead of population growth. We need to ensure that Canadians, first and foremost, can afford the housing that we do have, keeping out foreign speculators, corruption, and laundered money that force up prices. And we need to remove unnecessary roadblocks preventing Canadians from getting mortgages.

Canada’s Conservatives have a plan to make housing more affordable.

To swiftly increase supply, we will implement a plan to build 1 million homes in the next three years. To do so, we will:

  • Leverage federal infrastructure investments to increase housing supply. We will:
    Build public transit infrastructure that connects homes and jobs by bringing public transit to where people are buying homes; and
    Require municipalities receiving federal funding for public transit to increase density near the funded transit;
  • Review the extensive real estate portfolio of the federal government – the largest property owner in the country with over 37,000 buildings – and release at least 15% for housing while improving the Federal Lands Initiative;
  • Incent developers to build the housing Canadians both want and need, by:

Encouraging Canadians to invest in rental housing by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in rental housing, something that is currently excluded; and

Exploring converting unneeded office space to housing.

  • Continue the Conservative commitment to Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples by enacting a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” strategy – long called for by Indigenous housing advocates, who have been ignored by this Liberal government;

Canada’s Conservatives are committed to putting a stop to federal paternalism and instead partnering with Indigenous communities and empowering Indigenous Peoples with the autonomy to meet their own housing needs.

  • Enhance the viability of using Community Land Trusts for affordable housing by creating an incentive for corporations and private landowners to donate property to Land Trusts for the development of affordable housing.

The incentive will mirror that which exists for donating land to ecological reserves.

To root out the corrupt activities that drive up real estate prices and put homeownership out of reach, we will:

  • Implement comprehensive changes to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, and give FINTRAC, law enforcement, and prosecutors the tools necessary to identify, halt, and prosecute money-laundering in Canadian real estate markets
  • Establish a federal Beneficial Ownership Registry for residential property.
  • Closely examine the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, which is doing important work, and quickly implement recommendations at the federal level.

To arrest and reverse the inflationary impacts of foreign buyers and speculation in the housing market, we will ensure that housing in Canada is truly for Canadian citizens and residents first. The Liberals are on record stating, “we’re a very safe market for foreign investment but we’re not a great market for Canadians looking for choices around housing.” This must change.

We need a real estate market that serves the interests of everyday Canadians: the young family who needs more space for their kids, the recent university grad trying to find an apartment in the city, the tradesperson moving to a new community for work, the retired empty-nesters wanting to downsize without losing all their home equity to pay for an overpriced condo – all are underserved by Canada’s lack of affordable housing options.

We will:

  • Ban foreign investors not living in or moving to Canada from buying homes here for a two year period after which it will be reviewed.
  • Instead, encourage foreign investment in purpose-built rental housing that is affordable to Canadians.
    To address homelessness, we will:
  • Re-implement the Housing First approach, which has been watered down by the current federal government, to aid in the fight against Canada’s addictions crisis.
  • Revise the federal government’s substance abuse policy framework to make recovery its overarching goal.
  • Invest $325 million over the next three years to create 1,000 residential drug treatment beds and build 50 recovery community centres across the country.
  • Support innovative approaches to address the crises of mental health challenges and addiction, such as land-based treatment programs developed and managed by Indigenous communities as part of a plan to enhance the delivery of culturally appropriate addictions treatment and prevention services in First Nations communities with high needs.

To make mortgages more affordable, we will:

  • Encourage a new market in seven- to ten-year mortgages to provide stability both for first-time home buyers and lenders, opening another secure path to homeownership for Canadians, and reducing the need for mortgage stress tests.
  • Remove the requirement to conduct a stress test when a homeowner renews a mortgage with another lender instead of only when staying with their current lender, as is the case today. This will increase competition and help homeowners access more affordable options.
  • Increase the limit on eligibility for mortgage insurance and index it to home price inflation, allowing those in high-priced real estate markets with less than a 20% down-payment an opportunity at home-ownership.
  • Fix the mortgage stress test to stop discriminating against small business owners, contractors and other non-permanent employees including casual workers.

Canada’s Conservatives will never tax Canadians’ capital gains on the sale of their principal residence, something many within the Liberal party are threatening to do.

Question #4. Food Security and Land Use.

Domestic food production is vital to consumers and the economy; but agricultural land that supports food production is a finite and shrinking resource. Only 5 percent of the land in Canada is classified as prime farmland and a large portion of the best farmland is in southern Ontario. In 2015, during the Greenbelt Review, researchers indicated that climate change could turn the Greater Golden Horseshoe into the next food capital of North America.

What will your government do to protect farmland and domestic food production from the negative impacts of urban development; thereby preserving Canada’s food security?

Answers from Candidate, Deb Schulte, Liberal

While zoning is not a federal matter, the federal government helps support a successful farming sector.

The Liberal government launched the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a $3 billion investment to help Canada’s agriculture and food industry grow, innovate and prosper. It helps grow trade and expand markets; boost innovation and sustainable growth for the sector; and support diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector.

We’re helping the industry showcase Canada’s reputation for high quality and safe food. For example, the AgriMarketing program could help a producer organization or agri-business promote Canada’s world-class products on a trade mission to a key market

Our science clusters will bring industry and scientists to the table to ensure our science is hitting the target. The clusters have already done a great job helping farmers boost their bottom line with: higher-yielding crops; better animal health and welfare; and new uses for agricultural crops.

Science is also a powerful tool to help farmers protect the environment. Farmers have made great strides in reducing their environmental footprint. Our programs will help farmers: adapt to climate change; conserve water and soil; and grow their businesses to feed the world sustainably.

Answers from Candidate, Anna Roberts, Conservative

Canada’s farmers not only feed our cities but also supply good food to the world. With the global population growing and getting richer, the need for trusted food sources will only get larger. We have an opportunity to boost exports and jobs in the agricultural sector if we get this right. COVID-19 has also demonstrated the vital importance of a strong agricultural industry to maintain our supply chains and ensure the food security of Canadians.

Canada’s Conservatives will:

  • Respect and defend supply management for our dairy and poultry farms and ensure that farming families are engaged in any trade negotiations or programs impacting the sector and that the Minister of Agriculture is at the table for those negotiations.
  • Open new markets for our livestock, grain, and oilseed producers in our free trade negotiations.
  • Within our first 100 days in office, finalize compensation program for supply managed processors under CPTPP and CETA and negotiate a compensation package for farmers and processors impacted by CUSMA.
  • Work with the US Administration to remove the CUSMA limits on Canadian exports of powdered milk to third-party countries and establish reciprocal norms to ensure that our quality standards are respected.
  • Work with the provinces to adopt a grocery supply code to deal with retailers’ abusive pricing and contracting practices against farmers, producers, and processors.
  • Certain grocery retail giants have imposed special fees and fines on suppliers.
  • A code of conduct will guarantee Canadian consumers a reliable, affordable supply of food on their local grocers’ shelves.
  • Protect family farms by ending unfair tax treatment

Canada’s Conservatives will:

  • Fix the Impact Assessment process created by Bill C-69, basing our changes on the bipartisan recommendations made by the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources. despite it passing with broad support, and clearly plan to repeal it if they win a majority.
    • We will ensure that the sale of a family farm to a family member is not taxed at a higher rate than a sale to a stranger.
  • Improve payment security for farmers and food processors by creating a statutory deemed trust for suppliers of perishable produce in bankruptcy and harmonize our regime with that of the US to regain reciprocal protection under the U.S. Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
  • Work towards greater harmonization of farm product regulations with our trading partners, especially the United States.
  • Ensure our farm safety net programs are predictable, bankable, and manageable.
  • Implement a plan to tackle rural crime and ensure that farm families feel safe.
  • Amend existing laws to allow livestock owners to use local abattoirs, reducing both stress to the animals and the production of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transportation to distant facilities and make permanent the temporary measures that allowed provincial authorities to enable collaboration across provinces to use their provincial abattoirs for products that would move across provincial borders.
  • Protect our food supply by implementing a food security strategy including:
    • Redirecting some federal agricultural research funding to partnering with the private sector to develop methods to grow more crops in Canada year-round in greenhouses.
  • Work with provinces, industry and the CBSA to develop a national strategy to deal with a possible outbreak of African swine fever.
  • Reform Business Risk Management programs, particularly AgriInvest and AgriRecovery.
  • Bring agricultural stakeholders together for a summit-like meeting with the Minister of Agriculture to develop a way forward on insurance programs like AgriStability
  • Modernize the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission
    • To support farmers, we will make sure that the Canada Grain Act (CGA) and Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) align with modern agricultural practices, global market requirements, and the needs of our farmers.
  • Agriculture has changed drastically in recent decades. Unfortunately, the regulation of agriculture in Canada has not always kept up with the market. We will bring the CGA and CGC in line with today’s standards in consultation with farmers.
  • Implement an Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Strategy
    • To better support farmers and food processors, we will help make sure they have access to the workers they need. Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector is an economic powerhouse with a global reputation for safe, high-quality products. Many parts of this sector, however, are hampered by chronic labour shortages across all skill levels. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will develop a strategy for dealing with these labour shortages in close consultation with industry.
    • We will:
      • Recognize the need for international farm workers and facilitate their timely entrance into Canada to work on Canadian farms.
      • Develop a long-term strategy to attract skilled workers to the meat processing sector, which is currently facing a 30,000 worker deficit that is putting Canada’s supply chains at risk and harming our long-term competitiveness.
  • Extend “right to repair” to farm vehicles to provide farmers with choice on where to repair their vehicles.