Round #4 of the 2015 Cariboo – Prince George discussion with our local candidates! As before, replies are presented in the order in which they were received.
Question 1 – Specifically, what do you believe are the two best ways to boost the Canadian economy during the next 1-3 years, and if your party forms the next federal government, what specific economic stimuli will be put in place? Which industries are the highest priority?
Tracy Calogheros – Short term, the most effective boost for the economy is to put Canadians to work, getting more money into the middle class and in the process, positioning our nation for the 21st Century. The Liberal’s proposed Infrastructure Program will invest $125 Billion over the next 10 years, in projects identified by local governments as priorities for our communities. These projects could include a water tower and/or aquatic centre in Vanderhoof, erosion control in Williams Lake, a new highway bypass and/or arena for Quesnel, low cost and/or seniors housing in Prince George. The possibilities are almost endless, and will be identified and prioritized by each of our communities. A Liberal Government will be a partner, not a barrier, to development in our Region. The second near term boost for the economy is a tax cut for the middle class coupled with the Canada Child Tax Benefit leaving more money in the hands of families to utilize as they see fit.
Longer term, as we put our tradespeople to work on eliminating the infrastructure deficit, we will also invest $200 million annually to create sector-specific strategies that support innovation and clean technologies in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors. We will reclaim Canada’s position as a world leader in innovation and research, ensuring that emerging industries; those that focus on a triple bottom line (fiscal, social and ecological), establish their bases in Canada. Responsible resource development guided by fact-based decision making, informed by social consultation, will re-establish the necessary public trust to ensure our economy can continue to grow sustainably for the long haul.
A Liberal Government will work closely with Provinces and local government, with universities and colleges, to ensure that the Canadian workforce is well trained and positioned to excel in the industries of the future.
Sheldon Clare – There are at least three ways to boost the economy. The first way to boost our economy is to invest more into education. Developing our youth to take on the challenges of a diverse and technologically advanced nation is critical to our long term economic success. Research and development is always a positive return for the entire economy. Let’s get our youth working on the challenges of the future. The second important way to improve our economy is to help diversify our industries so that we locate markets for our renewable resources and place less emphasis on exporting non-renewables. What is needed is a balanced approach that encourages investment and provides real, sustainable jobs for long term growth. The third thing to do is to add value to all exports, and not merely export raw materials. Why on earth should we be shipping raw logs or unrefined bitumen to foreign shores? Let’s keep these jobs in Canada, and add the value here.
Adam De Kroon – We need to reduce exporting raw resources to other countries and start creating more value-added products here in Canada. Value added products are products that are refined/changed any number of stages from the raw product, for example flour instead of wheat. The process of refining creates jobs, somebody for example has to mill the wheat into flour. Exporting less raw resources and making more value added products will create jobs here in Canada. BC between 2009 and 2013 went from exporting 2.5 million cubic metres of raw logs to 6.5 million, that’s an increase of of over 250% in just 4-5 years! We need to stop the massive export of raw products.
Small businesses are an integral part of the local economies. Small businesses tend to hire locally more so than corporations and also tend to pay their employees more. Lowering the small business tax rate will help relieve the burden on existing business and encourage new the start up of new businesses. Other parties have been talking about lowering the small business tax rate to 9% from 11%. This is a step in the right direction, but I support lowering the tax rate even more. I support lowering the tax rate to at least 7%, maybe lower.
If we did form government, the CHP would put Canada back to work with a nationwide infrastructure stimulus package that would improve our cities, our highways and our transportation and services infrastructure.
Todd Doherty – I’m running for a plan that works – keeping taxes low for Canadians and business, and continuing to open new trade markets for all Canadian businesses.
Every sector is important we will give them all equal opportunity to succeed by doing these two things. Raising taxes and restricting the ability of business and Canadians to decide what their spending priorities are would only hurt the economy. Additionally, taking a diverse, holistic approach to allowing industry and business to succeed and creates opportunities in other sectors, which is good for not only Canada, but the people in our region as well. Agriculture, forestry, mining, retail, oil and gas, food and accommodations – these are among the many industries that contribute to our economic well-being.
However, our economy doesn’t work if we are hostile to industry. A majority of our small businesses depend on the incomes made by the families in our riding, and proposing plans that ultimately put these industries at risk hurt our small businesses. If a company cannot invest and make a return on that investment, they will pack up and leave, just as we saw in B.C. back in the 90’s. In order to protect our economy, we need to stick to our low tax plan that creates opportunities for business and families.
Question 2 – What are your thoughts about foreign ownership of Canadian companies and resources? What is acceptable or ideal?
Tracy Calogheros – In my view, there is a distinction to be made between “companies” and “resources” when we are talking about foreign ownership.
Canada’s resources are the property of Canadians. Period. We should allow people (whether Canadian or foreign) to make use of, extract, harvest and/or sell those resources if, and only IF, a favourable financial arrangement for Canada can be reached; one that respects both social values and environmental sustainability. This is the 21st Century and it is not good enough to simply turn a monetary profit, no one, domestic or foreign, should be allowed to profit from our resources without A: being subject to rigorous environmental assessment and B: obtaining the social license to do so.
On the matter of foreign ownership of companies I see it as a matter of reciprocity; Canadians must have the same opportunities to do business in partner countries as those partners do in Canada. Foreign owners must be subject to the same Canadian laws as our domestic investors and should expect to have the same treatment as Canadian investors. We are a trading nation and in order to conduct trade we need to have partners. It seems to me that what would be “acceptable or ideal” would vary depending on the arrangement and context of a given partnership. What should not vary, is the right of Canadians to determine with whom we would like to have partnerships, and under what terms we are willing to establish those partnerships.
Sheldon Clare – There is a real need to ensure that Canadian companies are owned and operated under Canadian law and Canadian practices, rather than the rules of foreign powers, as many nations have poor human rights records. While it is preferable that Canadian companies be Canadian owned, in practical terms this is effectively impossible to enforce because it would be too big a disruption to a free market. In my opinion, the best that we can hope for is to enforce strict rules of practice and build a corporate culture of ethical behaviour. The penalties for breaking the rules and engaging in poor corporate behaviour should be clear and severe. I am uncomfortable with foreign ownership of Canada’s natural resources in all shapes and forms.
Adam De Kroon – Foreign ownership of Canadian companies is usually acceptable, but not ideal. Often we have to evaluate individual situations differently. Foreign ownership of our resources is not a good idea, unless they are paying us a share for being allowed to access those resources. And Foreign ownership of Canadian land for foreign carbon tax offsets is completely not acceptable. This is an issue for people in Cariboo – Prince George right now. If elected I would work to end this.
Todd Doherty – I want to take a balanced approach that ensures that all foreign investment transactions are reviewed on their merits based on the overall economic benefit for Canada. As we all know, the resources in the ground are Canada’s – companies use them under licence and permit.
I would continue taking a balanced approach when it comes to resource extraction, looking at the net benefit for Canadians.