Round #6 of the 2015 Cariboo – Prince George discussion with our local candidates – the final Q&A! As before, replies are presented in the order in which they were received.
Question 1 – How should Canada respond to potential/confirmed terrorists and acts of terrorism in our Country and outside of our borders?
Tracy Calogheros – To prevent potential acts of terrorism, we need effective and timely information gathering. CSIS is charged with the responsibility to know what threats exist to Canadians, and to ensure that measures are undertaken to protect us. Beyond our jurisdiction, terrorism is an even more complicated issue. Canada doesn’t possess a large military or an international-intelligence capacity. We rely on our NATO and UN partners for strategies to protect not only Canada but the world. We must participate in this international effort in ways which best suit our talents and resources. Thoughtful foreign policy based on evidence, meaningful participation in UN decision-making, and an objective assessment of our strengths will guide Canada and, indeed, the world as this new century unfolds.
To respond to acts of terrorism, we must continue to rely on the dedicated members of our police forces to find and arrest the offenders.
We cannot ignore reality. Terrorism exists and we are not immune. Equally, we cannot live in fear. Writing legislation from a position of fear is no way to shape our country’s laws. Laws must be drafted in a deliberate, considered manner, not dashed off while Parliament is in the throes of fear.
Sheldon Clare – Domestic acts of terrorism are fortunately extremely rare – it is to the credit of CSIS and the RCMP that potential perpetrators have often been identified before being able to take action. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to anticipate the actions of all persons of ill intent, and the tendency to over-react is clearly evident in the egregious and sweeping powers granted in the law formerly known as Bill C-51.
Intelligence analysis and enforcement should not be combined in one agency – they are separate functions that are subject to abuse. The Macdonald Commission of the 1970s recommended that these functions be separated from the police and they were with the formation of CSIS. Giving up general freedoms to provide an illusory sense of security is a flawed approach.
However, it is important that the originators of terror overseas that have the potential to export their evil-doings to Canada be dealt with at the source. Intervention to deal with movements and organizations that have expressed hostile intent to Canada and its friends is a necessary part of our involvement in the international community. Such action should be taken in concert with our political and economic allies in order to ensure effective and efficient military action that should serve to prevent insurgencies from spreading and growing. As well, there is some responsibility to protect people from those who would do evil by intervention. Responsible National Defence is not about waiting for trouble to come to us, but rather in making sure it never gets here.
Adam De Kroon – Acts of terrorism outside of Canada are something we should avoid getting involved in whenever possible. We should strive for political neutrality. Getting involved in foreign affairs is also only more likely to make Canada a target going forward. Not to mention that the “war on terror” is almost impossible to fight, since there is no clear enemy like in a traditional war.
Terrorist acts on Canadian soil should be punished in accordance with Canadian law. That is real terrorist acts, not environmental protests or some of the other ridiculous things Bill C-51 allows for. As an elected MP I would work to see Bill C-51 repealed and make sure the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected at all costs.
Question 2 – What does your party believe that the composition and function of the Senate should be, and if you are elected, what steps will be taken to make changes?
Tracy Calogheros – It is important to retain a properly functioning Senate as the chamber of “sober second thought.” To do this, Senators must be non-partisan, drawn from the ranks of our best and brightest, permitted to speak freely, and granted access to the necessary facts and evidence to make informed decisions.
The Liberals have already taken the first step towards Senate reform by removing Senators from the Liberal Caucus. Another suggestion, which I happen to like a lot, came from one of my team members early on in this election. He suggested that we select Senators from the pool of Order of Canada recipients. These individuals already have been recognized as exemplary Canadians. With a selection committee of similarly non-partisan individuals convened to make Senate appointment recommendations to the Governor General, the Senate once again would become a body of wise and thoughtful men and women, free of political dictates, and capable of sober second thought.
Some say we should abolish the Senate entirely. I disagree. We need to reform the Senate so that it can perform its constitutional duty properly. In any event, as a practical matter we cannot abolish the Senate without re-opening the Constitution, which is simply not viable.
Sheldon Clare – The Senate is an important part of our constitutional monarchy and Westminster-style parliamentary system that serves as the upper house in providing regional representation and a second check on legislation. It has been the subject of much trouble to its abuse by successive governments as a tool of patronage. Some parties have argues that it should be abolished; however, I believe that this would be a dangerous step towards a republican style system that would not be in the interests of Canada. Besides, there will not be agreement from all provinces on removing this important aspect of representation. Certainly no small province would agree to give up this constitutionally mandated regional representation, and neither would Quebec – abolishing the Senate is not politically possible, but making it work effectively should be.
In my view, the Senate needs to be made more effective by making the appointment of senators based upon their election provincially. The appointment of Senators would then be based upon regional election rather than direct appointment and so would no longer be subject to the whims of the PM and his cabinet. Such a simple process change would truly give the senate much more credibility and remove its status as a place to reward party functionaries. It would then be a real upper house in our parliament that would have the legitimacy to fulfil its constitutional responsibilities. Such a process to choose Senators would also help to limit the powers of the Prime Minister, and especially curtail those of the staff in the Prime Minister’s Office. When elected, I will work towards achieving a Senate that is elected and effective by promoting such a process within the federal parliament and to the provinces.
Adam De Kroon – Senators need to be elected. Appointments are very bad, because the elected official has no accountability to the people. Elected representatives are accountable for their actions, if they do a bad job the citizens are able to fire them. So they have a motivation to make sure the citizens are satisfied. With appointments they have a virtually guaranteed job and are unaccountable for their actions.
The composition of the senate should ensure that a simple majority in Parliament cannot override the rights of a regional minority. In other words senators should represent regions or provinces, not be elected per population. The Senate should balance the power of the House of Commons with the wishes of the regions. For example the House of commons could pass a bill with only the support of all the MP’s of Ontario and Quebec and even if every other MP voted against the bill would still become law. The result would be a law that 80% of Canadian provinces opposed. A Senate where senators were elected by a province/region would ensure that wishes of individual provinces were balanced with the wishes of a population majority.
As your elected representative I would work with all other MP’s to move forward on Senate reform. It is a big job and would require, from my knowledge, amendment to our constitution. But it is a project worth putting effort into, to improve democracy in Canada. I also believe we need proportional representation in Canada and I would work with other elected officials to make that a reality for the next election.