The Election Issue: Introduction

Sydney-Victoria electoral district map. (Source: Elections Canada)

Sydney-Victoria electoral district map. (Source: Elections Canada)

For the last regular edition of the Cape Breton Spectator before Monday’s federal election, I decided to ask each of my regular contributors to submit a question I could pose — along with one of my own — to all the candidates in the Sydney-Victoria and Cape Breton-Canso ridings.

Some candidates have proved easier to contact than others and so today I am publishing answers from Lois Foster of the Greens, Jodi McDavid of the NDP and the Independent Kenzie MacNeil in Sydney-Victoria and Independent Michelle Dockrill in Cape Breton-Canso.

I haven’t entirely given up on the others, so have decided to extend the deadline for responses to Thursday, on the understanding that I will publish any additional answers I receive this Friday — we’ll call it Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Issues.

Each of us has asked about an issue of particular concern to us, making this the opposite of a “deep dive” into the various election platforms. But if you are a regular Spectator reader, then presumably you share some of our concerns and will be interested to hear what candidates had to say in response to the following questions:

Dolores Campbell: Would your party or, in the case of the independents, you, consider establishing a Guaranteed Annual Income for all Canadians that would provide them with at least the basics of life?

Michelle Smith: Increasingly extreme weather events due to climate change are challenging agricultural producers. Clearly, decisive action needs to be taken to slow or stop the process of climate change. What specific proposals does your party (or, in the case of the independents, you) have to address this issue and ensure the resiliency of Canadian food production?

Sean Howard: In the 1990s Canada was a leader on international disarmament, receiving plaudits for its role in negotiating the ‘Ottawa Convention’ banning landmines, and earning the nickname ‘the nuclear nag’ for its efforts to move NATO away from reliance on nuclear weapons. Today, Canada stands with the nuclear-weapon states in opposing the new UN Nuclear Ban Treaty, and has ceased to champion the ‘human security’ agenda it helped to shape. What would your party – and you personally – do to restore Canada’s credibility as a country that does more than ‘talk the talk’ on peace?”

Rachel Haliburton: Given deficits are rising and healthcare in trouble, would you (or your party) consider raising the GST back to where it was before former Prime Minister Stephen Harper cut it?

Mary Campbell: A 2017 audit of the federal access to information system (led by Fred Vallance-Jones of the University of King’s College in Halifax) found that the system is slower and less responsive than provincial and municipal systems. The federal government was given a grade of “F” for disclosure of information — much of what it releases is redacted and it is reluctant to provide information in computer-readable formats like spreadsheets. Given that citizens have a right to this information and that access to it is key to a functioning democracy, what do you (or your party) intend to do to improve Canada’s access to information system?

On Friday, when all the responses are in, I will also ask each of the questioners to react to what they’ve heard from the candidates.


Resource materials

Cape Breton-Canso electoral district map. (Source: Elections Canada)

Cape Breton-Canso electoral district map. (Source: Elections Canada)

As you can see, it’s a highly selective questionnaire, so for those of you who have concerns we didn’t raise with the candidates (or for additional information on some of the concerns we did raise) I’m going to include a list of resources, starting with Elections Canada’s list of registered parties.

Here are the official party platforms:

Conservative Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

National Citizens Alliance of Canada

New Democratic Party

People’s Party of Canada

Veterans Coalition Party of Canada

And here are the web pages of the independent candidates:

Michelle Dockrill

Archie MacKinnon

Kenzie MacNeil

Here are some of the articles and podcasts I’ve come across this past week in my effort to educate myself on the issues being discussed in this campaign. On the local front, here are CBC Information Morning Cape Breton’s interviews with the candidates in both federal ridings; plus the full Sydney-Victoria and Cape Breton-Canso all-candidates’ forums.

Here are CBC Mainstreet Cape Breton’s more biographical interviews with the same candidates and here are the SaltWire Network’s profiles of the Cape Breton-Canso and Sydney Victoria candidates.

At the national level, I’d never heard of environmental economist Andrew Leach, an associate professor at the Alberta School of Business, before this election cycle, but he keeps popping up in my research. Here is helping Justin Ling of Canadaland’s OPPO podcast differentiate between the various environmental platforms and here he is doing something similar for Chatelaine, with the help of climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

Here’s the Maclean’s guide to the major party’s platforms, and the CBC’s guide, and CTV’s guide, and the National Post‘s guide and BNN Bloomberg‘s guide, 

And finally, here’s my brief guide to a few issues you may not even have realized were in play this election:

The National Citizens Alliance is promising tax incentives on the production of “vehicles fueled by wood pellets.”

The Libertarian Party of Canada wants to eliminate all forms of compulsory taxation and raise revenue “through a voluntary head tax and other voluntary means such as direct payment for government services and crowd funding.”

The Christian Heritage Party wants to bring back the concept of the “deserving poor.”

And the Rhinoceros Party, the only avowedly satirical party of the bunch, proposes replacing teachers on leave with photos of famous scientists which, let’s face it, is not nearly as funny as wood-powered cars or crowd-funded government services.

These are difficult days for satirists.



Featured image: All the Cape Breton-Canso and Sydney-Victoria candidates for the 2019 federal election arranged alphabetically (with apologies to the two who ended up in the bottom row).

Top row: Jaime Battiste (LPC), Michelle Dockrill (Independent), Clive Doucet (Greens), Lois Foster (Greens).

2nd row: Randy Joy (VPC), Billy Joyce (PPC), Mike Kelloway (LPC), Darlene LeBlanc (NCA),

3rd row: Archie MacKinnon (Independent), Alfie MacLeod (CPC), Kenzie MacNeil (Independent), Jodi McDavid (NDP).

Bottom row: Eddie Orrell (CPC), Laurie Suitor (NDP)