David Merner is running for the Liberal Party of Canada in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

David Merner is running for the Liberal Party of Canada in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

CANDIDATE Q & A: David Merner, Liberal Party of Canada

Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke: Liberal looks to unseat incumbent

Canada’s youth unemployment rate is at 13 per cent, what would your party do to help more young Canadians find work?

To get the economy moving, a Liberal government will launch the largest infrastructure investment in Canadian history, building public transit, sewage facilities, seniors’ centers, child care facilities, affordable housing, and a green economy. We will kick-start youth employment through a $1.3 billion investment over three years to:

• Create 40,000 youth jobs annually, as well as 5,000 new green jobs at Parks Canada and in environmental organizations;

• Help employers create new co-op placements for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business students;

• Help young Canadians gain valuable experience through community building projects funded through a $25-million Youth Service Program.

We’ll waive EI premiums for 12 months for employers who give a full-time job to someone between the ages of 18 to 24. The NDP and Conservatives plan to balance the federal budget through austerity. The Liberal Party says the economy is slowing and interest rates are low, so let’s get the economy moving and invest in jobs for young Canadians right now.

What should Canada’s role be in dealing with international refugees?

We have a proud tradition in Canada as an open, generous country that has integrated refugees into our economy and society with great success. Canada should not stand idly by as families flee for their lives – let’s cut through the bureaucratic red tape around refugees, without reducing screening standards.

A Liberal government will:

• Expand Canada’s intake to 25,000 refugees from Syria this year through immediate, direct sponsorship by the Government of Canada. We will also work with private sponsors to take in even more;

• Invest an additional $100 million this fiscal year to increase – without reducing standards – refugee processing rates, as well as the sponsorship and settlement services capacity in Canada;

• Provide an immediate $100 million contribution to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to support the critical relief activities in Syria and the surrounding area.

What would your party do to ensure seniors can live comfortably in their retirement?

A Liberal government will reverse Conservative cuts and provide Canadians with a more secure retirement.

• We will restore the eligibility age for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to 65, putting an average of $13,000 annually into the pockets of the lowest-income Canadians as they become seniors.

• We will increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for single, lower income seniors by 10 per cent, providing up to $920 more to Canada’s 1.25 million lowest-income seniors, including 900,000 single women.

• OAS and GIS will be indexed to a new, more accurate, and more generous Seniors Price Index of goods most commonly purchased by seniors. In periods when the Consumer Price Index grows faster than the Seniors Price Index, the traditional Consumer Price Index will be used.

Liberals support voluntary deferral of CPP and OAS pensions until age 70 in return for higher pensions.  We also support raising the age for mandatory withdrawal from RRSPs.

How would your party address Canada’s need to strengthen infrastructure and what project is the highest priority for your riding?

Investing in infrastructure is vital to creating jobs today and sustained economic growth for years to come. Public infrastructure investments make our economy more competitive, while also creating jobs, strengthening our cities and communities, and improving our health, well-being, and quality of life.

• Nearly double federal infrastructure investment to almost $125 billion over the next decade;

• Provide new, dedicated funding to provinces, territories, and municipalities for public transit infrastructure, social infrastructure and green infrastructure;

• Invest $100 million more annually to support the development of clean technology, as well as $200 million each year to support innovation and clean technologies in forestry, fisheries, energy and agriculture.

In Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, public transit is the key infrastructure issue we face and developing our spectacular part of the world into a global technology hub is our key challenge for the future. If elected, I will constantly promote our region as one of the most desirable places in the world for green industries to invest, and knowledge workers to flourish.

What do you believe is the most important election issue for your riding and why?

Jobs and the economy.  Since January, I have knocked on thousands of doors in all parts of our riding. On the doorsteps, I hear people are having trouble making ends meet and are worried about their economic future, as well as the future for their children and grandchildren.

I have met many people who are on fixed incomes, but are facing higher prices and higher taxes. I’ve met people who are juggling two and three jobs. By cutting income taxes and increasing child benefits, a Liberal government will help nine out of 10 Canadians to make ends meet.  By making a major investment in infrastructure, a Liberal government will grow the economy and create jobs.

Citizens are also very concerned about the economy growing in a sustainable way. The Conservative government has gutted Canada’ environmental assessment process. A Liberal government will restore robust oversight and ensure that environmental protection – particularly the fight against global warming – goes hand-in-hand with economic development.

Until recently, Canada had a reputation as a country with a social and environmental conscience. Let’s rebuild that reputation together.