CANDIDATE Q & A: John Garrison of the NDP

Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke: Incumbent speaks about the issues

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

There are over 60,000 fewer jobs for youth today than when Stephen Harper first took office and the number of young Canadians unemployed for more than a year has tripled. The NDP has committed to create 40,000 paid internships for youth. By creating good jobs, young people gain the experience and advanced skills they need to get working and stay working. In partnership with small business, industry, NGOs and government, we can create safe placements for youth and crack down on the use of unpaid internships. The NDP will also give interns the same protections as other workers, ensuring our young people return home safe from work. By creating quality jobs in small business and green industries, we are also investing in Canada’s future job market.

The NDP is committed to restoring the federal minimum wage, starting at $15 an hour.

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

The NDP is committed to get more Syrian refugees to Canada. We can begin by getting 10,000 refugees out of harm’s way and to Canada by the end of 2015. The NDP has committed to work with the government to get those 10,000 government-sponsored refugees on the way to Canada through appointing a Syrian refugee co-ordinator, pulling resources from various departments including Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration and other departments.

We should also increase the presence of Canada’s diplomatic and immigration officials in the region to accelerate processing of refugees. Canada can, with affected countries, help to remove bureaucratic obstacles to resettlement and end Canada’s policy of discrimination, treating all refugees equally. An NDP government will fast-track private sponsorship, with no cap on numbers, to bring as many people here as possible. We will also increase Canada’s contributions to humanitarian agencies, including the UNHCR, based on the needs on the ground and help co-ordinate the international response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

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

Everyone deserves to retire with dignity. But nearly one third of working Canadians will face a steep drop in their standard of living when they retire, and seven out of 10 of us don’t have a workplace pension plan. Instead of strengthening public pensions, Stephen Harper raised the age of retirement to 67 and refused calls from the country’s premiers to bolster the CPP/QPP. And just like the last Liberal government, the Conservatives have done nothing to protect private pensions when companies go bankrupt. The NDP is committed to restoring the retirement age to 65 so people can retire on time. We will also boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and expand the Canada Pension Plan so people have enough money to retire comfortably. I think it is also important to have affordable options, so the NDP has committed to invest in affordable housing that meets seniors’ needs.

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

An NDP government is committed to work with towns and cities to build new roads, bridges and community infrastructure. Specifically, the NDP will launch a Better Transit Plan to reduce gridlock and commute times across Canada by investing $1.3 billion per year over 20 years to support municipal needs. We will increase direct transfers to municipalities to build and repair roads, bridges and transit with an additional $1.5 billion annually by the end of the NDP’s first mandate. I believe it is important to work with, not against, provinces and territories to ensure effective investments while rigorously respecting their jurisdiction. We can also kick-start manufacturing with a new Innovation Tax Credit. Locally, I am committed to securing the long promised shipbuilding jobs that will be long-term, high-skilled, and well paying. Investing in shipbuilding also supports rebuilding a viable navy that has been so neglected by the Harper government.

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

I believe that climate change is the most important issue facing residents in the riding. We don’t have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment. Unfortunately, in the last 10 years the Conservative government has dismantled the laws protecting our air, land and water – which affects our health, economy, and future development.

The NDP has a plan to build sustainable prosperity by, kick-starting clean and renewable energy production and making big polluters pay with a cap-and-trade system for carbon.

I am committed to rebuilding Canada’s gutted environmental assessment rules and restoring our international reputation on climate change. Locally, I will make sure that federal government implements an action plan for the recovery of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales. I will also re-introduce my bills that would restore federal environmental protection for watersheds in our riding, including Colquitz Creek, Todd Creek, Goldstream River and the Sooke River – protection the Conservatives unilaterally demolished in 2012. The first step to confronting climate change is to defeat Stephen Harper.

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