Green Party candidate Racelle Kooy (left), NDP candidate Laurel Collins, Conservative Party Candidate Richard Caron were present to answer questions with the Capital City Executives Association. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria business owners privy to members-only discussion with federal candidates

Members of the Capital City Executive’s Association heard from five local candidates

Would-be Members of Parliament aren’t just appealing to the masses as the timeline to the election narrows; they’re also heading to members-only events to mingle with B.C. business owners.

On Tuesday, candidates for the Green, Liberal, NDP, Conservative and People’s Party attended a private event at Victoria’s prestigious Union Club to speak with the Capital City Executives Association (CCEA), a networking group comprised of 28 local business owners and a handful of honorary guests.

After a sumptuous lunch, candidates from the four main parties sat at a table to answer four pre-determined questions (of which they were to submit a written copy of their statements afterwards) to address four business-related questions asked by CCEA members. Each candidate had just over one minute to answer.

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Speakers included Liberal candidate Nikki Macdonald, Conservative candidate Richard Caron, NDP candidate Laurel Collins and Green Party candidate Racelle Kooy. People’s Party candidate Alyson Culbert was also in attendance, but due to previous thoughts that she’d be unable to attend, was only able to supply a two-minute summary of her thoughts after the formal presentation.

The first question came from PI Financial’s Ian Clark, who posed the query “what can your party do for small businesses and family-run businesses?”

Caron responded, noting that presently “margins are more razor thin by the day” and that’s why the Conservatives are promising to restore access to small business tax rates for those making over $50,000, and exempt spouses and common-law partners from restrictions regarding income sharing.

NDP candidate Laurel Collins noted that small businesses are the “lifeblood of the economy” and that the NDP promises to instate a national pharmacare plan that could save employers $600 per staff member.

Kooy simply said that “They are the foundation of Canada and need to get out of the way,” and that the Green party needs to support them.

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Macdonald said the Liberals will pledge to bring the business tax down from nine per cent to 5.4 per cent.

Dan Parker, of Parker Johnston Industries, asked how each party would approach the capital gains tax.

Collins said the NDP’s would put the inclusion rate at 75 per cent, while Kooy noted the Green’s have “a need to address equity” and are looking at closing a loophole which sees 85 per cent of capital gains go to the top one per cent of earners. Macdonald promised taxes would be cut on the middle class, and that there would be an increase of the basic personal amount up to $50,000, while Caron said the Conservatives would not remove primary exemptions on capital gains.

Mary Lou Newbold from the Mayfair Optometric Clinic asked what candidates would do about environmental tax concerns, including red tape.

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Kooy said that with their Mission Possible plan, the Green Party will “move forward with a just transition.” Macdonald emphasized the environment and the economy are not separate entities, and that the Liberal party will invest in the clean tech economy. Caron said the Conservatives would repeal the federal carbon tax and put investments in green technology, while Collins said the NDP would create over 300,000 jobs in the climate economy, and focus on buying Canadian goods and services.

Rob Shemilt from Island Blue asked about debt reductions, saying “what will your party’s election promises going to cost and how will they be paid?”

Macdonald noted that the Liberal government had its platform submitted to the parliamentary budget officer. Caron said that the Conservatives would “live within their means,” and Collins said the NDP would close the tax loophole by instating a super-wealth tax which would target estates over $20 million, an endeavor that could earn $70 billion over 10 years. Kooy said the Greens would also work on a budget, scrapping a universal dental plan but still supporting a universal pharmacare plan.

PPC member Alyson Culbert presented a two-minute speech to cover all four questions, saying that the People’s Party would have zero capital gains, and reduce the nation’s deficit by restricting non-humanitarian international foreign aid, such as education funds. The PPC would also withdraw an funds to public broadcasting and repeal the carbon tax.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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