Federal election Q & A with Elizabeth Fraser of the Green Party of Canada
Roderick Benns recently interviewed the PPC, Conservative, Liberal, Green, and NDP candidates for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Brock riding to help voters make an informed decision leading up to the election in October. In our fourth installment is Elizabeth Fraser from the Green Party of Canada.
Benns: Can you highlight a policy of your party that will lead to increased employment and increased average income in our riding?
Fraser: One of the Green’s economic policies which could be applied in the riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock as a way of increasing employment is the Green Venture Capital Fund. This fund is part of the Green Party’s focus on small businesses and would provide support for small local green businesses.
This fund would go hand in hand with a Green Venture Capital Funding Program, which would match federal funds for locally raised venture capital. Small businesses employ most Canadians and their economic success impacts Canadians first by keeping dollars in the local economy. Accessing venture capital for small businesses, especially those with a green focus, will allow entrepreneurs to tap into a new sector of the economy which has huge potential for economic return.
Benns: Do you believe in climate change science? How is your party dealing with climate change?
Fraser: Climate change science is real science. 97% of climate scientists are under agreement that climate change is real and has been caused by human activity. The Green Party has long been the sole voice for climate action within Canadian politics and this strong position continues into 2019. Our climate action plan is aggressive. It includes rejecting bitumen pipelines, removing fossil fuels from the production of electricity, increasing renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, investing in critical infrastructure for an improved east-west electricity grid, all of which is underpinned by a carbon-fee-and-dividend pricing strategy to help shift Canada to a smart, post-carbon, flourishing economy.
Benns: What’s the future of CPP in your mind, a system under a great deal of stress right now and quite frankly, something that now delivers an inadequate amount of money to seniors to live on?
Fraser: The Canada Pension Plan is the only system that is able to provide pensions which can keep the elderly out of poverty, require minimum additional requirements, and has a low administrative and investment costs. It has been implemented in many countries where the system thrives. One of the biggest concerns regarding the CPP is how its funds are managed. Dollars from the pension plan are invested and managed in extremely high-risk ways, ways which greatly threaten its security. The Green Party would exercise risk-sharing the CPP to ensure sustainability, divest CPP from all fossil fuel investments, and work to enhance the system by doubling the target income replacement rate from 25% to 50% of income during working years, in a phased approach.
Benns: Pharmacare will be a key issue in the next election. Dr. Hoskin’s report clearly favours a single payer system – what’s your preference and why?
Fraser: Part of Canada’s practice of ‘national treatment’ is grounded in a universal, single-payer system for our Pharmacare. We oppose any level of privatized, for-profit healthcare in Canada. The reasons for this are clearly outlined in the Canada Health Act’s criteria for provincial publish health insurance plans. These criteria are fully supported by the Green Party and are as follows:
Public administration: plans must be managed in a public, not-for-profit fashion
Comprehensiveness: all residents must be covered for ‘medically necessary’ health services
Universality: all residents must be covered by public insurance plans on uniform terms and conditions
Portability: all residents must be covered by their public plan, wherever they are threated in Canada
Accessibility: all residents must have access to insured health care services on uniform terms and conditions without direct or indirect financial charges, or discrimination based on age, health status, or financial circumstances.
Benns: How will you try to practice inclusive politics and move us away from the intensely partisan? Can you give me an example?
Fraser: The Green Party is unique from other Canadian political parties in the sense that we do not place power above principle. In Parliament, we will not allow partisan politics to get in the way of good ideas and necessary actions. As a Green MP, I would aim to find common ground with other parties on different policies, and work across public lines in the interest of my constituents. In an effort to reduce ever increasing partisan politics, Green MPs put the interests of the people they serve and Canada as a whole above those of their party. In a broader sense, this would mean that I would support legislation from the Conservative Party, if it would be most beneficial to the people living in my riding. More specifically, a Green government would aim to make Parliamentary Committees, groups which examine bills and government documents among other things, a non-partisan and constructive instrument for improving legislation.
Benns: Do you believe that abortion should be freely available and publicly funded? Why?
Fraser: Abortions should be freely available and publicly funded. Women should have the freedom to safe and legal abortions; any actions that would reduce this right are not supported. In addition to legal abortions, programs which advocate for reproductive rights and education which seek to avoid unwanted pregnancies should be expanded, as well as support for low-income mothers. Women should be able to make which ever choice they feel most comfortable with and should have access to resources which support their decision.
Benns: Do you believe we should have election reform to replace our first past the post system?
Fraser: The first-past-the-post system in Canada should be replaced by a proportional voting system. With this system, Canadians votes would mean fair and direct translation into representation in Parliament. Our current electoral system is disadvantageous to all groups throughout Canada. Election reform would help ensure Canadians feel that their votes are reflective in their leaders.
Benns: Should Canada institute a Basic Income for every citizen? Why/why not?
Fraser: The Green Party of Canada advocates for a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI), which would be implemented throughout Canada. The implementation of this policy would help eliminate poverty and allow for more social service focus on mental health and addiction services. This program would be implemented without a needs test and would be set at a bare subsistence level to encourage additional income. This type of program ensures no Canadians fall below a certain income level and encourages recipients to keep working and earn more additional income.
Benns: The lack of affordable housing and attainable housing (not just social housing) is an important issue in this riding. Do you believe there should be a federal housing strategy?
Fraser: All Canadians should have access to safe and affordable housing options, regardless of socioeconomic status. There are many ways in which we can advocate for universal housing within Canada. Firstly, access to safe and affordable housing should be included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, to ensure this issue is not taken lightly. A National Affordable Housing Plan should be implemented and would work towards setting an annual rate of affordable houses built, so that lack of access is no longer a problem. The Plan would also ensure affordable new homes are subsidized, provide rent supplements or shelter assistance, provide credit and loan guarantees for non-profit housing organizations and co-operatives, and offer tax cuts for affordable housing through the Income Tax Act. Housing is a basic need and it should be a top priority for government.
Benns: What’s most on your mind specific to this riding that we may not have covered yet?
Fraser: In order for our communities to thrive, they need their basic infrastructure supported. This means proper waste collection, effective transit, dependable water services, and basic community amenities like parks, sports fields, arts and community centres. All these services contribute to a positive quality of life for all Canadians. However, Canadian municipalities are not properly funded; only 8% of tax revenue goes towards municipal governments. So that communities within Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock can grow and flourish, this imbalance needs to be addressed. It is possible, through innovative strategies, to allocate billions of dollars through RRSP deductions for municipal bonds. This will give municipalities stable funding so they can invest in what is most needed in their communities and improve the quality of lives of their residents.