Federal election Q & A with Judi Forbes of the Liberal Party of Canada

By Roderick Benns

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 third installment we connect with Judi Forbes of the Liberal 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?

Forbes: As your future MP, I am committed to the Liberal policies and commitments to strengthen and grow our middle class and improve the lives of all Canadians.  Since 2015, the Liberal government has reduced unemployment, created one million new jobs and made post secondary education more affordable for over 480,00 students. We are directly investing in our Canadian youth to provide education, apprenticeships and skills development to prepare them for future employment.

The Liberal government has also cut taxes for 9 million middle class families, while raising taxes  on the top 1 per cent, created the Canada Child Benefit that has lifted more than 300,000 children out of poverty, and made investments in infrastructure and affordable housing.  There is so much more to do for our community, and together we can move forward with the Liberal’s positive plan to grow our economy, continue to create new jobs, and offer real help to our families.

Benns: Do you believe in climate change science? How is your party dealing with climate change consistently, given its determination to build the TMX pipeline?

Forbes: Yes, I believe Climate Change is a real and serious threat to our communities and environment. While the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer have no plan at all, the Liberal plan is supported by leading scientists and economists around the world.  Pollution is no longer free.  Polluters pay and 100% of the money raised through this program back to Ontarians through tax credits or investments in the green economy. We have made incredible progress and our plan is working, but there is still more hard work ahead of us. Across Canada, our children and grandchildren are counting on us to take real action to protect their future, Canada’s environment and coasts now. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

TMX solves a core economic challenge facing our country: Currently, 99% of our conventional energy resources are sold to one market – the United States – at a large discount.

I support that we need to diversify our markets in order to get a fair price for the products we sell. It does not make environmental or economic sense to sell any resource at a discount. Instead, we will use the extra earnings created through this investment to fund a clean energy transition.  Every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested to help fund things like electrification projects, investments in renewable resources, and efforts to transition Indigenous communities off diesel-power.

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?

Forbes: Today in our community, middle class Canadians are working harder than ever, but many are worried that they won’t have put away enough money for their retirement. To address this, the Liberal team made a commitment to Canadians to strengthen the CPP in order to help them achieve their goal of a strong, secure, and stable retirement.

These Liberal actions will boost how much each Canadian will get from their pension – from one quarter of their earnings now, to fully one third. Simply put, there will be more money waiting for Canadians when they retire.

The Liberal plan has also restored the age of eligibility for the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement back to 65 from 67, which was introduced by the Harper Conservatives. That means seniors have access to these funds sooner.

The Liberal team have also increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up by up to $947 for 900,000 single seniors and are making prescription drugs more affordable.

It is my belief that every Canadian deserves a secure and dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. Only the Liberals have taken a powerful step to help make that happen.

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?

Forbes: I strongly believe that no Canadian should have to choose between paying for prescriptions and putting food on the table—or go without the medication they need, simply because they can’t afford it.  That’s why I support the Liberal plan to move forward with the implementation of National Pharmacare.

The report produced by Dr. Hoskins and the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare is an important step in laying the foundation for a national pharmacare program. Dr. Hoskins has made a compelling case. We want to work with the provinces on the best way to achieve universal pharmacare, as just one part of a national plan to strengthen medicare.

Additionally, the Liberal government is creating the Canadian Drug Agency that builds on existing provincial and territorial successes. This agency will use a coordinated approach to assessing drug effectiveness and negotiating prescription drug prices. We are creating a comprehensive, evidence-based list of prescribed drugs to be developed as part of the Canadian Drug Agency.  In addition, the development of a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases will help Canadians get better access to the effective treatment they need.

Benns: How will you try to practice inclusive politics and move us away from the intensely partisan? Can you give me an example?

Forbes: As the Liberal candidate for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes and Brock, I welcome all ideas on how to build on the progress that Canada has made over the last four years, including a continued focus on building a stronger middle class. I also welcome ideas and challenges from the other parties related to the Liberal commitments, and how together we can take real and concrete action on key issues such as national pharma care, taking real action on climate change, and making urgent investments to build affordable housing.

Benns: Do you believe that abortion should be freely available and publicly funded? Why?

Forbes: Yes. As a Liberal, along with all members of the Liberal team, I understand that women’s rights are human rights, and women unequivocally have the right to decide what to do with their bodies. While some Conservative MPs are trying to reopen this debate by speaking at anti-choice events, screening anti-choice films, or empowering conservative politicians who “pledge to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime,” Liberals know that women in Canada have the right to make their own health decisions.

Benns: Do you believe we should have election reform to replace our first past the post system, keeping in mind that it was your party that reneged on this promise?

Forbes: As a member of the Liberal team, I continue to be committed to improving this county’s electoral system.  Liberals strongly believe in the role of Parliament and in public consultation in examining the issue of electoral reform… and we listen to all Canadians.

The Liberal view has always been clear: Major reforms to the electoral system, and changes of this magnitude, should only be made if they have the broad support of Canadians. That’s why the current Liberal government engaged in an unprecedented dialogue with Canadians about our democracy.

While the Liberal government heard a wide range of opinions from Canadians, there was no clear consensus on an alternative voting system for Canada.  It became evident that the broad support needed among Canadians for a change of this magnitude did not exist.

However, in keeping with the commitment to improve this country’s electoral system, the Liberal government has moved forward with legislation to repeal undemocratic elements of the previous government’s Fair Elections Act, and with measures to strengthen our democracy, including increasing transparency in political fundraising and protecting our democratic institutions from cyberattack.

Benns: Should Canada institute a Basic Income for every citizen? Why/why not?

Forbes: Since 2015, the Liberal team has been working to build a strong middle class and better life for all Canadians. Through programs like the Canada Child Benefit, the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the National Housing Strategy, I believe the Liberals have a strong national strategy to help those who need it the most.

Since 2015, Canadians have created more than 1 million new jobs, unemployment is at a record low, and the Canada Child Benefit is giving more money to 9 out of 10 families to help with the high costs of raising kids. We’re taking real action to fight climate change and protect the environment, because damage from severe weather can have a huge economic impact to families and businesses. Plus, we are making historic investments to urgently build new affordable housing and better transit, roads, and bridges. More than 825,000 Canadians have been lifted out if poverty since 2015 – including 300,000 children.  Moving forward, there is still more to do and I look forward to directly addressing the needs in our communities by leveraging the federal programs and making sure our neighbours get access to the available funding and programs.

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?

Forbes: Yes. As your Liberal candidate, I fully support the Canadian Housing Strategy, the first of its kind, which was introduced by the Liberal Government this year. Over the next decade, it will remove 530,000 families from housing need, cut chronic homelessness by 50% and change the face of housing in Canada forever.  The Strategy also includes the First-time Home Buyer Incentive which enables first-time homebuyers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment without increasing their down payment.  The Canadian Housing Strategy isn’t just about policies and programs, it is people working together to build better lives, create stronger communities and lend a helping hand to Canadians in need. And again, I look forward to championing these initiatives in our communities.

Benns: What’s most on your mind specific to this riding that we may not have covered yet?

Employment: While the Liberal team has made bold steps to help create jobs by reducing small business taxes and lowering taxes for 9 million middle class Canadians,  I will continue to support and champion these programs in our community. The Liberal team have created more than 1 million jobs since 2015, and employment rates across Canada are at the best level in 40 years.  Growing our economy and creating new-well paying jobs will be a priority for me in our communities.

Protecting a healthy environment:  We live in a community where environmental protection is a critical element for tourism, and continuous economic renewal.  Liberals have a plan to extend the protection of our natural habitats and grow our economy, and it’s working. Canadians are asking us to “Choose Forward” and create policies where pollution is no longer free, and we’re taking real action to protect our lakes, rivers, and coasts.

While Conservatives want to take us back to failed environmental polices of the Harper era, Liberals are moving forward with a plan to combat climate change and protect a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren.

Health Care: As we continue to see the drastic cuts Premier Doug Ford and Conservatives are making to services families rely on,  Liberals are focused on investing in our world class healthcare system, through enhancements in mental health and home care services, and make prescription drugs more affordable.

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