Skip to content

Federal candidates answer questions from the Outlook

The Rocky Mountain Outlook editorial board put together three questions for the candidates from the major political parties in the Banff-Airdrie riding – each candidate responded in their own words
0
candidates-1

The Rocky Mountain Outlook editorial board put together three questions for the candidates from the major political parties in the Banff-Airdrie riding. Each candidate responded in their own words.

Finding affordable and available housing in the Banff-Airdrie riding, specifically the Bow Valley, is one of the most challenging issues facing residents. There has been less than one per cent vacancy in Banff since 2013 and rental rates increased 71 per cent in Canmore from 2016-19. How would your party’s policies help address the housing affordability and availability issues in this riding?

Gwyneth Midgley – Liberal Party of Canada 

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Unfortunately for many people that work in the Bow Valley, this is not a reality. Inflated house prices and the squeeze on renters adversely affect the community in many ways including the ability of businesses to hire staff, schools to hire teachers, and for young people to plan to raise their families here. The Liberal Party recognizes this and if re-elected as the government, it will bring in a consistent national approach to deal with speculation by foreign owners, which drives up costs and keeps homeownership out of reach of many Canadians. This would be modelled on B.C.’s successful speculation and vacancy tax. Addressing housing affordability requires many other actions including the construction of lower-cost housing. A Liberal government will also move forward with the new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive which takes 10 per cent off the price of a home in higher-cost housing markets. 

Austin Mullins – Green Party of Canada

To address the housing crisis, the Green Party of Canada would appoint a Minister for Housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy, so that it meets the needs for affordable housing that are unique to each province and community. This strategy and the policies that drive it will benefit the residents of Banff-Airdrie through direct investments, changes to tax policies, and changes to lending and granting programs. For example, Green MPs will create a Co-op Housing Strategy that would update the mechanisms for financing co-op housing, in partnership with CMHC, co-op societies, credit unions, and other lenders. We will also re-focus the core mandate of CMHC on supporting the development of affordable, non-market, and cooperative housing. Green MPs will push the federal government to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.

Blake Richards – Conservative Party of Canada

I want residents to achieve their dreams, such as homeownership. At doors, I’m hearing from concerned residents who are worried about the future. Conservatives will ensure that more Canadians can reach their dreams by putting more money back in their pockets through measures like the Universal Tax Cut, the Children’s Fitness and Children’s Arts and Learning Tax Credits and removing the GST on home-heating. When it comes to housing, by partnering with other levels of government to knock down the regulatory barriers that are discouraging new home construction, we’ll ensure that more homes enter the market at lower prices. We’ll fix the Trudeau Government’s mortgage stress test that is preventing Canadians from accessing mortgages, increase amortization periods to up to 30 years, which will lower monthly payments, and turn surplus federal real estate into development to increase housing supply. With our plan, we’ll make homeownership a reality once again.

Anne Wilson – NDP

A New Democrat government will partner with provinces and municipalities to create half a million units of affordable housing over 10 years. 

We’ll spur the construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units – a simple change that will help get new units built faster and keep them affordable for the long term. 

New Democrats believe that the dream of homeownership shouldn’t be out of reach. We’ll bring back 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time home buyers. We’ll also give people a hand with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500. 

For innovative paths to home ownership, a New Democrat government will provide resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements and connections to local resources, and ease access to financing by offering CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages.

Nadine Wellwood – People's Party of Canada

I have spoken with Mayor Karen Sorensen previously on this issue and I believe that there are great ideas already being implemented in Banff to help address this issue. I am confident there could be more federal assistance offered in working with local communities to ensure that there is dedicated land that can be allocated for the purpose of affordable housing. Projects that I am aware of clearly demonstrate there is an effective model for building and managing affordable housing within and around the park limits. I look forward to talking with Mayor John Borrowman and listening to what he has to suggest. I am sure that my experience as a chartered investment manager and owner of an aerospace and defence company (human factors) can bring some new perspectives and creative solutions to the issues.

What do you think is the best way to deal with climate change?

Gwyneth Midgley – Liberal Party of Canada

Climate change and biodiversity loss is the most critical issue facing the planet today. The Liberal Party is committed to fighting climate change and protecting the environment so that we have a healthy planet for future generations. A price on carbon is the most effective way to reduce our carbon emissions. A re-elected Liberal government will commit to net-zero emissions by 2050. That means putting the same or fewer carbon emissions into the air than we take out. Liberals believe in evidence-based decision making and will work with the scientific community and NGOs to protect Canada’s natural environment including investing in our national parks, protecting our biodiversity including the oceans and boreal forest, and banning single-use plastics by 2021. Our children are counting on us to address climate change and biodiversity loss and you can count on a re-elected Liberal government to step up and work with other nations on these ambitious goals. 

Austin Mullins – Green Party of Canada

Alberta has the best potential for wind and solar energy out of any province in Canada. As the next MP for Banff-Airdrie, I will push for a just transition for our oil and gas workers. We need to expand our narrowing focus on fossil fuels and invest in the clean industries that create reliable, long-term jobs and diversify our local value chains. This economic diversification will drastically reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce the impact of climate change. Additionally, Green MPs will remove all fossil fuel generation from our national east-west electricity grid and modernize the grid to ensure that renewable energy can be transmitted from one province to another. We will ban fracking, maintain carbon pricing at a carbon fee and dividend, and prioritize adaptation. The 2018 report from the International Panel on Climate Change urges that we must hold global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius against pre-industrial levels. The Green Party of Canada’s 20-step climate action plan Mission: Possible will achieve this essential goal by setting stringent new targets and lowering GHG emissions to 60 per cent by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. 

Blake Richards – Conservative Party of Canada

The Liberal Government’s carbon tax is not an environmental plan, rather it’s simply a tax. We have a real plan that offers the best chance for Canada to meet our climate goals while ensuring that life is affordable for Canadians. Our plan promotes technology rather than taxes and creates a cleaner and greener environment. When we form government, we are committed to working with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and industries to develop national standards on areas such as recycling and ensuring that our waterways are kept clean. Through a homeowner rebate on energy efficient home upgrades, we’ll help Canadians to do their part to protect the environment.

We recognize that Canada has the resources and technologies that can benefit the world. By getting those products to the world’s highest emitters, we can lower global emissions, create new jobs at home, and take on a global leadership role in protecting the environment.   

Anne Wilson – NDP

A New Democrat government will declare a climate emergency and put in place ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas reductions targets to help stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We’ll put these targets in legislation and ensure accountability by creating an independent Climate Accountability Office to do regular audits. 

Putting a price on carbon is an important tool to drive greenhouse gas reductions at the source. We will continue carbon pricing, including rebates to households that fall under the federal backstop plan. We’ll roll back the breaks this Liberal government has given to big polluters. 

The federal government will model change by becoming a trail-blazer in energy efficiency and clean technologies. We will lead by example and procure from Canadian companies producing clean technology, ensure that federal buildings use renewable energy, and move the vehicle fleets of the federal government to electric by 2025, choosing made-in-Canada wherever possible.

Nadine Wellwood – People's Party of Canada

I think the best way to deal with climate change is to ensure we put good policies in place that protect our environment and ensure our economic prosperity. I do not see these two things as an either/or, but as one being a solution for the other. Good policies come from analyzing the facts. Nothing good can come from policies that are derived from a place of fear and panic. A country that has a strong economy attracts the best talent and has the financial resources to find innovative solutions to the toughest problems. We need solutions that will have meaningful impact on the environment and the lives of those who enjoy it. It is deplorable to me that Canada still encourages the dumping of raw sewage into our oceans and that there are Canadians without clean drinking water. These are two examples of issues that are well within our control to resolve immediately

A report commissioned by the towns of Banff, Canmore and Jasper published in 2016 found that visitor spending results in an annual economic impact of $2.46-billion and $756-million in tax revenue, however 97 per cent of tax revenue goes to provincial and federal government coffers. If elected, what solutions would you work toward to help the tourism-based communities in this riding to address issues they experience, such as a lack of funding for infrastructure and services that serve visitor populations?

Gwyneth Midgley – Liberal Party of Canada

The Bow Valley communities face unique challenges due to the physical environment and the pressures of the ever-increasing numbers of visitors. With over
four million people visiting Banff annually, clearly this puts an enormous strain on the infrastructure of the whole area. If elected, I would work with the federal government to address the issue of sustainable tourism. We must look at the best practices in other jurisdictions and commit to a model of tourism that ensures the protection of the ecology and biodiversity of the whole region while supporting the existing businesses that rely on visitors for their livelihood. I would also support increasing the share of tax revenue going to municipalities if the revenue was earmarked for critical sustainable infrastructure needs including the building of additional wildlife overpasses. All levels of government need to work together in planning for the future of this unique and beautiful place. 

Austin Mullins – Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada is committed to providing increased support to municipal governments. Green MPs will institutionalize federal transfers to municipalities through the creation of a Municipal Fund, a permanent doubling of the current Gas Tax fund, to ensure predictable and reliable funding to municipalities. We will establish an arm’s length Federal Tax Commission to analyze the tax system for fairness and accessibility, based on the principle of progressive taxation. We will support the model of collaborative federalism, working with and ensuring fair treatment for provinces, territories, municipalities and First Nations. We will establish a Council of Canadian Governments to set higher order policy priorities, with the goal of policy coherence to optimize public spending. Tourism-based municipalities like Banff and Canmore will have a direct seat at the policy-making table under a Green government. 

Blake Richards – Conservative Party of Canada

Having worked directly with tourism operators, as the Shadow Minister for Small Business and Tourism, I have sought to put the tourism industry’s concerns front and centre on the agenda in Ottawa. Going back to my role as the Chair of the Parliamentary Tourism Caucus under our previous government, I’ve been deeply invested in addressing the challenges facing small business and the tourism industry. The Trudeau government has talked a big game, but taken no action on issues such as labour shortages and they’ve added to the tax and regulatory burden placed on small businesses. Despite the vast potential of our small businesses, many are being held back and facing reduced competitiveness. By cutting taxes, eliminating the carbon tax and reviewing the temporary foreign worker program, we can help our tourism operators to grow their businesses, and ensure that the community can continue to benefit from this vibrant industry.

Anne Wilson – NDP

In 2016, visitors to Canmore account for 18 per cent of community GDP, and in Banff 89 per cent of community GDP. Infrastructure must be higher quality and capacity, and wear and tear on community infrastructure is much greater than normal. Banff and Canmore rely on property tax, which is not sustainable, and provincial infrastructure funding, which is not enough since its awarded based on numbers of residents. Transit and affordable housing must be provided, and public amenities such as public washrooms, way finding, benches, flower displays, and an info centre must be paid for. 

A New Democrat government will work with Canmore and Banff towards fare-free transit to ease commutes and make life more affordable. 

New Democrats will work with provinces to put in place a new deal for rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding for communities. We’ll make sure that our affordable housing investments go to rural communities.

Nadine Wellwood – People's Party of Canada

I firmly believe that taxes should only be collected for a specific purpose and generally I do not support revenues going into general coffers. This practice allows government to spend taxpayers dollars without accountability. Tax dollars that are collected whether from income taxes, sales tax, gasoline tax, property tax, etc. should be used for the purpose that they are being collected. This would allow us to track expenditures and ensure that our communities needs are being met and the right amount of taxes are being collected to provide for those needs. Banff being a National Park, and Canmore in proximity to the park have very unique problems; and conversations with local community leaders and the people closest to the problems are also the closest to a solution. There should be consultation and involvement with local communities in crafting these solutions.



Comments


Rocky Mountain Outlook

About the Author: Rocky Mountain Outlook

The Rocky Mountain Outlook is Bow Valley's No. 1 source for local news and events.
Read more