Editor’s Note: The Daily Courier and Penticton Herald are asking candidates within their readership areas a series of 12 questions. Each candidate was given the question in writing.
QUESTION: What is the greatest misconception people have about your party that you would like to correct in less than 120 words?
DAN ALBAS (Conservative): For me personally, it stems back to the last 41st Parliament under the former Conservative majority government. Despite many stories running in the media of a tightly controlled and highly scripted Conservative party, as a then-rookie MP, I found none of that to be true. As an example, my weekly MP reports to my constituents were never “vetted” or “edited” by anyone much, as remains true to this very day. All of the private member’s legislation I have put forward was of my own creation based on the needs of citizens in our riding. When it came to tough issues like medical assistance in dying — a very personal issue that will affect all of us at some point — I was given a full and free vote where I consulted broadly and followed my constituents’ wishes. A free vote on matters of conscience in the Conservative party remains a free vote — as it should be.
ALLAN DUNCAN (PPC): The PPC is gathering people from the whole political spectrum. We are not a “far-right” party. I have spoken to many of our members and new supporters who have joined the PPC from “left-wing” parties or people that have not found a political home base or have never participated as a voter. The PPC is a network of Canadians that has risen and gathered because of concern about this nation’s future. We rally around our core principles of freedom, personal responsibility, fairness and respect. We are working towards a new political option that embraces freedoms, beginning with speech, which means we attract a wide range of views. The PPC is for Canadians, and we aim to conserve liberty in our democracy.
ROBERT MELLALIEU (Green): People think the Green refers to cannabis or trees. I think the Green refers to $20 bills. People come to the Green party for many different reasons. Mine was economic. I am a conservative at heart, but the parties I had to choose from did not demonstrate conservative values — no long-term projects, no seven-generation economic plans, no concern for an environment that will support economic growth. All the parties were stuck in their ways and did not want to move to a 21st-century economy. We do.
MARY ANN MURPHY (Liberal): A narrative of “broken promises” is used by other parties to chip away at the Liberal record. In fact, most of the numerous commitments — many of them ambitious — made by the Liberals in 2015 have been accomplished. A new book compiled by two dozen Canadian academics found that this government had entirely followed through on approximately 50% of its pledges, and partially delivered on approximately 40%. Eight per cent of promises were not delivered on compared to a 16% rate for the Harper government. Since 2015, the Liberal government has made significant progress, with a strong focus on making life more affordable for Canadians, growing the economy, supporting families and seniors, protecting the environment, and taking steps on Indigenous reconciliation.
JOAN PHILLIP (NDP): The biggest misconception about the NDP is that we don’t support business, big and small. We are proud of our business sector and would be a strong ally and support them. Look at the B.C. NDP government, for example. We have the strongest economy in the country. But, the NDP also believes in fair distribution of wealth and rights for workers. We believe that the worker who creates wealth should be properly compensated. When people have money to spend, our economy thrives. This is good economics. Only the 1% benefit from the current state. The richer are getting richer and the poorer are getting poorer. It has to stop.
TRAVIS ASHLEY (Green): The biggest misconception of the Green party is to suggest we are a single-issue party. We have the most diversified and comprehensive platform. We are passionate for the environment, yes, which makes us equally passionate for our economy and the future of our generations. We have a costed and credible plan to transition Canada towards a prosperous nation teeming with economic opportunities. It is the way forward.
JOHN BARR (PPC): There are so many misconceptions about Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada that it is hard to know where to start. Our stances, as detailed on the People’s Party website, are: Immigration — reducing overall levels and prioritizing skilled immigrants; Refugees — ending open-borders policies and prioritizing persecuted groups; Climate change — rejecting alarmism and focusing on concrete improvements; Freedom of expression — protecting Canadians from censorship and discrimination.
STEPHEN FUHR (Liberal): Misconceptions, disinformation, misinformation and spin rule the day. The issue I hear about the most is the misperception of the country’s economic position. The reality is Canada has enjoyed one of the strongest economies in the G7 since 2017. Our unemployment rate is at a 42-year low and foreign direct investment is the best it has been in five years. Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is decreasing and the government is addressing both social and infrastructure deficits that have been neglected for decades. Poverty in Canada has been reduced by nearly one million Canadians since the last election, nearly one-third of which were children. We also recognize and are better prepared for big changes brought about by automation, artificial intelligence and the digital economy. As the 10th biggest economy on the planet, we have the fiscal capacity to invest in ourselves and every reason in the world to do so.
TRACY GRAY (Conservative): There are misconceptions and fear mongering that the Conservative party wants to make drastic changes around social issues. These statements do not align with the CPC principles, and our leader has stated clearly that we will not be opening debates on these issues. This discussion includes questions about diversity and the role of women in the party. The CPC believes in equality of opportunity, not filling gender quotas, and, if I am honoured with becoming the MP, I will be joining a team of strong, intelligent women who have a voice in this party and nation, and who speak openly about how the CPC is actually the party of equality and protecting freedoms.
JUSTIN KULIK (NDP): Some people believe they only have two choices on election day and that no others are viable. Frankly, we do not have to choose between bad and worse. Voters have a choice that can help with their needs. They need to know that there’s a choice other than the red door and the blue door. It’s time to choose love and courage. Jagmeet Singh has been surging in the polls recently, and it’s showing. We are building some amazing momentum, and it is not a two-way race as some would like to think.
SOUTH OKANAGAN-WEST KOOTENAY
RICHARD CANNINGS (NDP): The biggest misconception about the NDP is that we don’t manage money as well as Liberals or Conservatives, when in fact the opposite is true. Looking at provincial financial records over the past 40 years or so, New Democrat governments have balanced their budgets 40% of the time, compared to just 33% for Conservatives and 23% for Liberal governments. Deficits under NDP governments have averaged 0.5% of GDP compared to 1.1% for Conservative governments and 1.3% for Liberals. As well, NDP governments have averaged lower spending as a share of their economies at 21.6% compared to 22.2% for Conservative and 24.6% for Liberal governments.
CONNIE DENESIUK (Liberal): I believe the biggest misconception people have about the Liberal Party of Canada is the false idea that we don’t keep our election promises. In fact, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has kept 92% of his 2015 election promises in whole or in part. That is explained in a 2019 book by two dozen academics, published by Laval University Press. By comparison, Stephen Harper kept 16% of his promises in whole or in part. After four years of Liberal investments, the Canadian economy is the strongest in the G7, poverty levels have significantly dropped, unemployment is at record lows and Canada is among the lowest-taxed countries in the developed world. Those are facts no amount of opposition outcry can change.
TARA HOWSE (Green): The Green party is not “anti-Alberta” or “anti-jobs.” The Green party has long promoted that the economy and environment do not have to be in conflict. We believe in the just transition of workers from the shrinking fossil-fuel industry to the renewable-energy sector. This includes income protection, job guarantees, retraining and resettlement. We believe in supporting the local economy first, by representing constituents’ concerns before the concerns of transnational interests, and ensuring jobs are located in Canada. The Greens believe in economic development that does not sell our raw resources to foreign corporations to have them shipped back: let’s invest in value-added goods (e.g. lumber, oil or salmon).
HELENA KONANZ (Conservative): That we don’t have an environment plan. We should all be concerned about climate change — about the kind of planet we will leave to future generations. A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment is built on three guiding principles: green technology, not taxes; a cleaner and greener natural environment; and taking the climate-change fight global. This plan is the most comprehensive environmental platform ever put forward by a political party in Canada. There are 60 pages and 55 specific, realistic and achievable policy commitments. Under the Conservative plan, it will not be free to pollute, and, unlike the Liberal scheme, there will be no sweetheart deals for anybody.
SEAN TAYLOR (PPC): Ha ha, sticks and stones — we are doing politics differently. The other parties recognize that we are an existential threat to their way of doing things. Their response has been unanimously to call us a litany of names, hoping you’ll take their word for it. Be a rebel, go to our website, read the platform and make up your own mind. You may be surprised at what you’ll find.