Campus hosts Regina election forum

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Come one, come all. Jeremy Davis

Regina-Wascana hopefuls speak their piece

On Sept. 23 an all-candidates forum was held for those running for the federal seat in Regina-Wascana. Those involved included Ralph Goodale (Liberal — incumbent). Michael Kram (Conservative), Tamela Friesen (Green), Hailey Clark (NDP), and Mario Milanovski (People’s Party of Canada). The forum, hosted by the University of Regina Students’ Union, allowed for questions from the floor, of which there were many.

Concerns from the crowd included Sask. Power’s recent announcement regarding solar energy programs, the proliferation of internet technology and the associated cost, Indigenous issues amid truth and reconciliation, the gender wage gap, the plight of those in foster care, supports for women in federal workplaces, wealth distribution across the country, levels of gun violence, and abortion rights. 338 Canada currently identifies the riding as leaning Liberal. According to CBC’s poll tracker, there is a sixty one per cent chance of some form of Liberal government nationally and a thirty nine per cent probability of some form of a Conservative government, whether it be a minority or majority.

Goodale called Sask. Power’s decision to weaken its solar energy program “very regrettable” and said that its successes “demonstrated that the national climate plan is, in fact, working.” On environmental issues, Kram redirected people to his party’s website document and the conservative’s plan “requiring the heavy hitters to do research and development into clean energy technologies.” Friesen referred to her party’s plan for a “National Energy Grid.” She called rebates a “middle-class upper-class solution.” and said “. . .We want to  make sure that you don’t have to be rich or middle class to make the green choice.” Clark pointed towards a need to create new jobs in sectors that impact the elimination of climate change while Milanovski said that the federal government shouldn’t be interfering in the private sector.

Clark said that one of the reasons she decided to run was the “lack of progress” on reconciliation by the government.

“What we need to do is actually show the Indigenous people that we truly do know what they were going through and how to properly rectify it.”

She pointed towards “pouring money” into communities affected “as well as taking responsibilities for the actions of the Canadian government in the past.”

Milanovski called the situation “sad.”

“We have to recognize the history and all Indigenous people are Canadians, they should be looked [at] as such.”

He also talked about not “stealing the thunder from Maxime Bernier [(PPC Leader]” about a new policy announcement regarding Indigenous issues. Milanovski called the prospective announcement “really exciting” though gave no details on what it would be.

Goodale, meanwhile, talked about the need for truth and reconciliation work.

“This is a huge challenge for our society, we’ve gone 150 years without effective reconciliation and it is long past time to have turned the corner.” Goodale pointed to funding provided over the term of the Liberal government to address housing, land claims, and water concerns.  Kram, meanwhile, leaned into the dollars and cents.

“It’s important that Canada be an inclusive society. The Conservative Party is in favour of reconciliation with our Indigenous persons but that also has to include economic reconciliation. The priorities of a Conservative government will be effective investments in housing, and hospitals, and clean drinking water, and we will also prioritize employment and education opportunities for our Indigenous persons.”

Friesen pointed towards the Green Party’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

On the topic of women’s rights, Clark said, “We are human, we should not be being judged on our sex, our sexuality, anything like that.” Friesen reiterated the Green Party’s commitment to equality for all while Kram spoke about the economics of discrimination.

“It is important that everyone can earn a decent living and it is important that people can do so free from discrimination. If one institution or business is discriminating based on gender that is not acceptable.” He pointed to the human rights commission as a way to tackle gender inequality.

Goodale called “gender equality a fundamental part of the policies . . .” of the federal government. Milanovski said that “jobs should be paid as the job [sic], regardless of gender. The most qualified person should get it.”

When it came to those in foster care, especially Indigenous children, Kram spoke of “economic reconciliation” for a second time while Goodale said that the government needed to support those in need.

“Those are incredibly vulnerable people and our society needs to show there is a responsibility to make sure those small little kids are properly protected.”

Clark pointed to the 94 calls to action from the TRC’s report, as well as the multifaceted nature of reconciliation, as where the NDP would be looking to support those in foster care.

“. . . We need to make that right and that’s our jobs.”

Milanovski said, “Me as a parent, I see it as a big problem. Children are the future of this country.” Friesen spoke to removing poverty and “holding up” Indigenous peoples as the Green Party’s way of reducing the foster care system.

Goodale pointed to bill C-71 (a bill directed at removing licensing loopholes) as a way to reduce gun violence, along with scrutiny of gun sales at retail locations, and safe transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms as areas of policy already implemented by the Liberal government. Goodale also leant into a popular refrain of the event: the amount of money provided to Canadian communities for various means. Kram said that his right wing party will take a more punitive approach.

“A conservative government will increase the penalties for people who commit crimes with guns and will also introduce mandatory minimum sentences for people who smuggle illegal guns into the country because that is the source of all the illegal guns we have on our streets today.” Kram provided no source for this claim.

Friesen spoke about who should and shouldn’t have guns.

“Hunters, farmers, collectors, and sports shooters have a right to have guns. Criminals, suicidal individuals, and enraged partners cannot have guns. We haven’t done a good enough job of figuring out how to do this.”

Friesen’s plan includes bolstering border security to prevent smuggling, offering a buy-back program, and spending money to provide an alternative to gangs.”

Clark reiterated Friesen’s point and also highlighted her personal history.

“I’m from a farming community and the farmers down there own, probably, two guns: one for hunting and one for their cattle. And, up here in the city I talk to people I work with and they own fifteen guns just for the heck of it, and that’s not something that should be happening because then those guns get out.”

Milanovski said, “Well first, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The People’s Party are not planning to punish law abiding citizens, we’re planning to punish criminals and to make sure that our open border down in the US is more strict towards importing guns from US for criminals.”

There was one pointed question, sent directly in the direction of Kram, criticizing his previous stated willingness to reopen the abortion debate despite Sheer’s claims that the Conservative Party would not be reopening the topic if elected. Kram once again deferred back to his party’s leader, despite comments to the CBC in 2015 to the contrary when he said:

“I certainly have the political will [to reopen the abortion debate]. The problem is that with 338 seats in parliament, I’m only one, and once we see how many pro-life MPs are elected, and if I’m fortunate enough to be elected, I would like to join the pro-life caucus and move right to life issues forward.”

The event closed with questions about climate change with Kram claiming the need to “strike a balance” between the resource sector and environmental concerns.

Canadians go to the polls October 21.

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