Please see The Green Party's response to the survey Jer's Vision distributed to all the parties for the May 2nd Election below.
What are the main goals for you for this election?
With better choices under a Liberal government, we can focus on what really matters – strengthening equal opportunity for middle-class families – without raising personal, small business or sales taxes. This includes our Liberal Family Pack:
- A new Learning Passport to help families pay for college and university with at least $4,000 in tax-free, non-repayable assistance to every student;
- Stronger Public Pensions to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, make it easier to save for retirement by creating a new Secure Retirement Option, and help low-income seniors with a $700 million boost to the Guaranteed Income Supplement;
- A new Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund to build quality spaces for every Canadian family who needs them, with an initial investment of $500 million per year, rising to $1 billion in its fourth year of implementation;
- A $1 billion Family Care Plan that includes a new Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit to allow caregivers to take six months off work to care for gravely ill family members at home, as well as a new Family Care Benefit of up to $1,350 annually to help low- and middle-income family caregivers manage costs; and
- A new Green Renovation Tax Credit, worth up to $13,500, to help Canadians with the up-front costs of energy-saving home renovations.
Looking further into the future, a Liberal government will be able to continue supporting our health care system with a commitment to maintain the 6% increase to the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces by halting wasteful spending such as $30 billion in untendered fighter jets and $10-$13 billion in US-style mega-prisons.
What do you feel you and your party have brought to the youth in the community?
The Liberal Party strongly believes that investing in Canada’s bright young minds and Post Secondary Education (PSE) is crucial to Canada’s future prosperity. While a PSE is more important than ever, it has also become more unaffordable than ever before. Canada must ensure that the opportunities that a post-secondary education provides be made available to anyone that wants to attend. Our message is clear: if you get the grades, you get to go.
As mentioned above, a Liberal government will open the doors for every young Canadian who wants to go to college or university with a historic new $1-billion Learning Passport which will provide $4,000 tax-free for every high school student who chooses to go to university, college or CÉGEP – $1,000 per year over four years; and $6,000 – or $1,500 each year – for high school students from low-income families. The Canadian Learning Passport is the single largest annual investment in non-repayable federal student assistance in Canadian history.
Learning Passport funds will be provided through the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Students and their families will not be required to provide any matching funding to receive the Learning Passport. The Learning Passport will be part of a Liberal government’s Canadian Learning Strategy. The Canadian Learning Strategy aims to build the best-educated, most highly-skilled workforce in the world and also includes investments in affordable early learning and child care, Aboriginal learning, and expanding language training for new Canadians. The Learning Passport will be a powerful tool for reducing barriers to attending college and university, increasing the flow of highly skilled workers into the Canadian economy.
A Liberal government will also create the Canada Service Corps which will forgive $1500 in student loan debt for young Canadians who donate at least 150 hours of service in a year, in a Canada Service Corps volunteer position after graduating from post-secondary education. This will spur a “call to service” among young Canadians across the country, instilling them with a sense of civic duty and helping them gain valuable experience that can be used as a launching pad for their future careers.
Another important issue facing young people in Canada is youth unemployment. The current economic and labour market downturn is disproportionately affecting young Canadians, who face unemployment rates nearly twice the national average. Canada must invest in programs which help young Canadians to both obtain and sustain viable, meaningful employment.
To address unacceptably high youth unemployment and help young Canadians enter the workforce and gain valuable job experience, a Liberal government will invest $300 million over the next two years and put in place a Youth Hiring Incentive for small and medium businesses and create up to 160,000 new jobs for young Canadians. A Liberal government will also initiate a dialogue with young leaders, entrepreneurs and Canadian businesses to identify measures that can be taken to sustain youth job growth over the long term.
Our platform in this election has one overriding objective: to make equal opportunity a reality for every Canadian, whether you live in a big city, a small town, a remote community, a farm or a fishing village.
What do you feel you have done for LGBT community?
Equal opportunity is what makes Canada great.
Liberal governments have built up the foundations of equality – establishing universal medicare, a good public pension system and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing equality of rights and responsibilities for all Canadians, regardless of sexual orientation. It was the Liberal government of Paul Martin that, in 2005, extended civil marriage to conjugal couples of the same sex.
The matter of same-sex marriage is settled. A Liberal government would never re-open this divisive debate, or entertain any plans to restrict marriage between two consenting adults of the same gender.
Now, we’re looking to the future.
More families than ever are caring for aging parents as well as our kids, and putting older children through college or university while trying to save for retirement. A Liberal government will stand with middle-class families, including LGBT families, so they’re not alone as they work through the financial squeeze. Strengthening all families will build a stronger economy and put equal opportunity back at the centre of Canadian life.
Advancing equal opportunity is the work of a healthy democracy. But in the last five years, our democratic institutions have been weakened by an autocratic and secretive regime that evades the rules and shuts down debate. We will begin the hard work of restoring the credibility of Parliament and reconnecting government to the people it serves.
Last year, the Conservatives cut $400,000 in funding from Pride Toronto under the Marquee Tourism Events Program and shuffled out the Minister who had initially approved the funding. Liberals disagreed with that cut and would never arbitrarily deny funding to such a key cultural event in the LGBT community.
As the Party that introduced landmark equality legislation recognizing same-sex marriage, Liberals are always supportive of initiatives that support the rights of the queer community. We wish that homophobia did not exist in Canada but, so long as it does, Liberals will fight to eliminate it.
A Liberal government will be a government that respects our democracy and strengthens equal opportunity for every man, woman and child in this incredible country. When each of us gets a chance to succeed, we all succeed together.
In this election, what do you feel your party offers youth especially when it comes to anti-bullying in Canada?
The Liberal Party stands squarely against bullying. Liberals want a Canada where everyone, especially young people, are free to become whatever they want to become, love whoever they want to love, and live the dream that they themselves have chosen. We understand the challenges of intimidation at school and in peer groups, and we want to send a message to all young people to “hang in there.” Everyone has a right to become anything that they want. Actor, artist, professor, engineer even a Member of Parliament. Canada needs the courage of our young people, Canada needs their devotion and we want to build a Canada that lets people stick to who they are and want to be.
To view a video of Michael Ignatieff addressing the issue of bullying, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdOslF4Qqtw
Why is it important for youth to come out and vote for you?
As mentioned above, the Liberal Platform contains programs that will help our youth succeed with the Learning Passport, the Canada Service Corp, and the Youth Hiring Incentive as examples. If these policies are important to youth, they must make their voice heard in this election.
Worsening voter turnout rates are a reflection of a growing apathy that Canadians have for their democratic institutions. In the 2008 federal election, voter turnout in Canada dipped to an all-time low of less than 59 percent. Most discouragingly, in recent years Canada’s youngest voters have consistently had the lowest turn-out and studies tell us we can no longer count on non-voters becoming voters as they grow older. The internet provides a tool to address this issue.
The internet is revolutionizing many facets of life for most Canadians. It is time to harness its power to bring electoral participation closer to citizens. A Liberal government will direct Elections Canada to develop an online voting option, starting with a pilot project for individuals serving overseas in the Canadian Armed Forces and the federal public service, and post-secondary students living outside their home ridings. The pilot will support a broader discussion with Canadians about an online voting option for every voter.
We strongly encourage all young Canadians to exercise their democratic right to vote in this election. The future strength of our democracy depends on it.