Following is a 2-part question…
How important do you believe the blue economy — aquaculture — is to our future? And what is your plan to develop it?
Aquaculture offers many areas for growth of our economy, and we should carefully consider viable and ecologically safe options. One example I can think of is kelp forestry and cultivation. We need to listen to experts and community members, including Indigenous leaders and traditional knowledge-keepers, as we examine our options.
Following is a 2-part question… from the BC Salmon Farmers Association
Do you support salmon aquaculture in B.C.? How do your views align with your party and where do they diverge?
I do not support ocean-based salmon aquaculture, no. It has contributed to the near-collapse of our wild salmon species, which has had devastating impacts on the food chain and our economy. I would remove the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s mandate to promote salmon aquaculture, shift regulation of aquaculture to Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, thereby eliminating DFO’s conflicting roles of aquaculture promotion and wild salmon protection.
Minister Bernadette Jordan has been quoted saying the removal of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands by June 2022 was not based on science, but rather social licence. Former Wei Wai Kai Chief Assu stated he felt “railroaded” by the decision. If elected, how do you plan on supporting First Nations who sign agreements for ocean pens in their territory?
I certainly support Indigenous and First Nations’ ownership and agency in all decision making on their territory. We could offer financial supports to support move to land-based, closed-containment aquaculture.
Land-based closed containment has been suggested by some as a viable transition for salmon aquaculture in B.C. by 2025, however many studies confirm land-based by 2025 will not only increase carbon emissions, but will remove the entire industry out of B.C. What do you think a viable and responsible transition looks like?
The transition consults with all interested parties, including workers, experts, and Indigenous people, including the traditional and hereditary leadership. I am not interested in an industry that is only concerned about its bottom line and exists for maximizing profit and the wealth of a few people over the environmental and economical welfare of entire communities and ecosystems. We do not need to have one or the other.
How will you ensure the health and viability of salmon populations in our oceans?
By getting more data and listening to the experts. We need to think about all the ways our salmon populations are affected throughout their entire lifecycles. Clearcutting our forests destroys the watershed and eliminates the cooling shade over our rivers, creeks, and streams. The changing climate is making the water too hot for our fish. And over-fishing by sport fishers has a non-zero impact, and the disposal of roe (as opposed to a program to retain and cultivate it) is a waste.
How will you ensure Indigenous Peoples have equitable access to society?
We would start by equalizing economic opportunity with a guaranteed livable income for everyone. We need to carefully and, in consultation with First Nations people, repeal the Indian Act and support Indigenous sovereignty.
Following is a 2-part question…
Would you agree the relationship between the Canadian justice system and racial minorities is fractured? What policies can be put in place to repair this?
Yes, I would agree. A recent Supreme Court decision in Nova Scotia provides a great example of what we can do at the judicial level. The Court ruled that systemic racism must be considered before sentencing Black offenders. We also need more demographic information and data starting with arrests and other initial encounters.
The backlog in Canada courts is months and in some cases years – what is your plan to re-align the system to ensure timely access?
Decriminalizing simple possession of all substances for personal use will have a huge impact on the courts and a positive effect on users.
Do you support protecting old-growth forests in B.C.?
Yes, I do. But do not read that as implying that I do not support the forestry industry. There are sustainable ways we can log and support logging jobs well into the future. There are also lots of opportunities for loggers to use their expertise and skills in cleaning up our forests to make them more resilient to fires.
What is your plan going forward to balance protection with Indigenous land rights?
We have to be very careful that we respect the traditional governance systems of Indigenous people. When we talk about Indigenous land rights, we need to remember that there are multiple political systems in play.
In light of the consistent battles with the USA regarding Soft Wood Lumber, What is the best way forward to create a sustainable forest industry in BC?
We need intelligent forest management and collective timber processing. We need to process our lumber here. This lets us keep the jobs and save the fuel (and emissions) it takes to send them overseas as raw logs and back again as processed wood.
The world is facing growing supply chain issues and rising inflation. What steps will you take for the impact on Canada to be minimal?
We need to work on becoming food self-sufficient and have a greater focus on local food security to reduce the impacts of reduced crop yields. Housing costs require similar actions to emphasize cooperatives, non-profits, and stricter regulations on cost. Ultimately Canada needs to do more domestically, with a focus on what makes sense locally. Greater agency to municipalities through larger tax availability can help.
What action will you take to ensure the people of North Island – Powell River are included in the economic recovery efforts?
As an MP who is not whipped, I could consider the special needs and priorities of NIPR constituents with every piece of legislation I see.
The Canadian Tax system has become increasingly complex and seemingly unfair to most. What actions will you take to reduce the complexity and increase fairness?
One simple way we can increase fairness is to increase the basic personal amount claimed by everyone at tax time. The current level is far too low and leaves people struggling to meet basic needs facing tax payments.
How will you ensure everyone pays their fair share?
A Green government will apply a 1% tax on net wealth over $20 million, tax all capital gains as regular income, increase the corporate tax rate to 21%, focus the CRA on identifying tax evasion and provide adequate funding to collect tax revenue hiding in offshore tax havens.
How well has the federal government handled the COVID-19 pandemic?
The federal government has handled it fairly well but the pandemic has exposed many flaws in our system. Lacking the ability to manufacture vaccines domestically and the inadequate protection in long term care homes are two areas that should have been better.
Political and social debate in our society has become fractious, contentious and downright uncivil, why do you think this has happened?
Many people have lost trust in politicians and don’t see themselves represented. We also see the lack of diversity in media ownership combined with complex data analytics offers the extremely wealthy an incredible amount of influence over the discourse that can be exploited to sow division.
And what role do our politicians play in resolving it?
The first step is to reform our electoral process to allow for greater diversity in representation. We can also improve education on media literacy to help give everyone the tools they need to differentiate between misinformation and evidence-based content.
How well do you think people understand the Canadian political system? What would you do to improve that understanding?
There have been multiple provincial referendums on updating our electoral system towards proportional representation which have all failed. While at the same time people feel they aren’t being represented by centralized parties who whip votes. A greater focus on education on how our electoral system can be improved to be more representative might help bring people back to engaging in politics.
What is your opinion of the current state of gun control in Canada? What would you change?
The current approach of blacklisting specific models of firearms is ineffective, confusing, and leaves people uncertain what will happen in the future. Subsistence hunting is an important part of local food self-sufficiency, they shouldn’t be left wondering whether they are breaking a law. We need a greater focus on illegal smuggling of handguns and clear regulations for bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and handguns.