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 needs a rebrand because an entire industry that includes things like the kelp people put in their smoothies, the sea snacks their kids have in their lunch kits, and the oysters they eat at the oyster bar- have a negative association and has become a wedge issue. Many do not realize that those things, are all aquaculture. Something that has huge potential for us. We need to support public education around this issue. People should not be shamed for their jobs. We need to support innovation, and development of the whole industry. This includes support for innovation and technology development for the Liberal government mandated 2025 transition of salmon production. For example, I want to examine linkages between alternative energy projects and aquaculture. This industry provides CAREERS, not just jobs for the people who live here. It also provides us an opportunity to contribute to the production of low carbon protein sources, and contributes to food security. Indigenous peoples along our coastlines were the original farmers of the sea. Again, something many people don’t realize. It was done in balance with our ecosystem. I hope that I can help bring the new and old ways together so our lands, waters, and people can thrive. I also need to say that I support the sovereignty of our First Nations to decide what each Nation wants for their waters and people.
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?
First, again, I support the sovereignty of First Nations in our riding. It is their right to determine what is acceptable for their waters and people. I will not impose myself upon sovereignty issues. I support salmon aquaculture that is done according to the Liberal-government mandated 2025 transition away from open-net pen salmon farming. To that end, I feel that my party forgot the people when implementing the policy and has not clearly defined the transition nor provided adequate supports for that transition. This has created much fear and heartache for those reliant on the industry. It is too easy to dismiss people in an issue as polarizing as this one. I had a friend cry to me at a picnic table who fears that her children will know the poverty she once did. These are our friends and neighbours. I want to make sure that there is clarity and support for the industry for how they can move forward. Then ultimately it will be up to the companies involved to decide what they do. I would push my party and the government to come up with a plan for a transition to keep local jobs in our riding. This also means supporting new innovation and projects. I just visited a potential land-based project caught up in red tape because it hasn’t been done before. This kind of thing cannot occur. People need jobs. As your representative, I would certainly not hold a celebratory dinner when hundreds of my constituents are worried about losing their jobs.
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?
As an Indigenous person, I will not assume the role of colonizer if elected. I support the sovereignty of First Nations. 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?
A viable and responsible transition requires a clear plan and having supports in place for each aspect of transition. This will require extensive consultation with all stakeholders. It also involves ensuring that we are working with the best and brightest of people working on innovation in this industry. There could be incredible potential for a tech sector for our riding solving these issues. It is not going to be easy, but this is why we need a Liberal MP with a seat at the decision making table.
How will you ensure the health and viability of salmon populations in our oceans?
My life’s work is salmon habitat restoration. We need pacific salmon managed by those who know them. The people here out WEST. Extensive consultation must be done with knowledge keepers and nothing should be off the table to try and increase populations. There are different hatchery models in the United States that are having success for example. The “same old” isn’t cutting it and a major shakeup to the program has to happen. Including handing stewardship back to Indigenous communities. We need to address not just climate mitigation but adaptation. Low stream flows, high stream temperatures and lack of oxygen in streams are issues that cannot wait. We need investment in human innovation to address stream flows during the new reality of summer drought. Something I know that is being addressed on other parts of the island. I worked through the Harper-era, where the Conservative Party gutted DFO. The Liberal government has had a lot of work to do to try and fix what was done. What we face today is their legacy. We now need to build on that which the Liberal party has committed to with the start of the $647 million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (the largest investment ever in Pacific Salmon by the federal government).
How will you ensure Indigenous Peoples have equitable access to society?
I think I need to turn this question back to those who consider themselves allies of ours. One of the best ways you can help to ensure Indigenous peoples such as myself have a level playing field is by VOTING FOR ME. Our voices need to be in the room in government as there is opportunity for reconciliation through every issue addressed by the government. Other parties that will never govern our nation can use Indigenous issues and reconciliation to grandstand, but the fact is that the Liberal Party is the only party walking the talk on reconciliation. It isn’t perfect but having more Indigenous MPs will certainly help. The commitment of this government to support the Truth before reconciliation has brought us to a place where the healing work can truly begin. My own work in reconciliation policy within Fisheries and Oceans Canada is another example of walking the talk.
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. As of 2020, adults who identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit are overrepresented in admissions to custody. In 2018/2019, Indigenous adults accounted for 31% of admissions to provincial/territorial custody and 29% of admissions to federal custody, while representing approximately 4.5% of the Canadian adult population. The story is similar for all racialized peoples in Canada. We need to strengthen and boost funding to the Antiracism Strategy as well as support an external review of the RCMP’s sanctions and disciplinary regime to review the adequacy of existing sanctions and whether sanctions are being properly applied.
The backlog in Canada courts is months and in some cases years – what is your plan to realign the system to ensure timely access?
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 40% of people living with mental illness are arrested at least once in their lives. People facing mental health problems and illnesses need treatment, not to be criminalized. Getting these vulnerable Canadians help will decrease the number of cases in court originating from mental health issues. The Liberal Party will also make criminal procedure reforms that adopt virtual means such as the use of virtual remote proceedings, speeding up the process.
Do you support protecting old-growth forests in B.C.?
YES. Old growth is critical to the health of our forests and salmon. These are the knowledge keepers of the forest. The Liberal Party of Canada will be establishing a $50 million B.C. Old Growth Nature Fund and working with partners to attract additional funding to further support the protection of important old growth forests. I will be interested to hear what Rachel Blaney has to say on this considering her support of the Provincial NDP government, which as we all know has been managing the Fairy Creek issue.
What is your plan going forward to balance protection with Indigenous land rights?
My scholarship is about the application of an Indigenous Ecology. We see ourselves as part of the ecosystem. There is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to conservation. Our people have been stewarding our lands and providing for our people since time immemorial. People need to have faith in that and understand that we cannot have colonial notions of nature. Lands and waters were shaped by us. Colonial management of our resources was the great disrupter. I fully support the sovereignty of First Nations and am there to support their decision-making with my expertise should they ask for it, which is applying an Indigenous worldview to Ecology.
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?
By continuing to engage with our strongest ally in the United States, but only accepting a softwood lumber agreement that protects Canadian jobs. We can’t settle on just any softwood lumber issue and if the United States wants to take us to the WTO over this, we have won before, and we will win again. With a new US President that respects international institutions, my hope is that talks will resume to address this issue.
The world is facing growing supply chain issues and rising inflation. What steps will you take for the impact on Canada to be minimal?
In the words of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, the current rate of inflation is not something that should be a cause for panic. In fact, much of the increase is due to gasoline from high global oil prices. The worst thing we could do right now is panic and the best thing we can do is continue Canada’s economic recovery as more Canadians get vaccinated and restrictions ease. In short, getting vaccinated is how we grow our economy and combat inflation.
What action will you take to ensure the people of North Island – Powell River are included in the economic recovery efforts?
By having a seat at the table in government, I would pressure the government to build programs and policy specific to investing in our riding. We need big ideas to come to fruition so that people can have careers, not jobs. Templated programs meant to remedy issues in other parts of the county don’t work for us. Being inside the room will give me an opportunity to build from the ground up new industries (like tech) and revitalize existing industries. We need infrastructure upgrades, housing, and building up the blue economy. If we keep election representatives who are never part of the decision-making progress, we will continue to see less investment in our riding than what we deserve. People deserve more than being supported just to cope, they need the hope that comes with seeing big action that brings a future for where they live.
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?
We will work with our international partners to implement a global minimum tax so that the biggest companies in the world are not able to escape the taxes they owe here in Canada. A re-elected Liberal government will also create a minimum tax rule so that everyone who earns enough to qualify for the top bracket pays at least 15 % each year (the tax rate paid by people earning less than $49,000), removing their ability to artificially pay no tax through excessive use of deductions and credits.
How will you ensure everyone pays their fair share?
One of the first things the Liberal government did when they were elected in 2015 was to increased taxes on the top 1% of earners so that middle class people could get a break. This election we are proposing to raise corporate income taxes on the largest banks and insurance companies, as well as implement a tax on luxury cars, boats, and planes as outlined in Budget 2021.
How well has the federal government handled the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the federal government has done a good job handling the pandemic thus far. Our amazing Minister, Anita Anand, was able to procure enough vaccines for every Canadian to get both vaccine doses this summer. Because of that work, we our now the most vaccinated country within the G7 nations. Our Liberal government also mandated mandatory vaccines on planes, trains, and in the federal public service to keep families safe. We need to continue this important work as we try to convince others to get the jab, we can’t afford a Conservative government which has been against our vaccine progress every step of the way.
Political and social debate in our society has become fractious, contentious and downright uncivil, why do you think this has happened?
I think a lot of has to do with fake news, online hate organizations, and political parties that intentionally stoke the anger of these people who disagree with your point of view. I personally have had to deal with dozens of my election signs being vandalized and my volunteers have been called names just for putting new ones up.
And what role do our politicians play in resolving it?
I think there needs to be some blame placed on political parties on the right wing of the political spectrum. When you have rocks being thrown at the Prime Minister by people standing next to protestors holding PPC signs, you must ask yourself how leaders combat extremist elements within their parties. For the PPC, I would argue their whole party is extreme, but I would also point out the Conservative Party has candidates who are not too different from those in the PPC. Some of these more extreme candidates are still members of their party despite being called out on their anti-vaccination, racist, and anti-LGBTQ+ views. This mob of angry people cannot be welcome in any political party hoping to form government.
How well do you think people understand the Canadian political system? What would you do to improve that understanding?
I think Canadians understand our political system well. The area I think we need better education on is what constitutes provincial and federal jurisdiction, and I think some parties may even need help with this. Half of the promises I see coming from the NDP require provincial approval and it that approval is not given, the NDP would not be able to fulfill their promises. I think education on what a federal issue is and what is a provincial issue would serve Canadians well when they are deciding which party can realistically fulfill their campaign promises.
What is your opinion of the current state of gun control in Canada? What would you change?
The Liberal Party believes that no military grade assault-style weapons should be allowed on our streets. I think most of the parties agree on this with exception of the Conservatives who have flip flopped on this issue. First, they promised the gun lobby they would repeal the assault-style firearms ban, but then literally rewrite their platform mid campaign to say they would ban these same weapons. When it comes to handguns, we have committed $1 billion to support provinces or territories who implement a ban on handguns across their jurisdiction.