Starting this week, The Expositor will be posing a weekly question to each candidate in the Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing riding and publishing their responses in our newspaper. We have asked that the candidates restrict their answer to a 500-word limit. Otherwise, they are free to answer in any way they choose.

As always in general elections, there are a great many issues competing for the federal parties’ and local candidates’ attention.

Most recently, for example, the Syrian refugee resettlement issue has challenged the economy, energy and national defence for prominence during the campaign period.

What do you feel are the two most pressing issues facing Canadians at this time in our history? How would your party, if it is elected by Canadians to form a government following the October 19 election, frame a national response to these issues?

carol-hughesCarol Hughes – NDP

With so many important issues competing for prominence in this election it is challenging to choose just two as most pressing for people in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. That said, two unifying issues for the region and the country are employment and the performance of the economy.

Canada has never replaced the 400,000-plus full-time jobs we lost in the 2008 financial crisis and our current problems that relate to the price of oil are worse than they need be. To build a more resilient economy that is able to weather shocks in one sector we will have to diversify.

New Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy by focusing on creating good jobs to shore up household budgets which will have a positive effect on our local economies and our national economy.

To do this we have to help local businesses grow and survive. That is why we are proposing an immediate cut to the small and medium business tax rate. We will work with towns and cities to develop community infrastructure.  In addition to that, we are proposing a new Innovation Tax Credit to help kick-start our manufacturing sector.

By focusing on small and medium businesses along with innovation we will be able to help existing businesses and new ventures. We should have been set to take advantage of the weaker Canadian dollar with increased demand for manufactured goods, but decades of neglect has left our manufacturing sector weak and a shadow of its former self.

All across the country there is a great and acknowledged need to re-invest in public infrastructure. It is a challenge for the biggest cites and the smallest municipalities. Instead of making that a priority, the government made what little investment they did begrudgingly.

Worse, in the lead up to this election a quick round of infrastructure spending was announced, but the application process for Ontario lasted less than a month. That ruled out too many smaller municipalities who don’t have the capacity to employ the professionals needed to complete these applications quickly. That’s just not fair. It ignores the realities of smaller municipalities and First Nations as well.

New Democrats are committed to building our economy in a way that is fair and the policies we are proposing will do just that.  We will reward job creators, assist municipalities and First Nations with important infrastructure and get to work rebuilding the manufacturing sector in Canada.

André Robichaud – Conservative

There are two key issues that concern Canadians, particularly those in Northern Ontario and Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing (AMK): jobs and the economy.

I have lived in AMK my whole life and I know that constituents want control of their lives and their money. They are tired of missing out on opportunities. It’s simple: businesses want less red tape; youth want to come home to quality jobs; families want more money in their pockets; and seniors want an affordable retirement.

Keeping taxes low and putting more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families has been a key priority for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Harper Government has consistently introduced tax-saving, family support and retirement security measures: income splitting, support for adoptive families, positive changes to Retirement Savings Plans, Retirement Income Funds, Tax-Free Savings Accounts, tax relief to service club members and volunteer firefighters–as just a few examples.

The Harper government has consistently fostered job creation and a prosperous economy through measures including reducing payroll taxes and providing apprenticeship tax incentives.

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s proven leadership, the federal tax burden on Canadian families and job-creating businesses is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.

Stephen Harper has the experience to keep our $1.9 trillion economy growing in an unstable global economy. Canada has the best record of the international economic downturn of 2008.

Finance Canada confirmed we have a $5 billion surplus so far this year, ahead of projections.

In June, Statistics Canada confirmed a 0.5 percent growth in the economy—the strongest monthly growth since May 2014.

Results for the first quarter were 50 percent better than projected and economists are predicting strong second-half growth in GDP for the rest of the year.

The Liberal and NDP have flawed plans: multi-billion deficits or tax increases to try to balance the budget and pay for risky and unsafe new spending promises.

I have seen first-hand as an economic development officer that the communities of AMK have not prospered under current representation in Parliament.

The long-gun registry is an example of a representative being out of touch with what people here want, but an NDP government will bring it back!

With my proven record, I am the right person to work in government to promote, protect and strengthen the economy of AMK.

We must remain on track and continue with Prime Minister Harper’s low-tax, balanced budget plan for jobs and the economy.

wilson1Heather Wilson – Liberal

It is difficult to choose the most important issues for Canadians in this election because it might not align with the issues in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. However, I would think the two most pressing issues facing Canadian and residents here right now are the economy and climate change.

I have been knocking on doors and having conversations with people in this riding for months now and every day, people tell me we need quality jobs. The North is falling further and further behind. With an unemployment rate of nearly double the national rate, people are hurting. We have the skilled work force and the opportunity to contribute to the diversification of the Canadian economy and only the Liberal Party has concrete plans to address the needs of the Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing.

The Liberal Party understands that the middle class is the heart of the Canadian economy and when investments are made to strengthen the middle class we not only grow our economy, we build a Canada where people who work hard can look forward to a good standard of living and a secure retirement and better prospects for their kids. Historic investments in the three areas of transportation, social infrastructure and projects that address the shortfalls in environmental projects will stimulate the economy while recognizing that our environment directly affects our quality of life for generations to come.

A Liberal government will take action on climate change by investing in clean technologies. We will restore credibility to environmental assessments and protect our wildlife and waterways. We will phase out fossil fuel subsidies and create a Green Investment Bond to develop more renewable energy. We will meet international commitments to protect our fresh water, marine and coastal habitats and return Canada to being a well-respected world leader in ocean and marine research. We will restore oversight and thorough assessments of projects that impact the environment; and work with provinces, indigenous people and other stakeholders to manage our oceans effectively; and finally we will ensure sensitive areas are protected from potentially devastating oil spills.

Equal opportunity, a clean environment, fiscal responsibility, affordable education, sustainable, universal health care, evidence based crime policies and open, and fair and strong democratic representation are fundamentals of a Liberal government. The Liberal Party stands for fairness and opportunity for all citizens, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stands for passion, experience and support to lead this country so we can return to the Canada we all know and love.