The federal election gives us all an opportunity to ask questions about issues that are important to us all. Here are some vital questions the Avalon Chapter of the Council of Canadians is asking Newfoundland and Labrador candidates. Other voters may wish to ask them too.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed that heating of the atmosphere, ocean, and land due to human activities is approaching dangerous levels. To halt this warming, we must stop the increase of greenhouse gases — principally CO2 — to reach a point of net-zero emissions. The fate of our planetary environment depends on us reaching that point as soon as possible, with 2050 having been proposed by government leaders. Recent events now indicate that may be too late.
Question: Do you agree that we are in a climate emergency and must aim for net-zero emissions much sooner than 2050? If you are elected, what will you do to reduce carbon emissions?
Maintaining water services as a public right and meeting federal regulations for water quality are critical to healthy communities.
Question: Do you oppose the privatization of water management, including public-private partnerships? How will you champion direct federal funding to Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities for much-needed water and wastewater infrastructure?
The COVID pandemic highlighted the plight of Canadians who do not have or lose drug coverage. Parliament has failed to implement a national pharmacare program after intense lobbying by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. A national pharmacare program would save the provinces money, as would legislation to lower the cost of patented drugs. The savings could then be spent on needed health and other programs.
Question: If elected, will you work to ensure Canada has a universal, comprehensive, portable, accessible, publicly administered pharmacare program?
The fishery represents a highly renewable resource with enormous potential for sustainable economic and social benefits for Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and the world. But federal policies neglect this potential in order to support unsustainable ocean industries like offshore oil and gas and corporate freezer-trawler fleets which harm the marine environment and endanger offshore spawning stocks. Meanwhile, we have a 400,000-tonne cod stock being harvested at just two per cent annually when a 20 per cent harvest has been shown to be sustainable, leaving the rest of the fish with plenty of food to grow and reproduce. This is just one example of federal mismanagement of the fishery.
Question: Do you agree that the government should make the fishery a key policy focus, prioritize the inshore over the offshore, and enact strategies that eliminate waste, maximize sustainable harvests and protect the marine environment?
For decades, Canadians have been calling for change in the way we elect our governments. Under our current “first-past-the-post” system, most so-called majorities are achieved with less than 50 per cent of the vote. In contrast, most other democracies have now chosen some version of proportional representation, where the proportion of seats a party holds reflects its proportion of the popular vote. Under such a system, parties tend to work cooperatively for the benefit of the country. It’s time for Canadians to have that option. Citizens’ Assemblies have a successful record of moving this question out of the partisan political sphere and giving a genuine choice to the electorate.
Question: Would you support the formation of a Citizens’ Assembly to produce a fairer, more proportional electoral system to replace the present “first past the post”?
John D. Jacobs, chairman
Avalon Chapter, Council of Canadians
As published in the Telegram Sept. 13th