A balanced budget, a free market economy, and lower levels of immigration. These were some of the issues that People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier and Jennifer Clarke, the party’s candidate for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding, touched on during a town hall meeting at the Nanaimo Yacht Club on Monday night.
Clarke opened up the town hall by sharing a story about her grandfather, explaining that he survived the Second World War despite being shot eight times. She said Canada under the leadership of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party is “actually worse” than she ever imagined.
“All the things that I see my grandfather fought … for, I see have been eroded in the last three and a half years and these are the reasons why I am getting into politics and wanting to stand up for every Canadian,” Clarke said. “We want to make sure that everyone has a good standard of living, that they are able to afford housing, afford the cost of gas.”
Clarke also told the crowd that she would like to see corporate welfare ended completely.
“Canada is ready for change and one thing that we are offering that no other party is offering is that we are going to get rid of the corporate subsidies,” she said.
Bernier told the crowd that his party will have “fair policies that will be fair” for all Canadians.
The PPC’s platform calls for balancing the federal budget in two years and abolishing supply management in the milk, dairy and poultry industries over a five-year period, which Bernier called “unfair” and harmful to the economy. Bernier said balancing the budget would be possible by modifying the income tax brackets from five to two, cutting funding to the CBC, making cuts to foreign aid and eliminating corporate welfare.
“It is unfair to tax a small business and then give money to a big corporation like GM or Bombardier or SNC-Lavalin or Weston. It is not fair,” he said.
Bernier then laid out his party’s position on immigration, saying that the PPC is not “anti-immigration” but against mass immigration, open borders and wants to lower the intake of refugees.
“Don’t tell me that refugees coming from the state of New York, that their life is in danger. It is not in danger,” Bernier said.
If elected, Bernier, who has who previously taken heat for his stance on immigration, said the PPC would reduce immigration targets to around 250,000 people per year. He said the focus would be on attracting immigrants who share or have “Canadian values” as well as immigrants who can come to Canada with a job. Canadian values, according to Bernier, are people who believe in free market, the rule of law, equality between men and women and a shared history and culture between others.
During the town hall event, Bernier and Clarke both fielded questions from members of the audience. Clarke, in response to a question from an audience member about housing affordability in Nanaimo, said tent city is something that “we’ve only seen in the last three and a half years” and that the refugee effort has forced Canadians into tents.
Speaking to the News Bulletin after the town hall concluded, Bernier said he believes the PPC can win the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding, while Clarke said during her time door knocking she has heard a lot of concerns from people around affordability.
“There are many many issues that people are bringing forward and we have an answer for each those issues,” she said.
Asked about the PPC’s position on the environment and climate change, Bernier said climate change is a shared jurisdiction between the feds and the provinces. When it comes to the federal carbon tax, he said he would remove it and let the provinces decide whether they want it or not. He also said the “environment is very important” but that portion of the party’s platform is still under development.
“On the environment, we will have a strong platform,” Bernier said. “It is not normal that in 2019, there are some lakes in this country that are polluted and we cannot swim in our lakes. So we will have clear lakes, clear rivers.”
However, when it comes to pipelines, Bernier said the PPC believes in pipelines and that they must be built by the private sector. He said his party would abolish Bill C-48, which bans oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil from stopping at ports along the B.C.’s northern cost.
“We will abolish Bill C-48 and we will abolish Bill C-69, which imposes more regulation on pipelines and we will use the constitution, if we need to use it, to ensure that we have that kind of infrastructure,” he said.
When asked about his stance on immigration, Bernier again said he’s not anti-immigration and that any assertion that his party is racist is wrong. He said the PPC just wants to ensure Canada’s immigration system fulfills the country’s needs and has a higher ratio for skilled immigrants, adding that his party isn’t pandering to any particular group.
“Our platform is for all Canadians,” he said.
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