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Posts Tagged "election"

17Oct

NDP election signs damaged in East Vancouver

by admin

Jordan Jiang, CTV News Vancouver


Published Thursday, October 17, 2019 6:26AM PDT


Last Updated Thursday, October 17, 2019 6:38AM PDT

Several election campaign signs appeared to be damaged in the Vancouver-Kingsway riding early Thursday morning.

Signs that were knocked over belonged to NDP incumbent candidate Don Davies. Not all signs were damaged along the street, however, as it appeared Liberal candidate Tamara Taggart’s were intact.

One of the NDP signs was seen on Grandview Highway between Nootka and Lillooet streets. Some drivers were unable to avoid the sign and wooden debris, ultimately striking the objects.

This comes after Liberal and Conservatives signs were allegedly stolen last week. 

In Vancouver South, Conservative candidate Wai Young’s campaign claims more than 30 per cent of their lawn signs have been stolen in the riding. In an emailed news release, Young called the alleged thefts “hurtful and dangerous.”

At the time, Liberal candidate for the same riding, Harjit Sajjan, said some of his election signs had been stolen as well. 

Both campaigns proved CTV News Vancouver with security camera footage showing people taking signs. 

15Oct

North Vancouver woman says some disabled Canadians feeling left out of discussion during election campaign

by admin

Amy Amantea tuned in to the English-language federal leaders’ debate with modest hope there would be at least some discussion of issues relevant to disabled Canadians.

The first half of the campaign had passed with barely a reference, even from the party that had delivered a historic achievement in national disability policy. Earlier this year, the Liberals made good on a 2015 campaign promise when the Accessible Canada Act received royal assent, marking the first time any government had enacted accessibility legislation at the federal level.

The government estimates one in five Canadians over the age of 15 is disabled, and Amantea, who is legally blind, hoped leaders would use the Oct. 7 debate to address some of the many issues they face. But those hopes faded as the debate progressed, giving way instead to doubts about how Canada’s disabled residents would fare after the Oct. 21 election.

“We have a lot of very unique needs and circumstances in our community that don’t get addressed,” Amantea said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. “Just a nod, just a mention would have been kind of nice, but it was not to be.”

Amantea said that relative silence has persisted into the final week of the campaign, giving rise to concerns throughout Canada’s disabled community. Many fear that parties who fail to make mention of key issues facing disabled Canadians while courting votes may prove even more dismissive once those votes have been cast.

They point to party platforms and public pledges, most of which make scant mention of either the Accessible Canada Act or disability-specific measures on issues such as infrastructure, health and affordable housing.

The Liberals response to questions on disability policy largely focused on past achievements. Spokesman Joe Pickerill did offer some future plans, including doubling the disability child benefit, establishing a $40-million-per-year national fund meant to help disabled Canadians find work, and simplifying the process veterans use to access disability benefits.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment, and the People’s Party of Canada said its platform contained “no policy related to disabled persons.”

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The act, while widely acknowledged as a significant milestone, was also broadly criticized by nearly a hundred grass-roots organizations across the country as too weak to be truly effective. Such critiques continued even after the government agreed to adopt some Senate amendments sought by the disability groups, who hoped future governments would continue to build on the new law.

Only the NDP agreed to do so when approached by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which contacted all major parties in July.

“The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures,” reads the NDP’s response. “New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.”

The Conservatives, too, pledged to “work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities.” Spokesman Simon Jefferies also noted party members pushed to strengthen the act but saw their amendments voted down by the government.

The vagueness of these commitments troubles Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair-user and writer.

“Canada’s approach to accessibility has been to grant it as a gift they give us rather than a right we deserve,” Peters said. “Now that we have the ACA, the concern is that the broader public and the government think the issue is resolved when this law is, at best, a beginning.”

Other disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults view the proposals with skepticism.

Alex Haagaard, who is autistic and uses a wheelchair, said that while much modern disability policy including the ACA tends to apply a social lens, discussion of autism is still framed through the outmoded medical model that positions the disability as an ailment to be cured rather than a part of a person’s identity.

Haagaard said action is clearly needed to help parents seeking supports for their children and teachers working to integrate autistic students into their classrooms, but said current attitudes at the heart of the campaign rhetoric are troubling.

A national strategy, Haagaard said, also risks undermining the goal of broader inclusion for other disabled populations.

“That is counter to the goals of disability justice to silo autism as this individual condition that warrants this level of attention compared to other disabilities,” Haagaard said.

Like Amantea, Peters felt let down by the leaders debates, citing the prevalence of discussion around medical assistance in dying over other issues that affect disabled people. The subject is polarizing, with many advocacy groups and individuals asserting such legislation devalues the lives of disabled people and places them at greater risk.

Such a narrow focus, Peters said, shows all parties’ failure to reckon with or address the diverse, complex needs of an overlooked demographic.

“What strikes me as missing in policy and in this election is us,” she said. “Disabled people. The not inspirational, not motivational, not middle class, not white, disabled people of this country. In other words — most of us.”

3Oct

Election 2019: Where the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens stand on 12 key issues for B.C.

by admin

A federal election 2019 platform primer: Brief summaries of where the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens stand on 12 major issues, and highlights of what they are promising Canadians.


Tens of thousands of people concerned about the state of the Earth’s climate converged on Vancouver City Hall on Sept. 27.

Jason Payne /

Postmedia News

Climate change/carbon tax/fossil fuels

Liberals

The Liberals commit to planting two billion trees in a $3 billion plan to conserve forests, agricultural lands, wetlands and coastal areas. They promise carbon neutrality — balancing emissions against carbon offsets —  by 2050 and to halve taxes for companies that develop or manufacture products with zero emissions. They propose interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to make homes more energy efficient and a grant for people who buy carbon neutral homes. They plan to send disadvantaged kids to camp so they’ll learn to love the outdoors.

Conservatives

The Conservatives promise to meet Canada’s Paris commitment to cut emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but provide few specifics. They would scrap the carbon tax. They believe Canada would make little impact on climate change by reducing emissions at home, so would make Canadian oil and gas cleaner to replace dirtier products from other countries. The parliamentary budget office says the party’s green homes tax credit for energy-saving renovations would cost $1.8 billion over three years.

NDP

The NDP promises to help stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 C. It would continue carbon pricing and will clamp down on big polluters. It would move government vehicles to electric by 2025. It would retrofit all housing stock in Canada by 2050, giving low-interest loans to homeowners. It says all new buildings would have net-zero emissions by 2030. It would power Canada with net carbon-free electricity by 2030. To pay for these steps, it would redirect the billions spent on oil and gas subsidies.

Greens

The Greens pledge $3.2 billion over five years to help keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 C. They would go beyond the Paris targets, promising a 60 per cent cut in carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, and to set emission limits and penalties for industries. By 2030, all of Canada’s electricity would come from renewable sources. The party would fund building retrofits and ensure new construction meets carbon neutral standards by 2030. It would reduce nitrogen fertilizers and support farmers to shift to regenerative farming.


Pipes destined for the Trans Mountain pipeline are moved by rail through Kamloops in June.

Gerry Kahrmann /

PNG

Trans Mountain pipeline

Liberals

Leader Justin Trudeau made a bargain on the environment and the economy: Cancel the Northern Gateway oil pipeline, approve the Trans Mountain expansion, create a national carbon tax and get concessions from Alberta, including phasing out coal energy and capping oilsands emissions. In 2018, Trudeau bought Trans Mountain for $4.5 billion. A second approval for pipeline expansion was given in June. Said Trudeau: “We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future.”

Conservatives

Leader Andrew Scheer supports the Trans Mountain expansion. But more is needed to encourage oil and gas projects, say Conservatives. That includes repealing the carbon tax and Bill C-69, which overhauled federal environmental assessments of major construction projects, and ending the ban on shipping oil on the B.C. north coast. Scheer would use federal powers to declare a major project in the national interest. Criticizing the Liberal approach, Scheer said: “Not a single inch of new pipeline has been laid.”

NDP

Leader Jagmeet Singh wants the Trans Mountain expansion abandoned, saying it will undermine efforts to fight climate change. The NDP also worry about ocean spill risks. Approval of the project ignores violations of Indigenous rights, says the party. In criticizing Liberal approval of the project, Singh said: “While they’re great with symbolic gestures like voting for a climate change emergency, they do the opposite of helping the environment the very next day with the approval of this pipeline expansion.”

Greens

Green leader Elizabeth May was arrested in Burnaby in 2018 for protesting the Trans Mountain expansion. “The commitment to build a pipeline in 2018, when we are in climate crisis, is a crime against future generations and I will not be part of it,” said May. The Greens would cancel the project. The party would cut subsidies to fossil fuel industries of several billion dollars a year and would redirect the money toward a transition to renewable energy.


Redevelopment work at Heather Place, an affordable housing project in Vancouver, in September.

Gerry Kahrmann /

Postmedia News

Affordable housing 

Liberals

The Liberals promise to help people with annual incomes below $120,000 (and up to $150,000 in high-cost areas such as Vancouver) by taking up to 10 per cent off the price of a home with the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, budgeted at $1.25 billion over three years. This applies to homes up to $789,000 in expensive regions such as Vancouver. The party promises a national anti-speculation tax of one per cent on non-resident, foreign owners; it’s estimated to create revenue of $940 million over four years.

Conservatives

The party promises to change the Liberals’ mortgage stress test to ensure first-time homebuyers aren’t unnecessarily prevented from getting mortgages, and to work toward removing the stress test from mortgage renewals. It would increase amortization periods on insured mortgages to 30 years for first-time homebuyers to lower monthly payments, make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase the supply of housing, and hold a $20-million inquiry into money laundering in the real estate sector.

NDP

The NDP promises to create 500,000 units of affordable rental housing in the next 10 years, financed by $5 billion in the first 18 months of government, and also to create “fast-start funds” to help communities build co-ops, social, and non-profit housing. It would waive the federal GST on construction of new rentals; reintroduce 30-year terms to CMHC-insured mortgages on entry-level homes; double the homebuyer’s tax credit to $1,500; put a foreign buyer’s tax on sales to non-Canadians.

Greens

The Greens would make housing a fundamental human right, and work with provinces to build 25,000 new rental homes and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years. They promise to: boost funding for new builds by $750 million and for rent assistance by $750 million to help 125,000 rental households; better support provincial and municipal housing projects; provide financing to non-profits to expand housing for seniors, people with special needs and low-income families; restore tax incentives for building rental housing.


Children at the Novaco Daycare in North Vancouver- Ma visit Novaco Daycare in North Vancouver in May.

Jason Payne /

Postmedia News

Child care 

Liberals

Liberals promise to improve the accessibility to and affordability of before- and after-school care for kids in elementary school. The party says it has created thousands of new preschool child care spaces and would create up to 250,000 more for kids ages five to 10. It would improve child care hours for people who work overtime or late shifts. It promises to reduce fees 10 per cent, which could save a family of four around $800 annually. The party has promised new funding of $535 million a year.

Conservatives

The party has not made any campaign announcements about child care. It has promised to make maternity benefits tax-free, which could save an average Canadian $4,000 a year. It would reintroduce a children’s fitness tax credit, allowing parents to claim up to $1,000 a child annually for sports, and a children’s arts and learning tax credit, allowing parents to claim up to $500. The budget office says this would cost $616 million in its first year, increasing annually.

NDP

The NDP would enshrine in law a commitment to high-quality public child care. The party notes provinces such as Quebec, B.C. and Alberta have made investments in child care and it promises to “build on that work” by investing $1 billion in 2020 and growing that investment annually, in conjunction with provinces and territories. It gave no specifics for the number of spaces planned, but said affordable child care helps the economy by allowing parents to work.

Greens

The Greens say universal child care is crucial for women’s equality and promise to increase funding to at least one per cent of GDP annually, adding an additional $1 billion each year until this level is reached. The party did not say the number of new spaces it would create. It would eliminate GST on construction of new child care spaces. The party plans to boost early educator jobs, locate new facilities along transit routes and strengthen parental leave benefits.


B.C. launched a review of money laundering controls at casinos in 2017.

Francis Georgian /

Postmedia News

Related

Money laundering

Liberals

In this year’s budget, the Liberals promised $70 million over five years to create a money-laundering task force and support financial intelligence gathering. Another $68.9 million over the next five years was earmarked to strengthen policing. The Liberals also amended the Criminal Code this year to make it easier to prove money laundering. “This is a real problem we are taking seriously,” Trudeau said following a B.C. report that estimated laundering at $46.7 billion in Canada.

Conservatives

Scheer announced that his party would launch a national money-laundering inquiry to “root out” corrupt practices that inflate housing prices. About $20 million would be budgeted for the two-year inquiry, meant to produce recommendations for regulatory and legislative changes and extra enforcement. The inquiry would be able to compel testimony and order disclosure. “We believe this will get to the bottom of the shadowy practices that are going on,” said Scheer.

NDP

The NDP announced it would launch a national inquiry to determine why there hasn’t been sufficient investigation into a criminal activity that is “so widespread.” The NDP would create an RCMP anti-money-laundering unit supported with $20 million a year, with $10 million of that earmarked for B.C. The NDP would work with provinces to create a registry to increase transparency about who owns properties. “This is a direct issue the federal government can play a massive role in flagging, identifying and in ending,” said Singh.

Greens

The Greens are calling for a public inquiry into what the RCMP and other agencies knew about money laundering in B.C. casinos and why they did not expose the corruption. In the House of Commons this year, May said: “What did the RCMP know, why did they turn a blind eye and are we looking into it?” The party says a crackdown is needed on financial crime, suggesting a special RCMP unit and more resources for investigations and prosecutions.


Pro-China protesters at a counter-rally outside the Chinese consulate in Vancouver in August during a protest against allegations of police brutality in Hong Kong.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

Canada-China relations

Liberals

The Liberals recently named Dominic Barton, a businessman with extensive experience in Asia, as Canada’s ambassador to China. They hope he will reset a relationship that collapsed following Canada’s detaining last December of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S., the arrest of two Canadian citizens in China a few days later and China’s blocking of important Canadian exports. Organizers of an election debate on foreign policy in September cancelled the event after Trudeau dropped out.

Conservatives

In response to China blocking Canadian exports, the Conservatives pledge to pull $250 million in funding from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is headquartered in Beijing. Scheer said he is against using Canadian tax dollars to build infrastructure in countries that China influences. He said the focus of the relationship between Canada and China should be on the two Canadians detained there, and that a reset in that relationship begins with a prime minister who stands up to China.

NDP

Jagmeet Singh is calling for the focus of the Canada-China relationship to be on the Canadians detained in China. He said trade with China has focused on free trade that doesn’t benefit workers. He described the Chinese ban on canola, pork and beef exports as being “unfairly targeted by China despite a lack of scientific evidence” and said China is punishing Canadian producers over a diplomatic disagreement. He has called for the Liberals to protect Canadian workers.

Greens

May has been critical of the Canada-China Investment Treaty brought in by the Conservatives in 2014. She has said it allows discriminatory practices towards Canadian enterprises and allows for “secret” government-to-government wrangling “in which China’s larger economic weight is likely to lead to all manner of concessions by our government.” The relationship “is imperilled by some rather large forces that are outside of our control. Donald Trump is poking China with a stick and creating a trade war. We’re caught in the middle.”


A treatment room in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Health care

Liberals

The Liberals promise to spend $6 billion over four years to ensure every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health care team. They would also set national standards for access to mental health services, expand access to home care and “take the critical next steps” toward universal pharmacare to include prescription drug coverage. They would increase funding for pediatric cancer research by $30 million in 2020 and create a national Institute for women’s health research to tackle gaps in care.

Conservatives

The Conservatives would continue the health care transfer to provinces and maintain the funding increase of at least three per cent a year. The party would spend $1.5 billion on MRI and CT machines. It would reduce the number of hours required per week on therapy to qualify for the disability tax credit to 10 from 14. The Conservatives have not pledged to introduce universal pharmacare and Scheer has said he doesn’t trust the Liberals to implement it.

NDP

The NDP would create a universal pharmacare program starting in late 2020 at a cost of $10 billion. The party would expand public dental care coverage to households making under $70,000, starting in 2020, and copayments for households earning $70,000-$90,000, at a cost of $560 million in the first year, $1.9 billion in the second year and up to $850 million after that. The NDP would fight efforts to privatize health care.

Greens

The Greens would change the federal-provincial Health Accord to base health transfer payments on demographics and needs in each province, rather than on GDP growth. The party would Introduce universal pharmacare and free dental care for low-income Canadians and would reduce drug patent protection periods. It would expand mental health and rehabilitation services and access to safe abortion services. It would improve health care for Indigenous Peoples by implementing calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Clients and workers at the Career Zone Youth Employment Centre in Vancouver in June.

Nick Procaylo /

Postmedia News

Jobs

Liberals

The Liberal’s platform on job creation focuses on supports to workers and supports for business. The promises to workers include guaranteed training for apprentices and $100 million in funding for skills upgrading, specifically for work in conducting energy audits, building retrofits and carbon-neutral home construction. To business, the party promises to cut in half corporate taxes for businesses in zero-emission industries, including renewable energy and zero-emission vehicles. It also plans to cut the cost of incorporating a small business.

Conservatives

The Conservatives’ platform includes creating a national energy corridor to carry oil, natural gas and electricity as a means to “create wealth, prosperity and opportunity” for Canadians. The party’s platform also plans support for small business by exempting spouses from new taxes on dividend payments from small businesses, reducing “red tape” in federal regulations by 25 per cent, and enforcing a rule to cut two old regulations for every new regulation introduced on business.

NDP

The NDP ties its goal to reduce carbon emissions to its promise to create jobs, estimating that clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and energy-efficient buildings will create 300,000 new jobs. Forestry is singled out, both for the role of forests in climate health and the source of jobs that support rural communities. The party promises to support innovation in value-added manufacturing of forest products and reforestation. It would allow workers to qualify for employment insurance after quitting work to return to school.

Greens

Acknowledging job losses in oil and gas production while phasing out fossil fuels, the Greens vow a “just transition” for workers from those sectors into renewable energy and in construction for energy-efficiency retrofits of buildings. The plan includes a fund to support training and a community benefit strategy to maximize local hiring and purchasing. May has also proposed a “robot tax” that employers would pay when they replace workers with artificial intelligence, with the revenue used to retrain workers.


Marchers in the Parade of Action on the Overdose Crisis in Vancouver in April.

Jason Payne /

PNG

Drug policy/opioid overdose epidemic

Liberals

The Liberals pledge $700 million in additional funding between 2020 and 2014 to expand access to drug treatment and to combat opioid and meth addictions. The party will help provinces expand community-based services, build more in-patient rehab beds, and “scale up the most effective programs” — such as extending hours for Vancouver’s Insite and other safe consumption sites. It will also make drug treatment court the default option for first-time non-violent offenders charged exclusively with simple possession, to help drug users get quick access to treatment.

Conservatives

A spokeswoman said the party has not yet released its policy, but will “in the coming weeks.” On the campaign trail, leader Andrew Scheer has criticized the Liberals for expanding supervised-injection sites without properly consulting communities. He has told reporters that a Conservative drug policy would focus on getting people off drugs, not “maintaining” a life of addiction. The former Conservative government tried unsuccessfully to have Vancouver’s Insite shut down.

NDP

The NDP promises to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency and to work with governments and experts to end “the criminalization and stigma of drug addiction” so people can get help without fear of arrest. The party supports overdose-prevention sites. It would expand access to treatment on demand, launch an investigation into the role of drug companies in opioid overdoses and seek financial compensation for the public costs of the crisis, and “get tough” on traffickers. The platform provides no cost estimates.

Greens

The Greens promise $100 million annually to respond to the opioid crisis, plus $1 billion annually for treatment that includes mental health and addictions. The party’s platform promises to declare a national health emergency, plus “Recognize that fentanyl contamination is why deaths are more accurately described as poisonings than overdoses. Drug possession should be decriminalized, ensuring people have access to a screened supply and the medical support they need. … Increase funding to community-based organizations to test drugs and make naloxone kits widely available.”


Renderings for the proposed Surrey Langley SkyTrain extension.

Submitted /

Postmedia News

Transportation/infrastructure

Liberals

The Liberals say they will create a national infrastructure fund to support yet-to-be-determined “major nation-building projects.” They would make permanent the federal commitment to fund public transit, and put in an additional $3 billion a year in stable funding on top of gas tax transfers, and require that new federal investments in public transit are used to support zero-emission buses and rail starting in 2023. They would also support the transition to zero-emission fleets for school and transit buses, and encourage businesses to convert their fleets.

Conservatives

The Conservatives have committed to ensuring promised infrastructure projects will proceed, with top priority to infrastructure projects that shorten commute times, like the George Massey Tunnel replacement. They would scrap the $35-billion Canada Infrastructure Bank. They would reintroduce a transit tax credit similar to the one ended in 2017, which will apply to monthly and weekly passes, and some electronic fare cards. It’s estimated that over 10 years, the tax credit will cost the government $2.2 billion.

NDP

The NDP would introduce a permanent funding mechanism for public transit. It wants to electrify transit and municipal vehicles by 2030, expand rail service, work with provinces and municipalities toward “fare-free transit” and re-establish rural bus routes formerly covered by Greyhound and expand bus service in rural regions. It would use community benefit agreements for infrastructure projects. To encourage zero-emission vehicle adoption, it would extend federal incentives for vehicles and chargers, waive federal taxes on purchases and expand charging networks.

Greens

The Greens would develop a national transportation strategy with the goal of reaching zero-carbon public transportation — rail, light rail and electric buses — across Canada by 2040, and revamp the Canada Infrastructure Bank. They would ban the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030, require all passenger ferries to convert to electric or hybrid by 2030, exempt new and used zero-emission vehicles from federal sales tax, expand charging stations, implement a passenger rail transportation policy, create a cycling and walking infrastructure fund, and develop “green freight transport program.”


Gas and auto insurance are among many living expenses on a steep rise in B.C.

Nick Procaylo /

Postmedia News

Related

Cost of living

Liberals

The Liberal plan is to reduce personal income taxes by raising the personal exemption to $15,000 from $12,069, saving the average Canadian $292 and the average middle-class family $585. The party takes aim at cellphone bills, promising that increased competition would reduce them 25 per cent and threatening regulation if that doesn’t happen. The party would increase student grants by $1,200, to reach $4,200 a year. The party’s promises to seniors include increasing old-age-security payments by 10 per cent.

Conservatives

The Conservatives’ tax plan aims straight at cutting the lowest-bracket tax rate to 13.75 per cent from 15 per cent, which the party bills as its “universal tax cut,” saying it will save as much as $440 for individuals or $850 for a two-income family. The party’s plan also includes increasing Registered Education Savings Plan grants to $750 a year from $500 and reviving tax credits for expenses on children’s arts and sports programs and commuter transit passes.

NDP

The NDP platform doesn’t include promises to cut taxes but it does seek to reduce cellphone and internet bills and to make post-secondary education more affordable. The party would require carriers to introduce basic internet and cellphone plans, and would order caps on phone and internet bills. The NDP would cap and reduce post-secondary tuition and would eliminate interest on student loans and increase access to student grants. It would work toward making post-secondary education part of the public system.

Greens

The Greens call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and a “guaranteed livable income” to replace supports such as disability and social assistance payments. The party’s affordability plan also promises universal access to post-secondary education. That means free tuition for Canadian students and forgiving existing student debts held by the federal government. For seniors, the party would increase the Canada Pension Plan’s target for income replacement to 50 per cent of pre-retirement income from 25 per cent.


Seven-year-old Kenji Kirby waves the flag as she attends a Canada Day citizenship ceremony with her mom and dad in Vancouver on July 1.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Immigration policy

Liberals

The Liberals would work with the U.S. to “modernize” the Safe Third Country Agreement. They would increase immigration to 350,000 a year by 2021 — up from 310,000 in 2018 — and would create a program to allow communities, chambers of commerce and labour councils to directly sponsor immigrants, with a minimum of 5,000 spaces. The party would make applying for Canadian citizenship free for permanent residents. 

Conservatives

The Conservatives would renegotiate the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which requires refugee claimants to request protection in the first safe country where they arrive. They would stop border crossings at unofficial points of entry. The Conservatives would improve language training and credential recognition so it is easier for immigrants to use their skills in Canada. The party would promote private sponsorships of refugees and prioritize “people facing true persecution.” They would set immigration levels “consistent with what is in Canada’s best interests.”

NDP

The NDP would suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. It would work with provinces to address gaps in settlement services and improve foreign credentials recognition. The NDP would end the cap on applications to sponsor parents and grandparents, and address backlogs that delay reunification. The party would regulate immigration consultants, give status to caregivers brought to Canada and expedite their reuniting with families. They would set immigration levels to “meet Canada’s labour force needs and recognize people’s experiences, contributions and ties to Canada.”

Greens

The Greens would terminate the Safe Third Country Agreement. The party would include “environmental refugee” as a refugee category. It would create a system to evaluate immigrants’ education to help them get accreditation and jobs. It would also eliminate the temporary foreign workers program, increase immigration to address labour shortages, process the estimated 200,000 people in Canada who don’t have official status, and regulate immigration consultants. The Greens have not announced immigration levels but would “attract immigrants and establish a system that is fair.”

MORE: Federal election 2019

29Sep

Liberals promise billions in new spending in 2019 election platform

by admin

OTTAWA – The Liberal party has released its costed 2019 platform, and it includes promises of billions in new spending for students, families, and the environment, continuing their so-called economic approach of “investing in Canadians,” while targeting corporations and the wealthiest Canadians to help pay for these proposals.

The platform titled “Forward a real plan for the middle class” spans 85 pages and includes chapters on the middle class and jobs, the environment, social and cultural programs, Indigenous commitments, parliamentary reforms, as well as pledges focused on international and domestic trade, justice, and security. Sprinkled throughout are photos of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his candidates.

The document is a mix of already-announced campaign promises, and new ideas that they’d yet to announce, alongside a costing analysis done by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) of 22 key pieces.

Central to what the Liberals are promising to deliver should they be re-elected on Oct. 21 is a boost to the Canada Child Benefit, relief for student debtors, new taxes on the rich, and new regulations for multinational tech giants.

In total, the Liberals estimate that the new commitments they’re making would cost $9.3 billion in 2020-21 and rise each year following, but would also bring in just over $5.2 billion in new revenue in 2020-21 also rising over time. This would leave Canadians with an additional $4.1 billion added on to the deficit in the first year, which the Liberals project would be at $27.4 billion in 2020-21, with no time frame for getting back to balance. Based on today’s platform, a re-elected Liberal government would run another four years of deficits, but the party points to the continued decrease of Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio as a more favorable figure.

“Our economy is driven by people. So we will keep investing in Canadians, and doing the things that make it better for the middle class,” said Liberal incumbent candidate and co-chair of the national platform committee Ralph Goodale during a press conference with reporters who received the platform under embargo in Ottawa. “Over the last four years we’ve seen what happens when you put people first,” he said.

In a statement sent ahead of the Liberal plan being publicly released, the Conservative Party—which has released the costing for certain pieces of its plan but not yet for the entire package—said that these Liberal promises are “not worth the wasted ink and paper it’s printed on.”

Relief for the middle class

The first chapter of the platform is focused on the middle class, and measures the Liberals say will make life more affordable for those within that income range.

Early days in this campaign the Liberals promised to increase their Canada Child Benefit program by 15 per cent for children under one; exempting parental and maternity leave employment insurance benefits from tax; and extending those benefits to adoptive parents.

According to the PBO, this suite of measures would cost $777 million in 2020-21, rising to just under $1.2 billion by 2023-24.

The Liberals have also promised to make the first $15,000 of income tax-free for Canadians earning $147,000 a year or less, which the Liberals say will help lift another 40,000 people out of poverty. Billed as helping more people keep what they earn, it’s projected to cost $2.9 billion in 2020-21.

A promise to increase Old Age Security by 10 per cent for seniors once they turn 75 would cost $1.6 billion in 2020-21, rising to $2.6 billion in 2023-24. The Liberals would also increase the CPP survivors benefit by 25 per cent.

And for families who qualify for the Canada Child Disability Benefit, it would double from $2,832 to $5,664 for each child, estimated to cost $391 million in 2020-21.

There are also new or expanded measures for first-time home buyers; initiatives and measures for entrepreneurs and small business owners; more accessible and affordable childcare; strengthening public health care; increasing EI sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks at a cost of $306 million in 2020-21; and implementing a new EI career insurance benefit.

The Liberals are also promising a variety of other middle-class targeted initiatives, but not all were costed by the PBO. One of the biggest commitments left un-costed was the Liberal’s plan to move towards a universal pharmacare system.

Throughout the platform the Liberals stack up their commitments to those by the Conservatives, noting the differences between what each party is offering.

Trudeau spoke about the costed platform at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus.

“Under a Conservative government, a person making $400,000 a year would benefit more than a person making $40,000 with their tax cuts,” said Trudeau on Sunday.

Help for student debt

As CTV News reported Saturday, the platform also includes measures aimed at students and Canadians who still have student debt. All these commitments are promised to come into effect in 2020-2021, and apply to new graduates and people already paying off student loans.

These measures include:

  • Allowing new parents to put their student loans on hold by giving them an interest-free break from paying off their loans until their youngest child turns five years old.
  • Extending the grace period on payments after graduation from six months to two years, and even after that time only will people have to make payments once they are earning at least $35,000 per year after graduation.
  • Increasing student grants under the Canada Students Loans and Grants program by $1,200, to reach $4,200 per year.

According to the PBO’s assessment of the post-secondary measures, it would cost $172 million in the first year, rising to just over $1 billion by 2023-24. The Liberals estimate up to 470,000 students could benefit.

In Ontario, Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford has reversed previous student assistance measures and it appears the Liberals are looking to make a direct appeal to those impacted by that and other provincial cuts.

“Conservative provincial governments are trying to balance the budget on the backs of families and students, all while the cost of tuition keeps going up,” said Trudeau.

“Cuts to education. To healthcare. To environmental protection. We can’t afford to double down on the Conservatives, not here in Mississauga, not across Ontario, not anywhere in Canada,” he said.

Corporate and tech crackdown, luxury tax

In an effort to help generate new revenue and crack down on corporate tax evasion, the Liberals would introduce new tax measures that’ll hit wealthy Canadians and are promising regulations for multinational tech companies.

The Liberals would impose a 10 per cent luxury goods sales tax applied at point of sale, for purchases of personal cars, boats, and aircraft that are valued at $100,000 or more. This, according to the PBO, will bring in $585 million in 2020-21, rising to $622 million in 2023-24.

And, changes would come to corporate taxation under a re-elected Liberal government. They would review current policies to ensure the wealthy aren’t benefitting unfairly, and target tax avoidance and corporate tax loopholes. The PBO has estimated that the corporate tax crackdown could bring in $459 million in the current 2019-20 fiscal year, and would raise $1.7 billion in 2020-21.

The Liberals had already said they’d impose a one per cent tax on properties owned in Canada, by non-Canadians and non-residents, to limit housing speculation. The PBO estimates this would bring in $217 million in revenue in 2020-21, rising to $256 million by 2023-24.

Another major aspect of this is a new effort the Liberals are billing as “making multinational tech giants pay their fair share.” What this entails is a new three per cent tax on the income of businesses in the digital economy sector. It would come into effect on April 1, 2020 and target advertising and digital companies like Google or Amazon, with worldwide revenues of at least $1 billion and Canadian revenues of more than $40 million.

The Liberals estimate this would bring in $540 million in 2020-21, rising to $730 million by 2023-32.

As well the Liberals are promising to impose new privacy measures on large digital companies like Facebook, because they hold massive troves of Canadians’ personal data. The Liberals would install a new set of online rights for people to be able to erase their data from platforms, know who has access to it and how it’s being used, standards for reporting and compensation when data breaches occur, and force companies to report to a national advertising registry. All of this they say, would be part of the job for a new Data Commissioner.

Some climate measures costed

The platform document lays out the Liberals promised next steps to tackle climate change, including the promise to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This broad commitment doesn’t have a price tag attached but would include five-year goals decided on with help from experts, and new supports for those who will be impacted by the transition.

The carbon tax regime would remain, but no new information on the price per tonne it would reach in coming years.

The environmental measures that the PBO costed include the promise of interest-free loans for environmental retrofits, and grants for zero-emission homes, which the PBO pegs at costing $300 million in 2020-21, up to $411 million by 2023-24.

As well, the promise to cut the tax rate for companies that produce zero emission technology like electric cars or batteries in half would cost $14 million in 2020-21, according to the Liberal platform.

And, the Liberals estimate that once fully completed—something they say is still three years away— the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would generate $500 million in revenue, which the Liberals would put back into clean energy projects and climate change solutions.

Gun control, victim supports

As part of the broad promise to make Canadian streets safer, the Liberals have already said they’d ban all military-style assault rifles, create a buy-back program for legally-purchased assault rifles and allow provinces and municipalities to beef up their bans or restrictions further if desired.

In the costed platform the Liberals are earmarking an additional $50 million a year to help cities crack down on gun and gang crime.

Other justice-related measures pledged that include costing are:

  • Hiring and retaining 425 Crown prosecutors and 225 judges, the cost of which will be split between the federal government and promises;
  • Hiring and retaining an additional 100 RCMP officers; and
  • Providing sexual assault and domestic violence survivors free legal representation for application hearings, another cost to be split with the provinces.

According to the PBO this trio of measures will cost $122 million in 2020-21

Relatedly the Liberals are also promising to make it mandatory that all judges in Canada take sexual assault law training, which was an initiative from former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose that was thwarted in the Senate. This chapter also has promises for drug treatments, elder abuse, and targeted at first responders.

Immigration:

The 2015 federal election was largely centred on accepting refugees and contrasting the parties’ immigration policies, this time around the proposals from the Liberals are limited.

They include a promise to eliminate the processing and right of citizenship fees for new applicants. The PBO says this will have a limited cost, estimated at $75 million in 2020-21, rising to $110 million by 2023-24.

The Liberals say they will “move forward with modest and responsible increases to immigration,” focusing on welcoming highly skilled immigrants. And a re-elected Liberal government would also continue talks with the United States about updating the Safe Third Country agreement, which some believe has resulted in the influx of irregular border crossings into Canada from the U.S.

Equality-focused commitments

  • The plan also includes many social policy and equality-centered commitments that don’t have dollar signs attached, such as:
  • Appointing another gender-balanced cabinet and improve federal diversity in appointments;
  • Protecting abortion rights and improving how women are treated in the health care sector more broadly;
  • Making it so people are “free from discrimination online, including bias and harassment”;
  • Re-stating the not-met commitment to completely end the current 3-month blood donation ban for men who have sex with men;
  • Amending the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy that targets LGBTQ people;
  • Study extremism like racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy and attempt to combat radicalization; and
  • Establishing the Canadian Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government, along with other supports for similar international institutions.

Parliamentary reform

While there is zero mention of reviving the now long-broken promise of electoral reform, the Liberals are looking to make a handful of tweaks to the parliamentary system, should they be re-elected. These include:

  • More time for private members’ bills to be dealt with in the House of Commons;
  • New technology to connect constituents with their MPs, without specifics;
  • Eliminating whip and party lists to give the Speaker more freedom in picking who to let in on debates;
  • More resources for parliamentary committees;
  • Upholding the Independent Senate; and
  • Implementing the Anne McLellan-issued recommendations around role and structure of the minister of justice position.
11Sep

338 ridings, 40 days, 1 vote: Election kicks off today

by admin

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will ask Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to dissolve the 42nd Parliament at 10 a.m. this morning, setting in motion Canada’s 43rd federal election campaign.

  • Watch LIVE @ 9 ET on CTVNews.ca and CTV News Channel: Lisa LaFlamme leads special coverage as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to launch the 2019 federal election campaign

It will be a 40-day race to the ballot box, with all party leaders crisscrossing the country in an effort to pitch themselves, their candidates, and their platforms to Canadians, before election day on Oct. 21.

Following the formalities of ending a Parliament and launching a federal election campaign with races in all 338 ridings, Trudeau will emerge from Rideau Hall and speak to the media.

There, he’s likely to explain why it is election time and take the first chance to frame what the vote will be about. Trudeau had a deadline of Sept. 15 to call the election under new time limit rules passed since the last election, which kicked off four years, one month, and nine days ago.

Before visiting Rideau Hall, Trudeau joined his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in walking their three children to school.

Trudeau is then departing for Vancouver, the same city he was in for the 2015 kickoff that resulted in his historic majority victory.

The main opposition party leaders will also address the media from strategically selected locations across the country where they will respond to the election call, and offer their first real campaign messages.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will kick off his first federal election at the helm of his party from Trois-Rivieres, Que. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is also embarking on his first campaign on the federal stage will deliver his response to the election writs being issued from London, Ont.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will speak from her home territory of Victoria, where she’s looking to make big electoral gains; Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will mark his party’s official campaign kickoff for more seats in the province, from Quebec City. People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is beginning the first-ever federal election for his team, from the Toronto area.

Pre-campaign summer posturing

While the official campaign will last just over five weeks, the political positioning for votes has been underway all summer long. Parties have been ramping up their war rooms, testing out partisan attack lines, and unveiling campaign ads and slogans.

With the formal launch, expect the battling for votes to ramp up, more partisan mudslinging, contenders across the country knocking on doors and debating, as well as a daily offering of new platform proposals and policy ideas for Canadians to weigh when deciding who they’ll cast their ballot for.

New elections law, spending rules

Since the 2015 campaign there have been changes to the federal elections law. From new limits on third-party and foreign participation, to new measures aimed at boosting accessibility and voter participation.

There are also new campaign spending limits. Over the election, each registered party can spend approximately $28.1 million, while individual candidates can spend on average $110,000, but it varies depending on the riding. That means — should each party run a full slate of candidates — they can spend a combined total of approximately $65 million. Third-party interest groups have a spending cap at just under $512,000.

Party standings as of dissolution

Heading into the campaign the Liberals hold 177 seats, the Conservatives have 95, the NDP hold 39, the Bloc Quebecois have 10, and the Green Party has two seats. The 42nd Parliament also had eight independents as of dissolution. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government.

11Sep

338 ridings, 40 days, 1 vote: Election campaign kicks off

by admin

OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau has set in motion the 2019 federal election campaign.

On Wednesday morning, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette accepted his request to dissolve the 42nd Parliament, setting in motion Canada’s 43rd federal race, with campaigns in all 338 ridings.

It will be a 40-day race to the ballot box, with all party leaders crisscrossing the country in an effort to pitch themselves, their candidates, and their platforms to Canadians, before election day on Oct. 21.

Speaking to the media outside of Rideau Hall with a backdrop of Liberal supporters, Trudeau took the first opportunity to frame what the election will be about.

“This fall Canadians once again get to vote for the kind of Canada they want to live in. We’ve all got a choice to make, keep moving forward and build on the progress we’ve made, or go back to the politics of the Harper years,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau had a deadline of Sept. 15 to launch the campaign under new time limit rules passed since the last election, which kicked off four years, one month, and nine days ago.

Before visiting Rideau Hall, Trudeau joined his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in walking their three children to school.

This afternoon, Trudeau is departing for Vancouver, the same city he was in for the 2015 kickoff that resulted in his historic majority victory.

The main opposition party leaders also will address the media from strategically-selected locations across the country where they will respond to the election call, and offer their first real campaign messages.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will kick off his first federal election at the helm of his party from Trois-Rivieres, Que. Instead of flying directly in, however, fog has forced his plane to fly into Quebec City first, and the campaign will then travel by bus to the rally location. Before boarding his campaign plane in Ottawa ahead of the formal election call, Scheer took aim at Trudeau over the latest development in the SNC-Lavalin scandal. A new report in The Globe and Mail that published on the eve of the election call citing unnamed sources said the government has not lifted cabinet confidentiality for all witnesses, which has limited the RCMP’s examination of potential obstruction of justice in the handling of the Quebec construction and engineering firm’s prosecution.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is also embarking on his first campaign on the federal stage, will deliver his response to the election writs being issued from London, Ont. where he has already disembarked his campaign bus and was greeted by supporters.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will speak from her home territory of Victoria, where she’s looking to make big electoral gains; Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will mark his party’s official campaign kickoff for more seats in the province, from Quebec City. People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is beginning the first ever federal election for his team, from the Toronto area.   

The latest Nanos Research numbers show that the Liberals have a slight lead heading into the campaign, sitting at 34.6 per cent in the polls. The Conservatives have 30.7, the NDP are at 16.6, Greens are at 11 per cent, the Bloc Quebecois have 4 per cent, and the People’s Party are sitting at 1 per cent.

“We’ve got a tight race. There’s no majority government in sight right now, and it’s anyone’s game,” said pollster Nik Nanos.

Pre-campaign summer posturing

While the official campaign will last just over five weeks, the political positioning for votes has been underway all summer long. Parties have been ramping up their war rooms, testing out partisan attack lines, and unveiling campaign ads and slogans.

With the formal launch, expect the battling for votes to ramp up, more partisan mudslinging, contenders across the country knocking on doors and debating, as well as a daily offering of new platform proposals and policy ideas for Canadians to weigh when deciding who they’ll cast their ballot for.

New elections law, spending rules

Since the 2015 campaign there have been changes to the federal elections law. From new limits on third-party and foreign participation, to new measures aimed at boosting accessibility and voter participation.

There are also new campaign spending limits. Over the election, each registered party can spend approximately $28.1 million, while individual candidates can spend on average $110,000, but it varies depending on the riding. That means — should each party run a full slate of candidates — they can spend a combined total of approximately $65 million. Third-party interest groups have a spending cap at just under $512,000.

Party standings as of dissolution

Heading into the campaign the Liberals hold 177 seats, the Conservatives have 95, the NDP hold 39, the Bloc Quebecois have 10, and the Green Party has two seats. The 42nd Parliament also had eight independents as of dissolution. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government.

 

13Jul

Updated voting technologies coming to B.C., likely in time for next provincial election | CBC News

by admin

A new, modernized voting system will likely be in place when British Columbians cast their ballots in the next provincial general election.

Elections BC received a letter July 3 from Attorney General David Eby, indicating the province’s intention to introduce the legislative changes aimed at increasing accessibility and efficiency come election day.

“Should voting modernization be adopted, it will improve the voting experience for British Columbians, make voting faster, improve accessibility, speed up results, and provide candidates with current participation information to assist them in their efforts to get out the vote,” said Anton Boegman, B.C.’s chief electoral officer, in a news release Thursday.

The proposed changes include:

  • Being able to vote at any polling place in the province.
  • All votes, including absentee ballots to be counted on election night.
  • Voting activity recorded in an electronic voting book covering the entire province, for faster ballot counting.
  • Participation captured in real-time, electronically, with votes uploaded to central servers.
  • Uploaded votes to be instantly shared with candidates and political parties. 

The new technologies would also increase accessibility for voters with disabilities by way of updated assistive voting devices.

The goal is for the new systems to be in place for B.C.’s next scheduled general election on Oct. 16, 2021.

The estimated cost to develop and implement the proposed voting model in B.C. is $11 million.

If the Legislative Assembly adopts the amendments, it would be the most significant update to voting procedures in at least 20 years, according to Boegman.


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16Nov

Vote No campaign calls to extend election reform vote due to low voter turnout

by admin

The deadline for the referendum on electoral reform is in two weeks and, as the debate between first-past-the-post and proportional representation rages, some are calling for an extension.

The Vote No campaign has raised concerns about the referendum, saying an extension is needed because of the potential for low voter turnout and mail delivery disruption from the Canada Post strike.

“There are a lot of reasons for Elections B.C. to take action,” said Bill Tieleman, president of the No B.C. Proportional Representation Society.

His main concern is that, without a deadline extension, there simply won’t be enough votes on the issue.

As of Friday, less than 20 per cent of the ballots had been received by Election B.C. They are currently due on Nov. 30.

Less than 20 per cent of ballots have been received by Elections B.C. so far 9:50

“The volume of ballots to come anywhere close to 50 per cent would have to be massive, and there’s just no indication that is what is going on,” he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition.

The high point of voter turnout is currently about 16 per cent in some ridings, Tieleman said, but that falls to as low as one-and-half per cent in others.

“We could have an extremely small fraction of people deciding what is really fundamental in our democracy — how we elect our representatives,” he said.

Whether B.C. voters cast ballots in the future for individuals, political parties or a mix will be determined in November’s mail-in referendum. (CBC)

Voter turnout

Previous referendums in B.C., like those on the electoral system in 2005 and 2009 or on the harmonized sale tax in 2011, all had a voter turnout of more than 50 per cent.

However, There is no minimum voter participation threshold for any referendum.

“As it is with every election, it’s the voters who turn out who get to decide,” said Bowinn Ma, an NDP MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale.

She’s an advocate for proportional representation in the hopes that it will increase voter turnout.  

“We’ve had abysmal voter turnout in elections in general which is why I’m so excited about proportional representation,” Ma said.  

“Generally, when we’re talking about voter response, it ultimately comes down to whether a  voter feels like the vote is important to them.”

Lack of engagement

Lack of voter engagement is at the heart of the matter, according to University of the Fraser Valley political science professor Hamish Telford.

“It doesn’t seem to me like there’s an overwhelming engagement on this issue,” Telford told Michelle Eliot, host of B.C. Today.

“That’s, I think, indicative of the very low return rate of the ballots so far … It may be the case that some people are either still deliberating or may be sitting on their ballots because of the postal worker issue.”

Elections B.C. says it is monitoring the Canada Post situation and, if there are significant delays or impacts on accessibility, extending the voting period is a possibility.

University of the Fraser Valley political science professor Hamish Telford on the proportional referendum and extending the deadline. Jake Fry, co-founder, Small Housing BC, and Rebecca Chaster, community planner at the City of Coquitlam, on tiny homes. 50:58

With files from The Early Edition and B.C. Today.


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11Oct

Vancouver Election: 8 hot topics and where mayoral candidates stand

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Vancouver residents will choose a new mayor and council in the Oct. 20 election. To help voters choose among an unusually high number of candidates, city columnist Dan Fumano has compiled brief summaries on where they stand on key issues facing the city. The following responses were submitted by seven top mayoral candidates (presented in alphabetical order) and four parties running council candidates, and have been edited for clarity and length.


Clockwise from top left: David Chen, Hector Bremner, Fred Harding, Ken Sim, Wai Young, Shauna Sylvester and Kennedy Stewart.

PNG

Housing Affordability

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): Vancouver’s current plan is 91 years old and does not allow modern forms of housing in 75 per cent of the city. Vancouver is way behind comparable cities in terms of process and technology. Yes Vancouver wants to revolutionize the way housing is planned, zoned and approved in Vancouver.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Require 50 per cent rentals for all new builds, use rental-only zoning around transit corridors, build larger temporary modular housing units to accommodate families, switch co-ops to five-year automatic renewals after first 50 years, build more co-ops and social housing. Fix maximum social housing rents at 30 per cent of median area household pre-tax income.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st is committed to building affordable rental housing on city-owned land that will be targeted at costing the tenants monthly rents of $400, $900 and $1,300, for a bachelor, one- and two-bedroom unit, respectively.

Ken Sim (NPA): We need solutions that will make an impact immediately to relieve pressure on limited supply. That’s why the NPA would immediately allow two secondary suites in every detached home — of which there are around 40,000 in Vancouver. The NPA would also build dedicated rental buildings on city-owned land, fast-track housing for those who need it most, and clean up the development approval process.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): We need housing that’s affordable for everyone. My platform includes building 85,000 homes over the next 10 years, including 25,000 affordable, non-profit run rental units, 25,000 market rental units, and 35,000 new condominiums, coach houses, and townhouses. I’ll also streamline the development process for purpose-built rental, and create a new renters’ advocate office.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): We can’t rest until we have a three per cent rental vacancy rate and the price per square foot for housing is a better match with typical wages. I will support more purpose-built housing to create thriving neighbourhoods for children, working professionals, seniors and businesses by using City resources, renewing leases on all co-ops, and encouraging purpose-built housing through faster permitting and fee waivers.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Coalition Vancouver will not sell one square inch of city land. To decrease pressure we will allow one additional rental unit per home. Longer term we will focus on purpose-built rental buildings and co-ops. Alongside rentals and co-ops, we have a plan to build entry-level homes intended to be within reach for millennials.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): Over the past year Jean Swanson and COPE have been building a movement for a Rent Freeze, helping to reduce the 4.5 per cent rent increase for 2019. COPE will use all city powers to protect renters and small business tenants, and will tax mansions over $5 million to end homelessness in one year and build city-owned non-market rental housing in subsequent years.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will amend Vancouver’s Charter to recognize the right to housing, and redefine affordability in bylaws to be 30 per cent of income. We will set a goal of 50 per cent below-market-rate housing for new multi-residential developments and launch a city-funded, city-built housing program on city-owned land. We will change bylaws to enable affordable construction, encourage secondary suites and fast-track permits for affordable housing.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will speed up permits, zone to allow more housing options and deliver more city-built affordable housing, including co-ops, as part of a comprehensive plan for 88,000 new homes over 10 years. Vision’s school board candidates are working to pilot housing for teachers.

OneCity: OneCity believes housing is a human right. We are committed to renewing co-op leases and supporting more co-ops and co-housing. OneCity will utilize rental-only zoning and incentivize purpose-built rental housing across the city, attentive to the needs of urban Indigenous people, seniors, families, people with accessibility requirements, pet owners, and more. OneCity will strengthen tenant protections and build 25,000 truly affordable non-market housing units.

 

MORE ABOUT HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

Cost of owning a home in Vancouver, Victoria ‘off the charts’ — and likely to get worse, warns RBC

Fixing affordability: Mayoral candidates in Burnaby, Vancouver and on the North Shore have plenty of ideas

Elizabeth Murphy: City’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable


Empty Homes Tax

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): While the tax is generating some revenue for social housing, the 25,000 homes that were apparently empty have not materialized and local residents are being trapped in complex and invasive audits. Yes Vancouver wants to review it and focus on building middle-class housing.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Modify the tax to have a laser focus on speculators. Increase the tax on a graduated scale, heavily increasing for properties over $5 million. Credits would be graduated, so that after 20 years of living in the home, the tax would be zero for residents who have lived in their community for close to a generation.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st has pledged to remove the empty homes tax, saying it is ineffective and punishes those it was not intended to tax. Vancouver 1st has also pledged to file a lawsuit against the NDP government to fight and end the new school tax surcharge on properties valued at more than $3 million.

Ken Sim (NPA): The idea that we can tax our way out of this housing crisis is wishful thinking. A much better approach is to bring new units on to the market right away — which the NPA will do by allowing two secondary suites in every detached home – while working on further increasing supply in a way that does not destroy neighbourhoods.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I would triple the empty homes tax. We need to take tough measures to fight the speculation that is rampant in our city and protect our local housing market from global financial forces and speculators. Homes need to be used for housing people, not sitting empty as speculative investments.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I would triple it. Housing is more than an asset class, and we can’t afford to let desperately needed real estate sit there unused because someone wants to park their cash here without contributing to our community. Tripling the Empty Homes Tax will help ensure homes are used to house people, not to make a speculative investment.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): This was a poorly designed tax and poorly implemented. It would be something we would address in office. Simply repealing it would be reckless at this delicate stage in the housing market cycle.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE was the first to propose the Empty Homes Property Tax in the 2014 civic elections. Other parties said it wasn’t possible, but now it’s common sense. COPE’s proposal included extending the tax to vacant commercial properties and empty lots. We support increasing the tax and targeting all revenues toward city-owned non-market housing.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will not remove the empty home tax, but will further clarify rules regarding exceptions. Pending a full report after the first year of implementation, we may consider increasing it. We will develop a strategy to expand the empty home tax to include commercial storefronts as a measure to reduce vacancies and prevent the hollowing out of commercial streets.

Vision Vancouver: Vision wants to triple the empty homes tax, from one per cent to three per cent, to get more people into vacant homes, to crack down on speculation that’s driving prices up, and to put more money into affordable housing initiatives in every neighbourhood.

OneCity: OneCity supports increasing the Empty Homes Tax, to ensure that homes in Vancouver are for living in, not just for investing in.

 

MORE ABOUT HOUSING TAXES

Most Vancouverites support Empty Homes Tax, housing strategy: new poll

Vancouver’s empty homes tax generates $30M in revenue in first year

More than 2,000 homeowners to be taxed under Vancouver’s empty homes tax


Housing Density

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): Yes Vancouver appreciates the angst about the recent rezoning of single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes. Coun. Bremner voted for it as density was kept within the current limits for homes with basement suites and laneway houses, so this is not a big change. It allows for more affordable home ownership options in Vancouver beyond multi-million-dollar houses.

David Chen (ProVancouver): ProVancouver opposes the city’s recent rezoning of single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes. There was insufficient community consultation, and no community plan was done. Most of Vancouver’s sewer, water, electrical grid and street widths were based on single-family homes with low density. Increasing density without upgrading infrastructure and amenities first isn’t smart.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Density must be undertaken mindfully. Vancouver 1st is pledging to revoke Vision’s misguided mass rezoning policy to allow duplexes (in single-family neighbourhoods). Vancouver 1st has also committed to developing a comprehensive official city plan so that there is a clear and transparent plan with a new core of density to be established in South Vancouver.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA agrees in principle with adding more housing for the “missing middle.” But the move by a lame-duck administration to mass re-zone much of the city to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods isn’t just bad for democracy, it’s bad policy. We need to have proper city-wide planning that respects individual neighbourhoods. And we need to be more transparent about decisions at City Hall.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Council’s recent decision to rezone single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes was of such magnitude that it should have been left for the next council. That said, building duplexes brings more affordable options for first-time homebuyers while retaining neighbourhood character. I would expand opportunities for ground-oriented housing in our least dense neighbourhoods.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): While I support gentle densification, we need to make sure that any changes have the support of the people who live in that area. Homeowners who want to add affordable units should get faster permitting and fee waivers, and we need to complete neighbourhood plans for the 75 per cent of neighbourhoods that don’t have one so we can move quickly.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): We are against the Making Room Policy passed by council (allowing duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods). We will repeal it. There is not a housing shortage, there is an affordable housing shortage. This policy perpetuates the problem. We will ensure every neighbourhood is consulted before reckless policies like this one are passed. We will focus on purpose-built rental housing and co-ops.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE opposed the rezoning (to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods) because there’s no city protection for tenants in these areas, some of which include a majority of renters. The duplex zoning doesn’t provide housing for people earning under $50,000 a year, and will likely trigger speculation. COPE supports density in neighbourhoods that have not taken their fair share of rental and social housing.

Green Party of Vancouver: Green Coun. Adriane Carr voted against rezoning (to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods) because of the lack of prior public consultation regarding this city-wide rezoning, plus the simplistic focus on one housing form that may escalate land prices, and the threat of tear-downs and loss of currently affordable housing, was unsupportable. Greens support a comprehensive city-wide plan, co-developed with residents.

Vision Vancouver: Vision supports duplexes in single-family areas. We are committed to implementing the Making Room initiative and creating even more affordable housing options, including opening low-density neighbourhoods for townhouses, low-rise apartments, and other forms of housing that support affordable options for renters and families looking for affordable ownership opportunities.

OneCity: We imagine a Vancouver with more balance in housing options, including apartments, social and supportive housing, multiplexes, and co-ops in all parts of the city. However, unrestrained development will not fix the housing crisis. That is why we will prioritize affordable housing options, because people of all income levels should have access to good schools, transit, jobs, and green spaces.

 

MORE ABOUT HOUSING DENSITY

Developers, candidates and planners argue over Vancouver’s move to allow duplexes

Growth, density lead the debate in most council races in Metro Vancouver

Reilly Wood: Density in single-family zones will be huge Vancouver election issue

New report suggests Vancouver’s density could handle more people and housing


Overdose Crisis

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): We need to reinvest in the Four Pillars office at City Hall and Yes Vancouver will support programs that replace street drugs with safer alternatives so long as it moves people to care and long-term treatment. No-barrier housing is critical to this, therefore Yes Vancouver will ensure significant investment in this area.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Increase the amount of temporary modular housing and push to decriminalize drug use as in the Netherlands. ProVancouver would also employ other streams of therapy like Beauty Night Society’s long-standing method of building self-esteem through wellness, life skills and makeovers.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st will focus on treatment and rehabilitation. We intend to build a state-of-the-art mental care facility on city property with more than enough beds for today and tomorrow, because so much of addiction and street living is caused by an inadequacy in mental health services. Vision and the NDP have failed these people.

Ken Sim (NPA): An NPA working group is seeking new ideas to tackle homelessness, the opioid crisis, and mental health. We also need to get needles off our streets and out of our parks. Three hundred dirty needles a month are picked up at Andy Livingstone Park, which is also a playground for Crosstown Elementary School.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I would form an emergency task force to work with the community to improve the health and quality of life of Downtown Eastside residents. The task force will focus on preventing more deaths from fentanyl, negotiating a new Vancouver Agreement to foster greater cooperation between all levels of government, supporting front-line workers and identifying substance substitution programs.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): We have allowed the opioid poisoning crisis to get worse by inaction towards addressing addiction issues through a comprehensive public health approach. My strategy supports the proven Four Pillars approach, community support models, comprehensive care access, and collaboration with senior levels of government. We need to move beyond misinformation, discrimination, stigma, and fear and deliver empathetic and effective responses.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): This is a heartbreaking issue and it affects many more families than most people understand. I lost a son to this very crisis. We have a plan, to be released soon, to approach this from a new perspective that has never been tried before.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE will advocate for senior governments to decriminalize drugs and to ensure access to safe, clean and free drugs so people who use drugs don’t have to die. The city can also put oxygen tanks in community centres to help revive people who overdose and can fund community groups who support harm reduction and ending stigma against drug users.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will call on the federal government to decriminalize drug possession in order to treat addiction as a health issue. This means displacing the poisoned drug supply with clean drugs to be administered under medical supervision as the first step to treatment. We will push for more treatment beds and a comprehensive strategy including long-term treatment and stable housing.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will build on the City’s integrated opioid response plan by championing new Overdose Prevention Sites in supportive housing, an Opioid Crisis Fund to support first responders, a renewed focus on mental health and addiction, the decriminalization of drug possession in small amounts while getting tougher on trafficking, de-stigmatization and prevention among kids, and clean, prescription options for people suffering from addiction.

OneCity: OneCity believes that the “war on drugs” has failed, resulting in disproportionately high incarceration rates in Indigenous and black communities and an epidemic of overdose deaths. We support evidence-based, public-health solutions that address the root causes of the overdose crisis, including decriminalizing all drugs, and taking a housing-first approach. We will strengthen supports for front line responders, expand city-wide needle collection and advocate for more provincial and federal supports.

 

MORE ABOUT OVERDOSE CRISIS

Portugal’s Addiction Fix: A series by Daphne Bramham

Peer workers on DTES overdose crisis front lines need support, say experts

Jordan Westfall: Getting us out of the overdose epidemic will require bold action from government

B.C.’s two largest health boards offer new addictions services to address overdose crisis


Broadway Subway

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The plan must include housing and jobs along the line that can both ensure this major investment is capitalized on and funded. That includes looking to UBC and ensuring we have a plan to unlock equity in the surrounding area to help generate funds to complete the line.

David Chen (ProVancouver): If the money is there and the deal is done, it should go to UBC. Stopping at Arbutus is illogical. For a more affordable option, switching to hydrogen fuel cell electric buses will keep costs down, increase capacity without trolley wires, and empty buses won’t impede full buses. The hydrogen fuel cell can be swapped out faster than recharging times needed for battery-powered buses.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st wants the subway to go all the way to UBC. The party wants a bored  tunnel; not cut-and-cover. Because it’s going to be going to UBC, which will benefit greatly from it, it should pay in a suitable portion of the final bill.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA is 100 per cent in favour of the Broadway subway. It should go all the way to UBC. But we need a solid plan with UBC and TransLink to get us there. Too many billions are wasted because politicians make big promises before the details are ready.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I support SkyTrain along Broadway to UBC. We need to invest in our transit infrastructure, but we need partners to make this happen. I would work hard to secure federal, provincial, and UBC funding to extend SkyTrain along the Broadway corridor to the university.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I’m committed to working with all levels of government and partners to ensure we build the Broadway Subway all the way to UBC. We can’t create a choke hold at Arbutus. UBC represents a key economic centre and a major employer. Once we have started the digging process we need to complete the extension to UBC.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Coalition Vancouver is in favour of the subway extension all the way to UBC. We want to decrease the number of cars on the road, reduce pollution, and reduce congestion. Alongside what will be an extensive cut-and-cover building operation, we are also committed to helping businesses deal during the construction phase.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): Vancouver needs a drastic expansion of rapid transit and buses, but transit must be affordable. COPE has a plan for a “U-Pass for the working class,” which includes free transit for kids and low-income transit users, and $41-a-month U-Pass for middle-income Vancouverites, taking 40,000 cars off the road. This program could be fully funded by Vancouver’s portion of B.C.’s recently announced carbon tax increase.

Green Party of Vancouver: The Greens would not seek to change the plan for the Broadway Subway to Arbutus, which is supported by regional mayors and significantly funded by senior governments — both of which are hard to get. Greens will push to protect businesses, heritage buildings and rental housing along the route, reduce the $500 million projected cost overrun and require studies to ensure the best transit options city-wide.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will fight to get the Broadway Subway built all the way to UBC, to improve commutes, reduce congestion, and make life better. We will make sure Vancouver seizes this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our transportation infrastructure, boost our local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

OneCity: OneCity supports more robust, affordable and accessible public transit in every part of Vancouver. We support the Broadway Subway plan, and will work with the Province and UBC to ensure it goes all the way to UBC. In addition, we support the #AllOnBoard campaign’s call for free transit for children and youth under 18, and a sliding scale monthly pass system based on income.

 

MORE ABOUT TRANSPORTATION

Metro Vancouverites set Broadway SkyTrain extension as a top transit priority: survey

Vaughn Palmer: Broadway Subway’s half-a-billion dollar a kilometre estimate fraught with risk

New subway will transform Vancouver’s Broadway corridor


Governance

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The electoral system is fine, Yes Vancouver says, we just need to stop passing decision-making to only two core groups: left and right, or Vision and the NPA. We need fresh perspectives that come from outside the status quo political thinking.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Before tinkering with established electoral systems, we need to work on reconnecting city hall to the people. Committed to holding town hall meetings once a year in all 23 sub-districts of Vancouver as  two-way, face-to-face communication between the residents and council.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st wants more voices added to the debates.The province’s new election finance laws have stifled discourse by handcuffing candidates. Vancouver 1st wants more millennials out there participating, not just voting.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA says it is worried about the impact that secret money has had on this election. Labour groups paid for 100,000 flyers promoting Kennedy Stewart, and four full-time union staff are working to support Stewart and the rest of the labour council’s endorsed candidates, without being required to count it as part of his campaign expenses. We need to re-think the new electoral finance rules.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): We need to end anonymous advertising. Candidates and third-parties need to disclose donations. Our current at-large system lacks community representation. I promise this election will be the last under this system. Voters need to have confidence that city staff and politicians don’t have conflicts of interest. I will prohibit elected officials and key staff from accepting government contracts or lobbying for 12 months after leaving.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): My platform proposes a new Hybrid Ward system where five City Council members are elected to represent specific wards in the city, and five are elected to represent the city at-large to ensure that Council pays attention to local communities while still deciding on larger city-wide issues. I will also use my experience with facilitation to build a culture of collaboration and cooperation on council.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): We have to get big money out of politics. Unions, developers and big business have been shaping policies for years and even this very election. This is wrong. With no ties to special interest groups, we will ensure that our electoral system is fair and operates in a way that benefits the very people we are meant to serve.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE has been fighting for a ward system for over 40 years because the current at-large voting system benefits parties with big money funding and makes it nearly impossible for neighbourhood activists to be elected. Wards can be introduced by a simple majority vote at city council. It may also be possible to introduce proportional representation in Vancouver, especially if the November referendum supports PR.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will require more transparency in budgeting and negotiations with developers, new guidelines for public engagement and more efficient permitting. We will increase access to Council with regular “open mic” sessions. We will push the province to amend local election financing legislation to close loopholes, cap donations and ban corporate and union donations all the time, not just in election years.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will take action to ensure residents are part of decision-making. We would call a Citizens Assembly on Local Election Reform to focus on these issues. In addition, Vision will improve inclusion by prioritizing engagement with people who are underrepresented in decision-making, including millennials, newcomers and urban Indigenous people.

OneCity: We support Vancouver’s 2017 Independent Election Task Force recommendation that the City convene a citizens assembly to make recommendations on switching to a proportional election system. Adopting a proportional election system would better reflect how Vancouverites cast their votes, and would create more diverse and representative city councils.

 

MORE ABOUT GOVERNANCE

New advertising rules kick in with start of municipal election period


Walking and biking

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The politics over the last 10 years have been very divisive as we were not allowed the housing forms we need to support active transportation, but good transportation and good planning are linked. We need a city plan that people feel engaged in to build a Vancouver that makes them less reliant on a car.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Bike lanes are needed, but not on arterial routes. Idling cars create worse exhaust than cars moving from start to destination. All future bike infrastructure would be part of the complete community plan that includes planning recommendations, community and user input.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st believes cycling routes on the side streets should remain, and that all other cycling routes should be seasonal, with two exceptions: the West 10th Avenue cycling route in front of the hospital should be removed and the Adanac Overpass should be reopened to all traffic.

Ken Sim (NPA): Over the last 20 years our streets have gotten more congested, even though the number of cars hasn’t changed much. Bike lanes are important, and the NPA supports them, but there are some cases where bike lanes may be in the wrong places, such as near hospital entrances. The NPA will also review barriers to traffic flow, because we are all suffering from poor planning decisions.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Bike lanes are key to reducing road congestion. I support separated bike lanes as a way to encourage more people to cycle, and keep them safe. Ensuring people can afford to live close to where they work is the best way to encourage active transportation, and when we expand infrastructure we need to do it in a way that keeps all modes of transport moving.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I support the expansion of the City’s bicycle infrastructure. Having separated bike lanes is a safety issue. I support making cycling infrastructure safe for children, families, and seniors who might not otherwise feel comfortable using it. I commit to updating the Mayors’ Council Transportation 2040 Plan to increase the target for share of trips by bike from 12 per cent to 25 per cent.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): No new separated bike lanes unless one is removed from some place else. That said, we love intelligent bike lanes, just not bike lanes intentionally placed to obstruct traffic. We will audit all bike lanes for use and effectiveness. Common sense solutions, and we will get Vancouver moving again.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): The expansion of bike lanes increased dramatically starting in 1998 under the advocacy of COPE city councillor and climate scientist Fred Bass. COPE will continue to strongly support expansion of cycling and pedestrian safety infrastructure because these measures get people out of cars and are essential components in fighting climate change.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will aim to make Vancouver the most walkable city in North America. We support the expansion of Vancouver’s bicycle infrastructure, but would like to see improvements including connecting routes to increase efficiency; promoting safe cycling in public schools; a clear cost reckoning of city-subsidized bike share; and slower, safer residential streets with a mandated 30k speed limit.

Vision Vancouver: Vision supports protected bike lanes that keep people safe. Under Vision, Vancouver has seen tremendous growth in cycling in our city, especially among women and children. This is good for people’s health and the environment. Vision will continue to lead on active transportation by widening sidewalks and by expanding bike share in Vancouver.

OneCity: OneCity supports making the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users a priority. We will also initiate a city-wide accessibility audit and increase the city budget for curb ramps. OneCity believes a city that works for eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds is a better place for all.

 

MORE ABOUT WALKING AND BIKING

Cyclists blame drivers, drivers blame cyclists, but a majority of Vancouverites support bike lanes: survey

Decision on proposed bike lane through Kits beach park postponed


Taxation

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): We need to conduct a review to ensure we are spending taxpayer dollars wisely, implement a new city plan that unlocks new revenue streams, and split residential from commercial (small business) and non-profit property assessments. This would level out tax increases and get us back on to a healthy financial track.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Lowering taxes without lowering expenses leads to deficits, borrowing and increased liability on the tax payer. A complete audit of the finances, core review and private contracts review needs to be done along with a switch from in-kind development amenity transfers to cash-only to normalize finances, then lower taxes if possible.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Residential taxes for seniors will be frozen and reduced. An ombudsman for business will be set up to address on a case-by-case basis taxes paid by shopkeepers. Property taxes will be reviewed, and Vancouver 1st  aims to significant cut property tax cuts as Vancouver’s fiscal situation is turned around.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA goal is to cap property tax increases to the rate of inflation. Right now, residents are seeing increases that are too high, without a corresponding increase in services. We will also do a much-needed full review of all the programs and policies at City Hall to find efficiencies. I think we’ll find a lot of room for improvement.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Tax policies would remain about the same if I were mayor. I have met with local business improvement associations and understand their concerns. I am committed to conducting a review of all city policies that impact small business, including taxation and permitting, to help support and grow our neighbourhood-based economy.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I will call for the appointment of a Small Business Ombudsperson. I also commit to delivering a financial report to the public on where tax revenue has been spent within 100 days as mayor to inform discussion about taxation. I’m also looking at working with B.C. Assessment and the provincial government to create a new assessment category for small businesses.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Immediately, city taxes and fees will be lowered. We will be ordering a full forensic review of the city’s books and be requesting that every department outside of sanitation find a five per cent reduction in costs.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE believes in progressive property tax, with a higher rate on more expensive properties. The Mansion Tax is a progressive tax whose revenues will be targeted to build modular and non-market housing. COPE will protect small neighbourhood businesses by seeking to establish progressive tax brackets for small, medium and large businesses.

Green Party of Vancouver: Residents can expect taxes to stay relatively the same. They can also expect more transparency, with detailed line items on city budgets — so that taxpayers know their money is being well-spent. We would seek to lighten the tax load for business through split assessment and targeted property tax reductions for long-term independently owned neighbourhood small businesses.

Vision Vancouver: Under Vision, council invested in priorities and public services that matter to people while balancing budgets. This approach has served people well. One provincial tax change we do want fixed is how small businesses are assessed at the much higher rate of a potential condo development. This is unfair for businesses and needs to be fixed.

OneCity: OneCity is proposing a Land Value Tax to dampen speculation while ensuring that real increases in land value create benefits for everyone. Revenue raised will fund affordable housing and expanded public transit. We will also work to make arts and cultural spaces affordable through a targeted tax exemption, and will support local businesses by creating a new classification of tax rates that differentiate between local independent businesses and chain stores.

 

MORE ABOUT TAXATION

Vancouver mayoral candidate pitches new tax rate to help small business

Christine Boyle and Brandon Yan: A land value capture tax allows us to dream big

How do your taxes and user fees compare to neighbouring cities? And how much more are you paying since the last election?



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29Sep

Surrey anti-crime group alleges absentee-ballot election fraud scheme

by admin





Sukhi Sandhu, an organizer with Wake Up Surrey, said his group was informed of a voter-fraud scheme ahead of the Oct. 20 municipal elections. Surrey RCMP have been notified.



Sukhi Sandhu / Facebook

A Surrey anti-crime group has filed complaints of an alleged election-fraud scheme targeting South Asian voters in the city which sought to increase the number of absentee ballots cast this election more than 30-fold.

In letters addressed to the Surrey RCMP and to Elections B.C., Wake Up Surrey alleges there has been a “well-coordinated election fraud scheme underway within the South Asian community” ahead of the Oct. 20 municipal elections.

The groups claims that absentee ballots are being fraudulently used and votes are being bought.

Wake Up Surrey believes that one or more political parties are behind the scheme, which involves requesting absentee ballots for voters and casting them without their knowledge, or obtaining absentee ballots from voters and either filling them in for them and forging their signatures, or telling them how to vote.

The group claims the political party (or parties) orchestrating the scheme are also paying voters to cast a vote for a specific candidate.

Sukhi Sandhu, an organizer with Wake Up Surrey, said his group was informed of the scheme by people who had been told by employers and business owners to each collect detailed personal information from 25 people in order to obtain their mail-in ballots.

Sandhu said 600 “poll captains” were asked to make the lists of 25 voters, so that an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 mail-in ballots could be cast for a single candidate, he added.

It would be a drastic increase over the number of mail-in ballots usually cast.

In order to vote by mail, a Surrey resident has to complete an application (available online) and mail, fax or deliver it in person to city hall.

They must make a declaration they have a physical disability, illness or injury that affects their ability to vote, or expect to be absent from Surrey on Oct. 20 and during advance voting. Their ballot is then mailed to them or they can pick it up at city hall.

Voter data from the 2014 municipal election shows that just 459 special-voting (mail-in) ballots were cast. It is unclear how many of the ballots have been requested to date.

Spokesman Oliver Lum said the City of Surrey is aware of the allegations and its chief electoral officer will be commenting further on Monday.

Sandhu said some of the people who were approached about casting absentee ballots will be filing complaints with police in the coming days. A Surrey RCMP spokesman not briefed on details of the allegations couldn’t confirm before deadline Saturday whether an investigation had been launched, but Global News and News 1130 reported the detachment has opened a case.

Sandhu said Wake Up Surrey has identified at least one political campaign linked to the scheme but said he would leave it to the RCMP to confirm that campaign’s identity. His group is not endorsing any candidate or party in the election, he said.

“Immediately when it came to our attention, we looked at the evidence and found that it was credible,” Sandhu said. “We felt a moral duty as Canadian citizens to phone the police and the chief electoral officer.”

Sandhu said his group and South Asian media have been intimidated and slandered by powerful groups who oppose their calls to expose and fight corruption, and said some are motivated by financial reasons to influence the election.

“This is not only voter suppression but it is also disrespecting voters in our community, thinking of them as illiterate,” he said.

Sandhu is a well-connected businessman and longtime community activist in Surrey regarded as a backroom player by politicians hoping to get support among South Asian voters. He worked on Dianne Watts’s recent bid for the B.C. Liberals leadership but left her campaign after he claimed she was not connecting with B.C.’s South Asian community.

Four parties running candidates in Surrey have issued news releases condemning the alleged voter fraud and supporting Wake Up Surrey’s effort to expose it, including Safe Surrey Coalition, Integrity Now, People First and Proudly Surrey.

But People First also criticized Wake Up Surrey’s release of the allegations to media, which the party believes will “help the culprits to hide their tracks,” and which “casts a shadow of doubt and shame on the South Asian community,” its news release said.

Proudly Surrey candidate Pauline Greaves is calling for an immediate suspension of all mail-in voting.

— With files from Mike Smyth

[email protected]

twitter.com/nickeagland


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