By Doreen Marion Gee
When you choose a path for Canada's future in the federal election on October 21, your one vote could change the course of history. Never underestimate your power at the voting booth. It is all up to you.
In our federal election coverage, we asked the same two important questions to all of the candidates in Victoria that are running for office:
1. Why should we vote for you?
2. What is your position on Universal Pharmacare?
Laurel Collins, New Democratic Party
1. As a City Councillor, I hear from people every day about how life is getting harder and everything is getting more expensive. From the cost of housing to prescription drugs, people in our community are struggling just to get by. Over the past four years, we’ve seen Justin Trudeau talk a good game, but he just hasn’t delivered. Meanwhile, the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer want to give tax cuts to the richest corporations, while cutting the services you count on. That’s why I was so disappointed when Elizabeth May said she would prop up a minority Conservative government.
The NDP has a bold plan to make life better for you and your family. Our New Deal for People will make much needed investments and create 500,000 new affordable housing units. We will take real action to address the climate crisis by investing $15 billion to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and create good jobs for hardworking families. If elected, I promise that, like Murray Rankin, I’ll be on your side and I will fight hard every day for the things that matter most.
2. Too many people in our community are having to choose between their medications and putting food on the table or paying rent. This has to change. As New Democrats, we know that we must do better. Under Tommy Douglas, the NDP led the fight to establish universal public health care here in Canada. Today, our party is leading the fight to expand Medicare – to include quality prescription drug coverage for everyone, regardless where you work or how much money you make. If elected, an NDP government will invest $10 billion annually in this program and start working with the provinces immediately because we know that everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care.
Nikki Macdonald, Liberal Party
1. For too long, residents in Victoria have not had a seat at the table, and I believe that I can be that strong voice for our community. Like many in our city, I have long worried about the impacts of climate change on our beautiful city. That is why for the last decade, I have been on the front lines of ocean protection at the University of Victoria and Oceans Network Canada to help find local solutions to local realities and help protect our oceans and its inhabitants for generations to come. This has meant working with amazing researchers to study our local Salish Sea, and find sustainable solutions that support our local economy and protect our environment.
I believe that now is the time for decisive and ambitious leadership on issues that matter most to our communities - issues such as climate change, the rising cost of living, and adequate access to healthcare, and I am the voice to strengthen Victoria's position in Ottawa, and build on the work of the last four years of a Liberal government. My career has spanned the public and private sector, including in Ottawa, working for Prime Minister Chrétien, and now more than ever we need an experienced voice to bring growth and prosperity to Victoria, while shaping more tolerant and respectful politics.
Victoria deserves strong leadership and on October 21st, I hope to earn your vote.
2. Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between paying for prescription drugs and putting food on the table. While Canadians are proud of our healthcare system, too many are still forced to make this difficult decision. In the past four years, the Liberal government created an advisory council on the implementation of National Pharmacare - with a mandate to study, evaluate, and ultimately recommend options on a path forward for Pharmacare that puts Canadians first. Furthermore, the government is also creating a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases to help Canadians get better access to the effective treatment they need.
If I am elected as the Member of Parliament for Victoria, I will fight hard to ensure that every Canadian, including seniors, have access to the drugs they need. A re-elected Liberal Government will work with the provinces on the best way to achieve universal Pharmacare, as one part of a national plan to strengthen medicare.
Racelle Kooy, Green Party
1. As a seasoned chair and facilitator, Racelle Kooy is adept at creating the respectful space for clear dialogue and real engagement. She has often led discussions regarding the harsh realities of natural disasters, polarizing views on energy, housing, women’s rights, resource extraction or language loss, to name a few. Ms. Kooy served as the bilingual co-chair for the Assembly of First Nations, and as lead facilitator for a number of federal ministers, including the Minister of Health as well as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. The first project she managed after graduating with a business degree in tourism from l’Université du Québec à Montreal, was for the Fairmont Hotels in Quebec City. Ms. Kooy successfully engaged with all levels of government, private business, religious orders and the local First Nation- all very indicative of the nature of the work she would continue to excel at for the past 20 years. She has brought a unique Canadian voice to regional, national and global platforms like the Cannes International Film Festival and the inaugural live broadcast launch of Aboriginal People’s Television Network.
Climate action is very real for Racelle Kooy- first as a wildfire evacuee and then by witnessing, month after month, the response of children, feeling the need to organize into climate strikes given their grave concerns for the plight of their future and the planet.
Born and raised in BC, and a member of Samahquam First Nation, Racelle Kooy comes from a commercial fishing family. She is delighted to once again live on the shores of the Salish Sea. She came to Victoria after being displaced by the 2017 wildfires. As Ms. Kooy says, “climate change came knocking at my door in the form of the first of two mega wildfire seasons. Here in Victoria, it’s a privilege to breathe in the ocean air and know that my neighbours include past colleagues and high school friends who have also chosen to call Victoria home.”
Racelle Kooy is the Shadow Cabinet Critic on mental health and addiction. As a community engagement specialist, she understands the multi-layered dynamics of dealing with these complex issues. Her relation to the portfolio is deeply personal as she has lost family members and friends. Ms. Kooy finds Victoria to be a place of stark contrasts. It is where so many, including her now deceased cousin, struggle with homelessness, mental health and addiction. It is also the epicentre of research and pilot projects. She is deeply thankful to the front-line workers on the streets, in the hospitals and institutes. She upholds the Green Party of Canada view that the opioid crisis is a health crisis and not a criminal matter, advocating that it be declared a national emergency.
2. These past months, climate crisis and health were some of the top issues voters raised with Racelle Kooy at the doorstep. The Green Party is known for their thorough climate action plan- but did you know that that they were the first to advocate for Universal Pharmacare?
Racelle Kooy and the Green Party of Canada support the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Health to expand the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of a hospital. Universal Pharmacare is the best way to accomplish both these life-saving and cost-cutting goals.
As critical steps in renewing the federal government's social contract with all Canadians, the Green Party of Canada will expand the single-payer Medicare model to include Pharmacare for everyone as well as free dental care for low-income Canadians. In addition, they will create a bulk drug purchasing agency and reduce drug patent protection periods.
Richard Caron, Conservative Party
1. I am running to ensure a bright future for my children, and for all Canadians. I am working to represent our community of Victoria and to bring our voice to the table in Ottawa. As a busy chef and married father of two young boys, I have not been politically involved until now. But over the past four years I have been drawn to the positive Conservative vision for Canada and what it means for young families like mine. Justin Trudeau has not delivered. He promised Canadians opportunities, lower taxes, and a better life. Four years later, we are facing uncertainty, a loss of standing on the world stage, and an affordability crisis. And I am not alone - from coast to coast, people are joining the Conservative Party, and we are out-fundraising the other federal parties.
Only the Conservatives can defeat Justin Trudeau. A vote for the NDP or the Greens is a vote for another four years of corrupt Liberals.
I am a chef who has worked in kitchens since the age of 17: I’m no stranger to hard work and long hours. I’m in it to win it. I am so dedicated to this philosophy that I tattooed it on my arm: “You play to win the game!”
2. Conservatives believe that every Canadian should have reasonable access to the healthcare they need. According to the Conference Board of Canada, 98% of Canadians currently have or qualify for a prescription drug plan, but we understand that some Canadians struggle to afford their medications. The Conservatives have committed to maintain and increase the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST) by at least 3% per year. Under a new Conservative government, Canadians will be able to count on stable and predictable health and social program funding. It is critical for Canadians to have confidence that these programs will be there for them when they need them.
The Liberals have been promising a Pharmacare plan for decades and have done absolutely nothing about it. It was in their 1997 election platform and was again promised in 2004. There is no reason to believe this time will be any different. It is clear that the Liberals would have to drastically raise taxes in order to carry out the recommendations of the government-funded Hoskins’ Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
Alyson Culbert, People's Party of Canada
1. I am a business woman who owns a daycare and has worked in childcare for over 20 years. I am also a property owner in Fernwood and understand the serious issues around housing affordability. I have lived in Fairfield for the last 12 years and as a single parent, raised my three daughters here. I have been an active member of the community, volunteering at school and with sports.
I have been touched directly, in my own family by the opioid crisis, as have many Victorians I've spoken with. I'm a strong believer in our party's core principles of freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect and model these values in my everyday life. My priority is to address housing affordability by working with municipalities to allow zoning and regulations that encourage development of moderately priced rental units. When there is a near zero vacancy rate, landlords can charge what they want, even for substandard apartments. It is urgent that we build more housing units that everyday people can afford. I am seeing the deterioration in the safety of parts of our downtown. This can be attributed, in part to the homelessness caused by mental health and drug addiction. I believe we must decriminalize the use of opioids, while tightly regulating them. We must have social programs in place to provide help and early intervention. More and more of our young people are dying on the streets everyday. Lastly, we must protect the free speech of Canadians so that we can have these open and honest discussions, without fear of harassment or discrimination.
2. Every other country that has universal health care has drug coverage, except Canada. We pay among the highest prices in the world for medications under our current patchwork system. Some of the same drugs are 90% cheaper in New Zealand than in Canada, due to their adoption of a Pharmacare program. The federal government having a monopoly would allow us to negotiate much better prices with drug companies. Our party represents the opinions and perspectives of thousands of Canadians across the country who feel like the traditional parties have ignored them in favour of political posturing and pandering. We believe in equality for all Canadians. Thank you for this opportunity to present my views.
Jordan Reichert, Animal Protection Party
1. People should vote for me if they are tired of the status-quo politics that have allowed for the destruction of nature, social inequity, plight of animals, and climate breakdown to continue unabated. The Animal Protection Party of Canada is the only political party in Canada that gives equal consideration to people, animals, and the environment through what we call "Compassionate Politics." It is only by taking this revolutionary approach to politics that we may address the underlying causes of the social, economic, and ecological crisis we face. I was born and raised in Victoria, and have spent over a decade working in mental health and addictions for Island Health. Furthermore, I have lobbied the government in Ottawa on several occasions. I have a double major is sociology and philosophy. I am prepared to speak authentically to the issues affecting Victorians and Canadians to see meaningful action on these issues. It is my intention, if elected, to strike at the roots of the exploitation of people, animals, and the environment, and no other candidate in Victoria has the intention of doing that.
We need our politics to be about empowering people to create a world we can live in, and I don’t mean buying electric cars and fluorescent lightbulbs. This “inconvenient truth” based policy, the green-washing of capitalism that we must be done with. It has failed. We need to uproot our economic structure and shake out the dead weight of neo-liberal market-based solutions. The climate crisis we face will not be solved by a system that wants infinite growth in a world of finite resources. We will not house people with the crumbs of a commodified real-estate market that sees housing as a place to maximize profit, not as a human right. We must decommodify housing. We certainly will not create a society that respects nature and recognizes the personhood of non-human animals as long as we subsidize the cruel and exploitative animal agriculture system to the tune of 6-8 billion dollars annually. We must end animal agriculture. This is just an example of some of the ways we will address the structural issues that undermine our social and ecological integrity.
2. The Animal Protection Party of Canada is proud to endorse Universal Pharmacare to ensure that Canadians have safe, affordable access to the medications they need for their health and well-being. It is about social equity and ensuring that no one is left behind because of the cost of essential medication. Establishing a single payer purchasing program across Canada will allow us to create massive saving on the cost of prescription drugs and the cost to taxpayers. It is the only reasonable and fair way forward to ensure the health needs of Canadians are being met. We also need more doctors for people to be able to access the prescription and health services they need and expand psychological services into our Universal Health Care system.
Art Lowe, Libertarian Party
1. Only the Libertarian Party puts up candidates who are working to dramatically reduce big government spending, taxes, debt, regulations, bureaucracies, foreign meddling, and invasions of our personal freedoms that have been taken away to express your rights. The Libertarian Party will fight to get the government out of your wallet, your bedroom, and your life in general. Libertarians work for everyday taxpayers, workers and voters. Not for special interests. Not to be part of the machinery of government waste. Not to land government jobs. Not to grab "our share" of the goodies. Libertarian candidates aren't career politicians. Our candidates are ordinary citizens fed up with the same old party politicians who make promises and never deliver what they say who are elected into office.
Our Libertarian candidates are willing to take time out of their lives to fight for human freedom. Plus, we want to make government small, allow free markets to thrive, uphold and expand personal liberties and keep our nation at peace. Voting for these same old party politicians tells them, that you want to keep government big and "keep them doing what they always done," i.e., "raise taxes, spend more, add to the nation's debt, invent more doomed-to-failure government programs, and start more wars." It gives them permission – or license – to keep government big. Voting for the "lesser evil" is indistinguishable from voting for team R or D because you think everything they do is awesome.
It will be taken as approval for more big government, which leads always to higher taxes, higher spending and debt. "Not all politicians are smart, but every one of them can count." They can count how many votes they got and how many votes their opponents got. Only a vote for a Libertarian sends a crystal clear message about what you want, the voters, more freedom, and when you want it: right now.
Voting Libertarian says: "You do not have my permission nor approval to sustain or grow big government. Shrink it immediately." The same old political parties will spend millions of dollars on advertising and use your tax dollars to fund them this election cycle, to scare you out of voting Libertarian. They will collude with their cronies in government and the media to keep Libertarian candidates off the ballot and out of debates. They are deathly afraid that having a Libertarian candidate on the stage and on the ballot and will show them as the intellectually bankrupt government hacks that they really are.
If big corporations, big media, and big government politicians are all going to cheat with both hands to keep you from having a Libertarian candidate on your ballot or in your debates, that's a pretty clear signal that the Libertarian candidate is far and away better and they're afraid you'll realize it.
2. Libertarians believe that healthcare prices would decrease and quality and availability of healthcare would increase if providers were freed from government meddling and control. Virtually every person wants access to quality healthcare at an affordable price. Libertarians think the best way to achieve this is by removing government interference and enabling free markets.
Government inappropriately controls our healthcare in many ways:
Government and a handful of insurance companies have a virtual monopoly as payers. Because of this, they make most of the decisions about what kinds of healthcare are available.
Government regulates where, when, and who may open new healthcare facilities.
Government agencies greatly slow development of and access to new medicines, devices, and technologies that may improve quality of care and reduce cost of care.
Currently, the healthcare industry is virtually monopolized by the government and a handful of insurance companies. They hold the checkbook and wield it for their own benefit.
Each year, the government sets prices that they will pay providers including doctors and hospitals. Each year, these payments increase at less than the cost of inflation, while the cost of providing medical care increases by a far greater amount. This has unpleasant consequences for everyone. Providers are incentivized to do what is quick and cheap, not what is in the best interest of a particular patient. Doctors are forced to reduce the time they spend with patients, and this reduces quality of care. Hospitals are discouraged from upgrading facilities, and this reduces quality of care. Worse yet, insurance companies often set their payments according to the government’s prices. This regular ratcheting down on payments to providers, while actual costs to provide care increases, makes providers less able to provide high quality healthcare.
Government also regulates where medical facilities can be built, who can build them, and when. The process for applying for permission to build facilities is very costly and very slow, thus it favors the biggest corporations and prevents smaller organizations from opening new facilities that could serve patients. This greatly limits patients’ access to medical care and increases costs compared to a system where government permission was not required. The approval processes for new drugs and technology is lengthy and expensive. Because of this, the process favors the biggest companies with the most lawyers. There are many stories of patients dying while waiting for approval of a new device or medicine. Instead, Libertarians call for free-market testing which will be inherently incentivized to be efficient and fair in their processes. Additionally, Libertarians believe in the “Right to Try”, especially in situations with a terminal diagnosis. The government must not be permitted to deny patients access to new medical advances.
In short, Libertarians believe that each person has the right to make their own medical decisions. Libertarians support removing government meddling from healthcare. We think this are the best ways to improve quality of healthcare, increase access to healthcare, and decrease prices of healthcare in our country. Regardless, enact regulations to cap the price of drugs.
Robert Duncan, Communist Party of Canada
Despite many attempts to contact Mr. Duncan and the Communist Party of Canada and include them in this election coverage, neither Mr. Duncan or the Party responded.
We will see you at the voting booth!