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Q&A with Federal election candidates for Long Range Mountains

By RYAN KING

SOUTHWEST COAST — The 2021 federal election is almost here with Canadians heading to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20. Signs have been popping up all over town as the candidates make their way campaigning along the southwest coast.

Federal candidates in the riding of the Long Range Mountains were interviewed to discuss important issues facing residents on the southwest coast. Topics of discussion included voter fatigue, old age security benefits for seniors, and rate mitigation.

Only People’s Party candidate Darrell Shelley failed to respond to inquiries before print deadline.

Kaila Mintz, NDP candidate

Kaila Mintz, NDP

Q: Given that we just went through a provincial election and are about to vote in a municipal election, do you worry about voter fatigue?

I think that voters are cynical, watching how the Liberals called this unnecessary election. I think we’re all exhausted from the pandemic, and it’s clear that the timing of this election, which, you know, the federal election wasn’t supposed to happen until October 2023, and everyone can see that it’s based on crude opportunism.

And really, you see Trudeau’s desperation for a majority government. I think what Trudeau has done in calling this election, he’s reinforced all of this fatigue-inducing cynicism, and it’s completely understandable that voters are weary of campaigns that should not have been called. And when Liberals continue to make promises and then break them on things like Pharmacare, on dental care, and electoral reform, voters get disillusioned.

But I remain hopeful. I think that younger voters like me, we’re excited for a chance to vote for Jagmeet Singh. He has a vision for courageous optimism, one where no one is left behind, one where we take better care of each other, and I’m hopeful that that will bring people to the polls, and we’ll get them excited this election.

Q: There are seniors living well below the poverty line on $13,000 a year, despite returning to the workforce after raising children. The Old Age Security benefit has increased for those for 75 and up, but what about seniors 65 and up?

Those who rely most on OAS benefits I think those are single seniors and women that could be the hardest hit by this change. In general, the NDP believes that we need a cost-cutting plan that truly provides retirement security for all Canadians. Every senior in this country deserves a raise – every senior. And the NDP is going to commit to solving this crisis by focusing on seniors.

Trudeau has done a makeshift plan. We’re finding a few hundred dollars right before an election to buy votes.

What’s needed now is an investment of significant amount of money, to fix a broken system, so we never have to face at this state of collapse that we’re in right now. Seniors deserve a government that’s ready to give them what they need.

Q: On a lot of voter’s minds is the potential increase in power rates in this province due to the Muskrat Falls project. The Liberal government has worked on a deal for rate mitigation. Will you also be fighting for rate mitigation?

We recognize that there’s serious difficulties facing this province with regard to the affordability of electricity because of the cost overruns of Muskrat Falls. As I mentioned before, everyday people are struggling with affordability that comes with energy cost, when it comes to the cost of medication. We also have upon us a climate crisis. That’s an urgent priority, it’s an existential threat to our way of life in this province.

Trudeau made a big deal on Muskrat with the province. That deal was obviously ages in the making, but it was just announced prior to this unnecessary election. I think an important issue that we need to talk about is that hydro rate mitigation for Newfoundlanders is good, but it also it can’t come at the expense of the Innu.

So this new deal that was signed could destroy benefits of existing arrangements with the Innu nation, and it was done without consulting or including them. So, in the spirit of reconciliation, this deal needs to be reexamined with the Innu included, there needs to be a final deal worked out that respects both the government obligations and Innu rights. Overall, look at affordability, and balance those competing demands, an overall plan that really puts money back in people’s pockets and makes life more affordable for them while respecting rights.

One other example of what tangibly the NDP is planning – we want to help families to make energy efficient improvements to their home. The plan is for low interest loans to help families save up to about $900 or more per year on their home energy costs. And the plan would be for targeted support for low-income households and for renters.”

Carol Anstey, Conservative candidate


Carol Anstey, Conservative

Q: Given that we just went through a provincial election and are about to vote in a municipal election, do you worry about voter fatigue?

I do and I think there might be a little bit of voter confusion as well, because I know in a lot of our communities, there’s lots of different signs around. However, I do feel that this is a very important election and while there may be some voter fatigue, I do feel that a lot of people feel that this is an important election. So, while the fatigue may be there, I still think that we will get a fairly good voter turnout.

I think maybe if some of the other elections were happening prior to ours, that might add to it. The municipal elections may suffer a little bit more than we do, but I think because we’re the first, that might help us out in that area a little bit.

I think it was unnecessary, because we’re still in some unknown and unchartered territory. As you know, and as we saw through the provincial election that we didn’t fare out well, when we called an election throughout the pandemic. Having said that, we still had to be prepared, and I was prepared for the election to be called.

But no, I don’t think that the timing was good. No.

Q: There are seniors living well below the poverty line on $13,000 a year, despite returning to the workforce after raising children. The Old Age Security benefit has increased for those for 75 and up, but what about seniors 65 and up?

I think that decision was divisive, and I think that’s the age of our seniors. That’s the old age that’s been defined, and I think that should have went right across the board. And I don’t think that was a good decision, and I could tell you going around talking to seniors that I hear it a lot, I hear it on the doorsteps a lot. People are upset about it, and often they’ll say to me, ‘Well, you know, I’m not saying anything about the 75-year-olds.’ They don’t want to take it from the person that got it, but they do feel like it was unfair. So then I would have to agree, I think it was a divisive decision and I don’t agree with it.

Q: On a lot of voter’s minds is the potential increase in power rates in this province due to the Muskrat Falls project. The Liberal government has worked on a deal for rate mitigation. Will you also be fighting for rate mitigation?

So the Conservative Party has said that they will support that deal. That has been struck, as you know, it’s a deal in form only, it’s not actually an official deal, but they have said that they will honor that deal. But I will say that, you know, the Conservative government also supports our offshore industry, which I think will have a beneficial impact on the province overall, because as you know it’s 25 per cent of our economy. So yeah, they will honor that deal, but they will also support our offshore industry.

Gudie Hutchings, Liberal candidate


Gudie Hutchings, Liberal

Q: Given that we just went through a provincial election and are about to vote in a municipal election, do you worry about voter fatigue?

I would say when the pandemic hit last March, there’s no playbook written on a pandemic. You’ve heard me say that before, and I know when they sent us home in March, they all said, ‘Oh, see after Easter.’ Well, you know, here we are still. So the mandate that we were elected on in 2019 got tossed out the window thanks to the pandemic, so the people of Canada need a new mandate of how we get our country, how we get back on track. So that’s why we’ve done this now, and we, even though there are the fourth wave in some areas. We need to get our country organized and ready to build back better, and what are the new normals? Like the world changed after 9/11, the world is going to change after this pandemic. Canada is going to change after this pandemic – this riding.

What are the changes? So, how do we have to work together to make sure we are all on the same page to build back better and make sure we’re safe and healthy and doing what we need to do for the country and the province and the riding. You know it’s always a worry. What I find – if you look back in history people are voting less and less and less. So why is that?

I’ll tell you what amazes me every day. It is the people who have no comprehension of municipal, provincial, federal politics, right? We’re not teaching it in our schools anymore. I’ve had people say to me what’s an MP? What do you do? What’s the difference in you and you know, (MHA) Andrew Parsons? And what’s the difference in, you know, Mayor Spencer? We’re not teaching it anymore. So I don’t think we’re teaching the importance of the Westminster system of Parliament, let alone that we are living in this incredible province where you’ve got this democracy that we should be so proud of to have and exercise our right to vote. People died for us to be able to vote, and it’s this apathetic peace out there. I have always voted. It’s a privilege. It’s a blessing. People gave their lives for it and look at the countries that would do anything to be able to have the system that we have. We’ve got to get that conversation back happening.

Q: There are seniors living well below the poverty line on $13,000 a year, despite returning to the workforce after raising children. The Old Age Security benefit has increased for those for 75 and up, but what about seniors 65 and up?

When we got elected in 2015, the previous Conservative government had raised the age of retirement to 67. And if you believe the rumour mills their plan was to put it to 70, but we put it back to 65. Then we gave an increase of 10 per cent to single seniors. We increased CPP (Canada Pension Plan), which you know, seniors at the time aren’t going to see, but it’s proven fact that seniors aren’t saving. And then older seniors have more costs.

So we came out with the increase for 75 and over, but if you’re read on the platform today (Aug. 26), we announced that we are going to do an increase of $500 for single seniors set to GIS, which is the low-income seniors, of those on guaranteed income supplement, and $750 per couple per year. We addressed that. We’ve always said we’ve had a plan to address it. Like we’ve changed the level of income that seniors can make before their tax back, that went to $10,000. That was something minimal before. It enables seniors to work and pay less taxes up until they make, you know, ’cause some will work a few hours here at a craft store, or at a hospital gift shop, or whatever.

So we’ve increased it. We’ve been there for seniors, and this was another piece in the puzzle to help seniors. It was always the plan to do that, and that was announced today.

We look right here, but you’ve got to look at how do you implement something from coast to coast to coast? And it’s not as simple as just pressing a button, then it’s all done. You know, you talk to the bureaucracy, and look, God love the hardworking civil servants, but it’s like, ‘Well, we’ve got to do this and this and this and this,’ and you know, ‘That can only happen at this time, let us get this one done, and then we’ll do that one.

You know, I’m a let’s get it done type person, but you know it’s like, ‘No we have to do this, and then we have to do that, and we have to do something else. So, that is in the platform.

Q: On a lot of voter’s minds is the potential increase in power rates in this province due to the Muskrat Falls project. The Liberal government has worked on a deal for rate mitigation. What are your thoughts on this?

Here’s the one pressing reality, okay, and we do not talk about this enough. Why should you vote for the liberal party? Why should you to vote for me? Because of the commitment that we made a few weeks ago to deliver that $5.2 billion to Newfoundland and Labrador, which is the proceeds from what we get from Hibernia.

You know, Hibernia is the gift that keeps on giving, but we’re returning those royalties to the province so your power bill doesn’t double this Fall. The power bill here doesn’t double, the power bill in the store where we got this water doesn’t double. To me, that is the one thing that if you had to pick one reason.

Look, I’m proud of the infrastructure. You know I had a meeting with the mayor tonight (John Spencer, Port aux Basques) and they’re like ‘Wow, you know, we’ve received so much money in infrastructure projects thank you so much,’ right? And we went on about other things that we’ve done right, but the one thing, if I had to pick one thing, is that. Because if the power rates double, I had a meeting the other week with a gentleman who owned some fish plants in the riding, and he’s he brought it up to me, and he said, you know, and it went on and on, but he said ‘I’m going to tell you right now,’ he said ‘If the power rates double,’ he said ‘I would have to close a couple of fish plants.’

I don’t know what your power bill is at home, $300 or $400 dollars a month, but that was now $300 is going to be probably $800. And another gentleman who’s got a little a really neat little coffee sandwich cookie shop in my riding, he said ‘My power bill to double will hit $800,’ he said.

That’s a lot of cookies.

So if there’s the one thing that we’ve done, committed to do, to work with the province to deliver, and it’s not like ‘Oh, that’s tax payers money.’ It’s not taxpayer money. It’s returning the royalties of Hibernia back to the province of the deal that was done years ago – that your power bill is not going to double this Fall.

And it’s interesting, if you take the chance to Google and look at what other power rates are. Nova Scotia is around $0.17 a kW/h. That is the number one thing that is going to make a huge difference for every single person, young and old alike. Every cat and dog, and every business. That’s the one we forget. Like if Kathy’s power bill doubles here, what would she do right?

The number one thing is we have promised. Why do you want to elect re-elect us? To make sure that gets across the finish line, and it will, if we get re-elected.

If we don’t get re-elected, I doubt that will happen.

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