By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor
Connect Weekly conducted interviews in Q&A format with the local candidates in the Fort McMurray-Cold Lake ridings to help better educate voters on their platforms. Unfortunately, no responses were received by the Libertarian candidate and Green Party candidate, as of press time on Tuesday, October 13, 2015. The following questions and answers for each candidate are listed in alphabetical order by their political party’s name.
ROELOF JANSSEN – CHRISTIAN HERITAGE PARTY OF CANADA
Q. What infrastructure projects would be a priority for you in our riding if you are elected?
JANSSEN: Roads and bridges.
Q. What is the number one issue that you have been hearing about on the doorsteps in the riding?
JANSSEN: That abortion should be recognized as murder and be illegal again.
Q. How does your party plan to bring the country through the economic downturn in Fort McMurray?
JANSSEN: By turning to God in a selfless obedience, seeking to do His will in all things. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.
DAVID YURDIGA – CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA
Q. What infrastructure projects would be a priority for the Conservatives if you are re-elected?
YURDIGA: Locally, my priority is helping our organizations here access grant money to support their small infrastructure needs, like facility upgrades. There are many opportunities available to our local organizations; I will be available to help yours connect with the right grant application.
Q. What is the number one issue on the doorsteps?
YURDIGA: The economy, most specifically jobs in the region. The cost of living is higher, and our middle class cannot be defined by an income per household. We are not raising payroll taxes; when you do this it costs workers and employers more and deters hiring; the Liberals have promised this. We know our small business owners are the engine of our economy and have not labeled them as tax cheats, who need their taxes tweaked. The Conservatives are here for you, to help you succeed in this region, no matter what you do for a living or what you earn.
Q. People are saying: “Yurdiga is not accessible, and they don’t know him because he has not participated in the debates.” Why should voters go to the polls to vote for you?
YURDIGA: I have been clear and honest about the debates and my attendance. I had a scheduling conflict with the first one, and notified the organizers. The same morning of that debate, my wife required emergency medical attention in Edmonton. This impacted the schedule for the week, including my attendance at two other debates. Following that, we refocused the campaign to meet constituents at the doors and we sent our regrets to the debate in Cold Lake. I prefer to meet you and talk with you, not at you. I am going to try to get to your door, but if you are not home, there is still time to meet me before the 19th. Give the office a call and they will let you know when I am available.
KYLE HARRIETHA – LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA
Q. What infrastructure projects would be a priority for the Liberals if you are elected?
HARRIETHA: The Liberal Party has put forward an ambitious plan to invest $60 billion into infrastructure – the largest investment in Canadian history – over 10 years. We believe that now is the time to invest in the future. Local municipalities and community groups will be able to apply for federal funding for infrastructure projects that will create jobs and growth right now.
Q. What is the number one issue that you have been hearing on the doorsteps in the riding?
KYLE HARRIETHA: Jobs. People here are concerned about jobs, and why not? In the last year, here in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, under the Conservative government, we have seen 4500 oil and gas layoffs, a record high unemployment level – more than twice last year’s rate, and not a single kilometer of pipeline under construction. With another 23,000 oil and gas jobs expected to be lost this year, people are rightfully concerned for their jobs.
Q. Lack of medical facilities, like a cancer treatment centre is an ongoing issue in Fort McMurray. What would your government do to address this issue?
HARRIETHA: We will immediately invest $3 billion, over four years, to prioritize additional and improved home care services. We will improve access and reduce the cost of prescription medications by joining the provinces in bulk purchases. And we will increase the availability of high-quality mental services; an issue that is especially important here in Fort McMurray-Cold Lake.
MELODY LEPINE – NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Q. What infrastructure projects would the NDP make a priority if you were elected?
LEPINE: We need more healthcare facilities, like more clinics, and we need to expand on mental health care for youth. There is also a huge need for more doctors and nurses, and wait times need to be reduced. When I was a teenager, and we had about 30,000 people here, we had the same hospital as we do now, and the population has over doubled.
Q. What is the most common issue that you have been hearing about on the doorsteps during the campaign?
LEPINE: Quality of life. People feel that they are working harder and not getting ahead any. We need more affordable housing, residents should be able to have access to services that they need, more childcare spaces. People want to see more benefits of the hard work that they do in our community. The federal government obtains a lot of revenue from our area, and residents are frustrated that there seems to be a lack of presence from the federal government in our life, and the quality of life.
Q. People often think the NDP wants to shut down the oil sands, what would say in response to those residents?
LEPINE: It’s completely not the case. The NDP wants to manage our natural resources, especially oil. We want to minimize the environmental impacts and the impacts that the extraction has on our Aboriginal communities. We need to keep the oil here and refine it. It’s not about the pipelines, it’s about the product. Shipping the oil away to have it refined takes jobs and money out of the pockets of Canadians. We want to get the highest value of the resource possible by keeping the jobs and the oil here.
Learn more information on the Elections Canada website: www.elections.ca.
– Connect Weekly –