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Your vote 2021

The Pique guide to Canada’s 44th federal election

Just two short years after the last federal election, and with the COVID-19 pandemic in the throes of a fourth wave, Canadians are once again headed to the polls on Sept. 20.

The snap election campaign that nobody really wanted has mercifully come and gone in a flash, and what must have seemed like a sure thing for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in July has turned into anything but.

As of this writing, the national polls are tight, and it remains anyone’s guess which party will form Canada’s next government when the dust settles.

In the Sea to Sky, voters have a solid slate of diverse options to choose from: A young incumbent eager to continue the job he started in 2019; a former MP with enough experience to hit the ground running; a climate activist with a recognizable name and a fire in his belly; an earnest and passionate advocate of the environment; a populist promising a hard break from the status quo; and a small handful of independents to round out the ballot.

Read on to hear from the major party candidates in their own words, as well as from Rhino Party candidate Gordon Jeffrey and independent Chris MacGregor, who are also running in the riding. Independent candidate Terry Grimwood did not respond to Pique’s invitation to participate in the feature. And if you haven’t yet had a chance, head to whistlerchamber.com to view a recording of Whistler’s Sept. 8 all-candidates meeting.

Head to piquenewsmagazine.com to read full profiles on all the major party candidates, as well as national election news, under the Canada Votes 2021 section in the News drop-down menu.

Voting takes place at the Whistler Conference Centre from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 20. 

Find more info at elections.ca.

Patrick Weiler

 Liberal Party of Canada 

patrickweiler.liberal.ca

 

If elected, what are the top three issues you will focus on?

 

Climate change: I’ve worked with [Canadian environment minister] Jonathan Wilkinson to make achieving net-zero emissions the law in Canada. Now, I’m focused on delivering on our strengthened climate plan. It’s a plan that will reduce emissions in line with what the science is telling us we must do, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and position us to thrive in a low-carbon world.

Creating more inclusive and liveable communities: From delivering on $10 a day childcare, to $130-plus million in local infrastructure investments, and hundreds of new affordable homes in the Sea to Sky, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished—but we need to keep going.

Reconciliation: We’ve passed legislation incorporating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law, lifted 105 of 109 long-term boil-water advisories inherited in 2015, and more. As a lawyer who’s represented First Nations, I will double down on these efforts to bring about meaningful reconciliation based on trusted relationships I have cultivated with all four First Nations in our riding.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its 18th month. What should Canada’s pandemic priorities be after the Sept. 20 election?

 

Vaccines are the only way out of this pandemic. They have to be our top priority. We currently have a pandemic of the unvaccinated, but it’s affecting all of us. 

We’ve secured enough vaccines to fully vaccinate every eligible person in Canada two months ahead of schedule, and we’re now leading the world in vaccine uptake. [At press time, 75 per cent of Canadians had received at least one dose of vaccine, tying for the 12th highest vaccination rate globally. The United Arab Emirates leads the way with 90 per cent of its population at least partially vaccinated.] 

A re-elected Liberal government will provide leadership to ensure we reach herd immunity by requiring individuals traveling inter-provincially and federally regulated workers to be vaccinated, and we’ll fund vaccine passport programs in the provinces and territories.

While some other parties have followed our lead on this, I’m very disappointed to see the Conservatives fail to mandate vaccines even among their own candidates. Any plan that does not prioritize vaccines is not a credible plan to end the pandemic.

 

If elected, how will you make life better for Whistler residents?

 

My top two concerns in Whistler are housing affordability and labour shortages.

We’ve made good progress on affordable homes with the [Whistler Housing Authority]. Granite Ridge, in which our government invested $10 million, is now home to 100-plus Whistlerites. Investments like this ensure that people who work here can live here. It’s the kind of investment we’ll keep making as part of the comprehensive housing program we’ve proposed.

The labour shortage is forcing residents to overwork themselves. It isn’t sustainable for the upcoming winter tourism season. Reopening many of our immigration programs will help, while the new Municipal Nominee Program and a streamlined Temporary Foreign Workers Program will ensure the return of our international workforce. Introducing $10-a-day childcare and creating 40,000 new spaces in B.C. will also be a game-changer, and I’m working with the province on regional transit in the Sea to Sky, which could bring workers from our region to Whistler.

 

If elected, how will you help Whistler businesses?

 

Finishing off COVID is the best thing we can do for businesses in Whistler and across the country. Whistler’s businesses are based on the tourism economy, and it cannot fully recover until we can lift restrictions on travelling and gathering. That’s why we will require travellers on federally regulated vessels, and workers in federally regulated industries be vaccinated. And we will also pass legislation to ensure that businesses can require a proof of vaccination from employees and customers without fear of a legal challenge.

To support businesses with the cost of labour, a re-elected Liberal government would extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, which supports the hiring or re-hiring of staff until March 2022. We’ll also provide a temporary 75-per-cent wage and rent support program to tourism, arts and culture businesses that need help getting through the winter.

I will also continue to meet regularly with the Whistler Chamber and businesses to respond to their concerns.

John Weston

 Conservative Party of Canada 

Johnweston4mp.ca

 

If elected, what are the top three issues you will focus on?

 

After six dismal years, sentiments are not actions; promises are not results from this Trudeau government—people in this riding know it is time for a change. Canada needs a dramatic change of direction and I want to be part of the solution. Over the next four years Conservatives will deliver Canada’s Recovery Plan to secure jobs, health, and our economic future. We will secure our environment through our comprehensive plan to combat climate change that ensures we meet emissions targets by 2030 and ensure that affordability is a top priority for government. 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its 18th month. What should Canada’s pandemic priorities be after the Sept. 20 election?

 

The pandemic has set our economy and Canadian families back dramatically. Places like Whistler have been hard hit by the lockdowns and travel restrictions over the last 18 months. We must prioritize a strong recovery plan. Only the Conservative plan contains a full, workable recovery plan, including helping employers with wage subsidies to help bring back employees. I see a stark contrast between a comprehensive, clear, Conservative plan on one hand to restore 1 million jobs within a year and, on the other hand, a reckless Trudeau whose directionless policies threaten rising a debt.

 

If elected, how will you make life better for Whistler residents?

 

When I previously served as MP, we had three busy offices, open and accessible to handle this large, diverse riding in a wide range of issues. It’s hard to imagine how the current MP can meet those needs with only one office. As I did in [the] past, I will work closely with residents, business leaders, and all levels of government to grasp the priorities in Whistler, while bringing Ottawa’s attention to this riding. I know many local residents care about housing affordability and ensuring a comprehensive environmental plan to preserve our incredible community for future generations. On a more personal level, I am passionate about health and fitness, including outdoor recreation opportunities that I know all Whistler residents also value. I worked hard to increase fitness opportunities when I was an MP by starting National Health and Fitness Day and look forward to doing so again.

 

If elected, how will you help Whistler businesses?

 

This upcoming election will be crucial in our history. You have a choice between a comprehensive Conservative plan to deliver jobs for all Canadians and restore public finances, versus a reckless Justin Trudeau plan that would leave Canada with mounting debt. I’ve talked with many small business owners in Whistler, and they all say the same thing: they need help as we navigate through the pandemic and beyond. Many are finding it challenging to hire staff. The Conservative platform includes the most comprehensive policies to help support businesses get back on their feet. No industry has been hit harder in the pandemic than our tourism and hospitality sector, places like Whistler [that] have been economic tourism drivers for decades. We must prioritize getting it back on track to secure the future of our community. 

Avi Lewis

 New Democratic Party 

avilewis.ca

 

If elected, what are the top three issues you will focus on?

 

We are in multiple emergencies. This is a unique moment in history—it is our opportunity to fix the overlapping crises we face by better mobilizing the power and resources of the federal government. 

We are facing record-breaking heat waves that are taking lives, and devastating wildfires that destroy entire towns. We need bolder climate action that prioritizes local communities and workers. 

In our community, families, seniors and workers are feeling the housing crunch. Everyone has a right to a safe, secure, affordable home. The federal government needs to make more serious investments in housing with publicly owned and cooperative options for families, seniors, students, and workers. 

And we need to end our dependence on the boom-and-bust cycles of extraction. With a Green New Deal, we can create good jobs that protect our coast and provide low-carbon work in retrofitting homes, repairing infrastructure, and rapidly rolling out clean transit for all.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its 18th month. What should Canada’s pandemic priorities be after the Sept. 20 election?

 

I’m running for office because the pandemic recovery must be a Green New Deal for all. That means big public investments in elder care, public health, childcare and education, because these sectors—the connective tissue of our society—are all low-carbon. I believe passionately that care work is climate work!

And we have the resources to build an economy based on caring for the Earth and one another. The pandemic reminded everyone that Canada is a rich country that can afford to take care of people in an emergency. And the NDP was there in the minority parliament to win significant improvements in pandemic support for working people. 

But over the last 18 months, Trudeau spent too much public money writing big cheques to big polluters and pandemic profiteers when what we need is a massive investment in protecting people and the planet. 

 

If elected, how will you make life better for Whistler residents?

 

Transit is a huge priority—a high-frequency electric bus shuttle to and from Vancouver is long overdue. Big federal investments in electrified transit will reduce emissions, create good manufacturing and tech jobs, and facilitate eco-tourism. 

The housing emergency is severe in Whistler—everyone here knows it. It’s also fuelling the local labour shortage. The federal government has to pay its fair share of locally-led zero-emissions home building. And the market is not going to deflate the bubble on its own—the NDP is the only party proposing significant federal investments in non-market, co-op, public and co-housing: $14 billion to spur 1.7 million new housing units in a decade. 

We’ll also declare high-speed internet an essential service and create a public option for data and internet. We’ll protect you from unfair wireless and internet practices with a price cap, as well as requiring affordable unlimited data and basic plans.

 

If elected, how will you help Whistler businesses?

 

I’m excited to work on behalf of local businesses to get Whistler humming post-pandemic. 

One of the best policies we can bring in for businesses is quality, affordable childcare. Trudeau had six years to act and didn’t, introducing affordable childcare only as a desperate move right before a risky election—too many parents are giving up careers to care for their kids. The NDP will bring in universal, $10-a-day childcare, creating enough spaces so families don’t spend months on waitlists, and ensure that childcare workers are paid a fair, living wage.

And we’ll help small businesses with a long-term hiring bonus to cover the employer portion of EI and CPP for new or rehired staff. We’ll also go after corporate gouging by capping high credit card merchant fees to a maximum of one per cent; local businesses should not be subsidizing the profits of big banks!

Mike Simpson

 Green Party of Canada 

mikesimpson.ca

 

If elected, what are the top three issues you will focus on?

 

The climate crisis. It’s first, second, and third. We’re in a real emergency here. Every part of our platform, from reconciliation to housing, ties into the sustainable world we must create if we’re going to win the fight against climate change.

We have to revamp our energy consumption. The other parties know this, but their plans include new pipelines, which keeps their emissions targets too low to combat global warming. We must protect our old-growth forests, to maintain them as valuable carbon sinks to draw CO2 back down from the atmosphere. So, no logging at Fairy Creek.

A green economy is fiscally responsible. Sustainability runs through all our policies, including how we spend and invest money. By cutting subsidies to fossil fuels and closing tax loopholes for mega-corporations, we’ll find billions of dollars to build the infrastructure for a society that works—for generations to come.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its 18th month. What should Canada’s pandemic priorities be after the Sept. 20 election?

 

Vaccines are safe, effective and save lives. They limit spread and keep people out of the hospital. We need to do everything we can to encourage everyone who’s eligible to feel safe saying yes to the vaccine.

It’s not only about stopping [the] spread in Canada. We need to get vaccines into arms in other countries, where closer living quarters and lack of vaccine availability are causing rapid spread around the world. As long as new variants are given room to grow, they will continue to change the game even for well-off and highly vaccinated populations.

We also need to move our social lives outdoors as much as possible. Until our littlest kids can be vaccinated, publicly funded outdoor education options would go a long way toward limiting spread among families with children under 12.

 

If elected, how will you make life better for Whistler residents?

 

Free skiing, pizza and beer. Just kidding. 

Whistler suffers from a serious housing crisis. People who work here can’t afford to live here. The Green Party will invest in quality, energy-efficient solutions—co-ops, rental housing, social housing, and multi-income projects that mix demographics and increase density. 

Better public transit. High-speed electric trains should be running up and down the Sea to Sky corridor, connecting Whistler to the airport and the communities in between. The Green Party will invest in a new transit grid that’s safe, convenient, and powered by clean energy.

And finally, it all comes back to climate. As the planet heats up, the ski season suffers. Our aggressive emissions targets are designed to stop global warming in its tracks. I love Whistler in all its seasons. But there’s something extra special about the winter here, and I’d like to protect it for generations to come.

 

If elected, how will you help Whistler businesses?

 

Whistler businesses thrive because of the natural landscape. The fresh air, the forests, the powder on the mountains—these all attract tourists. Summer tourism suffers if there’s too much wildfire smoke. The ski season suffers if the winter is too warm and there’s rain instead of snow. I would protect Whistler businesses by working to fight climate change, first and foremost.

Grants and rebates for energy-saving retrofits, which the Green Party has long supported, would lower utility bills.

We also need to create a fair business environment for small businesses. If a ski shop in Whistler has to compete with Amazon for pricing, then Amazon should be subject to the same tax laws as the small business [that is] going the extra mile with service. The Green Party would close loopholes for mega-corporations like Amazon, which are currently paying zero dollars in tax, despite selling widely into the Canadian market.

Doug Bebb

 People’s Party of Canada 

bebbppc.ca

 

If elected, what are the top three issues you will focus on?

 

The current Liberal government has quite frankly left Canadians in the worst mess ever. They have led the way in removing our fundamental freedoms, which are enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The People’s Party stands for individual freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect, so we will immediately rescind all federal COVID-19 lockdown and vaccine mandates and work with the provinces to do likewise. The Liberals have severely weakened Canada’s sovereignty by a reckless accumulation of debt and a slavish adherence to globalist policies on health and climate. Our party will place the needs of Canadians first by being fiscally prudent and we will withdraw from the Paris Agreement while forging a diversified clean energy strategy. Last but not least, the Liberals have angered and divided Canadians. Our party treats all Canadians equally. We will ban vaccine passports.  We will not allow our country to descend into medical apartheid.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its 18th month. What should Canada’s pandemic priorities be after the Sept. 20 election?

 

Clearly, for Canadians to enjoy “life, liberty and security of the person” as guaranteed in our Charter, we cannot continue along the current trajectory. There must be a balanced exit strategy which meets the requirements of individual freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect, and which produces the most good with the least harm. The People’s Party will immediately promote healthy, immune-boosting lifestyles and therapies, plus implement proven COVID prevention and recovery therapies such as ivermectin. [Editor’s note: While authorized to treat parasites in humans, ivermectin has been widely discredited by medical professionals for use against COVID-19. Health Canada issued an alert on Aug. 31 stating there is no evidence either the human or veterinary versions of the drug are “safe or effective when used for those purposes.”]

We will replace all lockdown measures with a “focused protection” approach. We will ensure that any COVID-19 medical treatment is offered without coercion and with informed consent, including full knowledge of potential deleterious effects and alternate safe and effective therapies. Our party will also immediately revoke vaccine status card funding for provinces. We will unite our country around our shared core values of compassion, truth and freedom. We will elevate our true humanity.

 

If elected, how will you make life better for Whistler residents?

 

Our party is for the people of Whistler, including those who have suffered much from the COVID-19 lockdown measures. We will fight for the full expression of free enterprise in Whistler, unhindered by anti-Charter and dehumanizing restrictions.  Disentangled from COVID-plagued politics, Whistler’s economic flourishing will signal a return to community harmony, dreams fulfilled and unparalleled hospitality. We want Whistler residents and businesses to be free of the imposition of any impediments by the current provincial and federal governments. We want them to be able to exercise their inalienable freedoms of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association—without restriction. Whistler residents prosper when these are in place. As well, our party stands for a leaner, fiscally responsible government. With immediate proper management and retirement of the current more-than-trillion-dollar debt load that the Liberals have inflicted upon us, life in Whistler will thrive.

 

If elected, how will you help Whistler businesses?


We are all painfully aware that many businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, have taken a severe beating from the COVID-19 lockdown protocols.  From rules barring or restricting indoor dining and enforcing mask mandates to the pending requirement to show vaccine status cards, business management and staff have suffered far beyond reason. They continue to be placed in the excruciating and unconstitutional position of acting as “COVID police” while at the same time trying to show their famed customer hospitality. Many have been chronically short-staffed during the last 18 months and some have sadly been shuttered. The People’s Party of Canada is the only party that will protect the fundamental freedoms of Whistler businesses. We will collaborate and negotiate with the B.C. government to remove all COVID lockdown and vaccine protocols so that businesses will neither be required nor allowed to administer these dehumanizing measures.

 

The other candidates  

 

After his first foray into politics in 2019, the Rhino Party’s Gordon Jeffrey is back on the ballot for Canada’s Sept. 20 election.

With his second campaign, the 34-year-old Whistlerite aims to once again offer voters an alternative to the status quo.

“Last election I said, ‘You don’t need to vote for me, just don’t vote for the big guys, just because one wants you to be scared that the other will win,’” Jeffrey says.

“This time I’m saying, ‘Please do vote for me if you want to put your political power into saying none of the above, or towards saying let’s tighten up the political system and get rid of some of this nonsense.’”

Jeffrey’s campaign has four purposes, he says: influencing other candidates; spreading the messages of anti-corruption and parliamentary reform; diverting votes from the Liberal and Conservative parties; and giving voters a candidate they can “vote for in good conscience.”

“I think we need strict legislation that leaves no shadow of a doubt that it is unacceptable for Members of Parliament to be accepting gifts and favours from any organization, company, special interest group or any individual representing any of the above,” Jeffrey says, adding that he would also like to see Parliament take a tougher stance on those who evade questions or fail to give direct answers in the House of Commons.

“That should be punished. Filibustering is an infuriatingly obstructive behaviour, and we need to curb it somehow.”

While the Rhino Party traditionally offers more of a lighthearted take on campaigning, it’s clear Jeffrey doesn’t see much humour in the current state of Canadian politics.

“People should take campaign promises with a grain of salt. A lot of the promises being made during this campaign were made during the last election, and where have we gotten?” he says.

“Examine their actions, examine the track record. If people have fallen through on promises before, maybe they don’t deserve another chance. Maybe it’s time for somebody else to have a chance.”

Rounding out the ballot are independents Terry Grimwood and Chris MacGregor, both of the Sunshine Coast. Grimwood did not responded to Pique’s request to participate in this election feature.

MacGregor was motivated to run in the election after the loss of his son due to mental health issues in August 2020, he tells Pique by email.

“[I wanted to] speak out about the terrible underlying tragedies that COVID mandates have done to our most vulnerable,” he says. “Very little money has been given to this health field in a time of crisis. [Five] people every day in B.C. die of overdose.

“Every one of us knows of someone or has a friend who suffers from mental health.”

MacGregor has lived in Wilson Creek since 1993 and works as a maintenance worker at Sechelt Hospital, as well as operating a construction company.

On the issue of COVID-19 vaccinations he said, “The struggle for some people who have to choose between their job and getting the vaccine is stripping the foundation that Canada was built on. The freedom to choose is a Canadian God-given right.

“This choice has driven a wedge in our society that is building [an] us-versus-them struggle. This division must be healed in order to keep growing as a community and country.

“I admire Viola Desmond, a civil rights activist who is one of many great Canadians that fought an unjust system of segregation and succeeded. An individual that stood up for rights and freedoms.”

MacGregor said he is also concerned about the issue of affordability. “In my business I see the cost of building rise to a level [that’s] becomes unaffordable for most Canadians. We can approach established organizations like Habitat for Humanity or tiny-home manufacturers and aid them with incentives to build more homes for people and help Whistler with its lack of housing for the growing workforce.”