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Which issues should leaders debate? CCPA share their ballot box questions

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Photo: European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari/flickr

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The writ has been dropped, and we are now four days into the longest election campaign in recent history. Canadians now have a critical decision to make about the direction of our country -- and lots of time to make it. The first opportunity (of several, we hope) to have some of our questions answered comes on August 6, when Maclean's airs their National Leaders Debate. Will you be watching the leaders hash it out? What questions do you hope will be asked and answered?

We asked CCPA staff members what questions they are hoping to have answered by the debate, and by the campaigns in general. Here's what they said:

Trish Hennessy, Director, CCPA-ON

What do you plan to do for the middle class besides offering more tax cuts, given that tax cuts deprive us of needed revenue to invest in public programs that benefit everyone?

Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist, CCPA-BC

Many Canadians recognize that the current economic strategy -- narrowly focused on resource extraction industries like oil, gas and mining -- is both economically and environmentally risky. How do you plan to do to create meaningful, sustainable, family-supporting jobs across Canada?

There are at least 135,000 fewer young Canadians working today than in 2008. Youth underemployment is an even bigger problem, with a large number of youth with post-secondary education employed in low-skilled jobs in retail or food services. What is your plan for dealing with youth unemployment and underemployment?

Erika Shaker, Director, Education Project

Canada recently was the target of pointed criticism from the UN Human Rights Commission regarding our treatment of First Nations, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and refugees. What tangible steps will be taken to meet our international human rights obligations in these and other key areas identified by the UNHRC? What mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the public funding required to honour these commitments is adequate, sustained and guaranteed -- and meets the needs that have been identified by the communities most affected?

Lynne Fernandez, Senior Researcher, CCPA-MB

Given the crucial role that unions played in forming the Canadian middle class, and the fact that declining unionism is now contributing to the shrinking of the middle class, what is your position on unions in Canada? How do you see government's role in promoting unionism?

Thi Vu, Project Manager, CCPA-BC

A national child-care program is long overdue. It would greatly benefit Canadian families, create good, green jobs, and would have significant benefits for the economy. If your party is in government, will you implement a national child-care program?

Stuart Trew, Editor, CCPA Monitor

During this year's parliamentary and senate hearings into recent anti-terrorism legislation (Bills C-51 and C-44), virtually every witness urged the government to improve on Canada's accountability regime for national security, yet the government ignored them. Public and parliamentary oversight of Canada's security activities will be all the more important in light of the controversial new powers given to CSIS in the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 to detain people and disrupt potential threats to Canada. How will you and your party make sure these new powers are not abused, and that Canada's security agencies are held to account for their actions? Will you promise to have Canada finally adopt the recommendations of the Arar Commission with respect to oversight of Canada's too-often-unaccountable national security agencies?

Molly McCracken, Director, CCPA-MB

How will your party implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? How will you work with First Nations peoples to improve living conditions on reserves and social and economic opportunities? Will you remove the cap on federal funding to Aboriginal communities and reinstate the $20 million annual funding for Aboriginal organizations that was cut in 2012?

Kate McInturff, Senior Researcher, CCPA

Violence against women directly affects millions of women and girls in Canada at a cost to the economy of over $12 billion annually. Rates of violence against women have changed little over the past decade. If elected, what would you do to end violence against women?

Scott Sinclair, Trade and Investment Research Project

Supply management is a $27-billion industry that supports thousands of family farms and rural communities in all regions of the country. Producers receive prices that cover their cost of production and provide a fair return, while consumers benefit from having a fresh, local supply of milk, eggs and poultry at reasonable prices. Supply management is under attack in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Will your party fully protect supply management from any erosion by the TPP?

Investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) allows foreign corporations to sue states for compensation whenever they feel a policy or regulation interferes with their investment or profit expectations. Because of NAFTA, Canada is now the most-sued developed country in the world. Will your party oppose the inclusion of ISDS in the Canada–EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), especially given that ISDS is so unpopular in Europe that it threatens to block CETA's ratification.

David Macdonald, Senior Economist, CCPA

We'll likely be in a recession by the time the election is underway, although we've been having weak growth ever since the Great Recession. What is your plan to get us out of this recession and the slow growth that preceded it?

Marc Lee, Senior Economist, CCPA-BC

Scientists tell us that some two-thirds to 80 per cent of the world's proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay undeveloped due to climate change, and this percentage could be much higher for Canada. How should Canada respond to this challenge and what kind of leadership should the federal government play?

Bruce Campbell, Executive Director, CCPA

Canadians trust their government to protect their health, safety and environment. The Lac-Mégantic rail disaster broke that trust and exposed multiple regulatory failures behind the accident. The government assures us that it is taking all necessary measures to ensure transportation of oil by rail is safe. It cites the 2014 Transportation Safety Board report as the last word. However, there remain too many unanswered questions about the fundamental causes. As with other major industrial accidents, would you call a public inquiry into Lac-Megantic to get to the bottom of what went wrong to make sure it never happens again?

Photo: European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari/flickr

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