CANADA VOTES 2021: Cambridge Riding Candidates
The Cambridge business community is seeking strong representation as it continues to forge a path towards toward economic recovery and ensuring more prosperous communities going forward in wake of the pandemic.
We reached out to the federal candidates vying to represent Cambridge – Liberal Party incumbent candidate Bryan May, Green Party candidate Michele Braniff and People’s Party candidate Maggie Segounis - with a series of questions to determine their priorities and goals.
(Conservative Party of Canada candidate Connie Cody and NDP candidate Lorne Bruce did not provide answers to these questions at publication time).
1. What type of leadership can members of our business community expect from you as our MP and why should they vote for you and your party?
Service and collaboration, plus challenging the ‘status quo’ were some of the sentiments expressed by the candidates.
Liberal Party incumbent candidate Bryan May says local business leaders can expect the same level of service and support he’s been providing the riding for the past six years helping them pursue federal grants, programs and supports to grow their business.
“Our government has been providing assistance through grants for innovation and research, export and import support through EDC, and direct support through FedDev here in Ontario,” he says.
Green Party candidate Michele Braniff says she will focus on a shared values and strong relationships for collaboration.
“I’m an entrepreneur and have both practical and academic experience and training in social innovation to explore creative solutions and win/win results,” says Michele, whose had a varied career as a lawyer, mediator, and non-profit mental health service provider, and currently teaches social justice courses. “The business community needs to rely on the federal government to create conditions for: stability in the markets; consistency/predictability in regulations, laws and taxation; and conditions that promote well-being for employees and their families. The climate crisis is urgent and government leadership is essential.”
For People’s Party candidate Maggie Segounis, avoiding “unnecessary” lockdowns is something the esthetician and former restaurant manager says will be key.
“Over the course of one mandate, we (PPC) are going to reduce the corporate income tax rate from 15% t0 10% and ultimately get rid of the personal capital gains tax,” she says. “Meaning, businesses will have more control over where their profits go, and more money will be going into the pockets of Canadians.”
For Bryan and his party, he says their recovery plan offers businesses the best option.
“Our plan seeks to continue the programs that helped businesses through COVID-19 and pave the way for a more sustainable and profitable economy in the coming years,” he says. “We were there for businesses when they needed us.”
Re-imaging the future is key for the Green Party, says Michele, adding she aims to challenge the status-quo.
“During the Second World War, Canada had an all-party war-time cabinet; what if we had a Climate Crisis All-Party Cabinet? We need to be innovative, and we need to take an entrepreneurial approach to the climate crisis,” she says. “Vote for me to ensure a voice in Ottawa for a sustainable prosperous, healthy, and happy Cambridge now and for the future.”
2. What will be a top priority for you as our MP and what concerns are you hearing from the business community on the campaign trail?
There are several priorities the candidates have on their radar, including housing, the climate crisis and mandated lockdowns.
“We will lobby against all COVID-19 related mandates because we believe Canadians can make their own informed decisions and are responsible for their own health,” says PPC candidate Maggie Segounis.
For Liberal Party incumbent candidate Bryan May, affordable housing tops his priority list.
“Businesses must have talented employees that are willing to move to our area,” he says. “Life must be affordable so that people can continue to grow and expand the local economy. Affordable housing connects to every other aspect of people’s lives, our business community, our social fabric, and the strength of our region in the coming decade.”
Safeguarding the planet for future generations will be one of her main priorities as MP, says Green Party hopeful Michele Braniff.
“Some politicians talk as if we must choose between the economy and the environment, but the best prospect for Canadians is a Green Economy,” she says. “We have broad consensus for an economic recovery plan and so it most opportune to develop a fully costed, sustainable Green Recovery Plan that is evidence-based with a clear government action plan ensuring social justice and sustainable economic development.”
Michele says resilience is imperative and that she has heard stories of hardship from business owners and those in other sectors, many of whom have had to ‘pivot’ quickly to survive.
“We need serious federal investment in the social infrastructure which keeps us healthy and resilient,” she says. “At least some of the billions of dollars currently dedicated to fossil fuel subsidies and buying a pipeline would be far more wisely invested in the health, education and care of Canadians.”
Staff shortages is something Maggie says she’s been hearing a great deal about from business owners, adding the current government has made people reliant on government funds and has used “scare tactics” to keep them away from work.
“We will open up businesses and get people back into the workforce,” she says, adding drug injection sites is another concern businesses and residents have raised. “We want to promote clean and health living; we don’t want to encourage drug use; we want to end the problem not perpetuate it.”
Recovery, says Bryan, is something at the front of the minds of many business owners who fear what will happen in the next six to 12 months.
“With the U.S. going through an uneven recovery and still struggling with COVID-19, as well as some businesses here in Canada experiencing outbreaks and lower-than-normal customer orders, business owners are concerned about the coming fiscal year,” he says. “In order to combat this, we need to do two things: increase vaccinations and create a workplace standard for vaccinations and ensure that businesses are able to weather an uneven recovery.”
3. What supports will you champion to assist businesses and sectors that continue to struggle due to the pandemic?
In terms of supports for businesses, the candidates offered several views.
“The pandemic has been a crisis in which business, provincial, local and federal government have collaborated at an unprecedented level. Government leaders must continue these highly effective, efficient, evidence-based ways of working together to accomplish mutual goals,” says Green Party hopeful Michele Braniff. “Businesses and community need government leadership with respect to standardized requirements for masking, COVID-testing, vaccines and other safety precautions.”
For Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May, the continuation of current support programs for businesses – CEWS, CERS and CEBA - will remain important.
“We provided over $1.5 billion through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism that are key to the Region,” he says. “We are going to keep up this work by providing direct financial support – for employees, and subsidies for rent and operating costs. These supports help businesses stay open, bounce back fast and expand as the economy recovers.”
Keeping businesses open will play an important role for her as MP says PPC candidate Maggie Segounis.
“We will allow businesses to operate at full capacity with no restrictions at their own discretion,” she says. “This will help our economy flourish and return to where our businesses were thriving pre-pandemic.”
4. Will you support a national vaccination passport plan and national childcare strategy?
The candidates offered a few different opinions regarding these two issues.
Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May is in full favour of a national vaccination passport plan.
“The federal government has already mandated federal employees be vaccinated, and is requiring vaccination for federal travel (aircraft, trains, cruise ships etc),” he says. “We’re also providing funding for provinces that create their own vaccine passport plans and implement them.”
For Green Party hopeful Michele Braniff, an evidence-based decision-making approach when it comes to public health recommendations is crucial.
“In the same way that mandatory masks made it easier for businesses to keep their premises safe, I believe that a passport plan standardizes expectations for customers and clients,” she says. “The details and specifics of such a plan would be crucial to its success.”
PPC candidate Maggie Segounis is adamant no such plan should be imposed.
“Absolutely not,” she says. “We believe that nobody, but your personal healthcare professional should know or have access to your medical privacy.”
In terms of a national childcare plan, Maggie says her party’s focus is to get more children back into school.
“We will create more jobs, get parents back to work and build a stronger economy therefore Trudeau’s $10 a day daycare won’t overpopulate and overwhelm the childcare system and it won’t be an issue.”
Bryan, on the other hand, says the Liberal Party’s plan has already seen support from many of the provinces.
“This is critical to getting our workforce back to the workplace, and particularly supporting more women to enter the workforce, as we recover from the pandemic,” he says. “Childcare costs are a major financial burden for families, particularly with more than one child, and they prevent many women from entering the workforce.”
Michele supports a federally funded universal childcare system.
“What we need is ‘upstream thinking’: going to the source of the problem and investing in resilience and wellness for children,” she says. “Affordable childcare supports families and ensures stability and diversity in the workplace now and in the future.”
5. Do you see the possibility of collaboration between the Federal and Provincial levels of government on finding solutions to the growing shortage of doctors/nurses due to the impact of COVID-19 and mental health?
In terms of finding solutions to this issue, all three candidates are looking at different approaches.
“Federal-provincial, non-partisan collaboration is essential if we want to resolve this complex problem,” says Green Party candidate Michele Braniff, adding national standards and guidelines are essential due to shortages which are creating burn-out and compassion-fatigue for healthcare workers. “The healthcare profession has an international employment market, and we need to ensure efficient, accurate and fair national accreditation of foreign-trained professionals and also create working conditions and career paths that retain Canadian health professionals in Canada.”
Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May says his government will continue to invest in healthcare, including providing $3.2 billion towards hiring 7,500 new family doctors, nurses and NPs nationwide, plus boosting the salary of PSWs and expanding virtual healthcare services.
“Millions of Canadians face problems accessing primary care,” he says. “We want to help solve this problem and improve Canadians’ access to universal, public healthcare.”
For People’s Party of Canada hopeful Maggie Segounis, she says shortages will only continue and increase with “mandates” and “unconstitutional decisions”.
“Eighteen months ago, the nurses and doctors were considered our ‘frontline heroes’. Now, due to the provincial vaccine mandates, the government considers those working in the medical field who are unvaccinated ‘super spreaders’ and are releasing those frontline heroes because they decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
6. What inspired you to run in this election?
A desire to make our community a better place now and in the future is one of the reasons the candidates have their sights set on representing Cambridge in Ottawa.
“Our rights and freedoms are at stake, and I believe Cambridge needs the right representative to tackle the important issues. I am that representative,” says PPC candidate Maggie Segounis. “The younger generations need to have access to all the information, and they need to get excited about the democratic system.”
A better and greener future is important for Green Party candidate Michele Braniff, who is representing her party for the third time in this riding.
“I want to see politics done differently with proportionate representation and evidence-based decision-making with fully costed platforms where public funds are invested in programs that improve public welfare and community well-being,” she says. “The Green Party values, priorities, fully costed accountability, and its evidence-based policy information align with my values.”
For Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May, his desire for re-election centres on continuing to build a better community for his children.
“I want to build an economy and community that they will be happy and healthy to live in,” he says. “They are my inspiration for running, and a big reason I want to make sure all our children and youth have every opportunity and option available to them.”
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