November 20, 2019

Bardish Chagger and Mike Morrice high-fived and embraced following a federal election candidates forum at Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waterloo Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Chagger, the Liberal MP for Waterloo, Morrice, the Green candidate for Kitchener Centre, and Lori Campbell, the NDP candidate for Waterloo, sat down in front of a full sanctuary to state their cases and answer audience questions at the Shaping a Just Canada town hall.

The event opened with presentations by Citizens for Public Justice, which describes itself as “a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy.” Citizens for Public Justice co-organized the event with the Centre for Public Ethics at Martin Luther University College, federated with Wilfrid Laurier University.

Waterloo Liberal incumbent Bardish Chagger speaks as NDP candidate Lori Campbell and Kitchener Centre Green candidate Mike Morrice look on at the Shaping a Just Canada town hall held at Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Caleb Burney/Spoke)

Waterloo Conservative candidate Jerry Zhang was scheduled to attend, but organizers announced he had a conflict.

The event concerned four areas of public policy: the environment, Indigenous relations, poverty reduction and refugee rights.

Here are some highlights of what the three candidates had to say.

Environment

Morrice: “We collectively have a gift. And the gift is that we are collectively the last generation — not millenials, not baby boomers — all of us together are the last ones who get to choose: are we going to turn the corner?”

Chagger: “People will say, ‘The targets, they’re not ambitious enough.’ For me, those targets are a floor, not a ceiling. So let’s beat those targets. And the people who deny that climate change is real, let’s bring them along with us.”

Campbell: “No, we would not buy a pipeline. I think that if we want to talk about relations with Indigenous peoples, I would rather have clean drinking water and a mercury health facility in Grassy Narrows ahead of buying another pipeline.”

Indigenous Relations

Chagger: “When we took office, there was 143 boiled water advisories. Today more than half have been lifted. And we are on track to have the remaining lifted by March of 2021, exactly how we committed.” (There were 105 long-term drinking water advisories in November 2015, and 38 advisories have become long-term since, for 143. More than 60 per cent have been lifted.)

Campbell: “I think it’s important that if we’re going to recognize Indigenous rights in this country that governments aren’t able to pick and choose which particular Indigenous rights that they’re going to support and not support.”

Morrice: “The U.N. General Assembly approved the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People(s) over 10 years ago. It was September 2007. And — the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People(s) is about free, prior and informed consent. It’s not simply to engage.”

Poverty

Campbell: “One of the things we will immediately do is get rid of the interest on federal student loans. … We don’t believe that a government should be making money off of students who are trying to go to school.”

Morrice: “We’ve got to ensure that everyone in our community has access to safe, affordable and dignified housing. And that starts with legislating housing as a legally protected human right.”

Chagger: “We brought forward the Canada Child Benefit, a tax-free measure that gave families and children that need the most, most. … What I’ve learned at the doors and having conversations is that the Canada Child Benefit is a form of basic income.”

Election day is Monday, Oct. 21.

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