Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canada’s governor general to dissolve parliament for a 40-day federal election campaign. The election will be held on Oct. 21.
“In every election, as Canadians, we get to make an important choice for the future of our country. We get to decide what kind of future we build together,” said the prime minister in a press conference last Sept. 11.
The 2019 campaign, leading up to election day on Oct. 21, is taking place only months after Trudeau violated Canada’s Conflict of Interest Act. He accepted full responsibility for attempting to influence the attorney general during the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a Quebec-based construction company that was bribery and fraud charges at the time. In the aftermath of these events, the upcoming federal election will determine whether the Liberal Party will retain a majority government.
Residents of the Hamilton West – Ancaster- Dundas riding will soon be electing their Member of Parliament.
The Silhouette spoke to Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green party candidates about how they believe their parties will benefit the students of McMaster.
Students interested in learning more about the candidates or their platforms should attend MacVotes’ Federal Candidates Debate in MUSC Atrium on Oct. 8, 2019.
Filomena Tassi, Liberal Party
The Honorable Filomena Tassi, the incumbent for the Hamilton West – Ancaster – Dundas (HWAD) riding, remains optimistic about the upcoming election.
“The Liberal Party has a plan, has values that we want to make sure Canadians embrace as we move forward,” she said.
For her, these values will lead to a diverse, open and inclusive government who believes in Canadians, who wants to give everyone a chance and who wants to level the playing field so that everyone has a just and fair chance at succeeding.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Tassi has been a high school chaplain for the past twenty years and believes that government policies greatly benefit from student engagement. Her re-election campaign is already underway and touches upon several issues she believes students are passionate about, including affordable housing and education, job creation and the environment.
“We have an advisory group that consists of representation from McMaster, Mohawk and Redeemer,” said Tassi.
According to Tassi, the advisory group meets on a regular basis and is continuously provided with input from leaders of these three post-secondary institutions. This is to ensure that the group is responding to the needs of youth and keeping their voices in mind when creating policy. Tassi stated that, if elected, she would continue consulting with student groups.
“I want to make sure moving forward that we continue on that same front, an open communication where the student leadership is able to share with me what the student body wants and is looking for from the Federal Government,” she said.
Much of the Liberal platform for the upcoming election is yet to be announced.
Bert Laranjo, Conservative Party
Bert Laranjo immigrated to Canada from Portugal at the age of nine and is a registered nurse by trade. Having managed Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s multi-million dollar emergency department, he believes he has the qualifications to serve as MP.
With regard to his role in the Conservative Party, Laranjo says that he wants to ensure, as Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said, that the healthcare system remains intact and that funding continue to be transferred towards the provinces.
“Most families are feeling … they are short at the end of the month and just getting by. We don’t want you to just be getting by. We want to help Canadians to get ahead. To have money set aside for education, have money to pay bills,” said Laranjo.
According to Laranjo, the Conservative government will serve students by prioritizing job creation.
“That’s something that the Conservative government has always been focused on — to make sure when you come out of school that the opportunities are there so there’s a return on your investment,” he stated.
In addition to job creation, the Conservative platform includes reducing taxation on income bracket, repealing Bill C-69, which provides a process for assessing the environmental, health and socioeconomic effects for energy and resource projects, eliminating the Trudeau’s government carbon tax and attempting to end illegal border crossings into Canada.
Yousaf Malik, NDP
Yousaf Malik is a graduate from McMaster and holds an M.A. in economic policy. He has lived in the Hamilton West – Ancaster – Dundas riding for the last 10 years. In that time, he has been a public advocate for the voices of everyday Canadians, running for School Board Trustee in 2018.
“One of the main drivers for why I’m doing this is [that] we have four generations in the household, from my grandma who is 85 years young, to my son who is now almost nine months. And from what I see is, our government has consistently not followed through [on] their promises and commitments to all four generations,” said Malik.
He brings forward the issue of some students being unable to afford education. He refers to education as ‘the great equalizer’ and declares that education should not be limited to those who are able to afford a large loan or who have other resources to pay for school.
“I am so happy to be representing the New Democratic Party which is committed to increasing support for students and the increased federal bursary for students, working with provincial government and universities and colleges to reduce tuition with the ultimate goal of making university and college education post-secondary education tuition-free in Canada,” he stated.
He is also interested in Canadian healthcare system reform. He says the NDP is committed to creating head-to-toe coverage—including prescription medication, vision, dental and mental health.
“It’s not right that we have a system in Canada where you are able to see a doctor, but then at the end of the day, you’re not able to, in many cases, afford the medication you need to actually get better,” he said.
The NDP hope to lower Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio over the next decade; both the Conservatives and Liberals intend to balance the budget in the next five years.
Their platform emphasizes the creation of 500,000 affordable housing units and support first-time buyers, incentivized zero-emission automobiles and established a federal minimum wage of 15 dollars per hour.
Victoria Galea, Green Party
Victoria Galea is a McMaster alumnus, having graduated with an Honours B.A. degree and will soon complete an M.A. in International Relations.
She has served as the CEO for the Green Party Riding Association for the last two years and believes that the Green Party is the only legitimate option for voters interested in changes in climate action policy.
“This federal election is crucially important to make climate action policy happen. The Green Party is the only option if you care about [the] climate emergency,” said Galea.
On top of pushing towards free post-secondary education in Canada, Galea stresses the importance of mental healthcare on-campus. Having seen firsthand the lineup outside the McMaster health clinic, she mentions that the significance of mental healthcare providers is something the Green Party wants to put forward to effect — and one that people should support if they want ‘preventative’ and not simply ‘reactive’ mental healthcare services.
The Green Party platform this election may captivate the student audience with plans to forgive the portion of existing federal student debt, make college and university tuition free and provide 1 billion dollars annually to municipalities to hire youth.
“We can pay for all of Canadian students’ free post-secondary education by removing the current subsidies in place that the government provides to fossil fuel corporations,” she said.
“By no longer enabling the fossil fuel industry to develop, we are able to get better for every individual in Canada and not just the one per cent.”
The MP candidates stress the importance of youth participation in the upcoming election and emphasize the particular importance of this federal election for students and young adults.