Victoria candidates speak out on housing, climate and COVID-19

Jordan Reichert is the Animal Protection Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Reichert)Jordan Reichert is the Animal Protection Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Reichert)
Janis Zroback is the Communist Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of Janis Zroback)Janis Zroback is the Communist Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of Janis Zroback)
Hannah Hodson is the Conservative Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of the Hannah Hodson campaign)Hannah Hodson is the Conservative Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of the Hannah Hodson campaign)
Nick Loughton is the Green Party candidate for Victoria. (Photo courtesy of the Nick Loughton campaign)
Laurel Collins is the NDP candidate for Victoria. (Courtesy Laurel Collins campaign)
John Randal Phipps arrived to Victoria in 1982, and launched the city's first pedicab buisness - Kabuki Kab - three years following. (John Randal Phipps)
Nikki Macdonald, the Liberal candidate for Victoria, says her background in environmental research and agencies makes her the best suited to tackle climate change. (Photo courtesy of the Nikki Macdonald)

In the runup to the Sept. 20 federal election, Black Press Media asked the candidates in Victoria a series of questions.

BPM: With homeownership out of reach for too many in Greater Victoria and rent for an average one-bedroom reaching $1,700, what will your party do to stabilize housing costs?

Jordan Reichert – Animal Protection Party: The Animal Protection Party of Canada recognizes the lack of affordable, pet-friendly, and safe housing for people across Canada. We will rein in the price of housing by ending foreign and domestic speculation on real estate, investing in the construction of a diversity of housing across the country, implementing a rent cap to freeze increases while the housing supply is built, taking steps to decommodify housing, and making the home-buying process more transparent and less competitive for all to participate in equitably.

Janis Zroback – Communist: What we need is social housing. The Communist Party proposes to enact a federal policy that recognizes housing as a human right, and makes housing a public utility. The mass construction of low-cost public rental units, with rent prices geared to no more than 20 per cent of tenant income, would put a huge dent in the prices of housing all across the market. We would use the latest green technologies to make units efficient and eco-friendly. This also will stimulate the economy by bringing in good jobs in construction, trades, and manufacturing.

Hannah Hodson – Conservative: The Conservative Party’s Canada Recovery Plan will make homes more affordable for owners as well as renters. Our plan will see one million homes built over the next three years, will release at least 15 per cent of federal land to build on and ban foreign investors from buying homes in Victoria if they are not planning to move to the country. We will encourage foreign investment in purpose-built rental and partner with municipalities to bring new rental units into the market. We will also implement a “For Indigenous, by Indigenous” housing strategy in the spirit of reconciliation.

Nikki Macdonald – Liberal: We can leverage the Liberal government’s commitment to housing by working with the province, local governments and community stakeholders to better plan for housing needs. This includes addressing the “missing middle.” A Liberal government will continue to work to stop “renovictions” by deterring unfair rent increases, require landlords to disclose, on their tax filing, the rent they receive pre- and post-renovation, and implement a proportional surtax if the increase in rent is excessive.

A Liberal government will introduce a rent-to-own program to make it easier for renters to get on the path towards home ownership. It will support the creation of a stream for renters and landlords, particularly those in condo settings, to enter into a rent-to-own agreement and commit $1 billion in loans and grants to develop and scale up rent-to-own projects with private, not-for-profit, and co-op partners.

Nick Loughton – Green: With homeownership out of reach for too many in Greater Victoria and rent for an average one-bedroom reaching $1,700, what will your party do to stabilize housing costs?

Decades of inaction by all levels of government have left us in a rental housing crisis. We have consistently failed to build adequate affordable housing in Victoria. This issue has been exacerbated by stagnant wages, which have failed to increase relative to the cost of living or even inflation. The federal government must invest and produce meaningful and ambitious targets on new affordable housing, provide a Universal Basic Income, and raise wages in federally-regulated industries to be living wages.

John Randal Phipps – People’s Party: With regards to the high rental rates for housing the People’s Party members would influence the Bank of Canada to forecast and implement a slow but steady increase in the bank rate in order to increase the cost of capital for borrowing. It’s a tough but necessary measure that will ease the overheated housing market. Beyond that, more needs to be done to lessen the additional regulatory costs for developers in exchange for them to build more affordable rental units. Additionally, governments of all levels need to seriously reduce their tax/fee loads on housing and incentivize developers to increase the inventory. (Too many pigs at the trough…)

Laurel Collins – NDP: Everyone deserves a safe, affordable home. The Liberals keep talking about housing, but they have failed to help families struggling to keep up with rising costs. The NDP has a plan to invest right now to create 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing – building the rental, cooperative, and social housing that is so desperately needed. We’ll also provide up to $5,000 in immediate relief to renters, and help put an end to speculation that’s fuelling high housing prices with a 20 per cent foreign buyer’s tax.

READ MORE: Victoria electoral district

BPM: What sacrifices must Canadians be willing to make in order to reach our targets for climate change?

Janis Zroback: The idea that Canadians in general must make ‘sacrifices’ to curb climate change obscures the fact that it’s really a few large corporations which are responsible for the climate disaster. Let’s place the blame where it belongs. The owners of big oil, the logging companies and the arms manufacturers are profit-driven to kill life on this planet. The Communist Party will stop selling oil to the U.S.A., divest from fossil fuels, defund the military which accounts for 59 per cent of Canada’s GHG output, and enact a just transition to a green economy, with renewable energy and mass transit.

Hannah Hodson: Protecting the environment is one of the issues I care most about as a candidate. Climate change is real and addressing it requires sustained, coordinated action across governments and between countries. Our Canada Recovery Plan will fight climate change and protect the environment, but it won’t do it on the backs of hard-working Canadians or by hurting our economy. Instead of sending your money to Ottawa, Low Carbon Savings Accounts will help Canadians make the greener lifestyle choices that best suit their families. We are committed to meet our Paris targets and reach net-zero by 2050.

Nikki Macdonald – I believe effective climate policy recognizes that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. A fight against climate change is a fight for jobs. To be competitive in today’s global economy, we must work to meet our international climate action goals. The huge economic and social costs of failing to take climate action are the real danger. The Liberal government passed landmark climate accountability legislation and introduced a bold climate action plan that has been lauded by Nobel Prize climate scientist, Dr. Andrew Weaver. A Liberal government will continue the work to cut pollution; create green jobs; adapt and protect against the impacts of climate change; and protect our natural environment.

Nick Loughton: Investing in going Green will be a massive benefit to the Canadian economy. The cost of inaction on climate change is too great to ignore – global GDP could shrink by two per cent by 2060 with a financial cost of over $6 trillion to G7 countries. By 2050, we could have over one billion climate migrants globally.

We must be all hands on deck in creating our Green future. Government investment in energy-efficient housing and clean energy generation will result in a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. Canadians will join this fight as we produce and shop more locally, and work to decrease the size of everyone’s carbon footprint. The sacrifices required of climate action pale in comparison to the devastating consequences of inaction.

John Randal Phipps: Regarding climate change, Canadians are already taxed enough already so we favour the ending of Carbon Taxation. Additionally, with fourth generation nuclear power (very clean/safe) coming online over the next decade, much of our energy needs will transition over time. (I’m a conservationist that will support clean soil, water, and air).

Laurel Collins: Canadians understand the importance and urgency of climate action and they want to do their part. But the Liberals continue to let big polluters off the hook.Justin Trudeau bought a pipeline and has given out billions in subsidies to big oil and gas companies. The NDP’s climate plan takes bold action on the climate crisis, creates good jobs and makes life more affordable. We will eliminate fossil fuel subsidies once and for all, retrofit all homes across the country, and create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs by investing in clean energy, energy efficient affordable homes, green infrastructure, zero-emission vehicles and transit.

Jordan Reichert: Canadians must recognize that as much as we want politicians to solve the climate crisis, the status quo political parties have failed to take action. It is up to each and every one of us to do our part and that means changing the way we live and consume. One of the most significant personal changes that an individual can make for the planet is to not consume animal products. Each of our candidates has made that same commitment. As a leading cause of deforestation, land and water use, biodiversity loss, and greenhouse gas emissions, animal agriculture needs to be phased out of our world.

READ MORE: A guide to casting your federal election ballot in Greater Victoria

BPM: What is your view of the provincial and federal measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Hannah Hodson: Canada must never again be caught as unprepared as we were when COVID hit. The Liberal government wasn’t ready and when the pandemic hit, they made bad decisions that cost lives and crippled our economy. Vaccines are the most important tools in the fight against COVID-19 and I encourage everyone in Victoria to get theirs.

Nikki Macdonald: I am proud of the measures the Liberal government put in place to stop the spread and manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Liberal government secured enough vaccine doses for every Canadian citizen, and has committed to ensuring Canadians have a free booster vaccination, if needed.

Nick Loughton: The best policies adopted by provincial and federal governments have been those that followed the recommendations of public health experts and professionals. Everyone should get vaccinated, remain physically distant, and wear a mask when indoors. I have been dismayed by people who seek to politicize the health and safety of Canadians. From the fringe far-right to the mainstream Big 3 parties, we have seen politicians seek to score cheap points on COVID-19 instead of reiterating the advice of public health experts.

We must all work together to ensure everyone gets vaccinated, remains physically distant, and wears a mask indoors.

John Randal Phipps: Regarding COVID, the PPC supports autonomy so we are pro choice when it comes to vaccines. We do not want Canadian society to become segregated for the sake of a virus which 99.5 per cent of those infected survive. We need to protect the elderly and go back to normal. Sweden is a perfect model to follow.

Laurel Collins: The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. The best way to get out of the pandemic and protect everyone is for everyone to get vaccinated.

The NDP would require those in federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated and supports making them mandatory in workplaces that deal with vulnerable people – like schools, health facilities, and long-term care. It should be easy for Canadians to get a vaccine, and prove they have one. Working with provinces, we would ensure people in communities with low vaccination uptake have easy, barrier-free access and all the information they need to feel secure in getting vaccinated, so that no one gets left behind.

Jordan Reichert: Federally, I believe that the response to COVID-19 has been adequate in protecting Canadians economically from the pandemic. Provincially, Vancouver Island and B.C. have been leaders in minimizing transmission, and as a health-care worker, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all my colleagues who have been on the front lines day after day giving their all. As COVID-19 is most likely a zoonotic disease transmitted from animals to humans, I believe that it is up to all levels of government to do everything possible to mitigate opportunities for future pandemics, and that means ending the global trade in wildlife, as well as transitioning away from animal agriculture.

Janis Zroback: It’s been criminally negligent. All of the major parties have failed. COVID-19 hit hardest on the populations most exploited and neglected by capitalism: workers in cramped factories and warehouses, and elderly populations in for-profit care homes. Now the Delta variant is running rampant. As a hospital worker, I’ve seen how this virus has affected patients and nurses alike. Our mythologized health-care system has buckled under the pressure. Big Pharma has made massive profits off of the vaccines that we need to survive. Canada took from the COVAX program which was meant to help poor countries buy vaccines. The politicians and the profiteers should be made to pay for their criminal negligence.

READ MORE: Election 2021: Who are your Greater Victoria candidates?


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