My questions for election 2008 debate

By Dennis Gruending

dg_hill_250.jpgBroadcaster Steve Paikan will moderate an English language election debate among the leaders of Canada’s five political parties on Thursday, October 2. He says that networks in the debate consortium settled on 10 questions to be asked. I have questions to pose about the election and I am sure that you do too. Please consider posting yours below in the Comments section found as you scroll down on this page. In that way, we can share notes and information to help us question candidates in community meetings or at the door. My first question to each of the five leaders is this: What value or principle do you hold most dear and tell us how it will help Canadians?

Question 2: Canada has been criticized by the United Nations for enduring levels of poverty among aboriginal people. Political and aboriginal leaders negotiated the Kelowna Accord in 2005 to invest approximately $5 billion into schools, housing and clean water in aboriginal communities. The Conservative government refused to honour that agreement. What will each of you do to restore that $5 billion investment in aboriginal people and their communities?

Question 3: At least 19 Canadians have now died from listeriosis after eating tainted meat products. This tragedy occurred after the government cut back on food inspections and turned much of its responsibility over to industry to police itself. One of a government’s basic responsibilities is to keep its citizens safe from harm, and that includes protecting us against being poisoned by the food that we eat. What will you do to restore the federal government’s role in keeping the food supply safe for Canadians?

Question 4: The Conservative government has chosen to provide $100 a month to parents with young children rather than proceeding with a childcare plan negotiated by the previous federal government, the provinces and territories. Parents and people who work in early childhood education say that the government’s modest tax breaks have failed and that there is an urgent need for more childcare spaces. What will you do to ensure that children can receive childcare while their parents go to work?

Question 5: Development of the tar sands has been proceeding at breakneck speed. These mega projects will create open pit mines in an area of northern Alberta equal to twice the size of New Brunswick. The projects are already polluting the river and lake systems and experts say that if they go ahead Canada cannot hope to meet even its modest commitments to reduce our levels of greenhouse gases. Peter Lougheed, the former premier of Alberta, has publicly criticized the rapid pace of development. How is it possible, if indeed it is possible, to develop the tar sands in a way that allows Canada to meet its Kyoto treaty commitments and to protect the land, air and water in Alberta?

Question 6: American economist William Nordhaus says that any politician who will not support placing a price on carbon is “not really serious and does not recognize the central message about how to slow climate change.” The Liberals and the Green Party want to introduce a carbon tax and use the money collected to reduce income and other taxes. The Conservatives oppose a carbon tax and say they will introduce intensity-based pollution targets for industry. That might slow the rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions but will still allow them to rise for many years to come. The NDP says it would tax big polluters while leaving individuals alone, and that it would use the money collected from corporations to invest in green programs and technology. The question to the Conservative and NDP leaders is this: How do you respond to the charge that by refusing to put a price on carbon consumed by everyone you are not serious about preventing climate change?

Question 7: The war in Afghanistan has now taken 100 Canadian lives with many more Afghan civilians being killed and maimed. A Liberal government sent our troops to that country and a Conservative-led government voted to keep them there. The prime minister now says our troops will come home in the year 2011 no matter what happens. The question to the prime minister is this: You used to tell Canadians that the Taliban were a direct threat to our security but now you appear to be saying that is not the case. Have 100 Canadians die for nothing?

The question to the NDP, Green and Bloc Quebecois leaders is this: You have called for the immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops. How do you respond to the fear that to withdraw immediately would lead to chaos and civil war in Afghanistan?

Question 8: A growing number of Canadians are weary of violence and war and are seeking ways to create a sustainable peace. They are lobbying the Canadian government to create a Department of Peace. The minister in charge would be responsible for creating and supporting activities that promote a culture of peace and non-violence in Canada and the world. The question to all leaders: We already have a Department of National Defence. What will you do to promote a Department of Peace?

This, obviously, is but a short list of questions that could be asked of our political leaders. Please use the Comments section below to share a question or questions that you would like to see asked of candidates during the remainder of the campaign.

9 thoughts on “My questions for election 2008 debate

  1. A 2003 report for the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia found that large and growing majorities in Europe support the idea that, “the limits to multicultural society have been reached.” In Denmark, for one example, you may only apply for citizenship after seven years of residency and after passing tests on Danish language and history. The Danish Minister of Immigration has declared that, “as a Liberal” she would always “respect different religions, different cultural backgrounds” but at the same time “there is an agreement among all Danes, whatever their faith or culture, that certain values are fundamental and must be respected. They are not especially Danish values,” she says, “but they are Western fundamental values. It’s democracy. It’s freedom of speech, freedom to choose your religion, or not to choose your religion… It’s rule of law.”

    I would like to know the views of candidates on the fundamental values espoused by Canadians and how those values should be transmitted to those who seek the privilege of Canadian citizenship.


  2. No one denies that economic realities have had a significant negative impact on the Canadian forest industry, a huge contributor to our economy, but there is no doubt that since the Conservative governments 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States there have been hundreds of mill closures, thousands of jobs lost, families are being broken many forced into bankruptcy and forest dependent communities are struggling to survive all with no end in sight.

    Question – What will you do to help these struggling families and communities weather the storm and what will you do to get the Canadian forestry industry back on its feet?


  3. It is known that some members of the Conservative party hold some very right wing/conservative views towards abortion,homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The current Conservative minority government has not chosen, nor did it hold sufficient votes, to promote their right wing social agenda within their current mandate.

    My question is for Stephen Harper:

    Question: If the Conservative Party receives the majority of seats in the upcoming election, would they reopen debate, in hopes of reversing the current legislation, on abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage?


  4. It’s time for a federal poverty reduction strategy. Successful anti-poverty strategies rest on four pillars: a vision with specific targets and timelines, a cross-government action plan and budget, mechanisms of accountability and agreed-upon poverty indicators in order to monitor progress.

    Four provinces have either established poverty reduction strategies, or like Ontario, are in the process of doing so. What is needed is federal collaboration.

    To all parties: Will you commit to developing a poverty reduction strategy with firm targets and timelines, adequate funding and annual reporting to Parliament in progress?


  5. The Canadian Economy is currently subsisting off of coal and other fossil fueled methods of producing electricity. These methods of producing power are producing more radioactive waste and dumping it into the atmosphere than most CANDU reactors produce yearly, and yet these fossil fuel plants produce only a fraction of the ammount of power that nuclear power plants produce. My questions are for all party leaders: will your party attempt to shift onto nuclear power plants and other alternatives, rather than relying on fossil fuel powered plants? and if they will attempt to switch to nuclear power, will a dedicated place for nuclear waste (such as the Yucca Mountain facility in the united states) be built?


  6. We have heard a lot about the family in this election. However there is a large part of the population that not one party has mentioned: the working single person living on their own. I am a single person with no dependents. Own my own home and have paid into school taxes and have supplemented family with my income. What are the leaders going to do for the single person who stands at the sink and eats and has nobody to help with where the increase in gas or taxes will come from?


  7. It presently appears that the public has no say in how Canada is run once the Party is elected. In the past, Prime Minister Harper has forced his party-elect to vote as per Harper’s ideology, not allowing the elected members to represent his or her own constituents.

    To all parties: Will your Party allow your elected members to represent his or her constituents in Parliament or will they require to obey your Parties ideology at all cost? Will the elected members be free to vote?


  8. While is is sad the we have lost 100 of our military personel in Afghanistan over the past five years it is sadder still that each year we experience thousands of deaths across Canada from motor vehicle fatalities. Laws are already in place that govern many of the causes of road deaths yet there seems to be difficulty in enforcement and convictions. What plans do each of our political parties have to address the carnage of the roads in Canada?


  9. The Church Council on Justice and Corrections also had many questions to ask our candidates, specifically in the area of criminal justice given the direction our country is taking.

    We sent a questionnaire to all parties, we received answers from the NDP and Green Party. Questions and answers can be found on our website at

    Here’s a sample of questions we would like to have answered by all candidates:

    Many victims of crime are very frustrated with the criminal justice system and its inadequate focus on care and attention to their needs. According to research conducted by Public Safety Canada, there is evidence that victims who participate in restorative justice programs experience more empowerment, less fear, higher levels of satisfaction, perceived fairness and accountability than participants in the traditional justice system; and a positive change in their psychological health.

    Q: What would you and your government do to provide better services and care to victims of crime?

    Canadian governments, federal and provincial, are planning to build new prisons. This policy has been followed in the US for over 30 years. Their experience and research have concluded that it has not been good value for money. Several of their jurisdictions are now changing the sentencing policies that led to a demand for prisons and came at the expense of essential services like health, education and housing.

    Q: Would you support a move away from sentencing policies in Canada, a move away from requiring more prisons? Why? How would you propose to change the current direction?

    We welcome everyone’s comments on our website!


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