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Party Leaders Head to Winnipeg Ahead of Federal By-Election

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Friday, June 02, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh travelled to Winnipeg to support their candidates running in the 2023 federal by-election

The by-election will be held on June 19, 2023, and includes two ridings in Manitoba, Winnipeg South Centre and Portage-Lisgar. The Winnipeg South Centre riding, which historically has voted predominantly Liberal, was most recently represented by Jim Carr from 2015 until his death in 2022. Names on the ballot will include Carr’s son, Ben Carr, for the Liberals, Tylor Baer for the PPC, Damir Stipanovic for the Conservatives, Julia Riddell for the NDP, Douglas Hemmerling for the Green Party, along with dozens of independents, some who signed up as part of a Longest Ballot Committee. The Winnipeg South Centre by-election will have the largest number of candidates in Canadian election history.

Full list of candidates in the Winnipeg South Centre riding.

In the riding of Portage-Lisgar, held by the Conservative Party since 2003, Maxime Bernier, running for the PPC, believes he’s got a good chance in the region, saying it will be a “two-horse race.” In 2021, the PPC received just over 20 per cent of the vote. With “special meet and greet” events in Winkler, MB, Poilievre and Conservative Party Candidate Branden Leslie look to solidify their support in the region.

Full list of candidates in the Portage-Lisgar riding.

While in Winnipeg, Poilievre held a press conference to speak about the carbon tax and plans to counter crime rates in Winnipeg. U Multicultural spoke with Poilievre to learn more about his party’s policies and platform.

Cost of Living and Inflation

Inflation and the cost of living continue to be a top concern for Canadians. Many struggle to meet their day-to-day needs while corporations continue to make record profits. According to a report by Swiss bank UBS during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the extremely wealthy increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%), an equivalent of more than $10 trillion. In a report from Oxfam, of the $42 trillion in new wealth created in the first two years of the pandemic, two-thirds went to the wealthiest 1 per cent of the world’s population. The wealthiest in Canada saw their wealth grow by 51 per cent.

We asked Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre how his party would address these challenges Canadians face.

What policies will your party implement to address inflation and the cost of living?

“I’ll bring home lower prices by ending the inflationary carbon tax and deficits. That will bring down interest rates and inflation. I’m also going to lower income tax so that people bring home more of their paycheck. That’s a common sense approach and will make it possible for people to enjoy a good home, nutritious food, a good living and a great life.”

How will the Conservative Party address increasing income inequality in this country?

“We’ll incentivize city governments to speed up housing permits. I’ll require that big cities permit 15 per cent more home building per year or lose their infrastructure money. But if they allow more home building, I’ll give them a bonus. Extra money so that they’re incentivized to build, build, build. Finally, I’m gonna require every federally funded transit station to have high-density housing around and on top. I’ll sell off 15 per cent of federal buildings to turn them into affordable housing. This is a common-sense plan to bring millions of homes for our young people, our working class, and our immigrants.”

Health Care

Recent budgets have allocated funding for facility upgrades and more ICU beds in Manitoba. The 2022 budget included an investment of over  $7.2 billion investment to strengthen health care, and budget 2023 allocates $7.9 billion for health, an increase of about 9.2 per cent.

However, despite details from the pre-election budget, the years of cuts and a struggle to maintain staff have stretched Manitoban health care thin. A draft report commissioned by the provincial government says two-thirds of health care workers report burnout, and more than half have considered looking for a new job.

Poilievre says he will streamline the process for immigrant doctors and nurses to practice in Canada to meet the demand for staffing.

How would the Conservative Party help reduce wait times in Manitoba if elected?

“We have 20,000 immigrant doctors and 32,000 immigrant nurses that are banned from practicing in our hospitals. Why? Because they can’t, they have no simple way to prove their qualifications. My common sense plan is a Blue Seal test for every regulated profession. It will be one test that every professional in their field would have to pass, and that would be a test available to immigrants. It would allow immigrant professionals to take a test and get an answer within 60 days, whether or not they can practice. Based on their abilities, not based on where they come from.”

There’s an unfortunate trend of provinces looking to private for-profit health services to alleviate clinic and urgent care wait times and the backlogs in surgeries. With many Manitobans struggling to afford housing and their basic needs, there is concern they may not be able to afford the care they need.

Poileivre says no one should be denied health care.

“Our system should provide prompt essential care to everyone who needs it using public health insurance. We’re going to continue to increase federal health-care transfers to the provinces so that public insurance can cover all of the essentials and that Canadians can get better care.”

The Manitoba Health Coalition has documented a timeline of health care in Manitoba.

Immigration

Immigration continues to be the main driver for population growth in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, from 2016 to 2021, immigration contributed to 79.9 per cent of the growth in Canada’s labour force, and approximately 75 per cent of Canada’s population growth comes from immigration. In some estimates, by 2036, immigrants will represent up to 30 per cent of Canada’s population.

How will the Conservative Party continue to support immigration initiatives and attract new residents to the country?

“What I will do is put in place performance standards for the many bureaucrats at Immigration Canada to more quickly process applications. Secondly, I’m going to make our system employer-driven, so employers who need workers will have a fast-track ability to bring in those workers from abroad first as temporary workers with permits and second turn them into permanent residents and citizens. We’re going to speed up family reunification, particularly for grandparents, aunts and uncles, who are coming to provide childcare so the mom and dad can go to work. Then third, we’re going to allow more privately sponsored refugees because we know private sponsorship by churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, gurdwaras, and non-profits is the best way to integrate and achieve success for newcomers.”

Crime Rates in Manitoba

In addition to discussing the carbon tax, Poilievre’s visit to Winnipeg was to share the actions his party will take on addressing crime. Winnipeg has seen violent crimes reach its highest levels in 13 years. Poilievre believes his “common-sense criminal justice reform,” claiming the Liberal government’s “catch and release policy,” has led to a revolving door for repeat offenders.

“My policy is jail and not bail for the most violent repeat reoffenders. Secondly, I will stop giving out taxpayer-funded narcotics. Instead, put the money into recovery and treatment that will bring home our loved ones drug-free. Third, instead of targeting lawful, licensed, trained and tested farmers, duck hunters and sport shooters. I’m going to put that money into reinforcing our borders to keep out illegal guns and putting repeat gun criminals in jail.”

The “catch-and-release law” is in reference to Bill C-75, which looked to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts, and make consequential amendments to other Acts. The Act was first introduced on March 29, 2018, and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

With violent crime in Canada up 32.4 per cent since 2015, an alleged killing of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala by a man out on bail, the deaths of other police officers, and violent crime attacks in major Canadian cities, many provincial leaders have been calling for the federal government to take a stronger stance on crime.

“Taxpayer-funded narcotics” refers to government-funded safe-supply programs implemented to reduce toxicity-related overdose deaths. Of the 35,000 deaths related to overdoses between 2016 and 2022, contaminated street drugs were a factor in 4 of 5 overdose deaths.

Supervised consumption sites are a proactive measure to reduce drug-related deaths through evidence-based harm reduction services. Sites like these are designated sites where people can use pre-obtained drugs under the safety and support of trained personnel, preventing overdose, reducing disease, and creating opportunities for those ready to connect with professionals and services to treat their addictions.

Manitobans can make their voices heard on what government they wish to see lead as they head to the polls on June 19.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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