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Andrea Gunner carrying Green Party banner into North Okanagan-Shuswap election

Gunner: 'Green Rush' time

As the Sept. 20 federal election nears, Castanet Vernon is speaking with the five North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates.

Each political hopeful was given five minutes to present their stance on several issues.

Each candidate was asked to speak one one or more of the following topics: housing affordability, pandemic response, climate change, debt/taxation, government transparency/honesty and First Nations reconciliation.

Each candidate also submitted a written article.

Andrea Gunner is carrying the Green Party banner into the national election.

There are affordable housing options that already have a proven track record in B.C., Canada and elsewhere: co-operative housing, co-housing, Abbeyfield Housing, Dignity Villages, and agri-hoods to name a few.

Locally, collaboration between various community interest groups with support at multiple levels of government have resulted in recent new housing options in both Salmon Arm and Vernon. BC Housing, the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation, Canadian Mental Health, Okanagan Indian Band, the City of Vernon and others have all worked together to address the most serious housing shortfalls.

With the recognition that housing unaffordability and homelessness are related national crises, there are several options:

  • Strengthen the regulations for foreign investment in residential real estate.
  • Create an “empty home” tax for foreign and corporate residential property owners of vacant buildings and units
  • Monitor and evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the Canada Housing Benefit Program and adjust as required to meet community needs
  • Prioritise funding for non-profit and cooperative housin
  • Directly help the very poor with reformed zoning, allowing churches and other groups to add below market homes to their land, residential infill zoning, legalising small group homes, to name a few options.

Debt/taxation

It is time for a Green Rush, as much of a transition as the Gold Rush was 100 years ago. Shifting jobs to green economies involves transitioning subsidies away from the oil and gas sector, instead supporting research and development and investing in training for the renewable energy sector. Major investments in 100 per cent renewable electricity delivered through coast to coast to coast grid will both move and store electricity.

Options to reduce the debt without raising taxes on lower and middle income earners:

Institute a full range of ‘polluter pays’ taxes, including a carbon fee and dividends designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels by sending a market signal to producers. All these taxes will be revenue neutral.

Apply border adjustments to ensure Canadian businesses do not face unfair competition from polluting jurisdictions. In order to maintain a level playing field for Canadian businesses with respect to foreign competitors, carbon-based tariffs will be introduced against countries that apply no carbon tax (or other equivalent mechanism to curb GHG emissions) or apply a lower rate of carbon tax than Canada. These border adjustments will also be distributed in the ‘dividend’ to Canadians;

  • Return Corporate Tax rates, except for the Small Business tax rate, to the 2008 level;
  • Eliminate personal taxes on incomes below the low-income cut-off (no taxes on incomes of $20,000 or less);
  • Review the economic and fiscal implications of returning to borrowing from the Bank of Canada;
  • Work with the provinces to increase taxes on tobacco and alcohol;
  • Encourage use of Canada Revenue Agency’s online NETFILE tax filing system (which saves Revenue Canada money) by giving users an automatic $10 tax credit;
  • Develop a specific tax-shifting schedule to provide tax incentives and direct rebates to businesses and individuals investing in the modern clean-tech economy (e.g. installing solar hot water systems, refitting homes and businesses to conserve energy);
  • Provide increased tax breaks for Canadians who donate to registered charities.

- Andrea Gunner



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