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Q&A - Harwinder Sandhu

(click on question number to see all candidates' answers)
Everyone in Canada should have the right to clean air and a safe, healthy environment. In early May, SENS asked all candidates to sign a pledge to uphold this right.

a) Explain why you signed the pledge.

I signed pledge in a heartbeat as environment and sustainability is so close to my heart. Being a mother of 3 children I strongly support the climate action because I deeply care about their future and want to leave a healthy planet for my children and grandchildren. I am proud to share that the NDP has a bold, realistic and great plan towards the climate change, environment and sustainability. Late NDP leader Jack Layton have been the champion when it came to raise the climate crisis issue in Parliament House. Also numerous other NDP MPs like Leslie Murphy, Nathan Cullen  and list goes on have been genuinely committed toward the environment. This why I was very confident and proud to sign this pledge as I didn’t have to think twice.

b) Should you NOT be elected, what will you do locally to support everyone’s right to clean air and a safe, healthy environment?

Win or loose I will continue to fight for healthy environment as we all need to do our part. No one should do this just for a show or to get votes as it’s morally not right. I care because there is no planet B and we don’t have much  time left to act to save our planet. Overwhelming scientific studies have proved that, we are very close to the 6th extension of mankind if we continue to neglect this very serious crisis. I have been an advocate way before my candidacy and will be for rest of my life. I am not just  doing this for, I am also doing this for my kids and grandkids. My work and advocacy will continue till we get the concrete actions in place.

2. Jobs:

a) Multinational industries have a major influence on Canadian health, jobs, and laws. They can, through NAFTA, receive ‘damage’ costs AND pollute our air, soil and waters with impunity if they can show that our environmental laws impact their ability to make money. What will you do about this?

The new CUSMA (NAFTA) agreement made many concessions to the US including supply management, the price of medicine, and others. Our Climate Plan lays out a clear path that ensures people and the environment both win. It makes big polluters clean up or pay up including those multinational industries.

b) There are cases (e.g. Lavington Glass Plant and Nanaimo logging company) where a multinational company buys a Canadian company, then later (possibly having run it into the ground) closes it down to conserve jobs in another country. We lose well-paying jobs. How would you act to prevent this happening in the first place?

Investing in services that people rely on is good for workers and good for business. Canadians know that and so do businesses. Investments like pharmacare will save businesses a lot of money, more than $600 for every employee they currently insure.  Strong public services, affordability and a skilled workforce are all important factors for companies deciding where to invest. We will help companies reduce emissions and keep jobs here in Canada. New Democrats are making a commitment to workers most impacted by the changes in our economy that they will not pay the price of action on climate change. We will work together with labour, employers, and the provinces and territories to find solutions for workers and communities, including dedicated employment support combining access to expanded EI benefits, re-training, and job placement services, paired with significant investments to create quality, local jobs and support thriving communities.

c) For similar dollar investments, when 2 jobs are generated in the oil/gas industry, 15 jobs are generated in alternative energy (ref: Solar Living Sourcebook). According to the International Monetary Fund, our current governments pay subsidies of about $34 billion PER YEAR to the oil and gas industry (Tyee, May 15/14). Given the job benefits coming from alternative energy, what are you prepared to do to encourage jobs in alternative energy and to deal with oil and gas industry subsidies?

Access to training and education for the low carbon future. Creating 300,000 good jobs in energy efficiency retrofits, affordable housing, renewable energy, infrastructure and transit. Building more zero emissions vehicles here at home.  Our plan will create good jobs in all communities within a first mandate, and rebuild local economies with meaningful, family-sustaining work in every part of the country, all while helping to make the changes we need to succeed in a low carbon future.
Put an end to oil and gas subsidies as the first thing New Democrats will do if elected government.
Create a Canadian Climate Bank to spur investment in the low carbon economy.

Climate Change is real and happening around us all the time now. According to the UN, we only have 12 years to act before positive feedback loops create ever increasing wild and unexpected weather and global warming. It has already impacted locals due to health and business loss last year during the fires. 

a) What are you doing now, and what will you do to mitigate this disaster to reduce suffering of locals and other Canadians?

An NDP Government will:
  • Revise Canada’s 2030 GHG target to ensure emissions reductions are in line with stabilizing global temperatures at 1.5 degrees C and be accountable for meeting them through ambitious science-based greenhouse gas reductions targets. An NDP government will set interim emissions reduction targets leading up to 2030 and 2050. 
  • Create an independent Climate Accountability office to carry out regular audits of progress towards our climate goals.
  • Make all new buildings in Canada net zero ready by 2030 and complete energy efficiency retrofits on all existing housing stock in Canada by 2050.
  • Move towards free public transit and restore critical rural and northern transit routes.
  • Invest in high speed rail and ban single use plastics. 
  • Work with indigenous People as full and equal partners in the fight against climate change.

b) What will you do to ensure that carbon polluters (of air, water, land) will pay? B.C. did better than the rest of the provinces despite introduction of a carbon tax. What are your thoughts?

A New Democrat government will maintain carbon pricing with household rebates, while making the system fairer and rolling back the breaks for big polluters. We will make the federal government a leader on energy efficiency, clean technology and renewable energy use.

c) Many (companies/people) choose not to rethink, refuse, reduce or reuse because action will cost billions…but the cost of NOT dealing with climate change will cost trillions.  What will you do about it?

New Democrats will also support investments in innovative community owned and operated clean energy projects. In the transportation sector, New Democrats will expand public transit options with a focus on scaling up low carbon transit projects like zero-emissions buses and electric trains. Our vision includes Canadian auto manufacturers producing more ZEVs in Canada. To make it easier for families to afford a ZEV right away a New Democrat government will provide a $5,000 Federal purchase incentive with an additional break waiving the federal sales tax for working families. Over the next few years these incentives will grow in value to $15,000 and be targeted to made in Canada vehicles. 
We will ban single use plastics. and hold companies responsible for the entire lifecycle of their plastics products and packaging. We’ll help municipalities improve their waste management and recycling programs and work towards a zero-waste future.

The Canada Health Agency has allowed use of Chlorpyrifos pesticide (on many fruits and vegetables) despite scientific evidence showing it can irreversibly impact children’s brain development and hormonal systems. They also still allow use of Roundup. Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate “may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies” (Peer Reviewed Scientific Journal “Entropy”). Other supposedly inert ingredients in Roundup have now been proven to be deadly to human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells (Scientific American). Forestry in BC uses it heavily to kill all deciduous trees (shown to deter forest fires when part of a mixed pine/fir/cedar forest). Roundup is now in our underground and surface water and our soil.

If elected would you ban Chlorpyrifos and also follow the example of the Netherlands and other countries which have banned Roundup? Explain.

I personally have done lots  of study on cancer and other life threatening issues and links to Glyphosate and Chlorpyrifos. The reason for my own little research was when cancer struck my first husband at very young age despite him being non-smoker and non-drinker. When we use sprayed the veggies, fruits or crops, I see it as a “poison on the platter”. Which truly is the reality and we are seeing the rise in all sorts of cancers from kids to adults and many other life threatening health conditions. I am sad to see that, Canada still allows Roundup here as there is overwhelming research, supportive data, over 100 lawsuits against Monsanto and Roundup. It’s appalling to know, why Canada has not taken any actions yet.

I will stand to fully support the ban of Roundup, in fact I will also advocate for its ban.

A United Nations report called “Wake up before it's too late” calls for the transformation of agriculture saying we need “a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers”.

If elected would you work to make this change happen in our region and if so, how would you go about transforming our agriculture?

Food matters in Canada. New Democrats know that supporting our local food systems is essential to ensuring that Canadians have access to healthy, affordable food.   We will Invest in public agricultural research and plant breeding to support innovation and provide direct economic benefits to farmers.

We will invest in farming communities to make sure that they’re ready to respond to climate change.

New Democrats will also work together with farmers and food producers to develop a National Food Policy making our food systems stronger all across the country.

How will your party strike a balance between RESTORING (not just protecting) the ecological integrity of Canada’s forests (especially the massive boreal forest region) and the need for an economically and environmentally sustainable forestry sector?

As our environment changes, so too must the forestry industry.  The Federal Government needs to work alongside as a partner to ensure that Canadian Forestry continues to succeed, while meeting the HIGHEST environmental and sustainability standards.  A New Democrat government will support value-added Canadian wood products .  We will boost reforestation efforts to strengthen our climate resilience and ensure the sustainability of the forestry sector.  We will help protect  communities through forest management to mitigate forest fire risk, including by combatting the spread of the mountain pine beetle and improving coordination of fire prevention efforts across all level of government.

Transportation is one of Canada’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. 

a) Would you do as Norway did (well over $1 trillion US collected so far) and use carbon taxes for social and environmental initiatives (green spending and compensation for those who are disproportionally affected by a CO2 levy)? Explain.

A quality public transit system is essential to making our cities and towns run. Municipalities are already investing in making their transit systems better and more environmentally friendly. Now they need a Federal partner to help.

A New Democrat government will modernize and expand public transit in communities across Canada, and ensure that federal transit funding flows with an emphasis on scaling up low-carbon transit projects, like zero-emissions buses and electric trains, with the goal of electrifying transit and other municipal fleets by 2030.

A New Democrat government will modernize and expand public transit. We will also support creating high frequency rail along the Quebec-Windsor corridor and expand rail service options to other regions in partnership with the provinces and territories. We know that Canadians want to do their part to reduce emissions when they travel that’s why our plan will make it easier to get and use a zero emissions vehicle.

b) How would you approach the ‘elephant in the room’  - people who travel a lot by air, which greatly increases carbon emissions?

I am not reluctant to have the open dialogue on this issue. I personally only fly long distance like international or in winter when weather is pretty bad. I prefer to drive for the most part when I have to travel as it’s affordable, cheaper and have lower carbon emission. I believe we should all do our part and be mindful at every step of our life about our carbon foot prints. Second step to have the open ended conversion among each other to have this much needed discussion.

 

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