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Q&A - Mel Arnold

(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 did not sign the pledge.

Actual legal rights require legislation and some system of enforcement and recourse for people whose rights have been violated. The rights mentioned in the pledge are certainly positive notions, but we must also consider who is responsible to ensure and uphold these rights.

If a wildfire sparked by lightning strike spews smoke across the province and our right to clean air is violated, who do we turn to for recourse? The government? The police? The United Nations?

I know that around 114 of my MP colleagues have signed this pledge and I do not criticize their support in the slightest. However, it is unclear how the proposed rights can be upheld or ensured for all Canadians and perhaps these positive aspirations should be accepted for being just that.

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

If I am not elected, I will continue my work and volunteerism as a conservationist, contributing to on-the-ground and in-the-stream work to conserve a healthy environment.

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 SNC-Lavalin scandal demonstrated the incredible pressure and influence that a multinational corporation can exert, with success, when it targets a government as pliable as the Trudeau government. I support law and order and the principle of equality under the law; it should not matter who you are or who you know that determines justice- what you do is what matters.

As you know, trilateral renegotiations of NAFTA welcomed by the Trudeau government resulted in the signing of the Canada-United States- Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) which will replace NAFTA once it is ratified by all signatories. To date, only Mexico has ratified CUSMA as the Canadian ratification bill died on the Order Paper and the US Congress has yet to initiate its ratification legislation.

Hopefully we will know in the next year whether North American trade will proceed under the former regime of NAFTA or the new CUSMA agreement that could be yet amended through ratification legislations in Canada or the US.

If the final text of the CUSMA includes any condition allowing any entity to pollute our air soil and waters with impunity, I will strongly oppose the condition in Parliament.

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?

The decision to sell a business should be a business decision. That said, there are cases where the federal government reviews the sale and acquisition of a business and assesses factors such as national security. Although the practices described above are underhanded, their eradication would seemingly require a prospective owner to commit to ownership for life and likewise commit to keep the business operating indefinitely, even if the operation is not profitable.

That said, I believe that there is a need to adjust laws to increase protection for Canadians employed by large companies such as Sears that go bankrupt in Canada.

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?

I believe that natural gas is an alternative to other energy streams such as coal and transitioning society and industry towards clean alternatives can be incentivized by governments but is ultimately driven by buy-in of those consuming the energy. Jobs naturally follow demand and are also created when energy production is labour intensive or requires specialized human labour.

A couple of months ago, I met with a couple of constituents in Salmon Arm who had helped organize the New Green Deal meeting there and they shared some of the opportunities that they see for adoption of solar technologies in our region and beyond. I think that using solar can make sense if it is proven to provide energy cost savings without sacrificing dependability, especially during the short days and long nights of the Canadian winter.

I stand with the Conservative Party commitment to support the development of green technology to make environmentally friendly alternatives available to Canadians. I believe this will foster growth of demand for environmentally friendly alternatives which in turn will create jobs.

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?

I am supporting the Conservative Party’s environmental plan that will conserve our environment for future generations, protect our children from the effects of climate change, and make a real impact on global emissions reduction.

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?

As the carbon tax in British Columbia and Norway have demonstrated, carbon taxes do not reduce emissions; they add a monetary cost to emissions. Some may see this as an incentive for us to use less emission-causing commodities like heating fuels, but Canadians use heating fuels out of necessity. 

The Conservative environmental plan targets this factor of necessity by proposing a two-year Green Homes Tax Credit (GHTC) for homeowners to help pay for energy-saving renovations. The GHTC could be claimed form improvements including:

  • Installation of high-quality insulation;
  • Investments in high-efficiency furnaces;
  • Replacement of doors and windows with more efficient models;
  • Upgrading of ventilation, heating and cooling systems; and,
  • Installation of solar panels.

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?

I see a lot of rethinking happening across Canada and am glad the Conservative environmental plan contains the sort of innovative policy proposals that result from reassessment. I will continue to promote the Conservative environmental plan and its realistic proposal that will deliver real results in confronting climate change.

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.

Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is responsible for administering the Pest Control Products Act on behalf of the Minister of Health and Health Canada. Earlier this month, Health Canada proposed the cancellation of many uses of chlorpyrifos (the family of pesticides of which Chlorpyrifor is a member) following the conclusion of an Updated Environmental Risk Assessment.

I think it is appropriate to allow PMRA and Health Canada complete the current re-evaluation process.

Glyphosate was re-approved by Health Canada in 2017 and I have not reviewed their approval documents, but I do believe that applications of glyphosate must adhere to all regulations and directions established for glyphosate products.

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?

Because I grew up on a farm, I have a good understanding of how agriculture is an important part of our local economies, history and culture and the sector continues to evolve. This evolution is truly a transformation being driven by farmers pursuing the opportunities of innovation. 
Farmers are doing their part in the fight against climate change by improving land-use practices like zero tillage and the use of 4R Nutrient Stewardship. The Conservative Party recognizes farmers’ contribution in sequestering carbon.

The Conservative Party is committed to working with farmers to increase the efficiency of fertilizers and land-use methods, maximize the potential of agricultural land to sequester carbon, and ensure that best practices keep pace with the most recent advancements in technology and practice.

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?

The Conservative Party is committed to updating Canada’s strategy to protect our forests and the good jobs in forestry industries from invasive species and pests by reviewing and updating the Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada, as well as the invasive species action plans. A Conservative government will also build on the important work that is done by Parks Canada to control pest species that pose a substantial threat to forest and health.

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.

No. While Canada and Norway are both great nations, we are also different. Clearly, there is much Canada may learn and adopt from partners such as Norway, but policies and legislation for Canada are best-produced by Canada’s Parliament and representatives elected by and accountable to Canadians.

There are observations that Canadians should note as we observe the Norwegian carbon tax and its 28-year history. Norway’s GHG emissions have increased since they introduced their carbon tax in 1991. Also, “extensive tax exemptions” in Norway’s carbon tax regime contribute to the “relatively small effect” that the tax has achieved.

If the purpose of a carbon tax is to simply raise funds for social and environmental initiatives, carbon tax proponents should say so.

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

I believe that when we assess the value and cost of an activity such as flying, it is important to consider necessities. For instance, I fly frequently most of the year because the House of Commons calendar requires me to be in Ottawa for about 25 weeks or more of the year.  I am also expected to be accessible to the constituents of my riding during that time requiring travel back to the riding during longer sitting sessions of the House of Commons. So, while it is necessary for me to fly to be at work in Ottawa, perhaps there is a way that Parliament’s operations could be modernized in a way that would allow me to do more of my work right here in the North Okanagan-Shuswap and this could reduce the amount of flying for Parliamentarians.

Canadians today are more mobile than previous generations which means there are a lot of grandparents, parents and children crossing Canada’s skies to reunite. Canada’s population is aging which means more and more of us are retired and have more time to do things like visit family. This factor of having time could perhaps allow us to rediscover efficient rail or ship travel to connect with loved ones.

 

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