Broadcaster Steve Paikan will moderate an English language election debate among the leaders of Canadaâ€™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 governmentâ€™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 governmentâ€™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 governmentâ€™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 â€œnot really serious and does not recognize the central message about how to slow climate change.â€ 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 youÂ 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.