Through the lens of the Liberals
The man who many consider to be the dean of Canadian politics, Marc Garneau sat down with the CONTACT to talk about the prospects of the Liberal party in the 2019 elections and his hopes for the future of Canada.
He is also the first Canadian to travel to space and as it happened, it was also the 35th anniversary of his first trip into space.
Having had the privilege of seeing the vastness of earth as well as Canada from space Garneau says has room says the immigration and refugees debates that are raging now are a little out of context. “ We are a big empty country, and can always find space to accommodate a some people more,” he says.
And like most Federal politicians, he too is troubled by the on-going debates swirling around Quebec’s controversial Bill 21 that prevents people from wearing religious symbol in certain government positions.
He repeated the position of the Liberal Party Of Canada.
“First of all, we do not agree with Bill 21,” he asserts. “People do not have to choose between their jobs and their religion. The public can trust that we will be there to stand up for not only religious minorities but for the LGBTQ, the French language outside of Quebec and the English language in Quebec. The bill has been challenged in court and we will see how the court rules, the Prime Minister himself said that the Federal government can intervene…”
Although the Liberal Party has recently come under fire as a result of the recent pictures that surfaced, show Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in black and brown face, Garneau stands squarely behind his leader,
“I was disappointed when I saw it,” he says referring to the black face pictures.
“But he then came out apologized and has continued to apologize every time it has been brought up since, I felt his apology is sincere and we continue to support him. He said he had a blind spot. I genuinely feel that he regrets that. I have one hundred percent faith in him as my leader.”
He maintains that under the leadership of Trudeau, the Liberal government have not only met their expectations on many socio-economic issues but also surpassed them.
“I think he is the most progressive Prime Minister in the history of Canada,’ he says pointing to some of the inroads that have been made over the past four years
“The Liberal government is proud to have alleviated about 900,000 people out of poverty the figure includes 300,000 children and was as a result of the Child Care Benefit plan. This is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. Benefits are paid over a 12-month period from July of one year to June of the next year. Benefit payments are recalculated every July based on information from income tax and benefit returns from the previous year. “
He is also proud of the progress made on the Indigenous File
“He has, unlike any other prime minister not only talked about reconciliation but actually started working on it.”
He says the Liberal government gave themselves a target of 2021 to deal with the boil water advisories in the Indigenous reservations. So far they have done 87 out of 140 and he maintains that the government is on track to achieve their goals.
When asked what the overriding issue that defined this campaign
Garneau admitted that the conversation around climate change has taken over much of the campaign.
And so much of it revolves around pipeline and western alienation.
“Western oil has helped the economy,” Garneau admits, so it’s not fair to the people of Alberta and Saskatoon where oil and gas is a significant percentage of the GDP and if you suddenly remove that, it can lead to a recession. We need to do things in an intelligent gradual way. “
Garneau says they’re committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and have committed to legally binding milestones along the way.”
As Transport minister, he is pleased with the legislation that contributed to a new consciousness among drivers.
“On May the 1st the Federal government created an incentive by giving a $5000 rebate to those who buy smart cars and in Quebec the rebate can go up to $8000,” he explains, “and with that you find that the price of an electric vehicle is now close to what a standard vehicle would cost, and you would be doing a service to the environment. Since the 1st of May, the uptake to this initiative has been amazing particularly in Quebec. And that is something I am extremely proud of.”He believes that the Liberal party is the right vehicle to take Canada forward in all aspects, economic, environmentally, and socially.
“I think that this is a close election, you can see it from the polls, it will either be Conservative or Liberal, I am hoping that it will be Liberal and I am working hard to try and make that happen, but, the people will decide,”