Cambridge candidates on cost of living, environment and what you need to know about them

Candidates in Cambridge were asked to fill out a survey of four questions where they were asked about the environment, cost of living and the top concern for the city. These are their responses.
Five of the candidates for Cambridge are (from left), Liberal: Bryan May, Conservative: Sunny Attwal, Green Party: Michele Braniff, NDP: Scott Hamilton and People's Party of Canada: David Haskell. Also running are Manuel Couto of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada and George McMorrow of the Veterans Coalition Party of Canada. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Voters will head to the polls on Oct. 21 and in Cambridge people will have a choice between seven candidates.

The candidates in Cambridge are:

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo has asked the candidates to answer a survey. All were presented with the same questions. Clicking the candidate's name above will take you to their survey responses. The candidates were told they had a 200-word limit for answers.

Candidates who did not provide surveys by the deadline are invited to still do so and their responses will be added to this story when they are received.

Bryan May is the Liberal candidate for Cambridge. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Bryan May, Liberal Party of Canada


1. What is the top issue facing your riding right now and how would you address it?

The top issue Cambridge is facing right now is the housing crisis. There are not enough units available for the demand on the market, and not enough affordable housing units for those on wait lists in Waterloo region.

Affordable housing is a solution to the issues that so many people face. It's a big part of the puzzle when it comes to helping people end drug abuse, to finding a job, for keeping a family together, and for reducing poverty overall. A re-elected Liberal government would continue to address the housing gap by building affordable housing and renovating existing stock.

Already in Cambridge, $6 million has been spent on new and renovated affordable housing, and under the $55 billion National Housing Strategy, that building of new units will continue.

2. People are concerned about the cost of living and the future of the economy. What will you do personally to address this if you become an MP?

As your Member of Parliament, I will continue to fight for investment in Cambridge, and keep a close eye on the policies that affect families here. Our government has been addressing affordability directly — every year, through our government's Canada Child Benefit, Cambridge parents receive over $80 million dollars. This supports more than 23,000 children in our community. We will continue to invest in the services and programs that families depend on.

Our government has a plan to reduce cell phone bills, make housing more affordable for families, and support seniors who don't have the finances to retire securely. I will continue to fight for policies like this that put money directly into the pockets of middle-class families, and make life significantly more affordable for families.

3. The environment and climate change are top concerns for many. What do you want to see the government do to address those concerns?

Our track record on the environment speaks for itself, and I want our government to keep making progress. Our government put a price on pollution, polluting is no longer free in Canada. We will continue to take action on reducing emissions, supporting clean growth, and protecting and preserving our wildlife.

Our government has been working to transition away from a carbon-based economy, and we must continue this progress, because the economy and the environment go hand-in-hand, and we cannot have one without the other. I will continue to fight for greater investment in renewable energy, programs to grow green solutions like our electric vehicle rebate, preservation of Canadian wildlife and our plan to plant two billion trees.

4. What do people need to know about you as an individual?

I love Cambridge. I've lived here for two decades, and it's where I've chosen to raise my two children. Nothing is more important to me than helping families in this community succeed and access the help they need when they're facing challenges.

Even before being your Member of Parliament, I spent my career serving our community in non-profit organizations like the YMCA,the Boys & Girls Club, and the University of Waterloo. I will always fight for our community, and the people that live here.

Sunny Attwal is the Conservative candidate in Cambridge. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Sunny Attwal, Conservative Party of Canada


Responses not yet received.

Scott Hamilton is the NDP candidate in Cambridge. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Scott Hamilton, New Democratic Party


1. What is the top issue facing your riding right now and how would you address it?

I've knocked on over 10,000 doors now, and what I hear most about is the opioid and addictions crisis. We've seen the harm caused by addiction, homelessness, and mental health issues in Cambridge. As your MP, my first task would be to declare a public health emergency on the opioid crisis, and commit to working with all levels of government, experts, and Canadians, to develop a national strategy on opioids.

I would work to end the criminalization and stigma of addiction while getting tough on the real criminals - those who traffic in and profit from illegal drugs. I'll also work to pursue financial compensation from the drug companies responsible for this crisis. In parallel, I'll pursue an effective Affordable Housing strategy for Cambridge, that will tackle homelessness, poverty, and housing shortages.

The opioid crisis stems from previous cuts to affordable housing, education, social services, and the unexpected impact of oxycontin and oxycodeiene being produced and pushed by pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s. To start fixing the crisis in Cambridge and beyond, we need to take these roots into consideration and deal with them today. There's no magic bullet, but we can heal our riding.

2. People are concerned about the cost of living and the future of the economy. What will you do personally to address this if you become an MP?

First: Wages have stagnated while the cost of living, mortgages, tuition, etc., has skyrocketed. This means families are stuck paying for essentials like food, and services like childcare and medicine, on their credit cards. So, the first thing we can do is recoup the billions of dollars that are lost to corporate tax evaders, and implement a 1 per cent tax on those with more than $20 million in wealth. This will raise over $10 billion-plus per year, helping us pay for the services our families need, allowing us to pay off debts and make lives more affordable.

Second: The climate crisis demands immediate and rapid action. We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions quickly. The silver lining is that we are presented with an unprecedented economic opportunity, because the world is at the frontier of a green energy revolution. My vision is that, Cambridge, as an industrial town with our infrastructure and skilled workforce, is at the leading edge of this low-carbon energy transformation, building the electric cars and public-transit fleets and infrastructure of tomorrow. This will create hundreds of thousands of new, well-paying jobs. Either we build the future we want to see, or someone else will.

3. The environment and climate change are top concerns for many. What do you want to see the government do to address those concerns?

This is an important question for me, since my PhD centered on Climate Politics.

We need less talk, and real action, immediately. We have less than 10 years to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by half to meet the IPCC's targets. 

We need a Green New Deal. This will require nothing less than a mass mobilization and transformation of the way our society understands and consumes energy. First and foremost, we cannot continue to increase emissions, which the TMX pipeline would do. So: no new pipelines; cut all fossil-fuel subsidies; and use the $3.3 billion previously given to the biggest polluters, to be directly invested into the low-carbon technologies of the future. 

We need this to science-based targets in line with keeping warming to 1.5 degrees.

To finance new projects, New Democrats will launch a Canada Climate Bank to make the big, meaningful investments in the innovative clean energy projects we need.

Retrofitting homes to be energy efficient and electrifying public transit by 2030 will create over 300,000 good jobs all over Canada, rebuilding local economies while lowering emissions. This is crucial: fighting climate change in Cambridge BY building the low-carbon future we want to see.

4. What do people need to know about you as an individual?

I listen to everyone and I never cast judgment on anyone.

I used to work as a landscaper, in minimum-wage retail, and then as a recruiter in human resources. I went back to school as a 'mature student' to study politics, because I was concerned about where the world was headed environmentally, economically, and politically. I studied hard, was accepted to do a Masters degree at Oxford University and a PhD in International Politics at the LSE (UK), and then I taught International and Environmental Security at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School in Waterloo. I'm also on the Board of Directors of the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.

I decided to run for the NDP after the birth of my baby boy at Cambridge Memorial Hospital last year. I started thinking more about the future, and it scared me. So, I'm working now to make a better future for him, and for all of us. Cambridge is my home, it's where my wife and I want to raise our young family, and despite its issues, it's still an amazing place to live and it has much more potential.

Cambridge: Let's be good to one another.

Michele Braniff is the Green Party of Canada candidate in Cambridge. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Michele Braniff, Green Party of Canada

Facebook page

1. What is the top issue facing your riding right now and how would you address it?

The top issue is the climate crisis. We have a small window to respond before damage becomes irreversible. We are already seeing negative impacts

2. People are concerned about the cost of living and the future of the economy. What will you do personally to address this if you become an MP?

The gap is getting larger between the rich and poor and many Canadians are getting lost in the system. The Green Party advocates a universal living income and universal pharmacare. 

Also, we need to start focusing on health and well-being rather than always measuring how we are doing in terms of economic activity. I am already a supporter of the Well-Being Waterloo project and would like to see this focus on well-being scaled up

3. The environment and climate change are top concerns for many. What do you want to see the government do to address those concerns?

The Green Party has put forward a detailed action plan: Mission Possible which includes ending subsidies to fossil fuel immediately, no new pipelines, banning fracking and scaling up the green economy. 

We need to make this transition for the planet and to participate in the global green economy and to do so in a way that supports workers and their families.

4. What do people need to know about you as an individual?

I am an entrepreneur, social innovator, community activist, artist and a grandmother. In my business as a graphic recorder, I have worked with non-profits, municipal government and community leaders to facilitate creative solutions to some of the most wicked social problems facing Cambridge, Waterloo region and Brant County. 

My decision to run as Green Party candidate in Cambridge is motivated by my passion for a sustainable economy and a caring community.

David Haskell is the People's Party of Canada candidate in Cambridge. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

David Haskell, People's Party of Canada


1. What is the top issue facing your riding right now and how would you address it?

When I'm talking with Cambridge residents, I most often hear two concerns, one with a very local focus and the other with a national focus.

Related to the former, residents are concerned about drug use, especially opioids, in the downtown core. For the PPC, addressing the drug issue will involve putting the safety and well-being of law-abiding citizens first. Research proves that safe injection sites encourage riskier drug use leading to more deaths but do almost nothing to get people clean. So I don't support a SIS (supervised injection site). A compassionate approach will focus on getting addicts off drugs and that's what the PPC is for.

The other concern that is mentioned is the issue the corruption of national government leaders. [Liberal Leader Justin] Trudeau's broken promises and [Conservative Leader] Andrew Scheer's willingness to pander to get votes — whether it's caving in to the dairy cartel or giving Quebec, but no other province, the ability to set immigration rates — people are frustrated. 

How does one address this problem of corruption? One needs to vote in politicians who tell the truth and refuse to pander even if it means it will cost them votes. Only Maxime Bernier and the People's Party is willing to follow that path.

2. People are concerned about the cost of living and the future of the economy. What will you do personally to address this if you become an MP?

A People's Party government will let citizens keep more of the money from their pay cheques through lower income taxes. If you make less than $15,000 per year, you will pay no tax. If you make between $15,000 and $100,000 your income tax rate is just 15 per cent.  And that will give middle-class Canadians thousands more every year. Those making over $100,000 pay 25 per cent.

The PPC is also the only party to end supply management — or producer price fixing — on milk, eggs and poultry. Ending supply management will lower the price on these food staples and lower people's grocery bill by about $600 a year.

The PPC is going to open up cellphones, internet and cable industries to full competition. With more businesses competing for your business, prices will go down. We'll also open airlines and other near-monopolies to competition to increase competition and get prices lower.

Finally, we'll also lower immigration and that will lead to increased wages for lower skill and entry level position (see work of Harvard economist, George Borjas); it will also lead to lower housing prices (see work of Dr. Daniel Hiebert, UBC).

3. The environment and climate change are top concerns for many. What do you want to see the government do to address those concerns?

The PPC is skeptical of the alarmist claims being made because they just don't stand up to the science. We agree that the temperature is getting gradually warmer — now up 1 degree Celsius since 1800. Science also shows that CO2 in the atmosphere can increase warming.

However, the science is also very clear that levels of C02 in the atmosphere didn't reach concentrations great enough to effect warming until the 1960s. The warming we see now started in the 1800s. For something to be a cause, it cannot come after the effect.

Based on the evidence, the People's Party is going to focus on the most pressing environmental needs for Canadians. Health Canada's says that currently over 14,000 people in North America die annually from air pollution from human sources. Pollution in our lakes, rivers and oceans causes hundreds of cases of illness every year.

Many indigenous communities have no clean water to drink.

We're making safe drinking water for remote indigenous communities our first priority and it's part of a larger, firm commitment to combat air and water pollution.

This video is my response to climate alarmism.

4. What do people need to know about you as an individual?

My family — my wife Maggie and our five children — and I have made their home in Cambridge for almost 20 years. Our ties to the community have been made strong though volunteer involvement like running summer camps for kids.

I'm a tenured professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and I've been a leading proponent for freedom of conscience and expression on academic campuses and in Canadian society more generally. My decision to enter politics is rooted in my concern that:

  1. Fundamental freedoms, like freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, are rapidly being eroded in Canada.
  2. Ideas of personal responsibility, self-reliance, merit and competency are being replaced by an aggressive sense of entitlement and identity-based ideology.
  3. Basic economic principles like keeping a balanced budget, growing the free market to reduce poverty, and avoiding state-owned enterprises (because they're never efficient) are being discarded, bringing us closer to financial catastrophe.

The people of Cambridge need to know that I will tell the truth even if the truth is uncomfortable to hear. I will not pander for votes. I think that every human being must be treated with respect but every idea must be open to debate. 

Manuel Couto is the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada candidate in Cambridge. (Photo provided)

Manuel Couto, Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada


1. What is the top issue facing the riding and how would you address it?

The most pressing issue facing the people of Cambridge and all of Canada is the need for political renewal.

We need to change the political and electoral process so people can participate in making the decisions that affect their lives and the society.

In the present situation the major parties act as a cartel to keep their monopoly on power and control of the political process and the peoples' participation is merely to vote every four years. The interests served by this cartel of parties are not those of the working people, they are the interests of the monopolies and the oligopolies which they serve. The most people can hope for is to "influence an MP."

We can reject this system where the political parties come to power. By speaking in our own name about our concerns, about what should be the priorities in the economy, health care, education and other matters of national interest, working people can embark on a new path to serve their own interests. We can exercise direct control over the decisions we ourselves take and speak in our own name. Importantly, this includes what to do in the 2019 election itself.

2. People are concerned about the cost of living and the future of the economy. What will you do personally to address this if you become an MP.

We need a new direction for the economy. Workers are the producers. We and our families are those most affected by upheavals in the economy, as the basis of our livelihoods is destroyed and public services and social programs come under attack. The austerity agenda which has been unleashed is playing havoc with our lives.

Workers are the producers of all the social wealth necessary for the economy and the society to function. It is our rights that must be at the centre of setting a new direction for the economy, one that recognizes the rights of all people. In the current situation, it is monopoly right that is held sacred. Multinationals move in or out of the area, according to their own private interests. Governments at all levels entice them to move in with various pay-the-rich schemes, and then protect them when they move out.

Speaking with our peers in own voice about the problems that face us, presenting our own experience with the ruling class and its pay-the-rich schemes, working out our own proposals to humanize the natural and social environment and taking our own decisions are important in breaking with the status quo.

3. The environment and climate change are top concerns for many. What do you want to see the government do to address these concerns.

A very significant step the government should take, is to withdraw from NATO, NORAD, and the U.S. war machine, which is the world's biggest polluter, and the major source of war and aggression internationally.

The problems in the environment are crying out for the working people to empower themselves to set a direction for the economy that serves to humanize the social and the natural environment

A government whose aim is to address the concerns of the people and to build a bright future for the people and the coming generations will restrict the monopolies and oligopolies from their destructive activities.

Around the world, it is the people speaking out in their own name on these issues that is depriving the monopolies and oligopolies, and governments in their service, of their ability to pollute, destroy, super-exploit, trample on the sovereign rights of Indigenous peoples, and wage war for self-serving aims.

The government should stop blaming individual behaviour for destroying the environment. Here and internationally, governments must take measures to end  destructive practices of the monopolies and oligopolies, such as fracking, clear cutting, detrimental mining methods, contamination of lakes and oceans, the privatization of water and fraudulent environmental assessments.

4. What do people need to know about you as an individual?

I'm running because it is the right of working people, as the producers of all of the social wealth, to have a say in how the society is organized. It is our right to participate in making those decisions which affect our lives.

The cartel parties deprive us of this right with their monopoly on power and cordon sanitaire around all areas of decision-making. The interests they serve are those of the monopolies and oligopolies. They decide all matters pertaining to the election — including who the candidates will be and what the "issues" are.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada is calling on people to discuss with their peers how make their vote count.

A vote for the candidates of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada and its program for democratic renewal is an affirmation of working peoples' right to have a say in how society and the economy is organized — that it's not the exclusive preserve of the cartel parties.

In ridings where MLPC candidates are not running, this statement can be made by voting for other small party candidates or independents.

George McMorrow, Veterans Coalition Party of Canada

Party website

Responses not yet received.