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Be Heard: The Green party answers your questions

Questions of immigration, crime and funding for services are important to Metro's urban readers, so we asked each major party where they stand on those issues.

Many immigrants to Canada are encouraged and allowed to move here based on their professional experience or credentials, only to discover once they arrive that their credentials are not recognized. What role should the federal government play in addressing this problem?

The Green Party finds fault with the current accreditation system, especially with the lack of recognition of foreign credentials. We would eliminate the valuation of foreign credentials for immigration purposes except in those cases where such credentials are recognized in Canada, or a clear, expeditious path to accreditation is established, and in place establish realistic criteria for immigrants based on existing job opportunities for immigrants to Canada. We would also press professional societies to remove unnecessary barriers hindering the recognition of valid professional credentials of immigrants.

Other G8 countries have national transit strategies, but in Canada federal investments in public transit tend to be ad hoc, which many big city mayors have argued leads to worse planning and less efficient spending. Does Canada need a national transit strategy, and if so, what should it look like?

The Green Party of Canada's position is that we must adopt a national transit strategy that strengthens our rail network and public transit systems in order to have a competitive, modern economy. We are committed to providing cities with the resources to create public transit systems that reduce congestion and strain on our roads. We are also committed to ensuring all of Canada’s cities have access to rail connections, and develop high speed corridors between frequently travelled routes.

According to Statistics Canada, the crime rate has been declining since the early 1990’s, yet concern about crime in urban areas seems to be on the rise. How do you reconcile this discrepancy?

We believe the current rise in concern over crime is directly linked with the federal government's fixation on the subject and its $9 billion spent on new prisons. Still, even with the crime rate going down, we would all like to feel safer on the streets and in our own homes. We are committed to further reducing crime through better programmes in youth activity and early childhood education. We are committed to addressing underlying causes of crime such as poverty, racism, and inequality while ensuring offenders are dealt with fairly by means of proportionate sanctions.

According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, only $8 of every $100 Canadians spend on taxes goes to cities, yet cities are struggling to pay for infrastructure, policing, housing, and many of the government services city residents actually interact with most on a day-to-day basis. What changes are required to ensure cities are sufficiently funded?

Greens agree: Municipalities need stable and predictable funding so they can invest in critical infrastructure. In our 2011 election platform, the Green Party announced a slate of initiatives of long term investments in municipalities and housing. That slate includes a national affordable housing program, a national solar roof program, energy retrofits for municipal buildings, schools, universities and hospitals growing to more than $1.6 billion annually by year three. An additional $2.4 billion of permanent annual funding has been allocated for six municipal superfunds beginning in the first year.

A century ago only 20 per cent of Canadians lived in urban areas. That number has now increased to 80 per cent (or more than 25 million Canadians). What is your party’s vision for the role of cities within the Canadian federation, now and into the future?

We believe that cities form a pillar of the green economy. When municipalities set out to build and repair infrastructure, retrofit and rebuild affordable housing, and modernize our aging public transit over decades, it’s a decades-long commitment. Their decisions now will decide what kind of an economy we will have for the next 50 years. We hope to work with our cities to lead Canada to a sustainable future.

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