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Be Heard: The Liberal 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.

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 federal government must do a better job screening and advising prospective immigrants on credential recognition before they leave their countries of origin. Improving credential recognition and the integration of new Canadians into the workforce requires a renewed effort between governments, professional groups, educational institutions, sector councils and unions. We will provide leadership and make this a priority.

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?

A Liberal government will work with other levels of government and the private sector to put in place a Canadian Transportation and Infrastructure Strategy. In a time of record high fiscal deficits and infrastructure deficits, realism, cooperation, clear thinking and tough choices will be necessary. Liberal infrastructure priorities will include:

  • Local and regional transit, rapid transit and commuter rail that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • High-speed rail in regions where rapid, convenient connections between major urban centres promise environmental benefits, enhanced mobility, and decreased congestion.

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

Crime is always a serious problem. But Stephen Harper is using the politics of fear on the crime agenda. Instead of fear, we need evidence-based crime policies that are tough on crime where we need tougher sentences, but also strong on crime prevention.

What we don’t need is to import failed crime policies from the United States. If we want to be tough on crime, we must be tough on guns. The gun registry is supported by Canada’s police force as well as countless organizations in women’s health and safety because it improves public safety. The Harper government wants to gut the gun registry. A Liberal government will work with Canadians to improve the gun registry and give police officers the tools they need to do their job.

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?

We will maintain the successful gas tax transfer to municipalities and provide additional funds through the Canadian Transportation and Infrastructure Strategy.

A lack of affordable housing in large cities is a growing barrier to young families of modest incomes looking for their first home. We will increase the federal investment in affordable housing by $550 million, and work with cities to put in place a renewed Affordable Housing Framework in order to reduce homelessness and increase the supply of affordable housing.

A Liberal government will also establish a new Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund that will invest $1 billion annually in high-quality, affordable early childhood learning and care spaces.

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 view the cities as equal partners.

The previous Liberal government made the most important contribution to municipal public finance in a generation through its 2005 New Deal for Cities and Communities. A new Liberal government will build on that progress. We will be a strong federal partner, working with our cities on the next generation of transit infrastructure and affordable housing.

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