Huron-Bruce Independent candidate, Justin L. Smith, took time out of his campaign schedule to give his thoughts to Midwestern Newspapers on some of the issues facing voters in the 2021 federal election.
MN: The pandemic is still top of mind for most voters. What are your thoughts on mandatory vaccinations?
Smith: I am unequivocally opposed to mandatory vaccines, especially when the efficacy for them is quite low. Arguably, the most popular shot is Pfizer and their absolute risk reduction is less than one percent, yet the public only hears about the relative risk reduction, which is over ninety percent and it only reduces some COVID symptoms. Absolute is how well it does overall and relative is how well it does compared to a placebo. Combine this with the shot not preventing getting sick or spreading the virus and that it is still in the experimental phase (it’s only approved for emergency use), I can only say it should be up to each individual whether they take it or not, provided they are informed of all of the side effects and that should any negative side effects occur, including death and that no one can legally be held liable.
MN: Agriculture is a huge part of life in Huron-Bruce and some say it is being affected adversely by climate change. Any thoughts on actions that can be taken to deal with the effects of a changing climate that can create erratic conditions for farmers?
Smith: The climate has been changing since the dawn of time, from the period of the dinosaurs to the last ice age and everywhere in between. As the centuries rolled by temperature and weather conditions continued to cycle violently and humans were not always around to blame for it. In Canada we are already carbon neutral and do what we can to manage our waste and recycling effectively. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but the resources and technology already exist, we just need to use them more effectively. For those who choose to pollute our beautiful nation we must continue to be vigilant with financial penalties, strict fines and the payment of restitution to those negatively affected by their waste management (or the lack thereof). Thankfully, for the most part, we do not see our rivers and lakes covered in waste, as documented in many parts of India and China. Canada is already looking after the planet and there is realistically nothing we can do to change the climate. Canada produces just over one percent of the global emissions and bringing that to zero percent will not change the habits of the world’s worst polluters.
MN: Mental health issues are prevalent this year due to the pandemic. Farmers are one group that has been dealing with mental health issues, even before the pandemic. How will your party deal with mental health issues?
Smith: The only two things that the federal government can do when it comes to mental health, since it is constitutionally a provincial issue, is to help raise awareness of it and to ensure the best medical treatment options are available and equally accessible across the country for those seeking help.
MN: What does your party plan to do to make housing affordable again especially considering wages are not going up at the rate they once were in comparison to housing?
Smith: Canada needs to return our focus to Canadians; this is especially important regarding affordable housing and food security. As our nation’s population increases so too does the demand for affordable housing. Our current efforts simply do not meet the unreasonable demand placed on our municipalities by the Liberal government’s immigration quotas. We must first better manage the flow of immigrants into our country, accepting only those individuals (and their immediate families) who economically benefit Canada. We need to focus our efforts on encouraging the development of affordably priced, smaller, more energy efficient homes. We should not be encouraging the construction of condominiums selling for one million dollars each when we can not even meet the basic housing demands of those living in our riding, earning at or just above minimum wage.
MN: Rural broadband remains a major issue for many within Huron-Bruce. How do you see that being dealt with if your party is elected?
Smith: Internet is provided through privately owned companies. While the Federal government can try to convince them of the positive benefits of lower prices and widespread infrastructure development, but it can not force them to do so. My goal, as an Independent, would be to reduce government regulations that limit the economic growth potential of these companies and increase their competition. More competition encourages a company to evolve and meet the demands of their consumers, in Huron-Bruce this would equate to better services and lower prices.
MN: How will your party help people who have been hit hard financially by the pandemic? Some examples are small business owners, people who work in arts and entertainment and the tourism industry?
Smith: The best way to get past a challenge that affects the entire country is to work through it as a united country. First, I would cancel all federal mandates and orders regarding masks, COVID vaccines, and medical passports, which presently limit the free movement and growth of Canadians. Second, I would encourage the sensible, and responsible re-opening of our nation both internally and internationally. We must work together to come up with mutually agreed on plans to move forward. This will be different from one sector of our economy to another, but we all know the end goal is economic strength and national prosperity. We must get the economy moving again, not by bailouts and welfare benefits but through re-development of our manufacturing, retail, and green-technology sectors.
MN: How would provide relief to parents of young children in desperate need of support due to the high costs of childcare services?
Smith: First, I would encourage the training of more childcare and early years providers to meet the demand by supporting the local development of educational programs targeting today’s realistic job market. Second, I would reduce the personal income tax levels of all Canadians so everyone, parents, couples, and single people alike would bring home more of their paycheques. I would also reduce and eliminate wasteful federal spending which will balance our budget and start reducing our debt. By increasing the amount of money left in everyone’s pockets and reducing the taxes imposed on small businesses including daycares, parents will be better able to afford the childcare they expect.
MN: Indigenous issues have been at the forefront of the news recently. What would you say Canadians can expect as far as the furthering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action if your party is elected?
Smith: Historically the Canadian Government has mistreated the Indigenous in some way or another, whether it be going back on treaties just after they were signed or the lack of clean drinking water and proper waste management. What we need to do is start seeing the Indigenous people first and foremost as “Canadians” and not a “minority” or a “special interest group”. We expect Canadians to have clean drinking water. We expect Canadians to have access to compassionate mental and physical health care. We expect Canadians to have hygienic living conditions. Why are we not expecting the same standards for our Indigenous-Canadian communities? When Walkerton had their water issue, it was a big deal, and it was corrected quickly with better training and infrastructure improvements and yet some reserves have been on boil water advisories for decades. We can not continue to leave them behind or neglect them, they are Canadians and we should expect them to be treated as equals.
MN: The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is seeking a location for a proposed deep geological repository to store high-level nuclear waste, with the Municipality of South Bruce being one of two locations currently under consideration. What is your stance on the proposed project, and do you think South Bruce is a more suitable location than Ignace?
Smith: I believe there are environmentally friendlier options for nuclear waste that must be explored thoroughly before we consider burying it in the ground for centuries or millennia, such as recycling power generating plants. We have already witnessed the failure of these so-called “safe” underground storage facilities in Germany and New Mexico. I agree the storage of nuclear waste in above-ground sites will not always be the best solution, but I do not support the bury-it-and-forget-it option either. If this is about jobs, we already have unsustainable growth in our region as a result of the refurbishment of the largest nuclear facility in the world. We do not have a shortage of jobs here. We have a shortage of affordable housing, of access to healthcare, and of skilled trades available to the domestic market. None of these issues would be resolved by creating a demand for thousands of more people to move into our region. If this is about the environment and protecting our agricultural, tourism, and overall health of our communities I can not consciously support the DGR being constructed under South Bruce or anywhere near the Great Lakes.
MN: Is there anything else you would like to let constituents know about what you intend to do for them that has not been asked?
Smith: I would prioritize solutions that are practical in order to make Canada’s air, water, and soil cleaner. This would include clean drinking water to remote First Nations communities.
I will phase out foreign development aid and focus our international aid towards emergency humanitarian crises. I will advocate that Canada regain autonomy from the United Nations by choosing our own path forward regarding global issues. I will advocate for the government to respect and follow the Charter and Constitution in full. I will advocate for post-secondary schools to be denied federal funding if they have been shown to violate the Charter rights of students and faculty. I would push for government legislation meeting and exceeding our obligations to our veterans, so that they will never again be told that they are asking for more than we can give. I would extend firearms licences to ten years, base the classification of firearms solely on function, change magazine restrictions so that Canadian sport shooters don’t have a disadvantage competing with our southern neighbours. Finally, I would allow the firing of all legally acquired and licensed firearms on your own property where the local municipalities permit (eg. rural farmland).