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Q&A with Newmarket-Aurora Candidates: Liberal Tony Van Bynen

NewmarketToday sent a series of questions to each of the candidates about a wide range of issues; here are the answers in their own words
2021-09-13-Tony Van Bynen-JQ
Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidate Tony Van Bynen.

NewmarketToday sent a series of questions to each of the candidates in the Newmarket-Aurora riding about a wide range of issues.

Candidates were provided the exact same questions, the same amount of time to respond and a limited word count for each question. None of the candidate's responses have been edited. NewmarketToday will publish each response received by deadline.

Here is how Liberal candidate and incumbent Tony Van Bynen responded: 

What do you want voters to know about you? (50-word limit) 

I’ve lived in, worked in, and volunteered in our community for more than 40 years. I’ve been fortunate to have been elected to represent it for more than two decades, and I’m running again because I want to continue to make this the very best place to live and work.

What’s the most pressing issue in the 2021 federal election campaign and why? (50-word limit) 

We need to finish the fight against this pandemic and get back to the normal lives we all miss. It’s important for all of us on a personal level, and it’s important for the local businesses that make up our economy here in Newmarket.

What specifically will your party do to improve the post-pandemic economy, and address the cost of living, labour shortages and growing deficit? (250-word limit) 

Our economy has recovered faster than that of the United States as a result of the measures we took to protect both Canadians and businesses across the country throughout the pandemic. As our economy returns to pre-pandemic levels of growth and the significant emergency spending we’ve had to introduce winds down, projections show that our debt-to-GDP ratio will decline. I’ve always been an advocate for a sensible fiscal approach, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to ensure Canada’s long-term fiscal stability. By extending the Recovery Hiring Program, we’ll make it easier for businesses to hire new employees in the short-term. Going forward, we need to continue to make investments that will give our young folks the skills they need to work the jobs that so many of our local companies need. As an example, that’s what we’ve been trying to do with Canada Summer Jobs, which –– this past summer alone –– provided funding for hundreds of students to work at our local businesses.

What’s your party’s plan to address the issue of affordable housing? (200-word limit) 

Our housing plan will build, preserve, and repair more than 1.4  million affordable homes over the next four years, and it includes a number of measures that will make it easier for people to buy their first home, such as a rent-to-own plan. We’ll also ban blind-bidding, and introduce a temporary ban on new foreign ownership of homes.

This will all build on our already underway National Housing Strategy, which is building hundreds of thousands of affordable homes and cutting chronic homelessness in half.

Multiple election polls show climate change continues to be a ranking concern in this election. What specific actions will your party take to address this issue? (150-word limit)

First, I want to mention that independent climate and economic experts have said the Liberal climate plan is the most ambitious and effective of any party in this election. We’ve already put a price on pollution across Canada, which is making the big polluters pay, giving most of that money back to Canadians, and investing the rest in the green jobs and technology that we’ll need in the future. We’re also scaling up renewables and green sources of energy, retrofitting homes and buildings, and working to electrify the rest of our economy. To get more of them on the road, we’re making it easier and cheaper for Canadians to switch to electric vehicles. Because of the measures we’ve put in place, we’re on track to reduce emissions by 36% by 2030, and we’ll surpass our Paris targets by reducing emissions by 40-45% –– something the Conservatives have said they won’t do.

Six years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 Calls to Action, the majority of them have yet to be fully implemented. How will your party advance reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples? (200-word limit)

While I’ll be the first to say that we still have more work to do, we have made significant progress on the Calls to Action, with 80% either competed or underway. As an important example, nearly 110 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted as of this past August.

We’ve also committed billions of dollars to help with health, social and education services that Indigenous communities need, and we are supporting the heartbreaking work of identifying the thousands of children who died at residential schools.

As an MP, I’ve viewed learning and working to ensure justice for Indigenous peoples as one of my most important responsibilities, and I’ll continue to speak up and do everything I can to ensure we do right by the Indigenous peoples who we have done wrong by for far too long.

Briefly outline your party’s stance on: ensuring there are enough health-care providers; universal pharmacare; and improving access to mental health services. (200-word limit) 

We’ve committed to hiring at least 7500 new doctors and nurses, and we’ll make sure that virtual care is more readily available so that you don’t always have to go and sit in a doctor’s office to get treated. Our government is already working with the provinces and territories to bring in national pharmacare, and we’ll make sure that it becomes a reality for everyone here in Newmarket and Aurora. I’ve personally been advocating for better mental health care as a member of the Health Committee in Ottawa, so I’m very proud that we’re committing to billions of dollars in new funding for mental health. We’ll also bring in a three-digit mental health line, similar to 911, to make sure that people who are in crisis are able to get the support they need immediately.

Many young adults in Newmarket-Aurora are unable to find a job that allows them to support themselves, they can’t afford to buy or even rent a home of their own, and they are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their education, mental health, the economy and their future. What’s your message to them? (100-word limit)

My message would be that I’ve seen just how difficult it is for our young folks these days. The world they find themselves in is a much more challenging one than the one I was in when I was younger. We need to do more to make sure that they can have the same opportunities and the same quality of life –– if not better versions of each –– than my generation did, and to do that, it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of investment on the part of our government. (Answer cut off as word limit exceeded). 

What leadership quality does the leader of your party have to strongly represent Canada on the world stage? 50-word limit.

I think he’s shown his ability to form partnerships to take action on things like phasing out coal, ending the use of child soldiers, and more. Leaders like Presidents Obama and Biden, President Macron, and Chancellor Merkel have all spoken about the importance of his voice at the table.

What is one specific issue you would personally champion, or private-members bill you would introduce, given the opportunity as an MP? 100-word limit. 

As a member of the Health Committee, I’ve been advocating for better mental health care since I was elected back in 2019. As a result of what I had been hearing at Committee, I was preparing to introduce a private member’s bill to create a national strategy on loneliness and mental health, which is something that impacts far too many Canadians. If I’m re-elected, I’ll introduce it as soon as I’m able to.

What does your party’s campaign slogan mean to you? 50-word limit.

“Forward for Everyone” means building a country where nobody gets left behind. I think our community is a compassionate one where everybody looks out for their neighbours, and I believe that’s the kind of government we need as we come through the pandemic, as well.