Mississauga candidates discuss business issues at UTM debate


Published October 18, 2019 at 3:31 am


A “city-wide” Mississauga debate was held this past week at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade, on matters concerning the business community.

Participating candidates from each party were Conservative Stella Ambler (Mississauga Lakeshore), Liberal Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre), Green candidate Chris Hill (Mississauga Streetsville) and People’s Party of Canada candidate Hazar Alsabagh (Mississauga-Erin Mills). The NDP representative was unable to send someone, citing a scheduling conflict.

For the full debate, see below:

Based on the “Vote Prosperity” platform released by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, the debate focused on themes such as taxes, regulations, skill trades, trade agreements and support for small to medium sized businesses. 

Alghabra cited measures brought in by the Liberal government such as eliminating ‘boutique tax credits’ from the Conservatives and providing ‘direct’ tax relief as one example of the Liberals simplifying the tax code.

“One of our proposals in this campaign is to raise the threshold Canadians get back from $12,000 to $15,000,” the Liberal candidate said. Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre)

Conservative Ambler said her party would review the tax code, saying regulations are ‘choking businesses’ and new taxes like the carbon taxes also negatively impact business. The Conservatives have pledged to abolish the carbon tax if elected to government.

“It’s because of the way the Liberals are ruining this economy is why we can’t have services like a pharmacare program,” Ambler said, responding to a question about national pharmacare centred on a needs basis, as asked by MBOT. Conservative Party candidate Stella Ambler (Mississauga Lakeshore)

Green candidate Hill said his party would reform the tax system so that not only rich people and big corporations benefit. “In a Green economy, everyone contributes their fair share to the collective well being,” Hill said, saying his party would undertake comprehensive reform that would also be environmentally friendly.

But Alsabagh said the other candidates have not said specifically how they would reform the tax code. “When the budget doesn’t balance itself, they introduce new taxes,” she claimed, saying the PPC solution would be to generate new revenue from existing taxes by balancing the budget in two years and abolishing corporate bailouts. PPC candidate Haza Alsabagh (Mississauga-Erin Mills)

“We will go into a recession unless we deal with the budget,” Alsabagh continued, with much of her answers on all questions geared towards the notion that there is not enough money to fund various programs.

Alghabra said that whether it’s infrastructure spending or tax cuts, they both require spending some money. But Ambler and Alsabagh pointed out that Liberals have been promising a pharmacare plan since the late 1990s when then topic of a national drug plan was brought up. 

On skill trades, Hill said it was important to develop a workforce fit for the emerging economy going forward rather than on declining industries such as resource extraction. He spoke about giving free tuition for post secondary education and addressing automation. Green Party candidate Chris Hill (Mississauga Streetsville)

Ambler said the training credit cited by Alghabra that was to help train workers was ‘not working, no one has actually benefited,’ saying the Conservatives would look to harmonize the training credentials and restructure existing programs.

On free trade, Alghabra said the prime minister stood firm against Trump while Andrew Scheer and Doug Ford ‘wanted to wave the white flag’ on negotiations with the Americans. He said the Liberal government was working with the US to maintain access to markets. But Ambler said Trudeau’s ‘preachy tone’ did not help with negotiations.

Ambler said the Conservatives would scrap the carbon tax, put in a home renovation tax credit to allow families more money for child care. 

With the talk of such and other scenarios such as the ‘dreaded’ coalition government situation, the party candidates were asked what they would trade off as conditions for supporting a minority. 

Green candidate Hill mentioned climate change, saying there was only about a decade before the world can actually do something. Alsabagh said balancing the budget to protect services, but she and Hill got into a bit of a shouting match over the notion that climate change was life threatening and that there was too much alarmism.

“To say that we only have about a decade to fix this problem is dangerous and irresponsible,” Alsabagh retorted, saying the PPC prefers ‘concrete’ climate change solutions. 

Alghabra and Ambler were asked which party they would prefer to work with and what policies they would adopt as their own. “We believe Canadians would elect a progressive government,” Alghabra said, while Ambler believed voters would choose a Conservative government to ‘make people’s lives more affordable and Andrew Scheer would become prime minister in a majority government’. 

“This Liberal government has been all about virtue signalling and symbols; Trudeau is not really for the middle class and those working hard to join in,” Ambler said. 

Election Day is Monday, October 21.

Cover photo courtesy of Omar Alghabra Facebook page

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