Montreal’s economy debated by four candidates

Investments, deficits, “green” stimulus, labor, taxes… Four federal election candidates debated economic issues on Tuesday evening at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

The cordial tone masked the differences from the first moment. On the issue of economic and ecological recovery, “there will be this race for investment at the global level,” said Mélanie Joly, liberal candidate. “You have to know if you want to be at the head of the pack, or do you want to be like the Conservatives, dragging your feet? “

His conservative counterpart, Vincent Duhamel, maintained that the Liberal Party had never reached its targets set in 2015. Businesses are “not able to follow the governments which constantly change the targets we have in front of us”, he claimed. “Before setting targets [de réduction d’émissions] 40%, 45%, we must ensure that the targets that were put in place during the Paris agreements are achieved. “

“Here in Montreal, 50% of our emissions come from transport,” said Ève Péclet of the New Democratic Party (NPD). So, we must allow massive investment in public transport, but also the electrification of our transport. ”Its program also includes support for SMEs“ so that they can operate the green movement with everyone ”.

Jean-Denis Garon, candidate of Bloc Quebecois, instead called on the next government to “redirect” subsidies from polluting industries to more sustainable businesses. “If Canada continues to sustain the economy of the 20th century as long as possible, we will end up paying dearly. “

The historic deficit left by the pandemic has also given rise to a number of disputes. “How important do you place the control of taxation, of expenditure and will we need to raise taxes?” »Asked host Stéphanie Grammond.

The Conservative representative has targeted recent tax hikes and “six-year-long deficits” to make his point. “We cannot achieve a balanced budget on this premise with a Liberal government. They don’t know how to count. “

The NDP candidate has instead bet everything on increasing income to regain the financial health of the state. Wealth tax, tax on profits from the pandemic, 3% increase in “large business tax” are on the NDP menu, enumerated Ève Péclet. “The Liberals promise billions of dollars, but on the other hand do not reform the tax system,” she said to her.

“The NDP promises everything, but when we promise everything and we have lots of priorities, we have no priority,” replied the latter. The Liberal Party relies primarily on economic growth to reduce the deficit. “The only companies linked by the tax increases are the banks and insurance companies,” said Mélanie Joly.

The Bloc candidate instead wanted to see greater transfers of money from Ottawa to the provinces. Providing “room for maneuver” is, according to him, “the fundamental work of Canada”. “We cannot think about Canadian public finances without thinking about the deficits of the provinces,” insisted Jean-Denis Garon.

Banks and workers

The Canada Infrastructure Bank, founded by the Liberals in 2017, has created discord. The conservatives want get rid of it, seeing it in the words of Vincent Duhamel, “an animal that competes against the Caisse de dépôt, against the pension funds of federal employees, the police funds, all pension funds […] “. Instead, the NDP wants convert it into “Canadian Climate Bank”, which, according to Ève Péclet, “could innovation, support new technologies, for example by electrifying transport”. The Bloc considers that it “is not fulfilling its mission and has difficulty obtaining private investment” and also suggests abolishing it. For her part, Mélanie Joly maintains that the REM “Could not be done if the federal government were not there to provide the funding” via this Infrastructure Bank.

Solutions to the labor shortage also grabbed a section of the debate. “There are not enough immigrants, not enough newcomers to Quebec and Canada,” pointed out the Liberal candidate. “It is appalling to bring in a foreign worker qualified in terms of paperwork,” then criticized the representative of the Bloc Québécois. “The management must be conceded to Quebec”, he defended, a suggestion taken up identically by his conservative competitor. The NDP candidate described these proposals as “very simplistic”, arguing that the workforce crisis will be resolved rather by “better working conditions and wages” as well as “the recognition of prior learning and skills” by the federal government.

Finally, a consensus emerged in the very last segment of open debate. Montreal airport must once again become “a hub” after the pandemic agreed all the candidates. The next government, whatever it is, will therefore commit to helping the airport to take off again.

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