Liberal incumbent Carla Qualtrough has been Delta’s MP for the past four years after winning the seat by a wide margin in 2015. She’s been a member of the federal cabinet, most recently serving as minister of public services and procurement and accessibility. Prior to entering politics, the mother of four was a human rights lawyer and Paralympic swimmer.
Q. Four years ago you were a relative unknown, but now you’re the incumbent, the one all the other candidates are looking to knock off. How has that changed your approach this time around?
A. I am very comfortable being held to account for the things I have done as the member of Parliament. I’m very comfortable having people hold me accountable for the decisions we’ve made, the actions we have taken and quite frankly the things we haven’t done, or the things we said we would do and we didn’t. I’m very proud of our record, both as a government and I’m very proud of our record locally here. My constituency team has done an excellent job of serving Deltans. I think I have a reputation as a hard-working, thoughtful and fair-minded champion for this community and I have worked very hard to raise the profile of Delta in Ottawa and make sure Delta has the opportunities it deserves.
Q. Much of the Liberals’ success in the 2015 election could be attributed to Trudeaumania, but four years later some of the bloom has come off that rose. How would you characterize the prime minister’s performance?
A. I have and can assure all Deltans that I have complete trust and confidence in the leadership of Justin Trudeau. In 2015 he put together a leadership team that I was lucky enough to be a part of and have been part of for the last four years. I think that the 35 of us as a team have governed with thoughtfulness and with fairness. We have made decisions on behalf of the country that have moved the country forward and put it back on track. I can assure everyone that we did that as a team. We all have very strong opinions and we don’t always agree, but I think it is a testament to the prime minister’s confidence and his leadership style that he put together a team that will hash things out at what effectively is the board of directors table for our country.
Q. The Liberals have pushed the message that the economy is in good shape and that unemployment is at record lows, but the Trudeau government ran four straight deficit budgets that added more than $70 billion to Canada’s debt. Is that approach sustainable?
A. We believe that the most sustainable approach to balanced budgets is through economic growth. We came into government in 2015 after the Harper government had I think six deficit budgets and had, in my opinion, artificially balanced the budget going into an election. The economy was stagnant – it was flat and we needed to do something to get our country back on track. We have record unemployment levels. Consumer confidence is up, wages are up. Our economy is firing on all cylinders. We think that cutting services and programs, austerity measures, are not the way to a sustainable series of balanced budgets. We have a plan that is going to get us there, but not at the expense of not delivering for Canadians. To say that you are going to cut your way to prosperity is antithetical in my opinion.
Q. When you talk to voters, what are they telling you still needs to be done? What issues are top of mind and how would a Liberal government address them?
A. We have done a lot over the past four years, but there is certainly more to be done. When I’m at the doors, when people are coming to talk to me, they are talking about the environment and climate change, affordability, in particular housing affordability, especially here in Delta, they are talking about pharmacare and other issues that impact seniors. What I tell them is we absolutely understand that these are issues that need to be continuously addressed by any government. We’ve set the foundation I’d say on all those fronts. As a Liberal government we have made the highest investment in the environment and climate change than any government in the history of the country. We have the first-ever national housing strategy, we are working towards national pharmacare. These things are all in motion and the choice for Canadians, for Deltans, is whether we are going to keep moving towards these things or if we are going to turn them off.
Q. How do you respond to concerns that the Liberals aren’t seriously addressing a climate crisis, including the decision to buy a pipeline?
A. I think it is undeniable that strong and bold action on climate change is needed at this time. I think that Delta, in some very real ways, is at the epicentre of the narrative of the supposed tension between the economy and the environment. We believe, and I believe, that these two things can absolutely be addressed simultaneously. We’ve proven that we can have a prosperous and successful economic growth at the same time as really digging in and investing in climate change. We know that we need to transition to a clean, green economy and we are committed to that transition. It’s going to take longer than some people want because we have to bring everybody along with us. We are committed to reducing single-use plastics, we are phasing out coal, we are ending fossil fuel subsidies – we are putting a price on pollution around the country where some provinces don’t have. In the meantime though, we have to make sure we have the economic strength and power to do all this. TMX solves a really big problem we have in this country in terms of diversifying our markets and relying on the U.S. to sell our oil at much reduced costs. Right now, as long as we are pulling oil out of the ground, the safest way to get that oil to market is through pipelines. Every dollar made on the TMX will be re-invested in climate action.
Q. There are many differences between the platforms of the Liberals and the Conservatives, but where do you see the greatest separation? What makes a Liberal a Liberal?
A. I think the biggest difference between Conservatives and Liberals in this election is reflected in the choice we are putting in front of Canadians. We as Liberals are asking Canadians to choose to continue building upon the progress we’ve made, to continue moving forward towards a clean environment, towards economic prosperity, to keep investing in people, communities and infrastructure, to include everyone. The Conservatives are not asking Canadians to move forward… they’re moving backwards. Their policies do not reflect priorities that will include everyone. They do not stand up for the equality rights of everyone. They want to focus on tax cuts for the wealthiest and cutting services for the rest of people and that concerns me. You can’t cut your way to prosperity. You can’t become a stronger country by not including everyone.