This is an archival page from the 2006 federal election campaign. Authorized by the Offical Agent for Al Hart.

Answers to Questions from Voters

Al Hart.Al Hart has received a lot of questions from voters in the Toronto–Danforth riding. Some of these questions and their answers are reproduced here. If your question isn't here, you can send email to al@danforthgreens.ca or use the feedback form.

[If this looks like a jumbled pastiche, it's because it is. All of the questions here are from individuals or community groups. You'll note that many of the answers are recycled from the party platform. We are the Green Party after all; we believe in recycling. You can use the feedback form to let the webadmin know what a bad editing job he's done.]

Why are you running?

I chose to run this year for the Green Party because of my commitment to making the environment a priority for Canadian politicians, to improving the health care system and to bring integrity into Canadian politics.

Family Life

Do you support gay marriage?

Yes, of course. The Green Party has six core values, one of which is respect for diversity.

What is your position on the clawback of National Child Benefit from families?

The Green Party has committed to expanding child tax credits and benefits to achieve its goal of reducing child poverty. As a result, any clawback dangerously undermines this goal, and I would support a renegotiation with the provinces to make sure that our neediest children are not denied the benefits of this program. See also the Green Party principle of social justice.

And what is your party willing to do to ensure the money is returned to support the children it was intended to?

I believe that if this renegotiation were part of a new deal that expanded the benefits to children, cooperation with the provinces would be easier to achieve.

What commitment do you and your party have to continuing the success of 10 more years of program delivery to families with young children by CAP-C and CPNP?

While the Green Party has not taken a specific position on CAPC and CPNP programs, I believe that both CAPC and CPNP should be supported and probably enhanced.

The Green Party is committed to reducing child poverty. The lack of progress made toward this goal since 1989, when the older political parties unanimously declared their commitment to the eradication of child poverty, is shameful and humiliating.

The Green Party also believes that Canadian Health policy should focus on prevention rather than just cure.

The CAPC and CPNP programs aid both objectives of the Green Party and do so in a way that fits well with Green Party methods — we like to empower people and encourage community involvement. I believe that both CAPC and CPNP are invaluable tools in the fight to reduce child poverty and enhance health.

...and how will you secure funding to those programs?

The Green Party believes in creative funding techniques that tax destructive activities we want to discourage and transfer the revenues into healthful activities we want to encourage. Funding for CAPC and CPNP could be found in taxes on junk foods, for example.

The Environment

Given that scientists advise that Canada will have a greater temperature change than countries at lower latitudes, what do you see as potentially the most significant consequences of Climate Change facing Canadians over the next 50 years?

The Green Party puts the environment first in its platform because we believe that the environment is at the heart of our health and well-being. See the Green Party principle of ecological wisdom.

Canada is already paying the price for decades of environmental neglect, particularly with respect to climate change. We have seen catastrophic floods, droughts and ice storms, all believed to be related to global warming. While we cannot be certain what the future holds, all indications are that Canadians will suffer ever greater consequences of government inaction on climate change — our agricultural productivity will decline, we will see more storms and more decline in the health of our forests. In addition, climate change is related to poor air quality, which has led to an astonishing rise in asthma rates, and inaction on emissions will encourage this alarming trend. The rising rates in certain cancers are also believed to be related to climate degradation, and these, too can be expected to continue to rise if air quality is not addressed.

What level of priority do you give climate change in the issues of your party's platform?

The Green Party addresses climate change throughout its platform. Our transportation policy focuses on building mass transit and discouraging the use of single-passenger vehicles. Our energy policy focuses on conversion to less damaging sources of energy and promoting energy conservation. Our health policy differs from that of the other parties in that we are the only party to push for prevention, by discouraging unhealthful practices and the contamination of the environment that sustains us. We believe that those who pollute should pay the full cost of remediation. All these issues are interrelated, and all impact on climate change. All are at the forefront of Green thinking. We see ourselves as guardians of the environment we depend on.

Recognizing that Canada has fallen behind in its Kyoto emission targets for reducing greenhouse gases, and has instead increased emissions by 24% over 1990 levels, what percentage of emission reductions would you and your party commit to/support for the post 2012 Kyoto period?

The Green Party would focus on meeting the Kyoto requirements by 2012. We believe it is still possible to achieve a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2012. This will not be easy, but it can be done, and a Green government would commit to achieving it. For the post 2012 period, the Green Party has not made a specific target, but we would certainly go beyond the Kyoto goals and make Canada a world leader in the battle against climate change.

...and what would be your top three priorities in achieving this target?

The principal methods the Green Party would employ to achieve this target are:

  1. Shifting taxes on fossil fuels to earlier points in the production cycle to encourage companies to lower operating costs by reducing emissions.
  2. Increasing emission reduction targets for large industrial emitters to at least 55 Megatonnes above and beyond other policies and measures that reduce industrial emissions. All targets should be based on actual emissions, rather than emissions intensity per unit of production, and all data should be available for public scrutiny.
  3. Expanding the proposed National Emissions Trading System so that it will ensure real emission reductions across sectors and using the revenue from tradable pollution permits to offset tax breaks for increasing energy efficiency and industry initiatives that reduce fuel consumption.

What is your plan for ensuring corporations make the real changes that are needed to meet the requirements of Kyoto?

On environmental issues, and on meeting the requirements of Kyoto in particular, the Green Party is unparalleled in its commitment.

Our plan involves shifting taxes on fossil fuels to earlier points in the production cycle to encourage more efficient use, increasing emission reduction targets for large industrial emitters to at least 55 Megatonnes above and beyond other policies, and expanding the proposed National Emissions Trading System so that it will ensure real emission reductions across sectors. Targets will be based on actual emissions, not emissions intensity per unit of production, and all data will be available for public scrutiny. The Green Party will use revenue from tradable pollution permits to offset tax breaks for increasing energy efficiency and industry initiatives that reduce fuel consumption.

...and will your party endorse policies that ensure jobs are not moved out of our country to avoid costly factory upgrades?

Jobs will not be moved out of the country because emissions taxes will be applied to imports as well, so there will be no financial advantage to making the same changes elsewhere.


How would you advocate for cities like Toronto to ensure that they have a bigger share of resources to implement the needed services for those youth?

The Green Party has committed to enhanced funding for cities to build more healthful infrastructures, and to developing youth mentorship programmes. The Green Party also proposes additional funding to education to give youth greater opportunities.

In addition, I have a deep personal interest in making sure that youth services are adequately funded. In my law practice, which focuses on Youth Criminal Law, I have had the unfortunate privilege of seeing first hand the results of youth neglect and lack of services in an urban context and I will do all I can to establish and adequately fund mentorship and other programs to inspire and empower youth to more positive futures.

Toronto has needs that are immediate. Existing housing is in disrepair and with rising costs of rents more subsidized units are needed every day. How will you ensure local communities and local housing projects are not forgotten in multi-year promises of housing funding and real units are built as quickly as possible?

The Green Party understands that in the long run, investment in affordable housing and community services provides us with healthier communities with fewer social inequalities. We are committed to funding a national housing program to build energy-efficient co-ops and affordable housing units.

The Green Party would also reorient Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation programs to provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives for the building and restoration of quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, people with special-needs, and low income families.

What can be done about the trash in the street?

In terms of trash, we can also use taxes to guide more environmentally friendly practises. For instance, by using tax incentives for companies to reduce the amount and material choice of their packaging. While the disposal and management of trash is a municipal issue, we will work with the other levels of government to promote conservation and sustainable management of waste.

Democratic Renewal

Another goal of the Green Party is to support democratic renewal, through a public consultation process which will determine which system of proportional representation will be most effective for Canada. By moving past our current first-past-the-post system, we will ensure that every Canadian's vote truly counts, and will be represented in the make up of the House of Commons.

Many local issues are indirectly addressed by the Green Party principle of participatory democracy. Cities should have both the authority and money to control their own priorities. Likewise, communities and neighborhoods should be empowered. This isn't the downloading of responsibility without the money to back it up.


Recognizing that this is a federal issue, what steps and/or initiatives do you plan on taking to ensure that immigrants who come in with the proper credentials are able to continue working in their respective fields so they are able to support themselves and give their families the standard of living they deserve?

The Green Party is committed to working to eradicate unnecessary barriers to recognizing the professional credentials of immigrants.

This is a problem that is recognized across the political spectrum and some limited progress has recently been made with the federal Foreign Credential Recognition program, both for regulated occupations, which fall largely under provincial jurisdiction and require additional negotiation, and for unregulated occupations. However, progress is slow and woefully inadequate. I believe that a Green government would give immigrant certification the priority it deserves.

Again, I have some personal experience with this issue because my law firm also does a significant amount of work on immigration law. And once again, if elected I will be a strong advocate to changing the way foreign credentials are handled.

The Economy

What are you going to do about the economy?

The health of the economy is dependent on the health of our environment, and through implementing a system of tax shifting and real cost accounting, we will encourage sustainable economic practises. For instance, replacing clear-cutting with selection logging can encourage conservation of old growth forests and promote stability within the industry.

The Green Party aims to reduce the number of Canadians living in poverty through tougher wage regulations to ensure a living wage for working Canadians, removing GST on education supplies and family products, and expanding child tax credits and benefits.

The World

Please comment on Darfur.

[Comes at the end of a detailed questionaire, not yet reproduced on this website.]

Global inaction that has already led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of millions of refugees in Sudan is horrifying and shameful. This situation should never have been permitted to occur and cannot be permitted to continue.

The Green Party has always proposed using Canada's armed forces for a robust peacekeeping role, and Darfur cries out as the area in greatest need for peacekeeping intervention. Canada should take a leading role in helping to deliver justice in Darfur. I would insist on UN support for this mission, primarily because I believe it is important not to set a precedent for unilateral action that could be manipulated for other ends in other situations [see the Green principle of non-violence], but also because UN support would give our forces the respect and authority they deserve. I would, however, push strenuously for the UN to recognize that the current plan involving the African Union is ineffective, and to authorize the creation of a broader international peacekeeping force.

Investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity and the prosecutions arising from these investigations are indispensable tools for the reestablishment of order and confidence when order breaks down in such serious ways. There can be no closure until the perpetrators of such serious crimes are found and brought to justice, nor can the victims of these crimes walk in confidence while their aggressors walk freely in their midst. I would support all legitimate means of finding and bringing to justice all those responsible for the bloodshed in Darfur.