Ken Hardie
Ken Hardie
Member of Parliament for Fleetwood—Port Kells
Frequently Asked Questions - 2024

Every day we receive emails from our constituents regarding issues that affect members of our community or on topics that Canadians feel strongly about. As your MP it is important that I am both responsive and transparent when it comes to these topics. That's why I am sharing some of the the most frequent questions and messages I receive from you each month, and my response.

 

April

"I am writing to express my support of Private Member’s Bill C-355, sponsored by Liberal MP Tim Louis, which prohibits the export by air of horses for slaughter. Every year, thousands of horses suffer from this horrible practice, and it is time for Canada to put an end to it.

The horses that are exported live for slaughter are being bred for this purpose in Canada and are sent on long-haul flights to Japan. The conditions in which they are transported raises serious animal welfare concerns.

It is time to make sure no more horses suffer in these live exports for slaughter. Please support Private Member’s Bill C-355."

Ken: Hello,

Thank you for writing.  Please be assured that I will wholeheartedly support MP Louis’ Bill C-355.

 

"I support balanced budgets and less debt. Will you take the necessary steps to stop the federal government from wasting our money?"

Ken: Hello,

I think everyone is right to question the deficits and to be concerned about them. 

There are two factors:  first, the pandemic was the main driver of the growth in our national debt.  It was a choice we made that saved tens of thousands of lives and kept people and business afloat when the economy took a substantial hit.  I don’t think our government would shy away from doing it again if needed, mind you with the benefit of experience helping us do it more efficiently.

The second factor is the aspect of ‘investment’.  If you or I ran a business and we wanted it to grow, we would spend money…likely some of it borrowed…to get new service and production capacity in place.  If our plan was a good one, we would see sales and revenue go up that could service the debt and put more in the bank.  The ‘return on investment’ would be direct.

For governments it’s different.  We incur the debt and spend current revenue, but the ‘returns’ go into the communities.  A lift in tax revenue would be enough to service the debt and, when investments were no longer needed, the funding otherwise spent on them could pay down the debt.  That’s what Jean Chretien and Paul Martin did 25 years ago…some very tough decisions and cuts…but those budgetary surpluses knocked billions off the national debt.

Mr. Harper went back into deficit, but he had his own ‘pandemic’ to deal with, that being the near-collapse of the financial markets due to the sub-prime mortgage fiasco in the US, thanks to a poorly regulated financial market.

One measure our government keeps a close eye on is our international credit rating, because it indicates the strength of our economy and how sustainable the federal government’s fiscal strategy is.  All our budgets, including the latest, have been developed in consultation with the ratings agencies.  As one of only two G7 countries with the top AAA rating (Germany is the other), Canada’s economic foundation is strong.  We avoided a recession and we’re likely to have the strongest growth in the G7. 

Now, not much of that is of any comfort to those having tough times right now, except that our investments in people and the economy have kept us able to deliver help to those who need it the most, while setting us up to be in front of key industrial trends.

Of course, one person’s ‘investment’ is another’s ‘waste’, and I would like to have your thoughts as to what kind of government expenditures you would put in each category?

 

"I wonder why a MP of my area would have voted to support higher carbon taxes. I wish you would understand how big the impact would be on your voters."

Ken: Hello,

Thank you for your email on the issue of the carbon tax. 

First, as a British Columbian, you should know that our carbon tax here (one we’ve had since 2009), is a provincial program, not federal.  The revenues collected by the provincial government are used to lower provincial income taxes and to fund projects to help lower income people save on fossil fuel consumption.

Secondly, and most importantly, the Conservative rhetoric on the carbon tax is designed to deliberately mislead Canadians on the effect of the tax on families and the cost of food.  The Official Opposition always fails to note that revenues collected in provinces with the federal system in place are returned to the citizens of that province in the form of cash rebates.  Heavy users of fossil fuels pay more than the rebate they and every household receives so, as a result, 80 per cent of Canadians under the federal system get more in rebates than the tax they pay on gas, diesel and natural gas.

When it comes to food, the actual impact of the carbon tax paid by producers, processors, shippers and retailers is measured in cents per item or per kilogram.

An analysis done at the University of Calgary provides more factual information that contradicts the story the Conservative Party wants you to hear:  https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/december-2023/carbon-price-affordability/

Let’s keep the lines of communication open on this issue, because we cannot forget the increasingly urgent need to shift from energy sources that are literally killing our planet.

 

March

"For many Canadians, sharing an occasional drink with friends and family is a part of our social lives. These simple moments of joy and connection help to alleviate the stresses and challenges of everyday life, and they bring our communities together.

However, the proposed tax increase will make it more difficult for many Canadians to afford these small pleasures, and to make matters worse it will have a disproportionate effect on low-income families who may already be struggling to make ends meet.

Canada already has the highest taxes on alcohol among G7 countries, and this increase will only exacerbate the burden on Canadians.Will the government prioritize its citizens and reconsider this tax increase?"

Ken: Thank you for your note on the looming ‘beerflation’ tax in crease.  In 2017, the government put in place an ‘escalator tax’ that would rise at around the rate of inflation.  However, we have decided to freeze the increase at 2 percent, below the rate of inflation.  In addition, we have cut the excise tax on the first 15,000 hectolitres of output, which could save a smaller craft brewery up to about $87,000. 

Even with an increase at the rate of inflation, we estimate the impact would be 10 cents to a 12-pack of beer, 3 cents to a 750 ml of wine and up to 70 cents for a 750 ml bottle of spirits (40 % by volume).  With the decision to freeze the increase, the rise in price will be lower than noted. 

There are likely other ‘private sector’ factors that could have a much greater impact on the price of beer, wine and spirits. 

 

"The tabled Bill C-63—the Online Harms Act—is unacceptable in its current form. It is a profoundly anti-free expression bill that threatens draconian penalties for online speech and chills legitimate expression. I urge you to do everything in your power to prevent the Online Harms Act from becoming law in it's current form."

Ken: Thank you for your comments on the Online Harms Act.  The issues you’ve raised are important and resolving them will be a task for Members of Parliament in the House, one or more Standing Committee and the Senate.  The debates and the ability to put forward amendments are an important function for parliamentarians, and this one will be particularly difficult to sort through. 

We don’t want to hinder free speech, but there are limits in a civil society. Protecting vulnerable people is a critical focus, and those who are mostly supportive of the legislation believe that the online world has become too toxic and dangerous to some.  I agree.

The two main areas that need close scrutiny involve bringing clarity to the nature and scope of harm, and the penalties for those who commit the harms.

By taking the time to share your concerns, you have hopefully signaled an intention to follow the debates and studies closely.  I encourage you to do this and to continue providing viewpoints, opinions and suggestions.  Personally, I believe this legislation is necessary, but it is equally necessary to do it correctly.

 

"I am writing to express my support for universal public pharmacare. It is alarming to hear that one million people in Canada are cutting back on food and heating to pay for the medications they need. It is only getting worse as people struggle with the cost of living crisis.

Canada is the only developed country with universal health care that does not provide universal prescription drug coverage. Whether someone has drug coverage shouldn’t be based on their job, work hours, or employer. It should be a universal right under our public health care system. More than 90% of Canadians agree.
Inflation is eating into people’s purchasing power. Sky-high drug prices are forcing hospitals to spend billions on drugs that should be going to improving our public health care system. A publicly-funded universal drug plan could change all that. I urge you to throw your support behind the plan to make pharmacare a reality in our country."

Ken: Thank you for writing; I appreciate your support for universal pharmacare, and I hope you take a moment to observe who in parliament supports this versus who doesn’t!

Our program is starting modestly.  We will cover the needs of those with diabetes and we will make contraceptives part of the plan.  Then, we will expand the coverage to include more medications and therapies based on Canadians’ needs and the advantage of bulk buying on prices.  Many likely do not know that for some years now, the federal government has had a special program to cover the costs of very expensive medications for rare diseases.

Because health care falls under the authority of provincial governments in Canada, the federal government will need to come to agreements with provinces and territories.  We’ve already seen some resistance in Alberta, but my guess is that Albertans who could really use the support will convince their provincial government to come around.

Now, if you were in charge of roll out Pharmacare, what would be your next priority to have included in the program?

 

February

Transit is an essential service that gives people affordable transportation, reduces green house gas emissions and prevents congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road. TransLink’s expansion plan, Access for Everyone, includes a massive increase in bus service, bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to nine congested or high-growth corridors, bus fleet electrification, and investments in active transportation. But these projects won’t be possible without funding from senior levels of government, how will the federal government support the expansion of transit in Metro Vancouver?”

Ken: “Thank you for writing to advocate for transit services in Metro Vancouver. In my time as a senior manager at TransLink, I became very aware of the value to the region of reliable, frequent and comfortable transit services.

Since coming to Ottawa after the 2015 election, I made it a priority to support federal funding for our transit system.  Historically, federal governments have provided funding for ‘capital’ – buses, West Coast Express cars, SkyTrain lines and cars as well as handyDART custom transit for seniors and disabled people.  Responsibility to provide funding tools to pay to operate these services is with the provincial government and/or municipalities.

One exception to this was during the pandemic, when our government provided funding to maintain services during the pandemic, when ridership fell significantly due to public health concerns. 

In December, 2023, we announced $14.9 billion over the next eight years to support public transit, including $3 billion per year in permanent, predictable transit funding.  This is due to begin in 2026, and I expect there will be discussions to advance the launch this support earlier.  No matter the timing, this federal funding will be the most significant investment in public transit in Canada’s history.”

 

“Do you support a Universal Basic Income for a fairer and faster economic recovery. We need Recovery UBI: a permanent $500/month universal dividend for all Canadian adults as part of a $2,000/month guaranteed minimum income. It will significantly speed our economic recovery, raise wages and grow the middle class. Within five years it could add $80 billion/year to our GDP and create 600,000 jobs.

Your constituents would like to know your position on Universal Basic Income for our national recovery. Do you support a Recovery Universal Basic Income?

Ken: “The call for the federal government to develop a ‘framework’ that could support a minimum income for Canadians exposes a fundamental divide between those who want government to deal with economic or social gaps that disadvantage some of us versus those who believe government should not be so deeply involved in ‘engineering’ the way we live our lives. 

As a progressive government, we are concerned that too many of us do not have access to EI and many have little in the way of pension benefits.  So, a basic, guaranteed income will provide some security for them.  It might also replace some of the myriad of other benefits or entitlements, thus delivering supports efficiently.  But rather than be a ‘universal’ program, by its very nature it would focus benefits on those who need them – we will not be sending support payments to the well-to-do.

We have tried versions of this in the past; there was one in Gimli Manitoba years ago and one in Ontario that was ended by their government just after the last provincial election.  Prince Edward Island is about to test fly a form of guaranteed income, and we will be watching it closely to see what happens.

Some have expressed concern that this measure could end up being a disincentive to work.  Generally, most analysts feel this would not be the case, but it is a factor that would get close examination in parliamentary debates and, if the Bill passes the vote at second reading, in a review by one of our Standing Committees, where amendments can be made.  Every step will involve keeping an eye on what’s best for Canada and the needs of Canadians to have an effective set of benefits available when they’re needed.

Thank you for following this issue; please stay in touch with further comments, ideas or concerns and rest assured that I will support this initiative.”

 

I have been reading the history and updates regarding medical assistance in dying (MAID) and the upcoming expansion to make MAID available to those suffering from mental illness. I think this is very dangerous and it could lead to Canadians who could’ve been treated, dying instead. Considering this risk, will you oppose this expansion of MAID?

Ken: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue. While I am aware that serious and irremediable physical and mental suffering can be a consequence of mental illnesses, I am not convinced that our medical system is capable of addressing the needs of those experiencing such extreme difficulties. It appears that our medical professionals are of the same opinion.  As such, I don’t believe we will see this change made any time soon.

In the absence of complete assurances that MAID for those with mental disorders would be accessible for a very, very small number of people, I will not support its expansion. 

We need to take our time on this, but signal that we have not entirely shut the door, out of respect for those who make a heartfelt case for this kind of expansion.”

 

January

"Open-net salmon farming poses a concerning threat to the health of our wild pacific salmon populations, what is the government doing to address this issue?"

Ken: "My colleagues and I on the Fisheries and Oceans Committee share concerns about the impact of open-net aquaculture operations on our wild fish, particularly our salmon runs, which have declined to the point where the survival of the species is at risk.  The decision decades ago to allow open net farming of Atlantic salmon in the Discovery Islands was a huge mistake because they are right on the major migration path for Fraser River sockeye.

It took many years of advocates sounding the alarm, but former Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan ordered the Discovery Islands operations closed, and although the operators achieved a reprieve in the courts, Minister, Joyce Murray, earlier this year once again ordered their closure:  https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/15-bc-salmon-farms-closed

In both cases, Ministers Jordan and Murray had to overrule ‘science’ presented by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that tried to tell us aquaculture presented no major risk to wild salmon.  We should be able to rely on science to inform our decisions, but what we received from the DFO simply didn’t measure up.  As a result, our FOPO Committee has held hearings on ‘Science at the DFO’, and our report details our views of the shortcomings of processes: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/FOPO/report-8/ 

In spite of these misgivings, I am calling for the Committee to dedicate time to hear from the aquaculture industry about how they would achieve the key goal of protecting wild fish stocks from adverse impacts of open net operations.  The intention is to ensure the Minister has a full range of options to achieve this goal."

 

"The oil and gas industry is Canada’s largest and fastest-growing source of emissions and there are currently no limits on the amount of climate pollution it can admit. Will the federal government regulate them to meet our climate targets and ensure Canada’s legacy is one of real climate action?"

Ken: The situation right now presents significant geo-political and climate change risks, and Canada’s response will need to be balanced.  Globalized energy has been outed as a high-risk system for nations currently dealing with a dependence on Russian oil and gas.  And the ripple effects of oil price increases have been seen at gas stations across Canada and elsewhere.

Here at home, our focus on maintaining ‘energy sovereignty’ includes developing sustainable sources.  The assistance we can provide to other nations, notably in Europe, will include hydrogen in the short term and, if necessary, natural gas in the medium term.  But Europe has done an amazing job of reducing its reliance on Russia and shifting away from oil and gas.

In the meantime, we need to think about complementary actions and policies to accelerate the shift away from burning oil and gas for energy, because it’s not hard to predict that fuel prices will continue to be high for the foreseeable future.  That alone will be a major incentive for change at the personal level. In terms of national policy, we will substantially eliminate subsidies to the oil and gas industry with the possible exception of funding to reduce emissions from production, higher ‘clean fuel’ standards such as those due to be introduced next month and help for communities stuck with orphaned oil and gas wells.

Throughout, we will need to collaborate with provincial governments that have relied on oil and gas revenues, and with the unions whose members have relied on good paying oil and gas jobs.  A ‘just’ transition is necessary, but we should not lose sight of the substantial opportunities to create and trade internationally in new sustainable energy technologies.  Doing this will have to involved ending the debate Conservatives continue to want as to whether climate change is ‘real’ and get our human energy directed at the solutions."

 

"Now that the government has implemented a dental care program, what will you do this year to implement a pharmacare program?

Ken: "With the roll-out of the national dental care program, pharmacare will be the only missing piece of a truly comprehensive Medicare system.  From your note, it’s clear that you understand the options open to us…a universal ‘single payer’ system and a program that extends coverage to those not part of an existing plan.  Obviously there are fiscal considerations as well as the aspect you mentioned concerning deals we could make with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug costs. 

On the cost of drugs issue, Canada is at a bit of a disadvantage because we are a very small market.  There have been a number of examples where a drug manufacturer will simply not make its product available in Canada because the profit potential simply isn’t there, and our attempts thus far to negotiate lower prices have had limited success.

We expect to see the legislation in May, and there is no doubt that the debate in Parliament and among the public will be ‘active’ to say the least.

 

“With the number of innocents trapped by the conflict in Gaza who have family here in Canada, shouldn’t we be providing more than just 1,000 temporary resident visas?”

Ken: "I appreciate the advocation on behalf of people in Gaza caught in this tragic conflict.  Immigration Minister Marc Miller says there is no ‘hard cap’ on the number of visas Canada will issue; the 1000 number was the starting point. To review the Minister`s comments please visit:  https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canada-s-immigration-minister-says-there-isn-t-a-hard-cap-on-temporary-visa-program-for-palestinians-1.6718089#:~:text=Canada's%20Immigration%20Minister%20Marc%20Miller,hard%20cap%2C%20despite%20previous%20suggestions."     

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