Federal Liberal hopeful Martha Hall Findlay spent the morning of Monday, February 25 in Invermere with local business people and elected officials.
After accepting an invitation from the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, Hall Findlay was at the Chamber office early on to discuss her platform and listen to issues facing the valley during her campaign to lead the Liberal Party of Canada.
Hall Findlay’s visit to Invermere was carried out over coffee through a round-table discussion, where she presented ideas to differentiate herself from the other Liberal candidates.
Perhaps Hall Findlay’s most bold proposal is her initiative to dismantle the dairy, poultry and egg supply management in Canada. The supply management system puts great tariffs on foreign dairy products which provides the few Canadian dairy farmers with an oligopoly, a state of limited competition.
“My recommendation is that we dismantle it; [it was a] great idea when it was brought in in the 1970s, but at that time we had 145,000 dairy farmers. We now have barely more than 10,000.”
Along with unfair pricing, Hall Findlay mentioned the common routine for Vancouver-area families to make a weekly cross-border trip for discounted dairy, as well as the 2012 “cheese smuggling ring” news story, where hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of dairy products were snuck into Ontario from the states.
Hall Findlay believes that Canadian regulations give the nation superior dairy products, but says the supply management makes Canadian dairy nearly impossible to export.
“Unfortunately we have politicians who are too nervous about votes and they’re too swayed by the dairy lobby; I don’t have a lot of patience for that,” she said.
When the subject of transporting resources from the Alberta oil sands arose, Hall Findlay shared her opinion on the contentious issue.
“I’m an absolute advocate of getting access to the west coast,” she said. “I absolutely understand the whole issue of price differential because we only have one customer.”
While she’s in support of west coast trade access, Hall Findlay is open to the most ideal solution, whether it be the most environmentally friendly pipeline route, or alternative transportation altogether. “There are some really interesting analysis in terms of rail through Alaska as a possibility,” she said.
But she says the West Coast isn’t the only solution to Alberta’s land-locked issue.
“I also advocated looking at these at the discussion about possibly going west to east; they’re not mutually exclusive,” she said, after mentioning the various possible pipeline routes through B.C.
Unlike previous leadership races, which have always required a paid membership to vote, the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada will be determined by the Canadian voters who register online for free by March 3. Hall Findlay was adamant about encouraging participation in electing the next federal Liberal leader.
“You don’t have to join the liberal party to vote. You sign in as a supporter, it’s free, so no excuses.”
Voting takes place between April 6 and 14, but registering to vote must be done before March 3. It can be done online through liberal.ca or any of the leadership candidate’s websites. Once registered, there’s no commitment required before the polls open.