Q Squared, a group that works to promote, support and create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community, hosted a federal debate on September 19.
Four Fredericton riding candidates, Jason Paull of the People’s Party of Canada, Matt DeCourcey of Liberal Party of Canada, Jenica Atwin of the Green Party of Canada, and Brandon Kirby of the Libertarian Party of Canada were in attendance at the debate. Andrea Johnson (Conservative Party of Canada) was unable to make it.
“Equal human rights and equal human dignity have been a central pillar of [the Liberal government’s] entire agenda,” said DeCourcey during his opening remarks.
He drew attention to Trudeau’s historic lead of a Pride parade, the apologies made by the Liberal government to the LGBTQ+ community for past wrongs and his own work on the Equal Rights Coalition and the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Program.
Atwin opened next. She said that her number one priority, if elected, would be youth mental health. She would like to “see a fair health transfer payment come into our aging province to deal with many of our issues, but certainly to tackle that mental health issue”.
Paull also spoke about mental health and healthcare services having issues within the province and also across the country. He then touched on education and working towards keeping youth within New Brunswick with their families.
Kirby spoke next. He spoke mainly on the Saudi’s Arms deal, which was negotiated by the previous Harper government and supported by the current government. The Canadian government’s weapons deal with Saudi Arabia sickens Kirby, as “these are weapons that are being used against the LGBTQ community”.
Kirby also highlighted Canada’s current debt of $700 billion, saying the country is going to go bankrupt if nothing is done about it.
A number of key concerns were then presented by Q Squared to the candidates.
They touched on the ageing LGBTQ community—where those requiring assisted living are being forced back into the closet due to restrictive and punitive practices of providers—and how the candidates would go about prohibiting this practice.
“[The Green Party] would work closely with social services, community supports, emergency shelters and other frontline organizations, as well as nursing home and in-home care providers to ensure that those needs are going to be met,” answered Atwin.
She also discussed the importance of gender-neutral facilities in all buildings, including washrooms and changing rooms.
Paull focused on accessible housing for everybody, saying that Federal government needs to work with the Provincial governments and social development to make sure programs are in place, so that there are policies and legislation in place to safely ensure everybody’s well beings.
“Better than the right to housing is actual housing,” he said.
He also mentioned Saskatchewan’s 10 year plan to develop affordable housing and how New Brunswick should do the same.
DeCourcey added to this, addressing the National Housing Strategy and that New Brunswick has the same agreement signed as Saskatchewan to implement affordable housing. He also said that the current government is working with stakeholders and community members to ensure and fund programs to address these issues.
Paull talked about the national pharmacare program making medications easier to access and how the federal government needs to put pressure on the provincial government to improve the provincial health care system.
DeCourcey also believed in holding the provincial government accountable. He also spoke about providing more dedicated funding for home care and mental health. He also mentioned hiring more providers, shortening wait times and increasing access to mental health services.
Atwin wants services to reflect New Brunswick, as hospitalization rates and mental health issues is 65% higher for youth compared to other provinces. She said that New Brunswick needs money to fund these programs.
When asked about whether they would be willing to vote against party lines to protect LGBTQ+ constituents Kirby, DeCourcey, and Atwin do not believe their parties would endanger the LGBTQ+ community. Atwin and Paull say that they are allowed to vote against party lines.
All candidates were also in agreement that when handling the conflicts surrounding the LGBTQ+ rights that they would represent all parties equally, speaking of equal rights for all.