Election 2019: Luke Quinlan’s Cabin Radio interview
People’s Party of Canada candidate Luke Quinlan hopes to become the Northwest Territories’ next MP on federal election day, October 21.
With a background in trades and running his own business, Quinlan joined the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), a party created by Maxime Bernier following his failed Conservative leadership bid. Quinlan is also a former Conservative member, saying he left an “opportunist” party which had moved away from “core conservative ideas.”
Quinlan told Cabin Radio he wants to ease northerners’ high cost of living by slashing taxes for individuals and business. Under the PPC platform anyone earning under $15,000 would pay no taxes, anyone making between that and $100,000 would pay 15 percent, and anyone earning more than $100,000 would pay 25 percent. Quinlan wants to see business tax lowered to 10 percent and capital gains tax scrapped entirely. GST would also stay with the territory.
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“Our philosophy is taxes are basically a penalty on participation. So if taxes are too high, you will get less participation in the market,” he said.
Questioning the scientific consensus that humans are contributing to climate change, Quinlan called for the newly implemented carbon tax to be scrapped. Instead, he said, the market will regulate itself when it comes to climate change mitigation and environmental responsibility. Quinlan wants to lift the moratorium on Arctic offshore oil and gas development.
“What we need to do to benefit the world as a whole is make our Canadian industry sectors, our energy in Alberta, pipelines, mining – we need to make that easier for people,” he said. “Because we have the most efficient production of energy and the most efficient consumption of energy in the world.”
Overall the government needs to be decentralized, Quinlan said. Instead, territorial and local governments would be the key providers of services. “A government that can best serve you is one that is accessible, and not a politician in Ottawa,” he added.
On immigration, Quinlan advocated halving the number of immigrants coming to Canada under the Trudeau government. Of 150,000 immigrants the PPC would accept annually, half would be economic immigrants.
“I don’t think it’s controversial at all. I mean, every Canadian government has had an immigration platform,” Quinlan said.
While he said he embraces a diverse society, Quinlan called for scrapping Canada’s Multiculturalism Act, which he calls another “expense of government.”
“I support people bringing over their culture, but the government doesn’t need to spend money on the sustaining of that culture at our expense,” he said.
Listen to the full interview by downloading or streaming Cabin Radio’s Lunchtime News podcast. Quinlan’s interview air date is October 16, 2019.
More information: Luke Quinlan’s Facebook campaign page
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Interviews appear daily this week in the lead-up to October 21
This interview was recorded on October 4, 2019. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Emelie Peacock: What prompted you to put your name forward as candidate for the People’s Party of Canada?
Luke Quinlan: I moved up to the Northwest Territories in 2005. I was born and raised in Newfoundland and, like many young Canadians, travelled to look for work, travelled for jobs, and found myself in the Northwest Territories. I drove up here from the province of Ontario late in the winter of 2005. When I first came up here I was in food service, did a bit of construction and eventually left my bartending job to start trades. I started in the electrical trade, got my journeyman certification. And three years ago I started my own business.
What motivated me to get into politics is a lack of diversity of ideas and different approaches to government. I’m not in favour of the status quo, how things are being directed at this time. And I was a member, actually, of the Conservative Party before, but I see the Conservatives being kind-of opportunist, kind-of moving their policies away from what some would argue would be core conservative ideas. What attracted me to the People’s Party and Maxime Bernier is our core principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, respect, and fairness. And of course, the policy is great. Ever since Maxime Bernie ran for the Conservative race his policy has been the same, consistent over the years. That takes some integrity to do that. So I’m not only supporting Maxime Bernier, but I decided to get into the race and give people yet another choice in the Northwest Territories on the ballot.
A lot of the PPC’s focus involves lowering taxes – corporate taxes and income taxes. Could you explain what exactly you’re proposing and how that would look for the Northwest Territories?
Sure. So you’re correct: income taxes, business taxes, capital gains tax, removal of the carbon tax, all those things contribute to a high cost of living and discriminate against the population in Northwest Territories because of our isolation. All our goods, to get here, exchange more hands than the rest of Canada just because of our geography. So lowering taxes, and eliminating taxes, and looking at regulation and what we can cut there to make businesses grow, to incentivize growth. We’d like to reunite Canadians with their own money instead of giving them tax breaks and trying to curb human behaviour. When the government does that, they’re willfully acknowledging that, “Hey, we can give you some back.” So instead of trying to curb human behaviour, let’s lower all taxes for all people. So no income tax for the first $15,000 you make. That’s an extra $550 for every Canadian who makes at least that much. From $15,000 to $100,000 is a lower income tax rate of 15 percent. Everything above $100,000, the income tax rate will be 25 percent. So all those rates are lower than they are now. And we have less tax brackets. So it simplifies and lowers all income tax for all Canadians.
We’re going to lower the business tax down to 10 percent. We’re going to eliminate capital gains tax, that’ll send billions back into the private sector. And business owners, to stay competitive they can increase the wages of their workers, that helps new businesses start up and grow. Because our philosophy is taxes are basically a penalty on participation. So if taxes are too high, you will get less participation in the market. Lowering taxes isn’t going to do it all. We need more economic choices, more competition in the North. So inadvertently kind-of hit two birds with one stone, there, in that throw. Eliminating capital gains tax, business tax, income tax… we want to remove the carbon tax entirely. I don’t believe in the federal government mandating, overstepping its reach. I believe that territories and provinces in this country can go that route if they choose. But kind-of threatening the provinces and the territories by saying, “If you don’t implement your tax, we’re just going to implement one for you”? That’s a mirage. That’s no choice. That’s kind-of overstepping, in my opinion, the federal government’s role in Canadian society.
We are not going to do like the Conservatives are doing and replace it with another carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme. That’s solidified my opinion on why I left for the People’s Party, that the Conservatives are just kind-of tweaking the numbers. They’re not serious about balancing the budget, Andrew Scheer has already rolled back his promise. We are going to balance the budget in two years. And when people look at the platforms they say, “Luke, it’s great. You’re lowering taxes here, here… regulations… but how are you going to balance the budget?” Well, we believe that when you lower income taxes, more people participate and you have a bigger tax base. Unemployment is still comparatively high in the Northwest Territories. So that’s how we’re going to tackle that. No cap-and-trade. Cap-and-trade was introduced by Liberals a few elections ago and it failed miserably. It didn’t resonate with voters and I don’t know why Andrew Scheer would want to remove a carbon tax and replace it with a cap-and-trade. For those concerned about the environment, we all are. I have yet to receive an answer from critics on how taxation is going to change climate.
Staying on climate change, our territory is warming at a rate three times the national average. The effects of climate change are quite evident in seeing the Snowking’s castle having to close early and winter roads not being able to stay open. Your leader of the PPC has questioned whether humans are involved in climate change and the effect that human behaviour has on climate change. What do you think about that?
I agree with him, mostly and in part. I’m not a scientist, but I don’t think there is a consensus on the issue. Many members, original members on the IPCC, I have names here and their credentials, many of them professors in Canadian universities, there’s no consensus on the issue. We want to take care of the environment, keep our air and our water and our soil clean. But taxation… wherever you are on the opinion of what factor is the biggest contributor to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – that’s where there’s some difference of opinion, and there is no consensus in the science.
So what you’re saying is that you are not sure whether human behaviour is causing climate change?
That’s right. So carbon dioxide levels have increased but when we look at the atmosphere, it’s primarily oxygen and nitrogen. Carbon dioxide makes up less than one percent, a tenth of a single percent. That’s the total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Humans are contributing to that whole bulk by 10 percent. So now we’re looking at the human contribution to carbon dioxide and atmosphere to be one hundredth of a single percent. You take into account Canada being not just carbon neutral, but we have a negative carbon footprint – we actually absorb more carbon dioxide than we emit. And me being concerned about the quality of air… what we need to do to benefit the world as a whole is make our Canadian industry sectors, our energy in Alberta, pipelines, mining, we need to make that easier for people. Because we have the most efficient production of energy and the most efficient consumption of energy in the world. Canadians, I think, are being a little bit too hard on themselves here. It’s good to take a serious approach but other countries are polluting much more than us.
I would beg to differ on climate change, the science is quite clear. Let’s talk about government involvement on climate change. Your party and the leader of your party basically want to pull the government out of any action on climate change. Is that correct?
Well, no, we believe that the best action on climate change is a free market. The free market is underestimated and is quite capable at meeting the task, whatever that task or challenge is that we’re facing as a Canadian society. How did we get to be so efficient? It was because of the free market and not some mandate from government and it’s kind-of suspicious to me that the solution is always taxes. And again, I go back to the point: how are taxes going to change climate? No matter what issue you’re on. We have kids coming home from school saying, “Mom, dad only have 18 months left or six years.” Like, there’s not as a credible scientist in the world that’s willing to say these extreme things.
I believe scientists have said we have 11 years before we have to completely change our ways, otherwise warming will happen at an alarming rate. That is the scientific consensus.
I mean, the climate is always changing. I mean, just not even 30 years ago, scientists were warning us about global cooling as well. And I go back to the original point, there’s no consensus. Professor Tim Ball (formerly at the Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg), Professor Paul Reiter, IPCC member, I mean, the International Panel on Climate Change is where the idea of the consensus came from, yet I’m digging up names. Professor Richard Lindzen. He’s also a member, IPCC and MIT. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, also disagrees that it’s something we need to look at.
Note: According to a statement from Greenpeace, Patrick Moore was not a co-founder of the organization. “Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. Although Mr Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace,” the organization states.
You say the free market needs to solve climate change. If you’re looking at the territory, how would that work in the Northwest Territories?
Well, the question is, how do we become such a green economy? We are already a green economy. Like I said, we are absorbing more carbon dioxide than we are emitting. Our industries are the most efficient in the world. So how do we benefit the world? We need to compete against Saudi Arabia, other oil producers, wherever that may be. Russia or China, they don’t have our standards, right? So what we need to do, we need to take their business from them so that we are mining and drilling efficiently and responsibly. We are the example right now. And there’s lots of room. That’s not to say that we can make improvements in the efficiency. But how did we get our efficiency today? The efficient vehicles. We’re driving electric cars. It wasn’t through government mandate, it was the market and businesses responding to what me and you are interested in purchasing with our own money.
You’ve also said you support lifting the moratorium on Arctic offshore oil and gas, is that correct?
Yes. I believe the Northwest Territories is quite equipped, the government as well. Whatever direction it chooses to go, whether it be to drill or not to drill, that is a Northwest Territories decision. And I don’t believe we’re served best when the federal government gets to make those decisions for us. It’s not that I want to drill, I want to see us grow. I want to see all industries in the Northwest Territories grow. Everyone I’m meeting is saying the number-one issue is the high cost of living. Again, a record amount of Canadians’ net pay is going to cost of living. And another troubling trend we’re seeing is that our total taxes even supersede that amount. So that is the number-one way we can reunite Canadians, have some hope in the future, reunite them with their paycheque. This is their own money. They deserve a little bit more.
In the NWT, a lot of people rely on federally funded programs. For example, money for housing. How would the People’s Party of Canada see those things being provided without taking taxes?
Well, the fact that the need for public housing is so high right now means that we’re in bad shape. Right now, we have a dynamic in the North, it’s growing here at an alarming rate more than it is in the rest of the country, and that is the working poor. The job isn’t lifting people out of poverty any more. And because of our high cost of living in the Northwest Territories, well, we have to make more just to have the same standard of living as the southern provinces. So what does that do? That puts us in a higher income tax bracket. Again, we’re being discriminated against by the tax code. Right, someone in the Northwest Territories making $80,000 is having less power, less choice in the market than, say, someone in Ontario or Nova Scotia or Alberta making the same amount of money.
So again, we’re seeing more of our capital go to taxes, we’re not seeing it come back. We’re not seeing services increase from the federal government, it’s scraps off the table. So let’s keep that money local. One plan for the People’s Party of Canada is all the GST generated in the North stays in the North. I think that amount is considerable, and would be extremely helpful. Going back to the high cost of living – you add five percent of that, that’s our money. It stays local instead of going to Ottawa and then being filtered back to us.
The NWT faces frequent shortages of healthcare professionals. We’ve also got a number of areas that involve the federal government where we have to work really hard: mental health, addictions, Child and Family Services. Now, I know this is a big question, but what does the People’s Party of Canada say about health and mental health and addictions?
Mental health and addictions specifically, speaks to us very loudly. Those services are seriously lacking here. We’re having trouble with those issues as the rest of Canada is, but I would argue more disproportionately. The People’s Party of Canada platform is that we need not just to decentralize or shrink government, but the key of decentralizing government is giving local governments – local provincial governments, municipal governments – empowering local governments to do what they need to do. Because a government that can best serve you is one that is accessible and not a politician in Ottawa, right? It’s my personal belief that local politicians can be held more accountable, they’re more accessible. And so again, we’d like to empower the provinces. People have their own issues, their own challenges they need to deal with. A one-size-fits-all approach from Ottawa is not how we move forward.
Giving more power and and funding?
Yes. And that kind-of speaks to devolution as well, right? Empowering the Northwest Territories.
The PPC says current immigration levels are unsustainable. And it’s proposing, correct me if I’m wrong, to drop the number from around 300,000 per year to between 100,000 and 150,000 as well as reduce the number of government-sponsored refugees.
Right, so we want more economic immigrants. So of that 150,000, 75,000 or half will be economic and the other half will be refugees, people who are running from dire circumstances – war, famine, civil unrest. I don’t think people with a work visa in the United States are under the same threat as people in the Middle East or wherever there’s war or turmoil. We want real refugees, not fake refugees jumping to the front of the line. It’s a burden on our society and we just finished talking about housing and healthcare.
Yes, these are new Canadians being accepted, they will eventually be sworn in as new Canadians and they’re reliant on the same services we are. And people in this community are asking me, “What are we going to do for housing? Luke, what can the federal government do?” Well, let’s be responsible in our growth. Let’s make sure Canada is strong enough economically and in our infrastructure so that when we do take immigrants, they come here and they find what they’re looking for. More freedom, a more stable economy and services, access to those services. So, before Trudeau, I mean, if you look at 150,000, that’s more close to previous governments. John Chrétien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper, these are sustainable.
We’re not doing our immigration population any favours, so we do need to make sure that half of that is economic, that they’re job-ready when they come here. And to make sure that local governments are catching up to the numbers. I mean, over four years that’s 600,000 people. That is a small Canadian city every four years. If we look at Justin Trudeau, his number is 300,000 to 350,000. We’re now looking at over a million people every four years. How is that sustainable? How is that responsible?
For the NWT it’s different, because our population is not growing. We do rely on immigrants both from within Canada and from other countries to bring in much-needed skills, as well as keep the population base strong. So what does reducing immigration mean for our territory?
Well, we’re just going back to the numbers that Canada is used to and we’re looking at growth. We’re not having economic growth. The Liberals are touting numbers saying “Oh, we’ve had growth in jobs.” Those jobs are in Ontario and Quebec. Seventy-five percent of them are part-time. That’s not economic growth. Our products, our services are getting more and more expensive, our marketplace becoming less and less competitive.
And again, it’s not just new immigrants. It’s Canadians that have been here all their lives, we’re all facing the same struggles. So I applaud Maxine Bernier’s honesty, his fortitude in tackling such… I don’t think it’s controversial at all. I mean, every Canadian government has had an immigration platform.
It is Justin Trudeau who has doubled those numbers just on a whim, and he isn’t prioritizing economic refugees and he isn’t certainly prioritizing real refugees when we have people jumping over rocks and roads. He’s talking about crime and firearms coming into this country. What else is being shipped across rocks and roads, other than people? So keeping our border secure, having a refugee and immigration program that helps us grow as a society and making sure that there’s some quality of life here, sustainable access to services so that when these new Canadians come here, they can grow and prosper. That’s where we want our society to go.
Maxime Bernier says he wants to end “extreme multiculturalism.” I want to hear what that means for the community here in the NWT. It seems like it’s working pretty well here.
So I’d like to make a distinction between two terms. There’s a diverse society. And there’s multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is an act, it’s the Multiculturalism Act. Canada is, was, and always will be a diverse society. What multiculturalism is, is another expense of the government. And again, our policy is in response to what Justin Trudeau has done over the years, saying we are the first post-national state and that Canada has no core identity. I strongly disagree with that. You look from coast to coast, here in the North, all the different cultures that are distinctly Canadian. Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, every province, every region of this country has a distinct culture of their own. That’s Canada. So we’re not going to be, God willing, a first post-national state, whatever he means by that. The reason why immigration communities… I support people bringing over their culture, but the government doesn’t need to spend money on the sustaining of that culture at our expense. That money, that program is costing all Canadians, no matter what their culture or what country they come from. It’s costing them money. So we want to get rid of that, keep our diverse society. But multiculturalism is just more than a phrase. I’d say we are diverse society. We need to keep that up. But multiculturalism is a political agenda put in by Prime Minister Trudeau.
So what are the programs that you want to remove, in this multiculturalism agenda?
We want to remove the Multiculturalism Act. It’s just a spending apparatus. It’s just another excuse for the federal government to spend money and not to be accountable with it. My question would be, how has the Multiculturalism Act benefited us as a society? When we do have freedom to live our own way, in our own life, to pursue our own religion and culture, those things are going to be preserved in a free society. So the People’s Party of Canada, we want more individual freedom, we want more differences in opinion. You know, it’s not just the diversity of people that’s important, but the diversity of opinion, that is crucial. So multiculturalism is not what people think it is. And it’s just a government program that came in, I think was it late 70s, early 80s, under Pierre Elliott Trudeau. We were a diverse country before then. It doesn’t help the immigration population. It just spends more money without being accountable.
If you’re elected, what would happen with the immigrant population here?
This the same that’s happened before Liberals got in power four years ago. We haven’t seen the full effect of Justin Trudeau’s policy on immigration yet, it takes some time. The economy is not growing. We need to make sure the economy is growing again, to make sure that people who come here have found what they’re looking for. They’ve found economic opportunity, a safe, friendly neighbourhood to raise children, have a family. Those are my priorities.
So there’s nothing taboo with us, if there’s anything getting in the way of the economic growth or if there’s a policy that was good intended, say if it was immigration, but the outcome is different. That’s how I would like to measure success, is outcome. And the Multiculturalism Act was good intended. But the outcome is not so much. We want to make sure all Canadians are part of this group and we get along and are integrated, that still leaves people with individual freedom.