Municipal leaders release platform to help voters in 2015 federal election

Canada’s municipal leaders have produced a platform they hope voters will use to rank parties in the upcoming federal election on issues ranging from transit to housing to expanding disaster assistance programs.

EDMONTON — Canada’s municipal leaders have produced a platform they hope voters will use to rank parties in the upcoming federal election on issues ranging from transit to housing to expanding disaster assistance programs.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities wants the political parties to commit to increasing funding to core infrastructure like roads, bridges and water systems by $1.5 billion annually through a predictable system like the Gas Tax Fund.

It also calls for tax incentives to produce more affordable rental housing, asks for consultation when introducing new crime legislation as well as for support for local governments to build and adapt climate-resilient infrastructure.

The platform, called “Strengthening Canada’s Hometowns,” was released Monday as the federation’s annual convention draws to a close in Edmonton.

“This is a road map to help guide the political parties leading up to the federal election this October on how they might be able to support the quality of life of all of our citizens,” said Raymond Louie, a Vancouver council member who was acclaimed as the federation’s new president over the weekend.

Louie said the federation also hopes to engage in a debate with party leaders, noting that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have already committed to a national leaders debate on municipal issues.

“So far, all we’re missing is Mr. Harper from the Conservative government,” he said.

The document says investing in local infrastructure creates jobs and makes Canada more competitive.

It says municipal leaders will “work tirelessly” from now until the election in order to put the issues the platform contains “at the heart of the federal election conversation.”

Louie said some of that work already began at the convention, with visits from Trudeau, Mulcair and May, as well as from International Trade Minister Ed Fast, Finance Minister Joe Oliver and Labour and Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch.

He wouldn’t say whether the federation would produce a report card, as other lobby groups do during elections, on how the federal parties stack up against the platform.

“For now, what we’re doing is putting out this road map,” he said. “The next step will be having that political debate and we’ll see how the political parties perform.”

“Based on that, I think citizens will be able to judge for themselves.”

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