Andrew Mercier, NDP
Mercier is a 35-year-old lawyer who lives in Langley City
Langley is the community I grew up in—I attended Simonds & Blacklock elementary and Langley Secondary School. Brought up by a mother who worked in healthcare, I understand the importance of having a strong healthcare sector—I want to make sure the folks here have the support they need. After moving away for a few years to obtain my law degree, I’ve since settled down with my wife and young daughter.
Today, this community is diverse and younger than ever. In just the past three years with the BC NDP we have seen more support come to Langley than we had with the previous 16 years of Liberal government. Langley needs a voice that will represent it as we continue to grow.
To help voters make their choices on election day, the Langley Advance Times is asking local candidates a series of questions on issues of importance, asking each candidate to participate.
They were asked to a ‘yes’, a ‘no,’ or a ‘don’t know’ (Y,N,D) response to EACH of the numbered questions for the grid published in the Oct. 15 edition of The News. Candidates were also invited to expand on ANY OR ALL of the questions (to a maximum of 200 words each), with one of their choice to be included in our print edition on Oct. 22. Here’s all their replies.
1. Would you vote to fund additional supportive housing units in Langley to reduce homelessness?
Answer: Yes. Since forming government three years ago, we have worked hard to build supportive housing. This has meant seeing additional treatment supports and wraparound services put in place that directly address homelessness in Langley and across the region.
The BC Liberals turned a blind eye and let this housing crisis grow. In fact, homelessness in the Lower Mainland skyrocketed by 30% between 2014 and 2017. We’ve since turned our focus to this issue through investments in supportive housing and have helped thousands of people turn their lives around. The evidence shows that in just the first six months, the people housed in these buildings are seeing meaningful improvements to their health, mental health, and well-being.
2. Is lowering taxes the best route to economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession?
Answer: It’s important to remember that people are the economy. By helping people succeed we’re building a recovery for everyone. That’s why supporting people and businesses, and ensuring we have the revenue to pay for the services people need, is so critical to our success.
The BC Liberals want to give a $3 billion tax break to the wealthy and make everyday people pay for it, leading to cuts to the services that people and businesses need. We will provide direct support to British Columbians through the pandemic with a one-time $1,000 recovery benefit for families and $500 for individuals.
We’re also creating jobs and rebuilding BC with a new Recovery Investment Fund. This will provide an additional $3 billion a year over three years to build new schools, hospitals, and more—creating 18,000 new jobs a year.
Our commitment to extending the SkyTrain to Langley will be an additional job creator and put commuting costs back in people’s pockets—giving the economy an even stronger boost as we move BC forward.
3. Should the province provide BC residents with a universal basic income?
Answer: The crux of the issue here is affordability and making sure our economy works for everyone. We live in a beautiful province, but BC is expensive and it’s tough to balance a household budget here.
If we look back to 2017 when the BC Liberals were in government, what we saw were tax breaks being given out to the top 2% while everyone else had to pay for it. We also saw a doubling of the MSP, ICBC being used as a piggy bank causing rates to skyrocket 36%, Hydro going up 87%, and bridge tolls causing additional financial stress on folks right here in Langley and the Fraser Valley.
Since taking office, we’ve cancelled the BC Liberal tax cuts for the wealthy and gave it back to people. We eliminated the MSP and those bridge tolls. We will be freezing rents. We are starting a Child Opportunity benefit that provides up to $2,600/year for a family with two kids.
To further help folks working paycheck to paycheck, we will also provide direct support to get British Columbians through the pandemic with a one-time $1000 recovery benefit for families and $500 for individuals.
4. Should the BC government restrict large, industrial cannabis greenhouses from operating in the ALR?
Answer: Yes. The Agricultural Land Reserves are an important aspect of our farming community. In 2018, the BC NDP amended regulations to allow communities to ban cannabis production “unless it is grown in ways that preserve the productive capacity of agricultural land.”
When the BC Liberals were in power, they let wealthy speculators and big developers drive the price of farmland far out of reach for farmers and farming families. Under the new rules, “cement-based, industrial-style, cannabis-production bunkers” can be blocked, but cannabis farming itself cannot. Cannabis can still be legally grown on the Agricultural Land Reserve if it’s in an open field or a structure with a soil base. Structures that were already under construction before July 13, 2018 and existing licensed facilities are grandfathered in.
5. Should the BC government speed up the widening of Highway One into the eastern Fraser Valley?
Answer: Yes. The eastern Fraser Valley has been growing at a rapid rate for years now. With many folks having to commute down Highway One for work, people are spending far too many hours in their cars and away from their families. British Columbians should be able to get to work, run errands, and get home to loved ones safely and quickly.
Under the BC Liberal government, people south of the Fraser were unfairly charged with tolls and we saw repeated refusals to replace and build essential projects. This left many stuck in traffic. That’s why we’re investing in projects to tackle congestion. We support the widening of Highway One to Abbotsford and will complete the project by 2026.
6. Should cities and school districts be allowed to go into debt during the pandemic?
Answer: No. The pandemic has changed a lot and we are in unprecedented times. A BC NDP government will do whatever it takes to support communities during this difficult time.
In a time like this we all need to work together, and it wouldn’t be fair to leave the burden on individual cities or districts. We’ve supported municipalities, transit agencies, and school districts with significant new funding so they can continue to deliver the services we all count on.
7. Should the province stop prosecuting drug possession to help fight the overdose epidemic?
Answer: This is something Canada’s police chiefs and Dr. Henry are calling for. They’re the experts in keeping our communities safe and healthy and we’re listening to them. The police chiefs say this would free them up to focus on serious criminal activity – like drug trafficking and those who are making these toxic substances. However, it has to go hand in hand with treatment and recovery and we need to protect and support our kids. That’s why we’re doubling youth treatment beds, and we’re going to build new treatment, recovery, and detox facilities in communities across BC.
8. Should the province divert funding away from policing and towards social and mental health services?
Answer: The truth is that these are not either-or issues. We need to continue to prosecute criminal elements and crack down on things like money laundering that is helping fuel crime and the overdose crisis.
We also need mental and social health services so people can get the care they need and be treated as patients. Prevention is key, that’s why we are more than doubling youth treatment beds in the province from 104 to 247.
We are supporting police to focus on serious crime and safer neighbourhoods. To better support communities and local police forces, we will be investing more in community-based mental health and social services so there are more trained front-line workers to help people in crisis. That’s why we are investing in things like the new Assertive Community Treatment teams coming to communities across the province, including one north of Langley in Maple Ridge, to make sure that those with complex challenges have the support they need.
9. In the era of Black Lives Matter, should B.C. increase the penalties for hate speech?
Answer: Racism is with us in each and every community. It’s something that we see regularly, but it is completely unacceptable. That’s why we must be doing everything we can to root out racism.
As government, the BC NDP has established the first independent Human Rights Commissioner to strengthen human rights and we brought back the Human Rights Commission that the BC Liberals cut.
BC’s Multiculturalism Act is now 25 years old. Should we be re-elected, we will be conducting a full review of anti-racism laws in other jurisdiction and launch a full stakeholder consultation leading to a new Anti-Racism Act that better serves everyone in BC.
10. Would you support more public schools moving to a year-round education model?
Answer: I have a young daughter that will be in school in just a few short years. Just like I want for her, we all want our kids to have better opportunities than we did. Let’s give them the best start possible.
BC Liberals fought in court to raise class sizes and refused to build schools in growing communities. That’s why we’re hiring 4,200 new teachers and have the smallest class sizes in a decade. We’re investing a record $2 billion over three years for new schools, expansions, and seismic upgrades. We’re focused on supporting families, students, and teachers through the pandemic. Districts have adopted a variety of schedules in response to COVID—those decisions are made locally.
OTHER LOCAL CANDIDATE Q&As:
Langley East Riding: