Alex Joehl, Libertarian
Meat department manager from Murrayville, age 38
This is my second time running for the BC Libertarian Party, previously also in Langley-East in 2017. I’ve run federally with the Libertarian Party of Canada three times, most recently in 2019 in Langley-Aldergrove, and also competed in the mayoral race in the Township of Langley in 2018.
What really drives my passion for civic engagement is the desire to be an option on the ballot for those that otherwise would have no one to identify with.
You’ll find me throughout Langley, coaching youth roller and ball hockey, in the Kitchen at the Gateway of Hope, or working at the Real Canadian Superstore. And though this former sports writer no longer is reporting on local sports, you may run into me playing beer league hockey.
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? NO
Throwing more money at housing isn’t the solution to help get people off the streets and prevent further homelessness.
There are many issues that need to be addressed first.
We need to end the prohibition on drugs, which will stop criminalizing addiction and allow people to get help they need.
Rent control-style regulations signal to landlords that it is more profitable to reno-vict residents instead of updating existing housing.
Much of Langley-East is within the ALR. Some non-profit organizations have tried to set up assisted living and addiction-treatment facilities within the ALR but were denied because of an out-dated view of farmland.
Housing prices continue to increase due to a scarcity created by governments. We need more homes. Existing building regulations must be amended. The province can work with municipalities to simplify zoning, like Japan did, to allow more density and legalize all housing types.
Social assistance programs need to be reworked so they no longer punish those trying to get back on their feet. Individuals often see a clawback of their benefits as soon as they begin working, creating a situation where there is no incentive for a person to work those first few hours while on state welfare.
2. Is lowering taxes the best route to economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession? YES
Tax-reduction is a popular topic for any political party, but which taxes to lower or eliminate is much more relevant.
The BC Libertarian Party has a detail tax strategy (available at https://libertarian.bc.ca/2020/09/24/tax-policy) that will maintain essential services, reduce administration costs, and most importantly give relief to the lowest income earners so they can get back on their feet – and stay there.
It is no secret that low-income earners are hurt most by COVID-19-related shutdowns.
The first step toward recovery is to rollback government mandates that keep people underemployed.
But further to that, we need to eliminate taxes that disproportionally affect the most-vulnerable.
Our party would raise the personal exemption to $44,000, instantly allowing workers to keep more of their money to reinvest into our economy. Our plan replaces $700 million in convoluted tax credits with the higher exemption for everybody. A simplified tax code still allows lower-income British Columbians to benefit, but has fewer exploits and loopholes for schemers to avoid paying taxes.
We’d put an end to sin taxes, like on liquor and cigarettes, which also disproportionally affect lower-income earners.
The Employee Health Tax, a burden on businesses that disincentivizes hiring more staff, would be eliminated permanently as well.
3. Should the province provide B.C. residents with a universal basic income? NO
There have been real-life trials of UBIs and the similar NTI (Negative Income Tax) in America, Canada, and Europe. Interestingly enough, both proponents and detractors find evidence in those trials to prove their own point. However, statistics showed it ended with fewer people working, and workers being off longer in-between jobs.
There are some pragmatic libertarians that believe replacing the multiple levels of social assistance with a UBI would make sense, because the savings in administration costs would fund whatever a UBI would cost to implement, and therefore, is the lesser evil of potential government assistance programs.
However, such a plan would transfer funding from those in dire need to everyone, many of whom are quite comfortable, and in the same way a partial transfer from the old to the young if we eliminate old-age security, or the disabled to the able-bodied similarly.
Some progressives may suggest keeping all these existing safety nets and adding the UBI on top of it. This would add huge costs to an already strained budget. And if the response to that is simply “just print more money to pay for it,” the consequence of that action will be decreased purchasing power for lower-income families.
4. Should the B.C. government restrict large, industrial cannabis greenhouses from operating in the ALR? NO
Anyone that feels vegetable greenhouses should be allowed in the ALR but not cannabis greenhouses is a hypocrite. Both commodities serve a purpose in our society.
As it is, land in the ALR is incredibly under-utilized. In Metro Vancouver about a quarter or ALR land is suitable for farming and not farmed, and another quarter is not suitable for farming, yet also sits underutilized.
I would look across the Urban Containment Boundary for opportunities to minimize any consequences of development would have on existing farm land.
In the last century farmers have increased yields at least four-fold, and technology continues to improve, with many more breakthroughs on the horizon. We need far less land for farming to feed the population that previously thought.
And, on top of this, the NDP government has actually made business more difficult for farmers to function, not easier. It’s time we did away with the Agricultural Land Commission, because it no longer serves any purpose other than encouraging speculation among those politically connected.
5. Should the B.C. government speed up the widening of Highway One into the eastern Fraser Valley? NO
Evidence shows that increasing road capacity just adds to traffic by inducing demand, having minimal benefits to the problem road-widening attempts to solve.
However, anyone that has been stuck in traffic in Aldergrove and Abbotsford on the freeway may be at least a bit skeptical.
The BC Libertarian Party is committed to widening highways and upgrading choke points like the Massey Tunnel replacement.
We also would bring back tolls on both bridges and express highways as both a way to fund the projects but also direct user behavior.
Other communities, including nearby Seattle, have express lanes that charge a fee. By adding a direct cost to the infrastructure the user’s behavior will adapt. Perhaps it is worth the cost of the quicker trip for that motorist. Perhaps not, therefore, they shouldn’t be burdened with the cost.
Ideally we’d be able to toll all roads – pay as you go – but that is a policy that needs much more polishing.
Either way, highways shouldn’t be the only focus of any infrastructure plan. Just like Tokyo was able to do, private rail-based transit options should exist, so we’d find a good public-private partnership to help British Columbians get around.
6. Should cities and school districts be allowed to go into debt during the pandemic? YES
School District 35 has been forced to completely change their structure and support of Langley schools since the provincial government began instituting restrictions and recommendations since March.
Just like any business during this time, the school district should be able to dip into the red to cover new infrastructure and training costs.
However, I would demand that the only conditions be that there is a plan in place to pay it back in a timely manner (four years, for example) and that no taxes are raised in relation to the excess spending. British Columbians are already struggling with underemployment thanks to government restrictions, so they cannot afford additional burdens in the coming years as we all collectively try to get back above water.
7. Should the province stop prosecuting drug possession to help fight the overdose epidemic? YES
There should be no law forbidding any one from putting any substance into their body.
The consequences of existing drug laws have been catastrophic. People are taking unclean drugs, leading to deaths, while it encourages an atmosphere of violence in the black market. Meanwhile, those that attempt to get help in kicking their addiction run into barriers, partly because of fear of prosecution.
Regardless of why people turn to drugs – a whole other discussion – it is important that when they do that they are able to do it safely.
Banning a substance will not stop someone from getting their hands on it – any high school student can tell you that. But the illegality of it creates a risk.
If drugs were sold in the open market, either through a liquor store or pharmacy model, it would eliminate a need for a black market (as long as government restrictions didn’t drive up costs; see: cannabis.)
Eliminating the black market would do four things: make drugs safer, potentially less expensive (removing risk of prosecution), make addiction treatment more easily accessible, and allow police to focus their resources on violent crimes such as theft, rape, and murder.
8. Should the province divert funding away from policing and towards social and mental health services? NO
This is a difficult question to answer YES or NO.
There are many great programs in our communities already doing a great job with addiction and mental health support. But others have tried moving in, like Luke 15, and were blocked because of arbitrary ALC restrictions. We need to be inviting to groups like these, not rejecting their efforts.
I also believe that our police shouldn’t necessarily be funded less, but that funding should be ear-marked away from victimless crimes. Instead of spending resources setting up radar traps and lurking behind pillars looking for mobile device-use in cars the police should be focusing on violent crimes, such as theft, rape, or murder. Our police already do a good job, so imagine how much more effective they’d be if they were not busy ticketing someone with a noisy muffler.
In fact, anyone who remembers my 2018 run for mayor of the Township of Langley knows I would replace the RCMP with a local police force, giving us even more control over goals and outcomes.
9. In the era of Black Lives Matter, should B.C. increase the penalties for hate speech? NO
The BC Libertarian Party believes that all individuals are entitled to equal treatment under the law, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or religious belief. This is a long-standing classical-liberal principle that libertarians hold dear. We have long been champions of fairness and equality under the law and by society at large.
We also reject laws or cultural norms that seek to raise one identity group above another.
This leads us inevitably to a rejection of institutional intersectionality.
Intersectionality refers to an ideology which seeks to redistribute social, political, and economic power along the lines of race, gender, and sexuality, by force if necessary, from the privileged to the marginalized, not taking into account the agency, decisions, or capabilities of individuals in either group.
Ultimately this kind of redistributionist must be rejected because it requires violence. Marxism must be rejected because it says the most important characteristic about a person are those immutable traits which they have no will or control over. It reduces individuals to faceless representatives of a group.
This all stands in contrast to a libertarian’s commitment to the defense of individual liberty, and our party is proud to reject collectivism and defend freedom of speech.
10. Would you support more public schools moving to a year-round education model? NO
There are two sides to this debate.
There are many families that depend on the 9-3 school day as a source of not just education, but childcare, allowing them to work during those hours. Summer vacation creates a burden for some families when trying to cover-off summer.
I’ve been there; with only a handful of weeks of vacation time between the two of us, my wife and I have to cover the rest of the summer with help from grandparents and paid day camps.
However, there are other families that do have the ability to go on vacations during summer break.
Doing so during the school year would be a disruption to the child’s learning and also likely in the classroom as well.
Some teenage students have summer jobs that they work to save money for cars and for college, and having school extended through July and August would eliminate that opportunity.
But, in the end, the determining factor in the decision may be what do the students want?
I think we can all agree that when we were younger we looked forward to summer break to recharge, and, just be a kid.