Candidate Questions

We have drafted a set of questions to help you engage federal election candidates on water issues.  They can be asked via email, on the phone, at the door or in all-candidates debates.  The most important thing is to get freshwater leadership on the minds of soon-to-be-elected MPs!  

We have also created this handy tracking tool that you can use to let us know how candidates answered each of the questions in your riding.

These questions focus on the core elements outlined in the call to action for federal leadership on freshwater. Wherever local examples and needs can be highlighted, as they relate to elements of the "Call to action", please integrate them. This will make the call resonate more with local candidates and show clearly the importance of freshwater to their constituency base!

We have given a few examples to help you identify how to best localize each of these questions to your region’s freshwater priorities.  

Question 1:   
What, in your view, are the main challenges and opportunities related to freshwater management and what role do you think the Government of Canada (or federal government) should play in addressing them?

What are we looking for?  
We want respondents to agree that the federal government needs to show leadership in areas of freshwater.  We would like to hear them speak about collaboration with other levels of government (aboriginal, provincial, territorial, municipal). Unprompted, we want to draw any priorities they might champion around fresh water--especially those detailed in the "Call to action".

Localize this: 
If you live in a community where drinking water has been at threat as a result of water management and/or industrial impacts in the region, then preface this question with this example. You will then expose what role the candidate believes the federal government needs to play in specific areas of freshwater management, protection and impact that most affect your community. 

Question 2: 
To date 37 organizations, including NGOs, research institutes and businesses have endorsed a Call to Action urging the next Government of Canada to show leadership on freshwater protection by setting a target of all waters in good health by 2025, and building consensus among all levels of government on a plan to achieve that target. Will you, if elected, champion federal leadership on freshwater protection and the target of ensuring all waters in Canada are in good health by 2025.

What are we looking for?  
We are looking for some indication of federal leadership, ideally at the “visionary” level (as opposed to things such as fixing specific laws or regulations). We are looking for a indication of candidate's understanding that water policy and management is a shared responsibility in Canada (i.e., among different levels of government; can’t just be pushed to the provinces). We are looking for awareness of the "Call to action", and providing you an opportunity to direct candidates to the call and its endorsers (visit

Question 3:  
Do you support the idea of the federal government leading the development and implementation of a national, science-based approach to assessing and publicly reporting on the health of Canada’s waters?

What are we looking for? 
We are looking for a commitment to support reinvesting in Canada’s water science, monitoring and reporting. We are looking for MPs who will champion a consistent and transparent approach to assessing and reporting on freshwater health across the country, against a target of all waters in Canada in good health. It would be great to hear responses that reference examples such as the EU Water Framework Directive, or initiatives like WWF-Canada’s Watershed Reports or Waterkeepers Swim Guide

Localize this: 
Check out the work that’s been done to date with WWF-Canada’s freshwater health assessments. Note the number of rivers that have inadequate information. If you live in one of the areas, highlight this, asking what they would do if elected to fill the gap in publicly accessible and reliable information on the health of Canada’s waters

Question 4:   
What do you feel needs to be done to modernize and more effectively implement federal laws and policies for freshwater protection and management, particularly in the face of climate change and extreme weather events?

What are we looking for
We are looking for understanding of the connection between water and climate. We are looking for acknowledgement that federal laws matter, that they have been poorly implemented over the past two decades, and that recent changes to the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act and others have weakened federal policy and left the provinces and territories with an unfair regulatory and policy burden. We are looking for responses that go beyond “restoring” those laws, to recognition of the need for modernization, including mention of some of the elements we included in the Call to Action. We are looking for modernization that reflects the significant challenges posed by climate change and the shared constitutional responsibility for water among orders of government.

Localize this: 
Record heat waves in British Columbia were drying BC waters and in some areas increasing water temperatures to near-fatal temperatures for species of salmon. If you live in one of the many areas of the country that were affected by record-setting warm and dry weather this summer, this is your entry point for driving the need to revitalize Canada’s freshwater laws!

Question 5:   
How will you and your party support local governments in adapting to extreme weather events (flood, drought) and addressing Canada’s $88 billion municipal water infrastructure deficit?

What are we looking for? 
We are looking for acknowledgement that climate change is leading to increasingly common, unpredictable and severe extreme weather events. We are looking for a commitment for a time-bound (aka. 10-year) strategic plan development that emphasizes innovative green infrastructure, rainwater management and water conservation and efficiency.

Localize this: 
Chances are you live in a region of the country that is facing extreme risk as a result of our aging stormwater and wastewater treatment infrastructure. The Lake Winnipeg Foundation, has added this example to this question to drive home the importance of the topic locally. “The City of Winnipeg’s North End Water Pollution Control Centre, immediately upstream of Lake Winnipeg, is the fourth-largest phosphorus polluter among all wastewater treatment facilities in Canada (National Pollutant Release Inventory, Environment Canada) and costs for much-needed upgrades continue to rise.”

Question 6:  
What financial commitments will you support to improve freshwater management, protection and infrastructure in Canada?

What are we looking for?  
We are looking for clear indications of funding priorities (including specific commitments), and evidence of strategic initiatives that integrate environment and economy. Specifically, we are looking for some or all of the following in response to the question:   

  • Funding for science, monitoring and reporting of freshwater health;
  • Long-term commitment to infrastructure spending, ideally prioritizing green infrastructure solutions;
  • A strategy, including financial support, to position Canada as a leader in the global water technology and services sector;
  • Use of polluter pays principle to reduce water contamination, incentivize innovation, and generate revenue for freshwater protection and restoration; and
  • Funding to support local, on-the-ground solutions to protect, restore and enhance freshwater health.

Localize this:  
The Lake Winnipeg Foundation has recently sent out their list of candidate questions for their region.  Included here was a request for ongoing financial support “to address the root causes of harmful algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg”.  Tailor a question to this effect to drive at the budget commitments are most important to your region and its freshwater health.

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