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Reducing taxes is not an issue for westerners

If there could be one phrase that all candidates want to use during any election campaign it would be "tax cuts".

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During this campaign there has already been a raft of tax promises from all the major parties and there is no doubt there will be more before election day on June 28.

But despite all the commotion that surrounds the word "tax", according to a report released in February from the Canada West Foundation, tax cuts are not a high priority for people living in the western provinces.

The "Looking West" survey from the CWF documents that the major issues in Western Canada are health care and the lack of skilled labour.

Gary Slywchuk from the CWF said the organization, a "think tank" based in Calgary that works on public policy, releases its Looking West survey every two years.

The surveys outline what the emerging issues are and highlight what issues, if any, have become more important.

In the 2004 survey, the foundation interviewed 800 people in each of the western provinces for a total of 3,200 opinions, and lowering taxes was 11 th on the list of 13 priorities.

The key findings outlined in the report were:

• Almost three-quarters of westerners feel that improving the health care system is a high priority. Ensuring skilled labour, reducing poverty and protecting the environment were also ranked as high priorities by two-thirds of westerners.

• Westerners feel that Canada should pursue stronger economic ties with the U.S.

• Westerners believe local government should be better funded.

• Westerners are not happy with how governments are handling environmental stewardship.

• B.C respondents were the most optimistic about the future of their province while Saskatchewan respondents were the most pessimistic.

• Westerners have greater confidence in the provincial governments than they do in the federal government.

Election Update

The June 7 deadline for registering candidates has passed and West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast has another candidate.

Anne Jamieson from the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada is going to run.

Jamieson, 60, lives on Bowen Island and has been aligned with the Marxist-Leninist party since its inception in 1971.

She is a nurse and a mother of four and her goal is to get more people involved in the political process.

"In the present set-up lobbyists and petitioners can’t really achieve very much… because the power bases are becoming more and more centralized," said Jamieson.

"People are not involved in political process at all except for an election every four years… we need to go a step further to look at how we can overcome political marginlization."

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