Andrew Scheer gave the second of what he promises will be a series of major policy addresses that will, eventually, provide a firm supporting structure for the Party’s 2019 election platform … the first pillar was erected in a foreign and defence policy speech he gave in Montreal last week. It was full of good ideas; the second was set up, on Thursday, in a speech he gave to The Economic Club in Toronto.
Janice Dickson, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that it was “a wide-ranging speech … [in which] … Mr. Scheer took aim at the country’s increasing deficits under Mr. Trudeau’s leadership, but stopped short of saying how or when a Conservative government would balance the budget. Unsurprisingly, he vowed to scrap the carbon tax and said that under his leadership there will be more pipeline construction … [and he said that] … his economic policy will be a dramatic departure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s, and promised that a future Conservative government would live within its means and not treat the taxpayer’s pocket as a “bottomless pit.”“
Mr Scheer explained to Canadians that Canada can help itself and the global environment by getting Canadian energy to world markets, thus helping e.g. China and India to get off coal. He noted many experts says that that petroleum will remain in very high and growing demand until, at least, the 2040s and likely well beyond. Canadians and the world should have access to Canada’s petroleum rather than just that produced by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The Globe and Mail report says that “Mr. Scheer proposed that, rather than having industry submit route proposals for new transmission lines and pipeline projects, there could be a single corridor planned in advance and in consultation with the provinces and Indigenous peoples … [he said that] … “With a single corridor, we could minimize environmental impacts, lower the costs of environmental assessments, increase certainty for investors and, most importantly, get these critical projects built” … [and he added that] … part of his vision is to see Canada become energy independent by 2030, allowing the economy to fire on all cylinders.” It’s a bold vision and it’s one that I support, but it bega the question:
I believe it is, I hope it is.
“Mr. Scheer,” Ms Dickson reports, “said nearly half of Canadians report being overwhelmed by debt. “People are barely getting by,” he said, adding that Mr. Trudeau has raised taxes on small-business owners and ended tax credits that made things such as dance class more affordable … [and he] … said that by the end of this year, Mr. Trudeau will have added “$71-billion to the national debt … with little to show for it” … [and he explained that paying the interest on the national debt is, in fact, the same as a spending cut, money that we must pay in interest is money that cannot be spent building hospitals] … “The next time a Liberal tries to scare you with supposed Conservative spending cuts – and you can mark my words, they will – just remind them of the track they’ve put us on … When times are good, he spends. When times are bad, he also spends. Remember the 2015 election? When Trudeau looked the country straight in the eye and said he would balance the budget by 2019? Well, it’s 2019,” he said.“
The Globe and Mail also says that “Mr. Scheer said there is an opportunity to “change course,” in October. Launching into a segment on the differences between Conservative and Liberal economic policies, Mr. Scheer said Liberals “put their faith in government,” while Conservatives “put their faith in people.”“
As with his foreign and defence policy speech, there are loads of good ideas in Mr Scheer’s economic policy address but it is painfully light on details. That is, probably, as it should be. The time to make specific policy proposals and promises is when the campaign is in full flight, after Labour Day. But this speech throws down a couple of gauntlets:
- Getting pipelines built FOR the benefit of Canadians and for the global fight against climate change; and
- Getting Canada’s finances back under control.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are on two clearly different courses here. Canadians have a clear choice to make; in my considered opinion, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are the better choice for Canada and the world.