Conservative non-profit established to oust Andrew Scheer
A group of prominent Conservative operatives have established a non-profit organization that will campaign to oust Andrew Scheer, according to The Globe and Mail.
The group has been named Conservative Victory, and it has been established by Kory Teneycke, Doug Ford’s top election advisor, Jeff Ballingall, the founder of the Proud Network and the Chief Marketing Officer at The Post Millennial, and John Reynolds, who co-chaired the Stephen Harper’s 2006 election campaign.
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre slammed the minority Liberal government and the media at a Sunday press conference in Ottawa, where he called on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to come up with a plan to “restart” the sagging Canadian economy that shed 71,000 jobs last month.
“Others here in the bubble, inside Ottawa, might be fascinated by the palace intrigue of leadership politics,” replied Poilievre to a reporter’s question about his party leader Andrew Scheer’s viability at the Conservative helm.
“But if you’re one of those 71,000 people who just lost your job in November, you probably couldn’t care less.”
Poilievre and the Opposition Conservatives are calling for on Morneau, “to present an urgent fall economic update to salvage Canada’s teetering economy.”
Last week, Statistics Canada posted the worst one-month job loss numbers in the country for a decade as 71,000 additional people were out of work for November 2019. This included 18,000 in British Columbia and 18,000 in Alberta. It was especially terrible news for Alberta as it has already shed more than 150,000 jobs since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first took office in 2015.
According to the Carleton MP, whose riding is on the outskirts of the “Ottawa bubble”, the update should come with “major tax cuts for entrepreneurs and workers, so they can spend and invest and get out economy moving again.”
The Conservatives also want the government to cut “the insane, high levels of red tape holding (entrepreneurs) down,” said Poilievre. “(And) reassure investors by presenting a reasonable plan to help phase out the deficit in the medium term.”
With just five sitting days in the House of Commons scheduled before the Christmas break, Poilievre took exception with media queries about whether there was enough time to accomplish the task.
“You seem to be suggesting that our prime minister spent his first 10 days after the election surfing rather than working… the election was in October, they’ve had plenty of time,” replied Poilievre, referencing Trudeau’s Tofino trip, a post-election holiday he took after the October 21 vote.
“The storm clouds of our economy have been gathering overhead for a long time (and) the average Canadian wasn’t surfing in November. The average Canadian was worried about his or her job…and then we got a report that south of the border they had a quarter million new jobs.”
“So this is a made in Canada problem. It requires urgent action and we’re calling on the government to take that action by calling for a fall economic update.”
As for Morneau, Poilievre said if the finance minister were “competent, he’s got it already written. But that is not a safe assumption.”
“We’re prepared to work through the Christmas break, if necessary… and I’m sorry if Liberals have vacation plans. Cancel them.”
Asked whether the Conservatives red-tape cutting, lower taxes mantra was in need of an overhaul in light of the previous election result that boosted Conservatives presence in the Commons but failed to unseat Trudeau, Poilievre bristled.
“The trendy pundits that you bring on CBC… they tell us that we need to abandon everything we believe in. That we need to embrace big government, high deficits and high taxes,” replied the Carleton MP.
“That is the absolute worst thing Conservatives could do. That would be an electoral, political and economic disaster for the country if we went down that road. Our goal is not just to fit in with the four socialist parties. Our goal will be to stand out. To stand out as the only voice of taxpayers.”
Conservative MP (Durham, Ontario) and Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Erin O’Toole released a video calling out the Trudeau government for failing to save the two Canadian hostages detained by the Chinese government a year ago in retaliation for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou being arrested on charges from US authorities of fraud, as well as allegations of violating sanctions placed on Iran. The video was released on the one-year anniversary of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor being arrested by the Chinese government.
“This week marks one year since Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were imprisoned by the Chinese state in an act of retaliation for the lawful arrest of a Chinese citizen in Canada,” says O’Toole at the beginning of the video, released Sunday on social media.
“Twelve months the Chinese citizen has been staying in a $13 million Vancouver mansion and she wrote about taking up oil painting. Our citizens are in cells with the lights on for 24 hours. They have half an hour of consular access each month. They are cut off. They probably feel abandoned. Twelve months, two ministers, two ambassadors, zero progress,” O’Toole continues.
Although sources within the Conservative Party of Canada have been saying O’Toole is looking to usurp leader Andrew Scheer’s position, for now it appears he’s put aside his leadership ambitions.
“Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer, are going to be bringing this debate to Parliament. We need a plan from Justin Trudeau. From his earliest days he’s been naive when it comes to China.”
(Scheer faces a leadership confidence vote from CPC members in April.)
Some political commentators on social media noted that O’Toole came across as more confident and charismatic in the video than Scheer has as leader.
According to a Nanos poll from four months ago, only 10 percent of Canadians have a positive view of China.
Although most political experts in the West believe the two Michaels were arrested for spurious charges, Chinese authorities claim they both threatened China’s national security.
The political party one chooses is not a matter of being right or wrong. I see it more as a matter of the values you hold, and it isn’t as simple as saying that one value is right or wrong.
John Stuart Mill said in his essay “On Liberty” that many pairs of values are in tension without one “right” or “wrong” value. He gives the examples of individualism and collectivism, liberty and restraint, etc. Most people cannot hold both values in equal measure and give them their due, and nor can a political party. We need political parties of opposing values to represent things like the free market as opposed to the value of government intervention, or personal responsibility versus assisting the marginalized, among many others.
Your ideology and political party is not about holding the right values, but rather about the perspective from which you search for the truth. The Liberal Party of Canada will never see the value of the free market as clearly as a true conservative, and the Conservative Party will likely have a blindspot for areas where government intervention is justified and beneficial.
Therefore, Canada needs a strong Conservative Party. We need it to make the case for the free market, individual responsibility, and to question movements of “social progress” before we test the depth of the water with both feet. Conservatism plays a role of restraint, of sober second thought, and of understanding the benefit that a free market can bring.
Under Andrew Scheer, the Conservative Party isn’t playing its role. In politics, there’s a time to lead and a time to listen. Scheer has almost exclusively been listening. He hasn’t been a leader who confidently pitches a conservative vision and conservative solutions to Canada. Instead he’s relied on polling data to see which policies would be readily accepted by enough people to give him a slim advantage in the polls.
There’s a big problem with the Conservative Party leader not leading: Canada generally isn’t a conservative country. We tend to trust our government not to abuse power. We tend to think that government intervention can accomplish a lot of good. Without an articulate Conservative Party leader, we will not naturally produce conservative solutions and roll back graft and government getting too big.
The lack of a Conservative voice under Scheer harms us when we’re trying to solve the big issues of our time, because a conservative perspective is valuable to solving the big issues even if you’re a non-conservative.
Let’s take climate change as an example. How much value are we losing in the fight against climate change by not having Conservatives at the table? Every prominent voice speaks only of government solutions. We need people who understand the benefit government can bring to a huge issue like this.
But think of the possibilities of adding free market solutions to government intervention. Think of the benefit of having a strong voice for nuclear power, revenue neutrality in the carbon tax, and private sector innovation for climate change. It’s not an either-or issue solution when it comes to climate change.
But under Scheer’s leadership, these solutions either aren’t talked about, or they’re given lip service.
Think of the possibilities of addressing poverty with a Conservative voice at the table. Trudeau has contributed to poverty reduction with the Canada Child Benefit, which provides a monthly lump sum to parents (though I note that this initiative does not only target people in poverty).
What is the conservative value-added to the debate on poverty reduction? I would suggest that it’s the understanding of incentives and personal responsibility. A perfect example is the centre-right BC Liberal Party, which introduced the Single Parent Initiative in 2015. The Initiative provided single parents a way out of poverty by paying for the parent’s tuition payments for training and childcare for their dependants, all while keeping their social assistance cheque. It wasn’t just a handout. It was a fundamentally conservative policy.
Scheer never made any bold proposals like this. For affordability, Scheer did a mix of targeted tax credits providing minimal relief along with simple handouts that could have just as easily been proposed by the Liberal Party, like making EI parental leave benefits tax-free. Stephen Harper provided more leadership by proposing that parents getting EI parental leave could earn self-employment income without having their benefits clawed back. Recognizing the incentives that could get someone back to work is a conservative skill.
We can also consider the value of Conservatives on social issues. People with dangerous amounts of self-certainty are quick to sneer that you shouldn’t be on the wrong side of history, but there have been times when the forces of “social progress” ended up being complete nonsense. Forced sterilization of certain groups of people in order to improve the human race comes to mind.
The problem is, we can’t really know which progressive movements are the “right side of history” without hindsight. Conservatives can provide second thought and value for how things have traditionally been done. We don’t thoughtlessly dismiss the past.
We need that restraint in the topics of social progress today. Laws like Bill C-16 have restricted people’s freedom to speak out on the topic of gender identity. The law passed with nary a peep from the formal Conservative Party. Conservatives, fresh off of realizing that they had the wrong side of the legal marriage debate, seem reticent to weigh in on this social issue and defend the civil liberties of people who question gender identity ideology, even when most common sense people would want them to do this.
Now, people who are far from conservative, like feminist Meghan Murphy, are seemingly alone in their fight against gender identity ideology and standing up for civil rights.
Imagine the assistance that an articulate Conservative leader could bring to this debate that’s happening outside of our formal political scene. We don’t know, because Andrew Scheer never talks about this issue in public. It’s too divisive for him.
Without Conservatives at the table, our society is going all-in on one side of the ideological spectrum. We’re abandoning one side of the ideological tug of war that’s healthy for a society, and that could result in our country going over the edge of a cliff. We’re losing solutions that matter to the issues you care about.
It’s not just that the Conservative Party that deserves better. Canada deserves better. Canada deserves strong Conservatives.
Canada’s economic and energy woes, reemerging separatist sentiment in Quebec and the west as well, and kowtowing to China – amongst other perceived foreign affairs failures – punctuated Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer’s attacks of Thursday’s Throne speech.
“Times of fear bring times of division and Canadians are afraid for their country,” Scheer told the House of Commons, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “four years of unserious, entitled government.”
“We must put a stop to the divisive policies that have pitted province against province, region against region.”
The second day of the 43rd Parliament for Trudeau’s diminished, minority government gave Conservatives their first chance to respond to Liberals’ roadmap for the legislative session, where Scheer broached matters facing the nation that the Throne speech omitted.
“The Government of China continues with an expansionist agenda that is threatening Hong Kong’s vibrant democracy and, indeed, the safety and security of the people of Hong Kong themselves,” said Scheer, questioning Canada’s $256 million investment in the Chinese-controlled Asian Infrastructure Bank.
“The same Chinese dictatorship continues to hold two innocent Canadians hostage, as a retaliation of Canada fulfilling our legal obligation to arrest and extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.”
Scheer categorized Canada’s recent United Nations vote for a North Korea-motion singling out Israel, as “abandoning” the Jewish state in exchange for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.
“But most of all – we would really appreciate hearing the Prime Minister talk about Canada’s deteriorating relationship with the United States. One that was only exacerbated by his own conduct at this week’s NATO summit,” said Scheer.
“We understand that President Trump is a challenging negotiator. But the Americans are our partners all the same. No international file is more important to Canadian jobs and livelihoods than the ratification of the new NAFTA.”
On the domestic front, Scheer reiterated the party’s rejection of a carbon tax against “a chorus of voices from elite corners of Canadian high society demanding that our party abandon our opposition to (it).”
“…The Conservative Party under my leadership will always oppose a carbon tax – because we know the real cost it imposes on real people,” said Scheer.
“The entire point of the carbon tax is to make essentials more expensive.”
Scheer also promised to repeal new environmental legislation ushered in under Trudeau’s previous government – Bill C-69’s project assessment overhaul and C-48; the northwest coast oil tanker ban – blaming these policies for investment capital flight and percolating national unity rifts.
“The damage done over the past four years is significant. Today 175,000 Albertan energy workers are unemployed. Proud Canadian companies like TransCanada and EnCana are moving their business to the U.S,” Scheer said before turning to the rise of separatism in Quebec.
“After only four years of Liberal government, the Bloc came back with 32 separatist MPs.”
The Opposition leader also took aim at foreign cash that is funnelled to Canadian eco-activist groups, “to permanently shut down Canada’s energy sector and drive hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work.”
“They have already done lasting damage to the economies in Western Canada – and to the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of families… every single Member in this House… should be expected to stand up and be counted; Do you stand with the activists or do you stand with the workers of Canada?”
After Scheer’s speech, New Democrat MP Charlie Angus took issue with Scheer’s “conspiracy theory of foreign radicals who are attempting to undermine our industry.”
“If we have to go along with his conspiracy theories or they will break up the country, I would tell the member to drop that language,” said Angus.
Scheer replied that he’s not worried about foreign radicals in Angus’ party, because “in the NDP, they’re all domestic.”
When it was Trudeau’s turn to reply, the prime minister told the Commons he decided not to read a prepared speech, but instead decided to speak off the cuff and chastised Scheer for failing to make mention of “Indigenous reconciliation”, a centrepiece of the Throne speech written by the PMO.
Where Trudeau found some common ground with Scheer was over tax cuts for low and middle income Canadians, a Liberal campaign promise also included in the Throne speech.
“The change we made, is we made sure as we lower taxes for low income ends and middle class, we don’t actually give any extra advantage to the wealthy,” said Trudeau, who cited the Canada Child Benefit that “(doesn’t) send cheques to millionaires, like mine and the Leader of the Opposition.”
While the Conservatives and New Democrats have vowed to vote against a pro-forma bill agreement on the Speech from the Throne, it remains in the government’s purview to call it for a vote.
Barring that eventuality, the first confidence test for Trudeau’s minority government could come next week if a vote is called on Supplementary (spending) Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.