Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sat down with Global’s Heather Steele during his visit to Winnipeg Monday, where they discussed public safety, the dairy industry’s supply management system, carbon tax and more.
Q: How do you plan to make a connection with Manitobans on this visit?
A: Well, today we’re talking about crime and we’re talking about some of the things government can do to get dangerous people off the street. Put gangs and gang members behind bars longer so that they’re not there in the community committing other crimes. But today specifically I talked about how the government can support police organizations, police forces, and volunteer groups and community groups to do so much good work on the ground.
So today I did a walkabout with the Bear Clan, which is a very well-known group here that provides real hands-on service to people who’ve not just been victims of crime but also people who are at-risk themselves, who are using substances, who are in need of support and they kind of see all aspects of this issue.
We walked a lot about the rise and the rates of crystal meth, we talked a lot about the need for programming and services and rehabilitation so we had a great round table today, followed by an announcement where I talked about specific things that Conservative Government will do to help keep our community safer.
Q: I ask about the connection and I’m curious what you’re hearing inside the City of Winnipeg because in 2015 a complete Conservative collapse. At the time six of the eight seats were held by the Tories and were all lost, so how do you make those inroads inside the perimeter ahead of October 2019?
A: Well it’s already happening. I’ve heard from a lot of people in Winnipeg who didn’t vote for us last time and they’re ready to come back. And I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve said, ‘Hey look, I voted Liberal, I thought I was getting something different, I thought I was getting something positive for our country’ and they see now what Justin Trudeau has been doing to the economy, seeing the attack on small businesses that has really threatened a lot of jobs.
The higher rates for many families paying more taxes today than they were just a few years ago and they see a Prime Minister that’s more and more out of touch with the needs of hard-working people in Canada so it’s going very well. We’ve got some great candidates running for us in the Winnipeg area and I’m confident that we’re going to regain the trust of people in Winnipeg.
Q: When you were elected as Conservative leader, you talked about the importance of finding ‘common ground’. Maxime Bernier was here last week trying to drum up some support. Are you concerned about vote splitting on the right and how do you plan on preventing that from happening?
A: Well, you prevent that from happening by voting for the Conservative Party. It’s our party that’s been faithful to conservative principles. There is no reason to have a different party on that end of the spectrum. One of the things I pride myself on is making sure that all different kinds of Conservatives work together.
It’s easy to disagree. It is easy to find points of departure where we don’t agree with each other. There’s lots of different kinds of Conservatives that have great debates at our conventions and we’re all very passionate about what we believe in but it’s far more effective not just to win elections but to actually change things in this country when you can identify the things that bring the most number of Conservatives together.
So we are being principled, outspoken, we are very loudly calling for the abolishment of the carbon tax. We’ve been calling for a more secure border system and an end to the illegal border crossings. We’ve been fighting against all the tax hikes and so everywhere I go, people are very satisfied with the direction of our party. It’s not about one person, one person’s ego, or one person who didn’t like the results of a leadership campaign, it’s about a movement of people trying very hard to get rid of Justin Trudeau in the next election so we can bring some common sense government back to Canada.
Q: You talked about walking with the Bear Clan today, and the meth crisis is continuing to concern Manitobans. Certainly inside city limits we’ve seen an increase in armed standoffs and a lot of communities very shaken, so I want to talk about this Safer Canada Plan. If elected, the new funding to fight gangs and a police infrastructure grant program as part of that plan; how much say do you see the federal government having in how those dollars are spent and how will you decide which provinces get what?
A: Well, I think there’s lots of models on how you can make sure provinces get a fair share of the funding. There’s a lot of different needs even within one province. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, there’s a big difference in a city like Winnipeg and a different sized center like Brandon and some very small communities as we have with Regina and Saskatoon and all the small communities around it. So whether it’s policed by the RCMP or a municipal police force, we have to have programs that are flexible to respond to different types of needs, different types of service delivery.
This is all about doing the tough things that it’s hard to do. All the Liberals have talked about so far is banning handguns. Well, the police associations that I’ve spoken to say that won’t be effective. People who already follow the laws when it comes to firearms, law-abiding farmers and sport shooters, hunters, they’ll follow whatever law you tell them to, they already are. So asking them to follow one more won’t actually lead to a reduction in armed violence on our streets.
Going after the guys who smuggle illegal firearms on our streets, making sure the border agents are able to track more at our ports and at our land crossings, meaningful penalties for people who are caught doing that type of thing and targeting gangs themselves, that’s the tougher work that needs to be done, but that’s going to be far more effective in making our community safer.
Q: It is a lot of work so do you have any idea what this safer Canada plan costs and where is that money going to come from?
A: So a lot of what we’ve already announced is simply more efficient types of government and I’ll give you an example. Right now for a Crown prosecutor to identify a group as a gang, in order to get a criminal conviction for a gang offense they have to re-prove time and time again that that organization is in fact a criminal organization. So the Hells Angels, other types, every time there is a prosecution, they have to re-prove the same thing.
So a lot of what I’m talking about is more efficient government and more effective government programs, the funding announced today I will point out will be an increase in support because I believe it’s very necessary. But what the Liberals have done is they’ve announced a lot of dollars that aren’t actually flowing to the community so we’re suggesting that it’ll be far more effective if we got those dollars out the door and part of it through these types of strategies that I’ve announced today.
Q: I want to talk about dairy because we have roughly 50,000 dairy cows here in Manitoba and quite frankly a lot of farmers that are very concerned about their long-term future. With the new NAFTA deal and the US getting more access to the Canadian dairy market, when it comes to the supply management system, how do you see that going long-term, do you scale it back bit by bit, do you eliminate it altogether, what is your stance on that?
A: I don’t believe in eliminating it all together, in fact I believe in a government that supports it and protects it. Justin Trudeau promised going in to the NAFTA negotiations that he would preserve the system, that he would protect it, that he would not use it as a bargaining chip. And then we saw him capitulate.
I believe in the last few days when the Liberals realized that they weren’t going to be able to get past the deadline, they just took concession after concession after concession with nothing in return. And they really did, Justin Trudeau sold out Canada’s dairy sector and got nothing in return.
There’s an increase to Canada’s dairy market, there is also an agreement where Canadian dairy farmers had created an export market where they were able to sell part of their product to countries in Africa and the middle east and as part of this NAFTA deal Justin Trudeau agreed to limit Canadian exports to other countries, not even the United States, but other countries. This is unprecedented so there really is a huge damage that’s been done to Canada’s dairy sector. We haven’t heard anything from the government in terms of compensation.
We know that will cost lost of money for the government that hasn’t been budgeted to their fiscal framework and the last time they did this, they didn’t actually provide a compensation account, they just provided a reimbursement account so they really have negotiated away an entire part of our agricultural system.
Q: Prime Minister Trudeau’s carbon tax plan has triggered some pretty significant controversy here in Manitoba. Our Premier and the Prime minister do not see eye-to-eye. But we are seeing more and more Canadians feeling strongly about wanting an answer to the greenhouse gas emissions and wanting an answer. What specifically would the Conservatives do instead to address that?
A: It’s very important that we make the clear understanding that there is no connection between an environmental plan and this carbon tax. That has been shown that there is no link to emissions reductions. This is all a revenue plan, it’s a taxation measure. The Liberals themselves acknowledge that there’s no hope of meeting their own targets under this plan. What we’re working on is not something that adds a cost to consumers or makes it more expensive for the daily drive into work, won’t make it more expensive for farmers or seniors living on fixed incomes.
We’re talking about incentivizing reductions — so, providing a value on reducing emissions I believe is far more effective than punishing commuters. We know that the Liberals have granted a huge exemption to large industrial emitters, the big, big emitters in Canada for lots and lots of the greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, they were able to negotiate for themselves up to a 90 per cent exemption.
Well the person driving in to work in the morning, they didn’t get a special deal. Small businesses didn’t get a special deal so the Liberals really are punishing the people in this country that can afford it the least.