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Vancouver mayor says Scheer government would be ‘worse than Stephen Harper’

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Mayor goes off on federal Tory leader Andrew Scheer' Vancouver Mayor goes off on federal Tory leader Andrew Scheer
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart - a former NDP MP - has come out swinging at Andrew Scheer, saying a Conservative government would be disastrous for the city. Keith Baldrey looks at whether this could this come back to haunt the mayor – Oct 16, 2019

Vancouver’s mayor has not endorsed anyone for prime minister yet, but there’s one person who will definitely not get his vote: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Speaking to media Wednesday, Kennedy Stewart said a Scheer government would be “a disaster for the city” when it comes to issues that are top of mind for Vancouverites.

Click to play video: 'Kenendy Stewart: ‘Andrew Scheer would be worse than Stephen Harper’' Kenendy Stewart: ‘Andrew Scheer would be worse than Stephen Harper’
Kenendy Stewart: ‘Andrew Scheer would be worse than Stephen Harper’ – Oct 16, 2019

“If you care about these top issues — housing, opioids and transit, and I know most people do — Andrew Scheer would be worse than Stephen Harper,” Stewart said.

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The mayor pointed out Scheer remains the only major federal party leader who declined to meet with him when asked over the summer, which makes Stewart unafraid to share his opinion.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver mayors grade major parties on transit promises

“[He’s] someone I know and I have talked with him on multiple occasions [before the campaign], and he still refuses to meet to talk about the issues that are important here,” Stewart said.

“I think our relationship is already cooked.”

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Federal Election 2019: Scheer says he would ensure committed infrastructure projects completed if elected – Sep 27, 2019

Stewart was first elected to political office as the NDP MP for Burnaby-Douglas in 2011. His party served as the official opposition during Harper’s final term as prime minister.

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As the party’s science critic, Stewart faced difficulty pushing legislation through the Conservative majority on issues ranging from addressing the housing crisis to protecting federal scientists.

READ MORE: Conservative platform could threaten planned SkyTrain projects, Mayor’s Council chair says

He was re-elected in 2015 to the then-new riding of Burnaby-South, leaving Ottawa in 2018 to run in Vancouver’s mayoral race.

Stewart’s positions on housing and the opioid crisis are far apart from Scheer’s. While the mayor has called for more federal investment in rental housing and a safe drug supply, the Conservative platform is focused on helping homebuyers while using a more law-and-order approach to tackle drug addiction.

READ MORE: Will the parties’ housing plans help affordability in Vancouver? Not quite, critics say

Stewart also echoed earlier concerns from his fellow mayors in the region that a Conservative government could spell doom for future transit projects, including the SkyTrain to UBC.

The party’s platform, which Stewart called “shocking,” commits to spreading the $187-billion infrastructure program created under the Liberal government over 15 years instead of 12.

The measure is one of several meant to balance the budget within five years. Scheer has said his government would follow through on existing infrastructure commitments.

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Earlier Wednesday, the TransLink Mayors’ Council, which Stewart sits on, released a voter’s guide ranking the major party platforms when it comes to transit.

It highlighted commitments from the Liberals, NDP and Greens to establish a permanent fund for future transit projects, which the council says would help build things like a gondola to Simon Fraser University and further rapid transit extensions.

The guide notes the Conservatives have pledged to fund the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel and reintroduce the Harper-era tax credit for transit passes, but not a transit fund.

READ MORE: In the Downtown Eastside, the overdose crisis is the only federal election issue

Stewart said he’s not telling people who to vote for, but when asked who he wants to lead the country, he was clear.

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“Anybody but Andrew Scheer,” he said.

In an email, the Conservative party shared a statement from Abbotsford candidate Ed Fast highlighting the party’s commitment to fund the Massey Tunnel replacement and projects already committed to by the previous government.

“Only a new Conservative government led by Andrew Scheer will put a strategy in place to get shovels in the ground,” Fast said. “We will prioritize the projects Canadians need so they can spend less time in traffic or waiting for a bus, and more time at home with their loved ones.”

The party added Scheer “will be a strong partner with Vancouver and municipalities across the country” if elected prime minister, and looks forward to electing MPs in the Lower Mainland to pursue local interests.

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