Q & A

Cape Bre­ton na­tive comes home to talk to Con­ser­va­tive Party mem­bers

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF news@cb­post.com

Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship hope­ful Lisa Raitt talks to the Post.

Whit­ney Pier na­tive Lisa Raitt is one of 13 can­di­dates still in the run­ning for the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship. She was in Syd­ney Mon­day and met with the Cape Bre­ton Post for an in­ter­view. The lead­er­ship elec­tion will take place May 27. The in­ter­view has been edited for length.

Q : How is the cam­paign go­ing so far?

A: It’s go­ing re­ally well. I’ve been trav­el­ling on the East Coast swing. I did a West Coast swing about three weeks ago, so it was White­horse, Van­cou­ver Is­land, the Van­cou­ver area, the de­bate was on Wed­nes­day night, (I) got a great re­sponse from the de­bate and then headed right away to Moncton, so Moncton, Char­lot­te­town, Malpec … Sum­mer­side, back down to Amherst, New Glas­gow, Port Hawkes­bury, here in Syd­ney and back to On­tario (Mon­day night) and then Ot­tawa (Tues­day).

It’s very busy. This is get­ting out the vote time, so peo­ple have their bal­lots and as my sis­ters re­minded me here, they’re get­ting 17 calls a night from all the dif­fer­ent can­di­dates who want to have that last pitch, so that’s why it’s im­por­tant for me to be here in per­son. And I’m send­ing out emails, I’m send­ing out video emails, I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing that ev­ery­body else is do­ing just to get that vote out.

Q : And the way the vote is struc­tured, it seems it’s im­por­tant to hit as many as pos­si­ble, where ev­ery rid­ing is equal.

A: Ev­ery rid­ing is equal so here in Cape Bre­ton, for ex­am­ple, I think it dou­bled your mem­ber­ship in some of these rid­ings, I know for a fact you dou­bled the mem­ber­ship over in Port Hawkes­bury-Canso, so it’s im­por­tant to try to reach those new mem­bers be­cause we wouldn’t have met them be­fore and to just pitch them on why I think I’m the best leader. It’s dif­fer­ent deal­ing with a rid­ing with 150 mem­bers than it is deal­ing with a rid­ing with 15,000 mem­bers, be­cause they ex­ist out there as well. That’s why the smaller rid­ings are im­por­tant, like the ones I’ve been go­ing through in the past cou­ple of weeks.

Q : Max­ine Bernier was here, what do you take from the fact that another can­di­date de­cided to come here as well?

A: An­drew Sax­ton was here (Sun­day) too, we both ac­tu­ally ad­dressed the Syd­ney-Vic­to­ria AGM, and that’s great. It’s a pref­er­en­tial ranked bal­lot, so it’s more than just one per­son on the bal­lot and if your first choice doesn’t make it through to the end then you want to make sure you have a say on who even­tu­ally the leader will be or who the leader will not be and that’s why it’s im­por­tant to vote as far down the list as you want to vote down the list.

Con­ser­va­tives want to know who they’re vot­ing for and these in-per­son kind of dropins do mat­ter.

Q : What’s your big weak­ness?

A: French. The fact that the fear is that I’m not go­ing to be able to learn the lan­guage is

the big­gest con­cern, that’s kind of a pos­i­tive, be­cause when you put me up against the whole crew in terms of my qual­i­fi­ca­tions, I’m the most qual­i­fied up there. I have the most cabi­net ex­pe­ri­ence; I’m the only one that’s ever been a CEO of a ma­jor or­ga­ni­za­tion; I’ve built air­ports; I’ve built ports; I’m a mother of two teenagers, makes me very unique from any­one else in terms of per­spec­tives of what is im­por­tant in life, what’s im­por­tant for our coun­try, and no one else shared that on that panel. If I were per­fectly bilin­gual to­day, I think that this race would be me at the top, for sure.

Q : Where do you think you lie in the con­test right now?

A: It’s hard to tell from polling. It would ap­pear that Max (Bernier) has a lot of pop­u­lar sup­port, but you can’t tell where it is. It’s 100 points a rid­ing, so what if you have 25 per cent of a Bramp­ton rid­ing with 16,000 mem­bers, if I have 100 per cent or 90 per cent of a Cape Bre­ton rid­ing, we get the same amount of points. That’s the beau­ti­ful part about how we’ve struc­tured this lead­er­ship race and we’ve got to thank Peter MacKay for that be­cause he was the one that was adamant that we had to have 100 points per rid­ing so you didn’t have this pop­ulist thing.

Max is polling at the be­gin­ning, An­drew Scheer has got lots of sup­port out west and is trans­lat­ing; Erin O’Toole, me, Michael Chong, Kel­lie Leitch, we’re all in that area, but no one’s win­ning on the first bal­lot, so we’re all in the race and I’ll keep go­ing.

Q : Has there been any­thing that sur­prised you about the cam­paign?

A: No, other than there are 13 peo­ple in it, that’s been the big sur­prise. I re­ally would have thought that we’d be down to five can­di­dates, to be able to dis­cern a lot more than just a cou­ple of sound­bites. What are you go­ing to know about Lisa Raitt? Cabi­net ex­pe­ri­ence, wo­man, mother, On­tario, Cape Bre­ton, that’s it. Erin O’Toole — Cana­dian Forces, cabi­net, com­pe­tence, On­tario, French. An­drew

Scheer — used to be Speaker, Saskatchewan, nice, French. Maxime Bernier — sup­ply man­age­ment, get rid of CRTC, get rid of CBC, French and English.

What about the other things like judg­ment and how you per­form un­der pres­sure and how good you are in a oneon-one de­bate? None of those things are com­ing out, we’re all run­ning on a pa­per re­sume, and that I find un­for­tu­nate be­cause we may get a big sur­prise on how peo­ple ac­tu­ally man­age.

It’s chal­leng­ing for the voter to make a de­ci­sion based on any­thing more in-depth than what you’re read­ing on a piece of pa­per or see­ing in a 30-sec­ond clip.

Q : Is there one par­tic­u­lar mes­sage that you would like to get out?

A: I think in 2019 there’s a good chance that we can re­place the cur­rent Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, but I also know that we’re not go­ing to do it if we run on ex­treme poli­cies, if we di­vide our peo­ple, if you ap­pear to be ar­ro­gant or if you ap­pear to not have con­sid­er­a­tion or com­pas­sion for those who don’t do as well as you. Those are the qual­i­ties that I bring to the ta­ble, that’s how I got elected in On­tario, be­cause that big red wave came through hard and I was able to stop it be­cause I built a nice, com­mu­nity, part of my com­mu­nity in Mil­ton, Ont. and they gave me the ben­e­fit of the doubt that I was a wor­thy mem­ber of Par­lia­ment de­spite the fact that they did not like my leader.

You’re not go­ing to win the hearts and minds of At­lantic Cana­di­ans by say­ing things that are ex­treme be­cause we’re not ex­treme by na­ture.


Lisa Raitt an­swers ques­tions about her Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship bid dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Cape Bre­ton Post on Mon­day. The 48-year-old MP for the On­tario rid­ing of Mil­ton is a na­tive of Whit­ney Pier.

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