Got to give Cana­di­ans some­thing to vote for: Scheer

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - ANTONELLA Ar­tuso

Doug Ford and Don­ald Trump, Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship, a Lib­eral-ndp coali­tion and Green Party Leader El­iz­a­beth May’s de­bate shot that he’ll never be prime min­is­ter.

The day af­ter his ap­pear­ance in the fed­eral elec­tion’s English-lan­guage de­bate, Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer was be­fore the Toronto Sun ed­i­to­rial board Tues­day where he was quizzed on all these sticky is­sues.

Scheer said his goal over the fi­nal two weeks of the cam­paign is pretty straight for­ward.

“If (Cana­di­ans) made the de­ci­sion not to vote Lib­eral, I’ve got to close the deal and give them some­thing to vote for,” he said.

Ques­tion­ing the Con­ser­va­tive Leader was Sun Edi­torin-chief Adri­enne Ba­tra, Edi­tor Emer­i­tus and colum­nist Lor­rie Gold­stein, Op-ed Edi­tor and colum­nist An­thony Furey, colum­nist Brian Lil­ley, and colum­nists/ strate­gists War­ren Kin­sella and Jim War­ren.

Gold­stein: You’re go­ing against an op­po­nent in Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau who was found guilty by two dif­fer­ent ethics com­mis­sion­ers, re­vealed dur­ing the cam­paign that he has done black­face three times. And yet, if the polls are to be be­lieved, Con­ser­va­tives are neck and neck with the Lib­er­als. What do you think you have to do to win?

scheer: “We re­ally do feel very op­ti­mistic about where we’re at, very pleased with the cam­paign that we’ve run ... At the end of the day it’s go­ing to be of­fer­ing Cana­di­ans a bet­ter choice and en­sur­ing that they un­der­stand how life is go­ing to get bet­ter, how they’re go­ing to get fur­ther ahead.”

Gold­stein: Do you think you could have bet­ter han­dled the two hits lev­elled at you — in­sur­ance bro­ker/not bro­ker and views on same-sex mar­riage and abor­tion?

scheer: “I’m al­ways very crit­i­cal of my­self and look back and say, ‘Did I word that prop­erly, did I ex­press the con­fi­dence that I felt, did I ex­press the pas­sion that I felt?’ I’m my own big­gest critic on that. Ul­ti­mately it’s up to Cana­di­ans to be the fi­nal judges of that. I do be­lieve that it’s not just per­fectly le­git­i­mate, it’s ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial that we live in a coun­try where peo­ple are not de­mo­nized for their views on so­cial is­sues. It’s im­por­tant that gov­ern­ments gov­ern for all Cana­di­ans and rec­og­nize that in a coun­try like Canada there are court rul­ings and there’s a need to have a gov­ern­ment that does not im­pose one per­son’s per­sonal views or based on faith on other peo­ple.”

Gold­stein: On dual cit­i­zen­ship, why wouldn’t you have dealt with that be­fore the elec­tion?

scheer: “Hon­estly, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal ... I know many, many peo­ple have dual cit­i­zen­ship for many dif­fer­ent coun­tries ... The very first time I was ever asked that ques­tion I an­swered it truth­fully and hon­estly.”

Ba­tra: Dur­ing the de­bate ... May turned to you and said you will never be prime min­is­ter. NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh has said he wouldn’t work with a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment. If af­ter elec­tion day you form a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, who can you work with in that Par­lia­ment?

scheer: “Hon­estly, on these types of things I have a lit­tle bit of a lin­ear mind­set. We have a whole dossier, we have a whole file folder, and they’re called Oct. 22 prob­lems ... Right now we’re fo­cused on Oct. 21.”

lil­ley: But do Cana­dian vot­ers need to be con­cerned that if it is a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment, that it ends up with a coali­tion gov­ern­ment driven by the NDP?

scheer: “I think Cana­di­ans should lis­ten to what party lead­ers are say­ing and think about that, about what the Par­lia­ment might look like on Oct. 22. There is only one party that’s fo­cused on get­ting the coun­try’s bud­gets un­der con­trol and get­ting some fis­cal san­ity back in our pub­lic fi­nances and that is our party.”

Gold­stein: You cam­paigned with Al­berta Premier Jason Ken­ney. Why hasn’t On­tario Premier Doug Ford been a part of this cam­paign?

scheer: Premier Ford has de­cided to stay fo­cused on pro­vin­cial is­sues. He’s got a huge mess to clean up af­ter 13 years ...?

lil­ley: Fif­teen.

scheer: ... Fif­teen years of Mcguinty-wynne Lib­eral gov­ern­ments run­ning big deficits, get­ting mired in scan­dals, rais­ing taxes. He’s got a lot on his plate. Jason Ken­ney and I have known each other for years and years. He’s one of my daugh­ter’s god­fa­thers and he’s got great sup­port from com­mu­ni­ties in ev­ery prov­ince all across the coun­try.”

Kin­sella: U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump — what do you think of his be­hav­iour and how would you han­dle this guy dif­fer­ently than Trudeau?

scheer: “We can all agree that hav­ing a nor­mal re­la­tion­ship with the United States would be chal­leng­ing when you’ve got a pres­i­dent like Don­ald Trump ... Here we have this pres­i­dent that’s say­ing he’s go­ing to rip up NAFTA ... (Trudeau) vol­un­teered to be part of the NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions ... and now here we are with weak­ened sovereignt­y, a worse deal on dairy caps, on auto parts ... and a whole lot of other ar­eas where we gave up con­ces­sions. I be­lieve the mis­take was vol­un­teer­ing for Canada to be part of it, the mis­take was al­low­ing Mex­ico to ba­si­cally come to a deal first and also the mis­take was fo­cus­ing on non-mar­ket ac­cess is­sues.”

Furey: Last night we saw the de­bate where a num­ber of is­sues were ad­dressed, but I no­tice for­eign af­fairs was not dis­cussed. What do you have to say to Cana­di­ans about why you’d be the bet­ter choice on that front?

scheer: “When it comes to rep­re­sent­ing Canada on the world stage, I ab­so­lutely be­lieve and am con­fi­dent that I will do a bet­ter job than Justin Trudeau ... We will pull the fund­ing from (the Asian In­fras­truc­ture In­vest­ment Bank) ... This is a de­vel­op­ment bank that is con­trolled by the gov­ern­ment of China to ex­pand its in­flu­ence in the re­gion ... I’ve also called on the gov­ern­ment to have a stronger po­si­tion as it re­lates to China dur­ing the dis­pute that we are cur­rently in with two Cana­di­ans be­ing held il­le­gally and the gov­ern­ment con­tin­u­ing to block ex­ports of Cana­dian canola, beef and pork.”

ar­tuso: Do you sup­port the Lib­eral im­mi­gra­tion tar­gets?

scheer: “I think in gen­eral yes on the num­ber. What I would do dif­fer­ently is the con­fi­dence in the sys­tem. And I would ad­dress the is­sue at Rox­ham Rd. and stop the flow of il­le­gal bor­der crossers.”

War­ren: What would be your first ini­tia­tive or leg­is­la­tion if elected prime min­is­ter?

scheer: “Job No. 1 is to re­peal the car­bon tax.”

STAN Be­hal/toronto SUN

Con­ser­va­tive leader An­drew Scheer fields ques­tions dur­ing the Toronto Sun ed­i­to­rial board meet­ing yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

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