Second in a series of political party profiles for the 2019 Canadian federal election. You can read the Liberal Party story here.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer demonstrated in the first leadership debate last Thursday that his party’s main focus for this election is to attack Justin Trudeau’s record.
The Conservatives portraying Trudeau as an elitist leader with no sense of what it means to be middle class because of his privileged upbringing. Instead, Scheer is promising Canadians that he’ll put money back in their pockets.
The SNC-Lavalin scandal is Scheer’s much-repeated example of Trudeau looking out for his elite friends instead of hard working Canadians. Ads depict Trudeau having talked himself into office four years ago, only to betray his own ministers and ordinary Canadians.
The Conservatives are promising tax cuts, less spending, and a shrinking government deficit. Ya know, the classics.
Economy and jobs
The centrepiece of the Conservatives’ economic pledge is the Universal Tax Cut, which they estimate could save some Canadian families around $850 per year by reducing income taxes for those making below $47,630 annually. The estimate is based on households with at least two people working full-time.
Scheer also said he’ll bring back the Public Transit Tax Credit if elected. This would let transit users claim up to 15 percent of what they spend on passes. The Conservatives also introduced new tax credits for families with children in sports (up to $1,000 per child) or arts (up to $500 per child).
The Tories have attacked the Liberals’ carbon tax, which Scheer says will make it more expensive for Canadians to heat their homes and pump gas into their cars while having a negligible effect on carbon emissions. (He doesn’t really mention the associated tax breaks.) The Conservatives have promised to repeal the carbon tax and to remove the GST from home heating costs.
Scheer also promised that a Conservative government would eliminate the federal deficit in five years.
The Conservatives will get rid of the ban on oil tankers off the coast of BC as well as the Liberals’ new fuel standard meant to limit carbon production in energy use. Scheer has called the latter effort a “secret tax.”
Scheer also promises to repeal Bill C-69, which put some restrictions on how big energy projects are approved in Canada, including having to consult with Indigenous communities and having lawmakers explain how projects will affect public health and the environment. The bill restores regulations scrapped by the Harper Conservatives in 2012.
Scheer says that his party’s “Real Plan” to protect the environment doesn’t “take money out of Canadians’ pockets.” It promises that big polluters will have to pay into a technology fund. The plan mentions Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment, but does not estimate emissions reductions for the 11 years leading to the 2030 target.
The Conservatives also favour the “capture-and-storage” method of either stopping CO2 from reaching the atmosphere or taking it out of the air to be stored underground or transformed into another compound. Critics point out that having this tech as the cornerstone of reducing carbon is unreasonable given that it doesn’t actually exist yet.
Crime and security
The Conservative have their “A Safer Canada” plan that promises to crack down on gangs, implement tougher gun laws on criminals, and equip the police with better resources.
They point to what they observe as a rise in gun and gang violence in Canada as the direct result of Trudeau’s lack of vigilance. Likewise, Scheer has talked extensively about how Trudeau is weak when it comes to securing Canada’s borders, particularly the one shared with the U.S.
Scheer said this lack of vigilance has resulted not just in more crime, but also in illegal border crosser burdening the Canadian economy by over-taxing the economy and services.
Scheer’s Tories also slammed the Liberals for pushing through Bill C-59, which placed more oversight on Canada’s intelligence agencies. He ripped Trudeau for being soft on terrorism as militants from ISIS have been allowed back into Canada.
The Conservatives are against making the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People the central framework for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples across Canada. The declaration mandates that Indigenous peoples have “First, Prior, and Informed” consent before any developmental or energy projects can commence where they live.
Scheer said in the leadership debate last week that no community should be able to “hold hostage” any project and keep it from moving forward.
Scheer also disagrees with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)’s finding this June that the disappearance and murder of well over 1,000 Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA persons over a period of 30 or so years amounts to “Canadian genocide.”
They have no specific proposals on how to move forward with Indigenous communities but Scheer said in last Thursday’s debate that upholding energy projects and other industries (eg. mining) will make sure more Indigenous people are employed.
Scheer sent out a letter to provinces and territories in August promising that, if elected PM, his Conservatives will increase health and social transfer payments by at least three percent each year.
The Liberals have attacked Scheer’s commitment as phony and point out what PC Premiere Doug Ford has cut in Ontario as an example of what a federal Tory government might do.
During last week’s debate, Scheer criticized promises by other parties to expand healthcare services because it would take money out of the economy and necessitate more taxes.
Andrew Scheer has made it clear that he doesn’t think harm reduction strategies such as supervised injection sites help break the cycle of drug addiction. He characterizes drug addiction and the opioid crisis as a public safety problem.
Scheer said he wants to focus on helping addicts recover and preventing young people from using drugs, such as opioids. He also said that Trudeau doesn’t have the guts to stand up to China, where much of the fentanyl in Canada originates. Scheer said he’d take a much tougher line with China and push them to crack down harder on the drugs flowing into China.
Otherwise Scheer has stood by the Stephen Harper era strategies for combating opioid usage and overdoses, which centre around punishing drug dealers. Scheer also said that more prosecution of drug users will force them early on into rehabilitation facilities instead of into further abuse of drugs.
Scheer’s line has been that the out-of-touch are making it harder on ordinary students by cutting their tax credits for books and transit.
But the Conservatives don’t have any comprehensive plans to address student debt or tuition. Instead, they’ve pledged to increase the number of students eligible for the Canadian Student Grant.
But they’ve pledged to boost the RESP from 20 to 30 percent “for every dollar invested up to $2,500 a year. This change will boost the maximum annual grant from $500 to $750.”
Justin Trudeau comes off particularly weak on the campaign trail and Scheer succeeds in cornering him on SNC-Lavalin (or the RCMP does first). The Conservatives take back a significant portion of the GTA and Ontario, like in 2011, and win a razor-thin majority. Trudeau steps down as Liberal and opposition leader.
Scandals continue plaguing Conservative candidates who’ve made questionable remarks or have unsavoury friends. Trudeau succeeds in portraying Scheer as a conduit for far-right racism and convinces voters in Ontario to go Liberals by reminding people of Doug Ford’s cuts. The Bloc and the Liberals dominate Quebec and Atlantic Canada once again goes Liberal. Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada end up surprising people by taking a small portion of the right-wing vote in Alberta and Quebec.
The Conservatives do pretty well in the popular vote but are mostly kept to their strongholds in the West. Young people come out again and help deliver the Liberals another strong majority, and Andrew Scheer faces an open leadership revolt.
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