Canada’s federal election is a week away, and if incumbent Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau loses it’s looking like Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will be the one to take him out.
According to the CBC poll tracker, the Liberals and Conservatives are at 31 and 32 percent respectively in terms of national support, with the Tories having a 43 percent chance of winning a minority government. Basically, it’s a coin flip between a Prime Minister Andrew Scheer and a Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But who is Scheer, aside from being a secret American citizen who has seemingly lied about his non-political career and his credentials? Here’s a breakdown on what Scheer as a prime minister could look like for Canadians:
Scheer’s big promise is to scrap the Liberals’ carbon tax as soon as he gets into office. His platform states that the tax of $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions (going up to $50 per tonne by 2022) “hurts the bottom line of Canadian families, but also does not get us closer to Canada’s emissions reduction targets.”
He plans to create a “national energy corridor” to move oil and gas around the country. As he told the Vancouver Sun, that corridor could include reviving the defunct Northern Gateway pipeline, which was staunchly opposed by many Indigenous communities in B.C. due to the environmental risks posed by spills and land rights claims.
Scheer said he will repeal Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, which he and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney refer to as the “No More Pipelines Act.” The act will require certain projects, including pipelines, to go through an assessment process looking at economic, health, social, environmental concerns raised by the provinces, territories and Indigenous groups. He vaguely promised to “make sure that Indigenous communities are included as we plan mitigation and adaptation activities.”
While the Conservatives claim their plan is the “best chance to meet the Paris Agreement Targets,” it lacks any emissions reduction goals.
The party’s platform relies heavily on fostering so-called green technology, including a $1 billion green technology fund for companies. He has also said big polluters that emit more than an imposed limit of greenhouse gases will need to invest in green technology. Scheer’s plan calls for Canada to export clean technology such as carbon capture—designed to capture carbon emissions released from burning fossil fuels—to other countries like China.
Speaking to VICE this summer, climate experts said green technology is simply not advanced enough yet to make a real dent in reducing the global carbon footprint now.
In short, while the Liberals, Greens and NDP all have significant issues with their climate change plans, the Conservatives have, by far and away, the worst climate plan among the major federal parties.
Scheer’s plan for post-secondary students is focused on upping contributions to the Registered Education Savings Plan.
His platform states the government will contribute 30 percent (up from 20 percent) per dollar invested for up to $2,500 annually—an increase of a maximum of $250 a year; low income students will get an additional 20 percent on the first $500 they contribute. Scheer says he will also increase the maximum lifetime grant to $12,000 up from $7,500.
Unlike the Liberals and the NDP, his platform says nothing about freezing or lifting the interest on student loans.
With nearly 13,000 opioid-related deaths from January 2016 to March 2019, Canada is in serious need of harm-reduction focused drug policy. Specifically, what many addiction experts are calling for is a safe, legal supply of drugs e.g. heroin, that drug consumers can use as an alternative to potentially poisoned street drugs. But nothing even close to that will happen under Scheer.
Scheer has previously said his government would not consider decriminalizing drugs and that he considers the Liberals’ plan to expand safe drug consumption sites “terrible.”
According to his platform, a Conservative government led by Scheer would make “recovery” the main goal of drug policy.
“We will reorient the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy towards ensuring that every addict has the opportunity to recover from their addiction and to lead a drug-free life,” the platform says. He has also committed to launching a “national education campaign focusing on the dangers of drug use and the benefits of staying drug free” and to help clean up needles in neighbourhoods and parks.
All of this is in line with prohibitionist policies of past governments, including Stephen Harper’s, which as we know, have failed to address addiction or drug-related deaths in any meaningful way.
Scheer’s platform also says he will stop needle exchange programs in prisons to make sure prisoners “are not in possession of needles—objects that can be used as dangerous weapons.”
On weed, Scheer told CTV in July that he would keep weed legal and support pardons.
His party is facing backlash for publishing Chinese ads on Facebook that falsely claim Trudeau “intends to legalize hard drugs.”
Immigration and far-right links
Scheer says he plans to focus on “economic immigration” by increasing the number of points awarded to prospective immigrants with job offers, and helping international students gain employment.
He said he would promote jobs in rural and northern communities to immigrants to help bolster their economies.
Though the Conservatives platform says “immigration is good for the economy, good for jobs, and good for people who have chosen to come to Canada,” Scheer has repeatedly been linked to the far-right.
His campaign manager, Hamish Marshall, is a former director of Rebel Media, known for churning out an endless cycle of Islamophobic garbage (Marshall has said his job was not editorial). While running for Conservative leadership in 2017, Scheer was interviewed by Rebel personality Faith Goldy. Goldy was later fired after she attended the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, showed empathy for the racists, one of whom ended up murdering a counter-protester, and appeared on a white supremacist podcast.
However, Scheer was seen at the same event as Goldy when they both spoke at a Yellow Vests protest on Parliament Hill in February. The Yellow Vests claim their beef with Trudeau is the carbon tax, but many of their online posts focus on unfounded paranoia over Sharia Law and other conspiracies.
The Conservatives released a costed platform on October 11, after all the leaders’ debates had already taken place, on the eve of a long weekend just 10 days before the election. Your classic Hope-Nobody-Really-Notices news dump.
Scheer said his government would achieve a balanced budget within five years, largely through $53 billion in reduced spending. The Conservatives plan to achieve those cuts by dropping or delaying infrastructure projects ($18-billion worth, largely for cities that really need that money), and reducing foreign aid. Their plan also calls for $14 billion in cuts to federal government operating expenses, although the party does not say exactly what public services may be targeted for cuts.
The plan has caused the Liberals to draw parallels between Scheer and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has made a massive number of service cuts in his effort to reduce the province’s $11.7 billion deficit after releasing few fiscal details during his election campaign. Ford has cut legal aid, autism services, grants for low-income students, among other things.