Scheer outlines Quebec priorities for a Conservative government – CBC.ca

Scheer outlines Quebec priorities for a Conservative government - CBC.ca
Scheer says party with most seats should have right to form government
With less than a week to go before voting day, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer outlined his priorities for Quebec in a final effort to fend off the late advances of the Bloc Québécois and NDP. 

"In a few days, Quebecers will have the opportunity to choose a new federal government in Ottawa," Scheer said on Tuesday evening during a campaign stop in La Prairie, Que., where he was accompanied by his wife Jill and their five children. 

The simple fact is the only way to get more ethical and less corrupt governments is for the people who run them to want to be more ethical and less corrupt — and to have the gumption to resist temptation when they’re inevitably backed into a corner. There is no way for that to happen except for heads of government to conspicuously set such examples and hold their underlings to them, such that the penalties for malfeasance become truly existential. We can live in hope, but in the meantime we have to make our choices in the real world. Andrew Scheer says he would cut your taxes, and it’s reasonable to assume he would, and a significant number of Windsorites are willing to mark an X and reap the benefits.

"Change is what we represent. A Conservative government that would listen to the Quebec nation, a Conservative government that would be an ally to all Quebecers."

Scheer referred to Quebec as a nation several times throughout his speech, and presented a Conservative majority government as the only guarantee to ensure the province's interests get prioritized in Ottawa.

Why Obama might look north and feel empathy for Trudeau

"When we talk about Quebec's powers, yes, you are masters in your own house. Masters of your culture," Scheer said.

But that context is very specific to the current moment. This moment is roughly 90 per cent about Lavalin and the Trudeau family’s vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island. And it’s roughly 10 per cent about Bill Morneau, a more minor villain but nonetheless a useful one for any salt-of-the-earth-branded party. In 2017, it was revealed the finance minister failed to disclose to the federal ethics watchdog one of his private corporations that owned a villa in France. Who the hell forgets to declare ownership of a French chateau?

History suggests Andrew Scheers interprovincial free-trade promise is destined to fail

"A Quebec nation must be able to evolve and prosper and grow in our big beautiful country. A strong, proud and united Canada."

Scheer stumped in Quebec City, Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu, and La Prairie, Que., Tuesday outlining his promises to the province. 

On that front, It’s pretty ugly. An Ipsos poll published Wednesday found Scheer just barely beating Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh as “someone you can trust,” and just barely losing to Singh and Trudeau as “someone who will provide open, responsible and ethical government.” On “someone you can trust,” Scheer “won” at 19 per cent. But when 30 per cent answer “none of the above,” no one wins.

"Being nationalistic, doesn't mean you're a separatist. We can love Quebec without wanting to break Canada up." 

Scheer praised Quebec culture and reiterated his pledge to protect French as an official language by modernizing the Official Languages Act and create an official languages tribunal as part of that overhaul. He also promised to financially back a French-language university in Ontario, an idea killed and revived by the Ontario Progressive Conservatives under Premier Doug Ford. 

An inquiry about Scheer’s passport situation elicited not just jeers, but a shouted allegation that “Trudeau is half-Cuban.” Fella needs to get some perspective, if you ask me: Just because Fidel Castro is secretly Trudeaus father doesn’t mean Scheer hasn’t on occasion crossed the Canada/U.S. border using the wrong passport.

Scheer said that In his first discussions as prime minister with Quebec Premier François Legault, he would work on getting a single tax return, review the Canada-Quebec immigration agreement, work on fixing labour shortages, improve the temporary foreign worker program and give more autonomy to Quebec cultural initiatives.

I kid. But the scene did raise some interesting questions about Canadians’ priorities. Scheer was in Windsor to announce — against a somewhat counter-intuitive backdrop of kids barrelling around on a hockey rink — that his government would beef up the Conflict of Interest Act to the tune of $20,000 fines.

Scheer appeared more relaxed and confident speaking French than he did at the beginning of the campaign — much to the delight of some voters. 

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"I just like everything he stands for," said Lynne Dumont, who came from nearby St. Hubert, Que., to see Scheer for the first time in-person. 

Alberta has had relatively few campaign visits by the federal leaders – including Andrew Scheer, whose Conservatives are expected to tighten their hold on the province – but it has been a phantom presence in races across the country. The debate about how to combat climate change is also about the future of the oil sands, Albertas main industry. The recent slump of oil prices and the sluggish recovery since then have embittered many Albertans, and whoever wins on Oct. 21 may find it challenging to win back voters trust there. Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller and economics reporter David Parkinson took a broad look at the political mood in Alberta and specifically in Medicine Hat, known as the Gas City, where the provinces economic anxieties have been playing out in miniature.

Peter Burke, another supporter who came with Dumont, said he was also impressed, but wondered why it took so long for Scheer to reveal his plan for Quebec. 

The suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area, commonly called the 905 for its main area code, tend to switch party allegiances en masse. These ridings backed the Conservatives in 2011 and the Liberals in 2015, but Nanos Research polls in the campaigns early weeks found a competitive race between both parties. But both parties leaders have disadvantages there: Mr. Scheer suffers from a low profile and associations with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, while Mr. Trudeaus past use of racist makeup could hurt him in the ethnically diverse suburbs. Queens Park reporter Laura Stone talked to some of the parties contenders in 905 ridings, such as Milton, Ont., where incumbent Conservative Lisa Raitt is up against a former Olympian now running for the Liberals, Adam van Koeverden.

"It would've been nice to hear it sooner," Burke said. "I hope [for] some people this will sway them."

Scheer spoke French for most of his nearly 20-minute speech, at one point breaking into English to warn about a possible Liberal-NDP coalition.

Montreal and Quebec City have most of the provinces people (and seats) between them, but much of the parties attention has been focused in between them at Trois-Rivières. The NDP-held riding is one of many where the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois sense the New Democrats are vulnerable. When the writ was first issued in September, reporters Les Perreaux and Daniel Leblanc reported from the region about what voters were preoccupied with: the provinces controversial religious-symbols law; Mr. Trudeaus still-much-discussed trip to India; and Mr. Scheers then-still-unclear stand on abortion.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh recently walked back his comments on supporting the Liberals in a minority situation. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said he is only interested in a majority government. 

The struggle for power in Atlantic Canada has put a lot of attention on small farming towns such as Sussex, N.B., whose former Conservative MP, voted out in 2015, is trying to win back the riding of Fundy Royal. Atlantic Bureau Chief Greg Mercer looked closer at Fundy Royal and other Maritime ridings that are up for grabs. He also reported on how former cabinet ministers such as Scott Brison of the Liberals and Peter MacKay of the Conservatives are lending a hand to newcomers in Nova Scotia ridings (Kings-Hants and Central Nova, respectively) that were their personal fiefdoms for decades.

The Conservative leader also emphasized the importance of establishing a national energy corridor to find new markets for resources from coast to coast, such as hydroelectricity from Quebec and oil from the west. 

The Globe and Mails election team put together a list of 21 ridings of particular interest, from Vancouver-Granville (where Jody Wilson-Raybould, ousted from the Liberal Party over the SNC-Lavalin affair, is running for re-election as an Independent) to St. Johns East in Newfoundland (where a former NDP MP is trying to wrest control back from the Liberals). As you go through this guide, youll see maps of some of the ridings to watch in each region. Keep the full list handy on election night, when you can see live riding-by-riding results come in on globeandmail.com.

Scheer also said he would not intervene in the case regarding Bill 21 — the law that bans public workers in Quebec from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Heavily Indigenous ridings helped bring Justin Trudeaus Liberals to power in 2015 when he promised a fresh, nation-to-nation relationship. Since then, friction with First Nations over oil pipelines and the expulsion from the party of Indigenous cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould have led to some buyers remorse in those ridings. The NDP is trying to capitalize on that in Kenora, Ont., where the chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation – long at odds with Ottawa over its slow response to mercury contamination – is trying to unseat Liberal Bob Nault.

During his stop in La Prairie, Scheer spoke about growing up across the Ottawa River from Quebec. He recalled going from Ottawa to bars across the river in Gatineau, Que., and emphasized the importance of prime ministers mastering the French language.

The New Democrats have one Alberta riding, Edmonton-Strathcona, but the provincial capital – which is also the starting point of the Trans Mountain Pipeline – hasnt been a welcoming place for the NDP since Leader Jagmeet Singh promised to scrap the expansion project. Incumbent MP Heather McPherson told The Globe that Edmonton-Strathcona is where the party will make its final stand in the province, but her strategy is coming less from Mr. Singh and more from NDP ex-premier Rachel Notley, who supported Trans Mountain.

Scheer drew applause and laughs from the crowd when he compared himself to former prime minister John Diefenbaker, who led the Progressive Conservatives to win the majority of Quebec seats in 1958.

"I'm often asked how a Saskatchewan leader can succeed in Quebec, well, two words: John Diefenbaker.

Then theres Waterloo, another bellwether in federal elections, which Wilfrid Laurier University political scientist Barry Kay described to The Globe as a mini 905. Columnist John Ibbitson spent a day talking to voters on Kitchener-Waterloos new regional light-rail line and at a local mall, where the economy, transit infrastructure and unaffordable housing prices were hot topics of conversation.

"Just like Diefenbaker, I was born in Ontario and just like him I am a Saskatchewan MP, and like Diefenbaker, I have an extraordinary team in Quebec; however, unlike Diefenbaker, I speak French and I am proud of that."

Four years after he came to office on lofty promises of hope and change, Obama's re-election campaign in 2012 had to fight through a sense of general disappointment. He won that fight and left behind a record that included an expansion of medicare, new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, an economic recovery from the Great Recession and a number of other progressive reforms, but also nagging questions about whether he had somehow failed to live up to his potential.

Scheer will be campaigning in Saint-Jérôme, Que., 40 minutes northwest of Montreal, on Wednesday morning with local candidate Sylvie Fréchette. He then travels back to Ontario as the party pushes to cover as much ground as possible before next Monday's vote.

The Liberals — while pursuing a broadly Obama-esque agenda focused on the "middle class" and climate change — can stress that one of either Trudeau or Scheer will be prime minister. But there's also Elizabeth May and Jagmeet Singh. Maybe neither of those leaders are likely to end up prime minister, but you can vote for an NDP or Green candidate and hope to end up with orange or green representation.

Olivia Stefanovich is a senior reporter for CBC's Parliamentary Bureau based in Ottawa. She previously worked in Toronto, Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter at @CBCOlivia. Story tips welcome: [email protected]

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

Obama never dealt with the sort of personal controversies that have hit Trudeau over the past year — the SNC-Lavalin affair and the blackface photos. And those issues have further complicated Trudeau's ability to make a clear argument. But the American political system has its own eccentricities (Obama spent part of his first term contending with claims that he was not American-born).

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OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is signalling that hell look to form government if his party wins the most seats, but not a majority on election night, setting up a potential challenge of long-standing parliamentary tradition.

An initial swell of enthusiasm and goodwill and then a struggle to live up to expectations. An argument from the political right that the incumbent has been a disappointing, even destructive, failure. An argument from the political left — from those that might be described as social democrats — that more needs to be done on every issue that matters.

While there is no rule book, convention and history has established that the incumbent gets the first chance to attempt to continue to govern and test the confidence in the House of Commons in a minority scenario where seat counts are close and the outgoing prime minister has not conceded.

Trudeau's rivals, and perhaps even some unaligned Canadian voters, might raise an eyebrow at a foreign public figure offering his opinion (though Conservative leader Andrew Scheer wasn't shy about commenting in 2016 on the United Kingdom's membership in the European Union) on a Canadian election.

In an interview with CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, Scheer said, "Were not going to ask other parties for support. Were going to put our platform out to Canadians about how were going to lower taxes, make life more affordable. And we will implement that agenda. We expect that other parties will respect the fact that whichever party wins the most seats gets to form the government and that they will understand that if Canadians — when Canadians — endorse our platform, that we would have the right to implement it."

Based on current polling, a majority government may not be in the forecast for either the Liberal or Conservative parties, with Scheer and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau locked in a tie for first with neither party projected to secure the 170 seats needed for a majority.

If neither the Liberals or Conservatives win a majority it is possible that Trudeau would not resign or concede, and look to form a minority or coalition government with the smaller parties.

The underlying message of those endorsements could be that national elections are no longer purely domestic affairs; that the world is in the midst of a struggle over the future direction of liberal democracy and every election is a piece of that larger conflict.

That means Trudeau could take the first chance to test the confidence of the House of Commons even if the Conservatives win more seats than the Liberals, a scenario it now seems Scheer is hinting he would challenge.

Schwanen believes that there might be some momentum toward freer interprovincial trade — a number of "pro-business" provincial governments have been elected; Alberta's Jason Kenney and Manitoba's Brian Pallister have both talked about unilaterally lifting some of their own barriers; and the uncertainty surrounding the recent NAFTA negotiations gave everyone a good scare. But that's probably not enough to overcome ingrained, institutionalized protectionism in areas like trucking, or supply-managed products like poultry, eggs and dairy.

Our message would be that the party that wins the most seats has a mandate to implement what they put before Canadians. They have a mandate to form a government, Scheer said during a follow-up interview with CTVs Your Morning on Thursday.

When pressed on how he plans to implement the policies laid out in his 100 Day Action Plan without the other parties support should he form a minority government, Scheer repeated that hes confident that wont be the case and his party will win a majority.

"These barriers prevent the free flow of people, goods and services across provincial borders. They make it more expensive to run a business. They hurt consumers with higher prices and less competition and they discourage and frustrate big dreaming innovators who want to change the world," Scheer said during a campaign stop in Quebec City. "It should not be easier to trade with other countries than between Canadian provinces. We are one free country. We should have one free market."

Honestly, when it comes to the what ifs and the different scenarios, Canadians will decide what kind of parliament well have on Oct. 21. Were asking Canadians for a strong majority so that we can avoid a Liberal-NDP coalition, he said. Im confident that were going to earn the support of Canadians.

Scheer was also asked if he would step down as leader of the party if he fails to win a majority on Monday.

Charlebois cites the barriers against interprovincial trade of alcohol as an example of the obstacles in Scheer's chosen path. Wineries and craft brewers from B.C. to Nova Scotia would love to be able to compete against each other in the open market and ship their products directly to consumers across the country. But each province sets its own rules for distribution, often requiring producers to use Crown liquor agencies as a middleman. 

Were going to win on Monday, he replied. Were very optimistic, very confident were going to win seats. Were going to surprise a lot of people. When the analysts and the pundits see the results coming in, theyre going to see that we ran a very successful campaign and we will form the government on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Conservative leader offered a preview of what he hopes to accomplish during his first 100 days in office — should he win the Oct. 21 election. And at the head of the list is a vow to broker a new, internal free-trade agreement that would eliminate all interprovincial barriers.

If Trudeau was to accept a Conservative victory on election night, that would signal the Governor General should invite the Conservatives to attempt to form government.

The last interprovincial deal, concluded in 2017 after two years of federal-provincial-territorial negotiations, resulted in an agreement that has "free trade" in the title but hardly anywhere in the fine print, with each party listing dozens of protectionist carve-outs.

Faced with questions about potential minority scenarios on the campaign trail, Scheer has flatly rejected the notion of forming a coalition government, or working with any other party under any circumstance, calling the prospect of the progressive parties teaming up something "Canadians cant afford."

Stephen Harper paid lip service to internal Canadian free trade, but could hardly bring himself to attend first ministers meetings during his just-short-of-a-decade in power. Justin Trudeau has taken a friendlier tack, but has made little progress on the national trade file. 

In his interview with LaFlamme, Scheer doubled down saying he would not seek the support of other parties, including the Bloc Québécois.

"I don't see how Mr. Scheer could be successful," he says. "I'm glad it's coming up as an issue, but I'm not sure that it has any retail political value. I don't think that most Canadians care about interprovincial barriers."

Trudeau has so far dodged questions on whether hed look at teaming up with any party post-election, saying he is focused on electing a progressive government with a strong mandate as the best way to stop the Conservatives.

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On Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whos been open to the possibility of forming a coalition government with more progressive opponents, like the Liberals, didnt respond directly to Scheers comments but instead reiterated that his party would not support the Conservatives in a minority government scenario.

"We dont respect Conservatives," said Singh. "Just because Scheer thinks that if he gets a certain number of seats, were going to give up fighting against Conservatives, no. Were going to always fight Conservatives."

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, too, was asked about the prospect of a coalition government during a campaign stop in Montreal Thursday morning. In response, he stressed that he has no interest in joining any kind of coalition.

The Bloc leader said he would work with the other parties on a case-by-case basis and review every proposal with respect to their potential benefit to Quebec. He said he is only looking out for Quebecers best interests and that will guide him in approach to working with the other parties in passing legislation.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is signalling his willingness to buck parliamentary tradition in the event his party wins the most seats, but comes up short of a majority on election night. (CTV National News)