Scheer: Canada needs to be assertive abroad and at home

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says Canada’s prime minister needs to stand up for Canada, that federal authority needs to be respected at home

What happened: Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer addressed Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) members and guests on Friday, April 12.

Why it matters: Six months from an election, Scheer promised to address issues that many leaders in Greater Vancouver’s business community claim have not been properly addressed by the current Canadian government.

Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer was in attentive and largely supportive company today when addressing members of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT).

In a short keynote address and dialogue with GVBOT president and CEO Iain Black, Scheer committed to making Canada competitive and to addressing affordability issues. He acknowledged the importance of funding additional trade and port capacity, and criticized a climate of regulatory uncertainty he blamed on the Liberals.

He also said that Canada needs a more assertive global presence.

“It’s time that we stand up against these unjust actions, including what China did to canola and what the United States continues to do on steel and aluminum tariffs,” said Scheer to loud applause from the audience.

"And when we talk about confidence, we need to make sure that people understand that the rules are respected here," added Scheer in reference to the SNC-Lavalin affair. He argued that scandal should matter to Canadians because they need to have confidence that everyone, corporations included, will be treated equally under Canadian law.

"I do hope [Trudeau] follows through with his lawsuit threat."

Ahead of unveiling a full platform, Scheer shed a little light on the Conservatives’ policy priorities this election.

The party’s environmental policy will not include a carbon tax, but will support investments in innovation. Scheer also said he will move to ban the practice of municipalities dumping raw sewage into Canadian waterways, which received applause.

When it comes to addressing affordability, Scheer said there is a role for government to play in addressing supply-side issues on housing. This includes incentivizing lower levels of government to streamline permitting approvals and reduce red tape around development.

“If we only focus on the demand side, we won’t be solving the problem at all.”

Scheer, member of parliament for Regina-Qu'Appelle, also spent a chunk of his hour-long appearance discussing energy, and the need for the country's leader to champion the sector.

“We should have a prime minister that goes around the world selling Canadian energy, celebrating Canadian energy, pitching it to the world as something the world needs more of,” he said, adding that he would promote to the globe that Canadian oil and gas is extracted under the highest environmental standards in the world.

He would open access to deep-water ports to get such products to markets in Asia. He also believes in a west-to-east pipeline to deliver western Canadian energy to eastern Canadian markets. 

"We also recognize that we need to ensure that the federal authority is respected so that projects like Trans Mountain can be successfully completed."

In that vein, he added that he would take steps to ensure foreign-funded advocacy groups will not be able to use Canada's approval system to block resource projects. 

More to come

Scheer made it clear that infrastructure investments, like support for Canada's gateway to Asia, would be a "huge area of focus" for the party. He told reporters after the event that the party has specific ideas about how the federal government can better "stand-up" for Canada globally, and that those would be revealed in due course.

He supports a comprehensive review to ensure that government exists where it is needed, and that it utilizes tax dollars efficiently. 

"Government has a role to play where there are gaps in that system to make sure that no one falls behind, and that everyone has an opportunity. But you cannot overtax and over-regulate the productive part of our society," said Scheer.

"You cannot stifle that, you cannot attack it, you cannot punish it. You must celebrate it and you must support it."