I equitably condemn all acts of terrorism and those responsible for it should be brought to justice: Andrew Scheer
By Shazia Malik
MISSISSAUGA – I equitably condemn all acts of terrorism and those responsible for it should be brought to justice. This was stated by Andrew Scheer, Leader of Conservative Party of Canada during an exclusive interview with Yudhvir Jaswal, Group Editor and CEO of Y Media during his visit to Channel Y Studios. Scheer was commenting on the issue of Air India bombing and Talwinder Singh Parmar. Scheer said: “I don’t think people who have been associated with the groups that have been responsible for it should be celebrated or held up as people to be celebrated. I think it is fair when politician get asked tough question. A politician should not react by attacking the journalist. I had to answer some tough questions earlier on when I was running for the race. “People ask questions. I enjoy all of them and sometimes I think a journalist puts up a question in an aggressive way, but at the end of the day I should be able to answer that question. it then voters will see that.
So every party and every politician will have some touch questions from people based on their personal perspective. It is up to Jagmeet to answer and up to voters to decide. I won’t pronounce on him or try to guess what his beliefs are. But voters will make that determination.
Following are some excerpts from his interview:
Navdeep Bains is active in GTA, Conservatives are not
That is one of the reasons why I’m here and I’m not going to concede anything to any other politician because I know the Conservative principles resonate with members of the South Asian community. Look at how many people have come from South Asia. They are entrepreneurs, they open up businesses and they innovate, they bring their families in the business, create jobs for many people in their communities. The Liberal policies are attacking that. They are making that harder. We know that members of the South Asian community are not happy with the govt plans to legalise marijuana and bring in drug injections into the communities.
They don’t support that so on policies, I know the Liberals are on the wrong side. Their policies are not very popular within the communities even though the politicians whether it is Navdeep or the Prime Minister may have some personal popularity and some personal respect. My job over the next two years is to build bridge with the South Asian community. We have great relationship, we had in the previous govt Minister Jason Kenny who had very strong ties with the community. Part of the problems is that when we lose those MPs, we lose that abilities of building those bridges. But as we get our candidates nominated and as I spend more and more time in the GTA, I am convinced I would be able to strengthen those ties with the community and members of the South Asian community.
Facing Jagmeet Singh’s challenge
I congratulate Jagmeet. It is great to see another young person leading a party. He and I are going to have a lot to disagree on. But I had the chance to meet him a few times. I find him to be a positive guy and he certainly has a great story to tell. It is a wonderful sign that we have a federal leader coming from a new Canadian community and he is a testament to how our society has evolved. On issues big disagreements. He is in NDP. He believes in big government. He believes in high taxes and more government control. I believe in individual freedom, free markets and people making their own decisions. But I respect who he is as a person and I respect his motivations are good. He wants to make Canada a good place. He just has ideas that I disagree with and I think he would say the same things about me.
Competitor in 2019 – Justin Trudeau or Jagmeet Singh
I try not to think too much about the other parties. We know in Canada there are areas where each party has its traditional base and support, but as you have mentioned earlier that GTA has so many seats and could potentially work for any party. Some of these seats were Conservative before NDP and Liberals won it, so in every election, every party has to make the case. We can’t take anything for granted. So I’m not too much worried. I’ll let Jagmeet and Justin fight over which one of them can spend money better, raise taxes better. I will be bringing my message to all Canadians whether they’ve been here for many years or arrived most recently. If you have worked hard, you should be able to keep more. If you are raising a family, you should be able to do that in a safe and secure community. We don’t want govt deciding things for you. We don’t want the big top down approach. We are not looking for new ways to raise taxes. I’ll let the NDP and the Liberals make that case. I’ll just bring my positive message myself and hopefully it will resonate with people. Economic watchdogs predicting tough 2019 and NAFTA in crisis The reason why 2019 could be very challenging economically is because of some of the polices that Trudeau has been putting in. There has been billions of dollars of investment that has left Canada out of the energy sector. Now many people will think of the energy sector, that’s the western Canadian issue but it is not. We know there are a lot of jobs here in Ontario and across the country supplying parts and equipment to the energy sector. We know that the royalties and the revenues, the tax collected benefits all Canadians. So when those massive amounts of investment leave Canada, it takes a while to affect the economy.
The Liberals cancelled the energy east programme, which would have displaced foreign oil coming in from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the US. Now people in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada have to spend their dollar on energy and they have to give it to another company. So they have made some fundamental mistakes that will take some time to affect the economy. You mentioned NAFTA. NAFTA is a huge issue. I don’t believe this government took this issue seriously. Donald Trump said all the things that he is saying today during the primary and the election campaign. It seems that the Liberals were surprised that Donald Trump is going to go after NAFTA and target Canada. They shouldn’t have been surprised because he was using that kind of language for months before he opened the talks. We need a govt that is focused on the market prospects, the parts of NAFTA that matter to people buying and selling across the border. They are bringing all kinds of issues that have got nothing to do with the trade and as a result we are seeing a tougher and tougher bargaining position from the US. So I will say in 2019 my job is getting harder and harder but I’m confident with Conservative principles and responsible choices we can get the job done.
Opinion on gay marriage and abortion
I have been very clear and very open about them from the time I launched my leadership campaign over a year ago now and that was the first question I had and people know what my views are and what my personal faith is. We are a country that celebrates different faiths and we are a truly diverse country where there is room for people to have personal perspective. My commitment to party is that I will not reopen these debates because they are divisive within our party , within our own caucus and there isn’t appetite for these discussions in that context. But I do recognise that because we have diversity of opinion that we’ll have free votes. There is room in the Conservative party for people who hold those views. My job as a leader is make sure that people don’t open divisive debates but we can find common grounds.
Will somebody like Jason Kenney be brought in to build the bridges in ethnic community?
Jason Kenney has a tremendous work ethics. He is working very hard in Alberta now. He was tireless and he had the ability to travel and connect with these communities several times. As a leader I have some extra responsibilities and as a father of five kids I have other demands on my time. So I rely on other members of my team. Good news is that we have got a great group of members of parliament in the GTA. Bob Saroya, great MP in Markham-Unionville has great connections not just within his own riding but all across the GTA with good people in many different communities. Lisa Raitt ran for the leadership and now is the deputy leader of our caucus has been in the GTA for years building those bridges. Michael Chong also built those bridges in the ethnic community. We’ve got great guys and ladies who have been in the area who work hard and bring this positive Conservative message out. But I want to do a lot of that myself because I’m excited to talk about thing I believe in and I know they will resonate. I’m going to be back lots and very often. I want to attend big cultural events , roundtables and listen to the ideas coming from the community. I’m confident by 2019 those bridges will be built and translate into support.
Who will become the Conservative face in GTA to challenge Navdeep and Jagmeet?
We are going to start our nomination process and we already have people approaching us saying, look I would run for you in Mississauga, and in Brampton. We had great people like Parm Gill,Bal Gosal and Kyle Seeback who represented Brampton area.So it’s going to take time. It will not happen overnight. But once we have our candidates in place, we’ll have a bigger team of people who make the introductions for me and be good sales people for Conservative message. So I’m not worried about it today, but if ask me this question two years later, just before the elections then I’ll know if we have made some mistakes. But right now we have a lot of good people coming back on board wanting to help. We won in 2011, we won Brampton seats, we won Mississauga seats, Burlington, Oakville, and in 416 and we know we can do it if we can get the hard work done with the right people bringing the right message forward.
Liberal scandals surface but still popular in Polls?
I don’t worry too much about the polls because they go up and down for all kinds of reasons. You know more and more Canadians are responding that they are more and more dissatisfied with this govt. That trend line has started to appear. I think you will see most of the polls showing the trends are not good for the Liberals and it’s because of exactly what we talked about. It is the credibility problem. We have serious questions about the finance minister. The entire summer we heard the government saying they’ll go after people who are using fancy accounting schemes to avoid paying higher taxes. Turns out, the finance minister was doing exactly that. These things don’t happen all of a sudden, to go from opposition to the government, it doesn’t happen in two weeks. We still have time, the time is counting down. So we are putting together a team and then we’ll be working on the policies, all the while holding this government accountable. We have people crossing our borders illegally, bypassing the immigration system for which so many Canadians followed the rule. So Liberals don’t have answer for anything. With the right set of alternative policies that are aspiration, that are positive, that show that Conservative can get the job done, we can win.
Foreign policy if Conservatives win in regards to US, China and India?
It’s important to have a principled foreign policy. We have tremendous opportunity with India to strengthen our trade ties. We can expand our trade deal with China, it’s very important but free trade deal is something else. An economy like China that has a lot of state-owned enterprises, we should be very cognisance of that. Meanwhile here is India with the booming economy, similar types of institutions, much more stable and democratic institutions that we can build a lot of common grounds on. That is where I think a greater focus should be placed. State interference in China is different from what we have here. US will always be a faithful ally and a good trading partner but when you have a president that has a lot of protectionist measures and uses a lot of protectionist language, we need to diversify our trading. We need to sign trade deals around the country. We need to fight for NAFTA and should have a mind to enhancing ties with other countries as well. Canada always have been equably and unabashedly standing for what we know has been right – human rights, the rule of law, democratic principles, and we should be unafraid to speak on these issues.
GDP, jobs doing well, why dislodge Trudeau in 2019?
He’s doing everything he can to hurt the economic growth, first of all we must acknowledge that a lot of numbers and things is the hard work of the previous Conservative government did. We balanced the budget which allowed more economic growth in the private sector, lowered taxes which put money back in the pockets of the hard working Canadians and did trade deals around the world and found new markets. So now that he’s inherited that wonderful situation. He is attacking the very people that create jobs and prosperity. He’s going after small businesses, he’s bringing carbon tax, he’s bringing payroll tax which means lower wages at the end of the day, and making it harder time for businesses to keep staff. Now we see a bizarre attack on taxing employee discounts so people who work at restaurants, who get a 20% or 30% discount have to pay taxes on it, denying tax credits to benefits to people with Type 1 diabetes and other diseases. So individual costs are going up. I’m worried that in the next couple of years we’ll see a lot of investment leaving the country.
There is big threat with the NAFTA negotiations that will harm our businesses here. And it’s not about the businesses, that’s where people work. It’s about the businesses, it’s about the jobs that are available to people in the community. The Liberals are playing a very dangerous game of pitting different groups of people against each other, racking up massive deficits, that my kids will have to pay back. For the rest of their lives. That’s not fair. It’s not something the Canadians are happy about. Liberal government is racking all that debt and all that deficits that the future generation of Canadians will have to pay back.
Deficits and how will you balance budget in two years?
I don’t know that Canadians sign on what Justin Trudeau is doing and his promise during the elections was to run a $10 billion deficit for a short period of time. His excuse for that was he can spend more money on infrastructure, projects in cities and our communities. I’ve been meeting mayors across the country, and they are telling me that the funding isn’t flowing and infrastructure projects are not being initiated, shovels are not in the ground. And the deficits are even higher, twice as much as he promised, so I don’t think the Canadian will sign on that. I think most Canadians understand that when a govt goes so far beyond in its fiscal framework, future generations have to pay that back. I will never leave my kids with a credit card bill. I’ll say I’ve bought some new clothes and a car and you can pay it back once you start working. That’s not a Canadian value that is shared. When the governments go in deficit because of recession, natural disaster or a massive shock to our economy, Canadians can understand that but we have seen is that our government is choosing to spend, spend, spend, so commitment to return to balance the budget in two years is very important because we need to have that fiscal discipline on the govt departments.
We will take steps to grow the economy reducing taxes to make sure that economic growth can propel some of the revenues that the govt might need to balance the budget. It’s not easy to get back to the balanced budget. It took the previous Conservative govt several years of having that fiscal discipline, and telling the bureaucrats who are always after pet projects and lobbying for more money. We know that the govt is spending too much money, so the govt does not have a revenue problem the Liberal government has a spending problem.
Why did you lose seat in Quebec byelections ?
We knew it was not going to be easy. Any time there is a change in the govt, the Canadians want that govt to succeed. Most Canadians believe the Liberal govt is successful, they voted for them and we are Canadians. We will stand behind whoever is in govt to make our lives better. So we know it’s going to take time but we just have to keep repeating our message.
How will you ensure freedom of Speech in Canada including Universities?
I held meeting with a number of university heads. I know legitimate debates get shut down because of the protesters will come out and threaten with violence. Guest speakers, visiting professors, seminars, student groups, campus clubs that emerge around issues get shut down. That’s not right. We must have a climate of vigorous debate. University is a place where ideas are challenged. If there is an established orthodoxy on a certain issue, universities should be those places where those issues are debated and tested. My challenge to those university administrations was let’s work together to find common framework to ensure that students have their rights and voice on the campus and express their perspective on the issue. The feedback was great. the presidents of universities told me they want a solution as they don’t like it.
M103 and religious neutrality?
Conservatives believe in the rights of individuals to express themselves and practice their religion not just in private but in public too. The M 103 issue, the first time it was proposed, we warned the Liberals that this is a very divisive motion that was aimed at pitting different groups of people against each other. I would be happy to have a conversation about fighting racism, about ensuring that we remain a tolerant and pluralistic society for people of all faiths and backgrounds. But the fact that they singled out on one particular faith and used a particular word – Islamophobia can mean many different things to different people. I would encourage you and your viewers to look at the testimony that has come out at the parliamentary committee that is studying this issue because members of the Muslim community have said there is a problem with this word. It can be used not to allow legitimate criticism, even within their own community. So they have raised a lot of concerns about it so I voted against it. I’ll rather have a much inclusive approach talking about these types of issues making sure that we can have religious accommodation in Canada.
A lot has been said about it (religious neutrality bill) in Quebec. A lot of concerns being raised. I leave it to the provincial politicians to have that debate. For Conservatives it is important that individuals express themselves and practice their religion in private and in public. About personal life I became the one of the youngest Member Parliament at age 25 in Saskachewan, at 32 became youngest speaker in house of commons; grew up in Ontario, from my mom’s side family comes from Mississauga and western part of GTA, deep roots in this part, moved out of Saskachewan, five elections and five kids later now leader of Conservative party of Canada, stand for rock solid conservative principles to work for Canadians, smaller govt, less interference in our daily lives, more freedom, more choice, and open, tolerant, diverse society built on principles that allow or offer people who work so hard to earn and understand that prosperity can lift so many people from poverty to improve the quality of life, that’s a very generous sketch on who I am. Our party has a great track record of good governance, fiscal responsibility, unleashing the power of the private sector, different aspects of society, and in the next few months I’m be meeting Canadians across the country, and start to put together some policies that I believe will capture the imagination of the Canadians in the next elections.