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HomeCANADAY Media Exclusive: 'Trudeau Govt Is Not Transparent,' Says Conservative Leader Bergen

Y Media Exclusive: ‘Trudeau Govt Is Not Transparent,’ Says Conservative Leader Bergen

Pooja Luthra

In an exclusive interview with Y Media Associate Editor Ramona Singh, Conservative Leader Candice Bergen openly criticizes the Trudeau government on freedom convoy protest, soaring inflation, and Canada’s deteriorating economic situation. She further discusses what it means to be a ‘Conservative’ and her priorities as a party leader. Read on.

Ramona Singh: What would you like to say about the current situation in Canada? What does being ‘Conservative’ really mean?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: First of all, I would like to say I was honoured to have been part of the Stephen Harper government that was very responsible. The finances of the country were managed, and the country was unified. Since the Liberals have taken government, we’ve seen a real downturn in our economic prosperity and soaring inflation. We can’t get our natural resources to the customers. 

I’m honoured to be the leader as a strong conservative woman. I believe we need to continue to do as Conservatives to be ‘consistently Conservative.’ Firstly, that means acting like strong fiscal managers, not spending more, reducing taxes for Canadians, and supporting our small businesses. That’s the pillar of being a ‘Conservative.’ Secondly, we are the party of law and order. We need to keep criminals who are dangerous behind bars and protect communities against issues like drug addiction and mental health. Thirdly, we are the party of national unity. We love Canada and its vibrancy. I believe that more and more Canadians see themselves in our party. People are excited and interested in this current leadership campaign. I’m neutral about the leadership campaign, but I’m very excited to see all this. 

Ramona Singh: Could you please explain your and Canadian’s stance regarding Freedom Convoy?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: It all started when the federal government wanted to introduce a federal vaccine mandate on truck drivers. Many of the people in my riding are truck drivers. I’m from Southern Manitoba, and I had a large population that opposed the vaccine mandate. Conservatives supported the position of not imposing federal vaccine mandates on truckers. At that time, COVID was starting to become more manageable. Truckers from across the country were protesting against vaccine mandates and gaining support. But Trudeau called them misogynist and racist and said their views were unacceptable. I also disagreed with anybody blocking critical infrastructure or doing illegal activity. But I felt they had a valid point. 

During that time, my message was this: we can disagree as Canadians and still listen to each other. Trudeau was trying to divide and stigmatize Canadians with his policy. That’s not what a leader should do. We’ve seen that in other parts of the world where leaders do that. And I would expect more from this prime minister. My call to him was this: ‘Prime Minister, you don’t have to agree with the truckers, but you should listen to them.’ What Trudeau did was he invoked the Emergencies Act. He is now covering up documents that reveal why they felt they needed to invoke the Emergencies Act. This is very troublesome, seeing the history of this government not being transparent. I believe as Canadians, instead of dividing people and shutting them down, let’s be open and listen to each other. Let’s say it’s okay to disagree. Unity doesn’t mean uniformity. I think, unfortunately, the Prime Minister has lost his way. Many Liberal Party members believe PM and the party has lost their way. 

Ramona Singh: What other measures could the Trudeau government have taken to end protests sooner?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: During the blockade, Conservatives put forward a motion asking the government to present a plan. We gave them a timeframe to end the vaccine mandates and restrictions. If he had supported that motion or talked to the protesters, things could have turned out differently. He should have listened to their viewpoint and acknowledged their concerns. But he did nothing of this sort.

Ramona Singh: PM Trudeau has called for an inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act. What do you have to say on this?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: We just learned that the government is citing cabinet confidentiality, and they’re not going to be releasing documents. Conservatives are asking what Trudeau hiding is. Given history, Liberals are always hiding something. Conservatives want to find solutions and be the party of solutions. We want to work together with our other colleagues to get the information to Canadians they need. Conservatives want to ensure that a dangerous precedent isn’t set wherein the government, without reason, can invoke the Emergencies Act and freeze the assets and bank accounts of Canadians. Conservatives are going to keep asking questions and looking for solutions and answers.

Ramona Singh: What are some things that you wish you could have seen in the federal budget? What are some things that you support in that budget?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: We wanted to see tax cuts for Canadians. We believe that Canadians are at a breaking point when it comes to the cost of housing, rent, gasoline, and groceries. We felt there were some practical things the government could do to give tax relief to Canadians. We didn’t see that. We also wanted to see a big control spending. This government spends so much that they’ve increased permanent government spending by 50%. Our future generations will have a debt of over three trillion dollars. We wanted to see a reduction in permanent government programs. There was no real solution to the house and inflation issue. During this ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis, Canada needs to be upholding its obligation and defence spending. The Liberals have announced such spending before they have not followed through, so we’ll watch to see that they do that. It’s an NDP budget, and the Liberals have moved so far. Even people who voted Liberals don’t recognize this party any longer. Its fiscal policy has moved so far to the left and focuses more on spending.

Ramona Singh: What are some of the priorities you want to accomplish while you’re the leader of the Conservative Party?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: Well, I had two main priorities. I knew I couldn’t accomplish a lot in six months, but I’m the woman who sets a goal and achieves it. I want to bring unity and team spirit back to our caucus. I want party members to be proud to be Conservative. I want us to be consistently Conservative. So, that’s something that I’ve done. I told my caucus not to play identity politics in the party. Let’s not divide Canadians like Liberals. I wanted to reach out to more and more communities across the country. I’ve just really enjoyed coming to events that show the cultural vibrancy of Canada. I hope when the new leader comes on, they will continue this kind of outreach and bridge-building.

Ramona Singh: Would you like to add anything else?

Conservative Leader Candice Bergen: I would like to thank Canadians for their contribution. Conservatives are proud and so grateful to have you as part of the fabric of Canada.

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