by Harvey Oberfeld
Keeping It Real…
Monday May 29, 2017
Another surprise in Canadian politics over the weekend: Andrew Scheer has become the Conservatives’ new Leader.
Scheer … you know, the 38-year old Tory Regina-Qu’Appelle MP from Saskatchewan, first elected more than 12 years ago, and who has served as BOTH Speaker of the House of Commons AND Tory House Leader.
Okay, so he has some challenges ahead … not the least of which is getting known by Canadians outside his riding and off Parliament Hill.
But I actually believe the Tories made a better decision in choosing Scheer over the much-expected winner Maxime Bernier, who I doubt would have been an easy sell in either his home province of Quebec or the rest of the country … for many reasons.
However, Scheer is in for a tough fight too … especially on TWO fronts.
The Tories know Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s honeymoon with many Canadians … built more on celebrity status and photo ops than any great economic, international or social accomplishments …. is continuing far longer than they may have expected.
Scheer will now work hard on raising his own profile, both across the country and inside the House of Commons … especially during Question Period and in the scrums outside that provide fodder for the nightly national newscasts. And that should not be too hard to do in a nation under attack by Trump, also increasingly engaged with Europe, refugees, China/Asia and the fight against ISIS .
And the Tories believe that as time goes on, Trudeau’s record of achievements … or lack thereof … will be open to more and more exposure and legitimate criticism for failures … both domestic and foreign.
But what are the alternatives?
THAT will be the BIGGEST challenge for Scheer and the Tories: coming up with their own POLICIES, IDEAS and SOLUTIONS for Canada’s problems … THAT WILL APPEAL to not just their supporters. but to most Canadians.
Easier said than done!
Scheer, as the Liberals will no doubt point out MANY times over the next two years, is socially conservative … some say more so than Stephen Harper.
He is personally opposed to abortion and gay marriage. No matter that he says he has no plans to re-open those issues ….or marijuana legalization … but he will face lots of hard questioning and expressed cynicism.
Scheer also reportedly voted against Human Rights legislation to protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, and pledged to cut funding to universities that do not defend free speech.
The new Tory leader has also said he will balance the federal budget within two years, repeal the carbon tax, scrap GST/HST taxes on home electricity heating, backs the dairy, egg and poultry industry’s supply management controls system, supports tax credits for parents who send their children to independent schools or who home-school, wants to give preference to religious “minorities” fleeing from troubled countries, and wants to re-involve the Canadian air force in an active role in fighting ISIS.
(Interestingly, according to the National Post “the sections of Scheer’s campaign website that outlined his policies were removed immediately after his victory Saturday.” Hmmm! Doesn’t want us to know what his policies really are? Or did he advocate policies he doesn’t really support, but wanted to attract votes?
Much to mull over, and lots of time for Canadians to get to know the new Tory leader, along with a new NDP leader, also to be chosen soon.
And FIRST PRIORITY for both: ending Canadians’ focussed fascination with Justin Trudeau.