Conservative Party Leader Also Talks Of Indo-Pacific Region, Northwest Passage, China And Energy Policy
By Bala Menon
MISSISSAUGA: Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer has called for a complete reset of Canada-India ties. In a wide-ranging interview with the Weekly Voice, Scheer said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s now infamous trip to India, and by all accounts a disaster, pushed back the relationship between the two countries.
Suggesting that it was mainly an image-building exercise, Scheer said Trudeau did not take the trip seriously and this harmed the warming ties between the two countries.
“We have tremendous potential with India, we have a common parliamentary system, basic commitment to democratic values and human rights and that is why my focus will be on India,” said Scheer, pointing out that Justin Trudeau admired China more.
“After being elected Prime Minister I will be working on improving our person-to-person ties and work with Prime Minister Modi on many issues and I am looking forward to it.”
Scheer said: “I was in India last year as part of a trade mission and I found that everybody in India loves Canada. Our brand image is very strong but unfortunately the message there is that Canada is not fighting enough to get market access, the investment and the effort to develop stronger ties. We have to take advantage of the goodwill that we have.”
Scheer pointed out that India was keen on building an energy relationship with Canada, “they want our clean energy, they want a stable partner and so we need our oil to get access to the Pacific ports and on to India. I have already started the process…”
The Conservative Party has leapfrogged over the other parties to collect over $8 million in the first quarter of this year for its election coffers and is also enjoying high popularity in polls – way ahead of both the Liberals and the NDP across Canada. In all likelihood, Andrew Scheer looks set to become the next Prime Minister of Canada this fall.
On the Indo-Pacific region, Scheer pointed out that the Liberal government does not take foreign policy very seriously. ’Canada needs to have stronger ties with our allies, and we are seeing how China is getting assertive in its relationship with Canada. Canadians are being mistreated, they are violating principles of justice and the Trudeau government has done nothing.”
Canada’s focus should be on working closely with countries like Japan and India and reinvigorate ties with the US and be a better security partner. “We were once natural allies with the US, UK and our Nato partners – now we have to constantly reinvest in these ties…”
“I also don’t agree with the Trudeau government’s decision to give $256 million to the Asian Infrastructure Bank – it is run by the Chinese government and is used to advance their foreign policy goals, they have veto over it, they control it…”
The Conservative leader was confident about getting the Trans Mountain pipeline built and said Trudeau had bought the pipeline by giving billions of dollars to a foreign business for them to leave the country.
“In addition to the Trans Mountain pipeline, we also need a west to east pipeline. So much of our energy comes from other countries and this does not make any sense. Let us get off the foreign oil. Let us make Canada self-sufficient.”
Scheer also spoke about the need to build refining capacity, to think of big projects to add value to our petroleum products “but the Liberals are totally against these….”
Scheer referred to the Northwest Passage in the interview, saying that it belongs to Canada – “that is a fundamental principle and we have to back that up… we have to support our military institutions there, we have to build up capability in terms of icebreakers and submarines… we have to be assertive or our position will erode very quickly…
“ China is looking at it, the US has made troubling statements and we cannot count on the goodness of the world…. we have to show the world that we will stand up for ourselves.”
With regard to the problem of illegal border crossers from the US, Scheer said there have been people waiting for years to enter Canada and now they will have to wait longer because some people are deciding to jump the queue.
“Everybody wants to come to Canada and we want to continue to be that kind of place. However, we have to treat people fairly, we need a system that is open, orderly, fair and compassionate. …people coming from the US are not people suffering persecution in any way. That is the crux of our argument – and we are so frustrated that Trudeau is continuing to allow the influx,” Scheer said.
“I will be soon making some speeches relating to our foreign policies, the economy and immigration…”
What would be your first task after becoming Prime Minister?
“The first job for my government will be to cancel the job-killing carbon tax…we have seen the fuel prices go up – there are five provinces fighting the carbon tax – and we are seeing the grocery costs go up and people know they will be out of pockets and we have to cancel it.
— Conservative Party (@CPC_HQ) May 13, 2019
“Many of these provinces have alternative carbon reduction plan – the Liberal plan is a tax plan – it is not an environmental plan and they think they can fool Canadians. We are seeing unprecedented fighting between the federal and provincial governments over this issue…”
Hectic campaigning for the federal elections is expected to begin shortly, and “we will be trying to reconnect with voters in the Atlantic provinces – we have a great message about energy …we recognize the uniqueness of Quebec and our policies are resonating with Quebecers and we will win more seats there”
“I can assure you that the Conservative platform will be centered around making life more affordable..allow people to get ahead so that they can keep more of their money”, Scheer said.