The leader of the federal Conservatives told Vancouver Island’s business community that his party is the one that’s best-suited to lead Canada’s recovery out of the pandemic.
Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, took part in a question-and-answer session via Zoom on Wednesday, April 7, co-hosted by the Greater Nanaimo and Greater Victoria chambers of commerce.
O’Toole, asked if his party has a strategy to connect with people on Vancouver Island, said the region has an interesting political dynamic and said Conservatives have had strong representation on the Island in the past and will again. He said the Island has hard workers in natural resources, skilled trades and small business who share conservative values around “that nobility of work.”
He said he’s a leader who “understands the Island and the need to get the balance right on resources, on the economy, on getting people back to work, while also having a serious plan on reducing emissions, taking climate change seriously and fostering a positive environment for our children.”
O’Toole was asked if the party’s environmental policies will be a barrier to earning swing votes on the Island. He suggested that some who have criticized Conservative delegates’ recent decision not to state the reality of climate change in party policy are ignoring other party policies that do recognize climate change. He acknowledged that the Conservatives’ position on climate change wasn’t strong enough in the last two federal elections and said he looks forward to outlining a plan to reduce emissions and showing how it’s a “smarter” plan for the country.
“I think supporting a strong environment is inherently a Conservative value and I’m going to fight hard to win back people’s point of view on that,” O’Toole said.
Earlier this week he said a Conservative government would call a public inquiry into the Liberal government’s management of the pandemic response and during Wednesday’s discussion he again criticized the Liberals for being slow on securing rapid tests and vaccine supplies, for example. O’Toole added, however, that he’s rooting for the government to succeed in pandemic response and said he and other federal party leaders have no intention to try to force an election right now.
“We have the intention on pushing for better programs, swifter assistance for some of these impacted sectors, making sure more Canadians aren’t left behind in our recovery from COVID,” O’Toole said.
He said he hasn’t liked some of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s language around reimagining the Canadian economy, as he is concerned large sections of the country and large groups of people would be left out. O’Toole said the Conservatives have a comprehensive jobs plan to recover one million jobs lost during the pandemic within one year and wouldn’t stop there, taking immediate action in hard-hit sectors and helping the people who have suffered most.
“Canada’s Conservatives got us out of the last recession and I know we can lead Canadians out of this one, too,” O’Toole said.