Christmas Special: Interview with Leader of Conservatives Andrew Scheer

Andrew Scheer Photo: Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press

Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

What have been the biggest achievements and failures for Canada this year?

There are so many failures when you are talking about Justine Trudeau – he’s failed to fix the problem at the border, to stop the flow of illegal border-crossers which is affecting our legitimate immigration system; he’s failed to balance the budget – he’s promised to balance the budget and we know there will be record high deficits; he’s raised taxes; he lost to Donald Trump and signed away so many concessions through the USMCA; he introduced his carbon tax which offers large industrial emitters huge exemptions while placing all costs on commuters, families and small businesses. The success for our country is that our people are so resilient that despite the government that’s making things more expensive and making it harder to do business, Canadians are in many ways overcoming that. My message for 2019 is to have a government that is going to work with the Canadians, not against them.

Given the recent provocation by Russia against the Ukrainian Navy, is there anything more than Canada сould do in response?

We’ve certainly called on the Liberal government to do more. We announced a plan just a few months ago on how Canada can give more material aid to Ukraine, military equipment that Canada has at its disposal, to defend themselves against the unwarranted Russian aggression. Today we see some nice words from the government but the reaction is missing in action.

You’ve recently announced your initiatives on fighting crime. How is your approach to fighting crime different from the Liberal government’s initiatives on crime [the initiative to tackle the increase of gun related violence and gang activities in Canada, along with the National Crime Prevention Strategy]?

The main difference is that I am proposing actually doing something while the Liberals are proposing re-announcements of money they’ve already promised before but have yet to deliver on. When I talk to the police forces across the country they say that the Liberal government is quite capable of making announcements but the money doesn’t flow. My approach is to make dangerous criminals face real consequences for their crimes, to take away automatic bail for repeat violent offenders, take away automatic parole for people who get released into the community and then start reassociating with the gang that got them into trouble in the first place. We are not talking about some young offenders committing their first crime, someone making a mistake stealing a car to impress their friends. Measures, which I am proposing, are very targeted and dealing with repeat and violent offenders. These measures have a backing of several experts in law enforcement, this is what the victims and the police have asked for. The Conservatives believe that the rights of victims and law-abiding people should come first.

Canada has been named globally for a long time to be soft on crime, it is said that Canada’s judicial system is softer than in the United States. Do you think this tradition should be overturned?

I do think that Canada has some areas in its justice system that need to be enhanced. There is a reason why people want to come back to Canada when they are facing time in other countries because they know that when they come to Canada, it’s a shorter sentence. We can see that right now with ISIS fighters who left Canada, joined ISIS and committed heinous acts. Now they are on the run and ISIS is being destroyed, and they want to come back to Canada, they don’t want to go to prison in the UK or Europe. I think that speaks to the nature of our criminal justice system.

What is your position on the legalization of marijuana?

The Conservative Party in principal opposed legalization of cannabis. As it is legal now, we are trying to improve the worst parts of the bill. We are looking at strengthening the provisions to keep it away from children. There are some gaps and loopholes that have actually created situations where it’s almost advantageous to sell cannabis to children. We also believe that the age of consumption set at 18 years is far too young – there is a lot of brain development that continues well into the 20s. We are also looking at giving provinces more control over the cannabis regulations because the provinces have to manage all the health costs associated with cannabis.

What are your plans in terms of Canada’s immigration and citizenship system?

We have to secure our borders. We now have people skipping the line but we need a lawful immigration system based on Canada’s needs and compassion. Those would be our priorities. We also need a system that recognizes that Canada has a lot of different needs in a lot of different parts of the country with different rates of unemployment. We need a flexible policy to accommodate all that. I announced just recently that the Conservative Party opposes Canada’s signing of Global Compact on Migration. We believe that the Canadians need to be able to make decisions on immigration themselves. I have announced that as Prime Minister I would withdraw Canada from the Compact.

The questions are from New Pathway – Ukrainian News (directly) and other journalists (posted at the holiday reception for ethnic media by Andrew Scheer on December 10 in Toronto).