Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Regardless of one’s political inclination, when the leader of the official opposition Pierre Poilievre gives press conferences, it’s impossible to miss the breadth and depth of his knowledge and the quickness of his thinking. During the press conference for cultural media on November 26 at Ukrainian National Federation Toronto’s Trident Hall, Poilievre spoke on a wide range of issues and answered different questions for almost two hours. He in detail covered issues spanning from inflation and interest rates to energy to crime to Canada’s defence policy to global security to euthanasia to FIFA World Cup without as much as a two-second break for thinking.
The only time when Poilievre took about two seconds to think was the question of whether there is anything in the current government’s actions that he agrees with. He praised only one action by Justin Trudeau’s government – Bill C-11 (Historical), an Act to amend the Copyright Act on access to copyrighted works or other subject-matter for persons with perceptual disabilities. As Poilievre said previously, this matter has been “a great passion” of his since the previous government.
In all other spheres, Poilievre had stringent criticism of Trudeau’s government.
He spoke with his signature energy and enthusiasm about the current inflation and economy. Fighting inflation will be his task #1 when he becomes Prime Minister. He said that when he hears the news, first, he will kiss his wife, second, “[he] will, obviously, graciously thank Canadians for the new mandate they will have given me, God willing.” Then, after that, “We need to take action against inflation … because otherwise we're gonna face mass bankruptcies across this country. That is going to be the top job that I will have to do within minutes of becoming Prime Minister.”
Poilievre said that to reign in inflation, his government would cap federal spending by bringing a “pay-as-you-go” law that requires the government dollar savings for every new dollar of spending. This would help prevent the government debt from growing. While campaigning for the Conservative leadership, he said there would be exemptions for spending related to “national emergencies like wars, pandemics and natural disasters.”
Poilievre also spoke about his ‘favorite’ subject of the carbon tax. He promised to cancel the tax to lower the cost of food and fuel, and to reform the tax system “to reward work and cut red tape so small businesses can hire more people and serve more customers.” He also promised to remove interprovincial trade barriers to lower the cost and increase the benefit of commerce across the country.
Poilievre’s plan to make housing more affordable is to incentivize the provinces and municipalities to speed up building permits. He promised to link the number of federal infrastructure dollars available to a city to the number of houses that it allows to get built.
In front of Toronto’s ethnic media, Poilievre also spoke about the problems in Canada’s immigration system where the backlog of people waiting for their applications to be processed grew from 1.4 million in July 2021 to 2.6 million in September 2022 before dropping to 2.4 million in November. He promised, as Prime Minister, to get a nationwide deal by all the provinces, to give immigrants an answer within 60 days on their applications to work in their field based on their tested abilities. The federal government should back up 30,000 small study loans so that trained professionals can take time off work in order to scale up to the Canadian standard and pass the test, said Poilievre. He also believes that there should be modules for every regulated profession so that future immigrants can begin preparing to get licensed in their field before they arrive in Canada.
On crime, Poilievre’s position echoed the longstanding Conservative approach: he proposed to tackle crime by creating laws that target the most violent offenders, to provide rehabilitation to young people so that they don't fall permanently to a life of crime, and to provide recovery and treatment for addicts so that they can overcome their addictions. Poilievre promised “to make Canada a safe country again, put people back in charge of their lives and restore Canada as the freest nation on Earth.”
Poilievre believes that climate change needs to be addressed with technology and not taxes. During the press conference, he promised to incentivize things like carbon capture and storage and speed up the approval for emissions-free electricity. In the emissions-free space, he emphasised the need for more nuclear and hydro, and “in some cases” for more wind and solar. Canada’s prodigious hydropower and the world-biggest supply of civilian-grade uranium in Saskatchewan, he said, can power the country’s economy without carbon emissions. Finally, industry needs incentives to bring its emissions down which can happen through “a combination of smart regulations and other levers.” That way a Poilievre government will reduce emissions, which right now is not working, he said.
Globally, said Poilievre, Canada needs to side with democracy: “The more democracy that exists in the world, the better it is for Canada. We know that democracies almost never go to war against one another. It's almost always a dictatorship that provokes conflict.”
In his interview with Jurij Klufas, executive producer of Kontakt Ukrainian Television Network, Pierre Poilievre said that he supports Ukraine against Russian aggression. He believes that Canada should assist Ukraine with sanctions against the key Russian officials and with more support for arms and finances for Ukrainian resistance to the invasion.
To withstand the Russian threat in the Arctic, Poilievre believes, Canada needs to reinforce its armed forces and have a stronger military presence in the north, “so that we can stake claim to all of our Arctic sovereignty – there's an old saying if you don't use it, you lose it,” he said.
Poilievre also spoke about another way that Canada could restrain Russia’s aggressiveness which is to help meet the strong global demand for oil and gas with Canadian energy products. He quoted the International Energy Agency’s forecast that oil demand, which was about 95 million barrels per day in 2021, will amount to 75-100 million barrels per day in 2050.
“Where should that oil come from? Do we want it to come from Russia, from Venezuela? Or do we want it to come from Canada?” said Poilievre. He believes that Canada should produce and export oil and gas while minimizing upstream emissions. He provided the example of Western Canada where the producers substantially reduced the emissions intensity of each barrel of oil.
Poilievre believes that the Western Canadian oil and gas should be able to reach Eastern Canada: ”If we had the Energy East pipeline today, we could be supplying something like 1/5 of the European demand with Canadian oil, but of course, we can't get our oil to Eastern Canada because there is no pan-Canadian pipeline,” he said.
To the follow-up question by NP-UN, whether and how he, as Prime Minister, could ensure that Canada starts exporting liquid natural gas from its East Coast, Poilievre said: “A natural gas liquefaction facility would need both the federal and provincial permit so I wouldn't be able to impose the thing. But I would continue to make the argument to the Quebec government that it is in the interest of Quebecers to liquefy that gas in Saguenay or some other place in the province.”
Canada is very well placed to benefit from its over 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources, said Poilievre. The country has major geographical advantages being at the shortest North American shipping distances to both Europe and Asia. Canada also has meteorological advantages: the cold weather makes it easier to liquefy natural gas by cooling it down. And it can use its plentiful clean hydro energy to liquefy the gas.
Poilievre mentioned the example of Germany, where the first LNG importing terminal was completed 194 days after construction began: “In Canada, it takes 5-7 years just to get a permit before the shovel goes in the ground. Let's speed up the permitting and get the natural gas liquefaction export terminals built. Get the gatekeepers out of the way, bring in a new law that protects the environment, consult First Nations but get projects built. Let's liquefy natural gas in the East and in the West, ship it overseas, use it to shut down coal-fired electricity in Asia, use it to break the dependence on Putin in Europe. That's the way forward,” he said.