A Conversation With Andrew Scheer
Andrew Scheer is quickly emerging as the consensus candidate that many card-carrying CPC members are looking for. After a series of strong debate performances, Scheer has rocketed up the list of Poletical’s leadership tracker, where he regularly battles for top spot. And why shouldn’t he? He’s young, smart, articulate, bilingual, and solidly conservative. The aftermath of the election in 2015 led many Conservative voters to believe that what the party needed was simply a change in tone. A “Harper 2.0” is a strong option in this race and a legitimate path to victory. Is Andrew Scheer the guy we want? Is he the guy we need?
Hodgson: Thanks for talking with us today. What are you hearing on your travels?
Scheer: People are finding my approach refreshing and exciting and optimistic. My whole theme is that we need a leader that can keep the party united and focused on bringing conservatives together and articulate a positive message that will reach a broader audience.
Conservatives know our policies help lift people out of poverty, create prosperity and economic growth and they want a leader that can articulate that vision for the country.
Hodgson: Why do you want to do this? What drives you?
Scheer: I can’t let Justin Trudeau do to my kids what his father did to my generation. I have five young kids and if we don’t do something we’ll have deficits in this country until 2055. This will saddle them with a massive amount of debt. This is intergenerational theft. It infuriates me.
Hodgson: You’re planning to balance the budget within two years of winning the 2019 election, is that correct?
Hodgson: How are you going to do that?
Scheer: We need to control spending. The Liberals spent billions outside of Canada and no jobs are here to show for it. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has indicated that no jobs are linked to any of their deficit spending. The Liberals went from taking Harper’s surplus and ran a $30 billion deficit in one year. With a Conservative approach we can get back to balanced budgets and an aggressive target is very important.
I know what it’s like with bureaucracies and government departments...if they think they have all the time in the world, they won’t sharpen their pencils and do the hard work to get back to balanced budgets. I’ve signed onto the aggressive two-year target for a reason...when I become Prime Minister, everyone will know that this is a priority.
Hodgson: We write a lot about the liberal media bias at Poletical and the next Conservative leader is going to have to deal with this issue. What is your plan for this problem?
Scheer: First, we have to understand that we’re not going to get the same balance from the media that the Liberals will get. They’re already using liberal language, for example they’re already calling the carbon tax a “price on carbon pollution”. We know it’s not a price on carbon, it’s a tax.
Conservatives always have to be perfect and work extra hard. The key is to explain things better, take the time to lay out our vision and address the problems. Often in the past we would make a policy decision that made sense, but we’d take Canadians almost by surprise when we implemented things. Instead of doing the groundwork and building the case for why we had to do something, we left people with questions. So I won’t be chasing headlines in the Toronto Star or the Globe & Mail, but I will be putting the effort into making sure Canadians know what the problems are that we’re addressing.
Hodgson: What’s your opinion of Kevin O’Leary?
Scheer: I don’t believe Kevin O’Leary is a conservative. I haven’t heard anything he’s said on policy that would indicate to me that he has any kind of conservative philosophy or conservative approach. He’s good with sound bites and he certainly doesn’t like Justin Trudeau, but winning the next election isn’t just about who can criticise Justin Trudeau the loudest, it has to lay out a principled conservative approach to the issues. Social issues, foreign affairs, immigration, justice issues – Kevin O’Leary has nothing much to say about any of this. Even on the economy he’s not a true free market guy. He just talks about doing better deals than the Liberals. He’s got a style and a persona, but that’s not enough to win an election.
In 2019, we’re going to be running against an out-of-touch Prime Minister from a privileged background and who has no idea what it’s like for individual, hard-working Canadians. I hope our members are going to choose a leader that is in sharp contrast to that. Someone like myself who grew up in a middle-class family and is not used to the jet-set lifestyle and actually lives in Canada and is devoted to making Canada a better place.
Hodgson: Social conservative website Right Now has released a slate. They’re putting you near the top of the list. Some people have concerns that Conservative candidates are running more conservative campaigns than they will actually live up to upon winning...like Patrick Brown. How do we know we can trust you?
Scheer: I am who I am. My voting record speaks for itself. I’ve made public statements that hold true to who I am today. I’m an authentic person with integrity and I intend to follow through with everything I say. I want to keep our party united and make sure every kind of conservative feels welcome, but stay focused on things that we can find common ground on.
Hodgson: It’s 2027 and you’ve had two majorities. What does Canada look like?
Scheer: More dynamic private sector, greater individual liberty, less interference in our economy, stronger military with a principled foreign affairs.
Andrew Scheer is shaping up to be the candidate to beat. For more information about Andrew and his campaign, check out his website here.