Parliament might be on their summer break, but that doesn’t mean that the leader of the Opposition is taking a vacation. Andrew Scheer was voted the leader of the Conservative Party at the end of May and he’s taken no time getting comfortable in his new position. Since his apparent favourite past-time of exchanging savage barbs with Justin Trudeau is on hold, he’s been traveling the country from coast-to-coast to learn about what Canadians want (and start his PM campaign a year and a half early?).
Not only is Scheer hearing from Canadians on his country-wide trek, he’s letting people know what they can expect from him as Opposition leader and in the next federal election. In an interview with Your Morning, Scheer outlined his stance on a few hot topics in Canadian politics right now.
With regards to the Khadr settlement
If you’ve looked at relevant issues in Canada this summer, you’ve probably noticed that a prevalent and highly controversial issue right now is the $10.5 million settlement the Canadian government is going to be paying out to Omar Khadr because his fundamental rights were violated while he was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. It’s a long story, you can refresh yourself here.
The official stance of the Liberal government and Justin Trudeau is that while the deal makes them uneasy, this case is not about innocence and guilt, but the violation of human rights. Trudeau also points out that settling for $10.5 million is much better than what the government would have to pay out if they took the case to court and lost (which they probably would).
Scheer wants to challenge the government on this (like a lot of Canada does) and says that when parliament resumes in the fall, he will be putting forth a motion that calls every Liberal MP to voice their personal stance on the case to resolve the conflicting narratives from the government. He wants to make it clear that the Conservatives as a whole stand with the family of U.S. Sgt. Chris Speer who was one of the victims of Khadr’s war crimes.
On the MMIW Inquiry
Indigenous leaders and activists have been calling for a complete overhaul of the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for a few months now. They have written a letter to Trudeau pleading for him to restart the national inquiry since this one has been plagued with delays, poor communication and a lack of organization.
Scheer is less about restarting the investigation, and more about reassessing and redirecting if necessary. He says that the 12 indigenous reserves in his home riding have given him a sound idea of the struggles faced by indigenous peoples in Canada. He sees the main issue in the case of MMIW being lack of resources for young indigenous people both on and off reserves and says there should be better government support in both places.
Where that Pride at?
The Conservative stance on same-sex marriage since it was legalized Canada-wide in 2005 has been that they will not reopen debate on it, although it is rarely openly supported by Conservative party members. When pressed on his support for the LGBTQ community (and his absence at Pride events this year), Scheer was very diplomatic in his answer, although we doubt we’ll be seeing the grand displays we’ve grown used to under Trudeau.
‘There are a lot of different ways to support communities,’ Scheer answered, ‘Many Conservatives do [attend Pride], many don’t… The Conservative party will always be a strong voice for protecting fundamental human rights and respecting those who want to express their support with the community through that mechanism.’ A classic Conservative answer.
With the uncertain leadership the Conservative party has had since Stephen Harper stepped down, it’s been nice to hear some real direction and a clear stance coming from the Opposition camp. Take everything with a grain of salt though. This is Canadian politics. We know how this goes: the new guy has incredible ideas that seem so much better than what the PM now is serving up, then when that new guy is PM, he’s really not all that different than the guy before him (except he’s got way cooler socks). Sound like JT circa 2015? One thing’s for certain though: Scheer has already rocked the boat in Question Period, so it’s possible we may be in for some epic battles between him and Trudeau. Hopefully, all in the best interest of Canadians.