The New Pathway – Ukrainian News recently spoke with the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Official Opposition Andrew Scheer about the issues which are of interest for the Ukrainian Canadians and for the wider community.
NP-UN: As a response to the chemical attack in Salisbury, UK, which happened on March 4, more than 20 countries have expelled more than a hundred Russian diplomats, including Canada which has taken action against seven Russian diplomatic personnel. What do you think about Canada’s response to this incident?
Andrew Scheer: We support the idea of taking action in solidarity with our allies. Here we have a very, very disturbing act of a foreign state’s being involved in what appears to be the assassination of a person on UK soil. This is a very dangerous incident and we all need to be alarmed. The UK is one of our partners when it comes to sharing intelligence and security. There’s nothing to say that the Russian government might not do his type of thing in any other country.
We are a little bit disappointed that it took the Liberal government this long, they’ve always been slow to react to Putin’s regime. I note that, in the government’s press release, they indicated that these Russian officials had been a threat to our security and democracy, [the government] has been monitoring these individuals for some time. Our question is, why did the government wait so long, how long did they know that these people were operating like this and what other risks did they pose? Why is it only now that the government is acting? We should be expelling foreign officials well ahead of time that the government knows are up to no good. We should not wait for other countries to act.
NP-UN: As a response to this poisoning, such steps are being discussed as asset freezes and disconnecting Russian banks from the SWIFT payments system. Do you think that the international community should go as far?
Andrew Scheer: I think the West should look at all options right now. We should recognize that the Putin regime continues to go down a very dangerous path and continues to ignore international law when it comes to things like sovereignty of Ukraine, and certainly ignores the international consensus. Throughout the entire 20th century, when Russia and the West were not on the same side, even then there seemed to be certain lines that wouldn’t be crossed. And now we have Russia crossing some of those lines.
I think Canada should be at the forefront for calling on greater measures against Russia. The Liberals really dragged their feet on implementing the Magnitsky Act, which was spearheaded by Conservative members of Parliament and a Conservative senator, it took a private member’s bill from the opposition to force the government to take any action in terms of the Magnitsky Act. We should now be looking at enforcing the Magnitsky act. I think we should look at a call for boycotts of international events that are set to take place in Russia over the next little while. And really be just louder and more vocal.
NP-UN: There have been a lot of concerns that the economic growth in Canada will be slowing down, especially in the light of the planned tax cuts in the USA. What do you think the Canadian government should do to increase Canada’s economic and investment competitiveness in the nearest years?
Andrew Scheer: The US have taken steps to make their country more attractive for investment. It’s not just the US – many countries around the world are lowering taxes, lowering regulations and regulatory burdens to make it easier to invest in natural resources, to open up factories, to hire workers. And the Liberal government and Justin Trudeau have decided to go in the opposite direction: while our trading partners around the world are making sure that jobs stay in their countries, Justin Trudeau is chasing them away with higher taxes. He’s raised taxes every single budget that he’s brought in since he was first elected. He’s managed to do that and actually he’s still in the deficit, so we’re getting the worst of both worlds, we’re getting bigger deficits and higher taxes. Over $80B of capital investment has already left Canada, and that means that thousands of jobs have been lost to other countries. If we did nothing we would be falling behind. Canada under Justin Trudeau is doing worse than nothing, it’s actually making the situation worse. When decisions are made around the boardroom table, whether or not to invest in Canada, more and more companies are saying: “Well, I can’t get my project built because there is no certainty there, I’ll pay higher taxes. Or I can invest in any other country that we’re partners with and have a much better opportunity of success.” Canadians are suffering because of this and if the interest rates go up, it will become more dangerous for the government to be running these deficits. I think a lot of people around the world are looking at the situation in Canada and saying, “They’ve got massive deficits and a loss of capital investments”, and the probability of taxes going up even more is so great that they’re deciding not to pursue with Canada. The Conservative plan would fight to make sure that Canada is the most attractive place to hire people, to create jobs, to allow people to make mortgage payments to raise families. We would do that by bringing companies back to Canada, making easier for them to set up shops and hire workers here.
NP-UN: There are calculations that the standard of living of the younger generation has fallen quite drastically over the past couple of decades. And it seems that, in order to increase it, some drastic economic measures would be needed. For instance, to bring the time to save for a 20% down payment from 13 years currently nation-wide or 20 years in the GTA (according to the Generation Squeeze campaign) to 5 years nationwide, which was the case 40 years ago, it would take some drastic measures. What kind of economic measures could be taken to improve the living standards of millennials and many of the recent immigrants?
Andrew Scheer: In many ways the quality of life has increased, we have much more affordable products that we are able to buy. The percentage of our income, which goes to pay for food and groceries, is lower than it’s been in many generations prior to us. But you are right to point out that the biggest piece that’s affecting millennials and really does overshadow some of the improvements in other areas is housing costs and the idea that young people would have to work for decades before they would be able to save up enough to make that down payment. The Liberals made it harder for young people to afford a home because they changed the mortgage rates to make it much more difficult to qualify for mortgages, and it made it harder for people to save for homes as well. Also, people will have less disposable incomes as the Liberals imposed a new carbon tax on everything. When we look at this question, yes, we have to look at how young people are able to save and qualify for a mortgage, that’s a big part of it. The other part is making sure that new units are built. Housing cost is based on demand, but also supply. We have markets like in the GTA or in Vancouver where it can take years for new developments to be approved and then finally built. That’s causing a big bottleneck and also raising the cost of housing. So when we look at this issue, conservatives will not just concentrate on practical measures to help people save up and qualify for mortgages to purchase homes, but also on working with provinces and municipalities to ensure that new homes are being built, that new areas are being developed and that there’s more supply on the market, so we’re not just looking at one part of the problem.
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