Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Erin O’Toole took over as the new Conservative Party leader in August and since then the Shadow Cabinet has been reshuffled and the Party’s key positions have been identified. O’Toole had a chance to explain his and his Party’s positions on many key topics during the online press conference for cultural media on October 13.
Canada’s Conservatives have always championed multiculturalism and inclusion, said O’Toole. “We might not have always been successful in communicating, but it remains a fact and principle, and today I’m joining you [representatives of the ethnic media – NP-UN] to show that we are open for dialogue, and we want you to be part of our shared success story,” he added.
O’Toole sided with new immigrants when he said “We believe in faith communities and responsibility, much like many new Canadians. Their values are often reflected in the values of the Conservative Party. And I want more new Canadians to see a Conservative staring back at them in the mirror each morning. I want our party to be sealing candidates that look like Canada 2020 so we’re already having great progress”.
There has been a lot of disruption due to the pandemic in Canada’s immigration system and a lot of families have been kept apart as family reunification has been brought to a virtual halt. O’Toole said that the Conservatives have been pushing for more compassion to resume the process of family reunification. The families could easily quarantine and observe public health guidelines, he noted. According to O’Toole, the Conservatives have been pushing to speed up plugging some of the holes in the immigration system.
In foreign policy, O’Toole is a proponent of principled approaches. He promised to use the Party’s strength to advocate for human rights and the rule of law at home and abroad.
He mentioned several regions where he would like to change Canada’s foreign policies. He would like to do more in the Indo-Pacific, with more trade, more diplomatic partnerships and more security partnerships. O’Toole stressed the need to capitalize of “such tremendous potential to restore the trade growth that Canada and India were enjoying during the Conservative time in government when we literally doubled trade between Canada and India. We need to do more with India, particularly as we’re rebalancing some of our reliance on China”.
With respect to the Communist Party and Beijing, O’Toole has taken “a very principal position”.
But, “we have no issue with China, we have no issue with the Chinese people, whether in mainland China or around the world,” he added. “Our problem is with an ideology that suppresses liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, which doesn’t respect the rule of law, whether it’s the one country, two systems’ agreements, whether it’s WTO and trade.”
O’Toole criticized the current government for its “many failures” in the foreign policy among which he listed Justin Trudeau’s no-show at the leaders meeting at the Trans-Pacific Partnership meeting in 2017, his infamous visit to India in 2018, Canada’s trade frictions with Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, and Canada’s failure to get a seat at the UN Security Council which “has never been as bad as it was under Mr. Trudeau,” O’Toole said.
Where do we have to go in foreign policy, according to Erin O’Toole? “We have to work to make sure that NATO recognizes the changing dynamics, particularly with Russian ambitions, we should work closely with the UK and Australia.” O’Toole mentioned the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas and that under the Conservative government, Canada was sharing RADARSAT intelligence with Ukraine, as well as the Conservatives’ push for the use of Magnitsky sanctions.
“We’re not the biggest country in the world, we’re never an aggressive country, but we are the only country that has a security partnership with the U.S. and NORAD. We are a member of NATO, of the G7 and of the Five Eyes. We are in a very good position to influence the rebalancing of trade and global diplomacy and to do it in the interest of our citizens but also in the interest of our desire to seek democracy and liberty,” said Erin O’Toole.