Conservative Party candidate Erin O’Toole promises to make room for Quebec and respect his autonomy if he is elected leader this summer. But at the same time, he pledged to impose pipelines that his government deemed essential and to crack down on protesters who would block these pipelines or railways.
MP Erin O’Toole is former prime minister Peter MacKay’s main rival in the race for Andrew Scheer’s estate. A week before the debates of the candidates for the leadership, which will take place next Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. O’Toole unveiled his political platform on Tuesday.
The aspiring chief promised to create a national law on strategic pipelines, which would ensure the construction and rapid approval of pipelines created “in the national interest” and destined for world markets or Canadian refineries. The federal government would identify the “strategic pipelines” that would benefit from an expedited environmental assessment process. It would provide for consultations and set “high environmental standards”. But it “would no longer be used to determine whether the project will be carried out or not, because this decision would be made by the elected government,” states the platform of Mr. O’Toole.
The candidate would also ban the importation of oil from elsewhere in Canada or the United States.
O’Toole would also pass a Freedom of Movement Act to make it a criminal offense to block a railroad, an airport, a port or even the entrance to a business or residence . The criminal penalties for anyone who hampers Canada’s energy infrastructure would be strengthened. Because Mr. O’Toole wants to “stop the radicals who are crippling the economy and preventing people from living in fear.”
On the other hand, the candidate undertakes – without providing details – to end the subsidies for fossil fuels, “a form of social assistance for parasitic companies”. And to join forces with the oil and gas industries to achieve carbon neutrality in these sectors – again without specifying a date to arrive there. O’Toole would organize a national summit with Indigenous leadership on the sharing of natural resource revenues, including offering communities the opportunity to participate in project capital.
The platform criticizes all kinds of liberal positions and promises a return to balanced budgets “on a cautious schedule”. To achieve this, O’Toole would cut public spending like Stephen Harper did after the 2008 financial crisis with major cuts in government spending.
Mr. O’Toole also makes eye contact in Quebec. It must be said that the province represents a gold mine in terms of votes for the weighted leadership election. Each riding has the same number of points, no matter how many members it collects. Quebec has 78 of the 338 federal ridings.
The Ontario candidate therefore promises to increase the autonomy of the Quebec government in immigration matters; maintain federal social transfers despite the planned cuts; put an end to irregular entries of migrants on Roxham Road (without saying how); and to ensure that Quebec is not under-represented in the Commons “regardless of its demographic weight”. Quebec traditionally holds 23% of the seats, but its share of the Canadian population is declining below this threshold.
As for the debate on the taxation of Netflix, Mr. O’Toole does not promise to intervene in this direction, but rather proposes to also exempt from TPS Canadian digital platforms like Illico or Tou.tv.
Reaching out to Alberta and the pro-lifers
Erin O’Toole also devotes a page of his political plan to the Prairie Provinces. “It is time to be able to count on a government that respects Albertans and Western Canada,” he argues.
To do this, he wants to review equalization. “A province whose economy is in recession and whose unemployment rate is soaring should not be forced to send money to other provinces. “
The outcome of the leadership vote will be notably sealed by the vote of the social fringe of the Conservative Party, whose votes could allow Mr. O’Toole to overtake Peter MacKay – as they had done for Andrew Scheer against Maxime Bernier in 2017.
To woo this pro-life electorate, Mr. O’Toole undertakes to legislate on the right of conscience of doctors and other health professionals to refuse to offer certain services, but also to “guide” their patients to someone else if that’s the case. Federal assisted death law recognizes a doctor’s right to refuse to perform this procedure, but there is no case law yet on refusing to recommend the patient.
Mr. O’Toole also takes up traditional positions of the Conservative Party.
On the side of law and order: reduce minimum sentences by invoking the notwithstanding clause for certain crimes (trafficking in illegal weapons, murder, kidnapping, sexual assault); the addition of minimum sentences in cases of domestic violence; tougher sentences for elder abuse in long-term care homes; and relax gun control.
In international affairs: supporting Israel and Ukraine; harden the tone against China; work to reform the United Nations.
On CBC / Radio-Canada: eliminate funding for the CBC digital service and halve funding for its television and its streaming news network; continue to fund Radio-Canada’s radio services. O’Toole would cancel the Liberal government’s $ 600 million tax credit for the media.