Andrew Scheer, leader of the federal Conservative Party, came to Mission Wednesday night to meet with representatives of the local business community and to discuss issues and challenges affecting businesses throughout the Fraser Valley.
The Mission and Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and Scheer’s talk was geared towards business issues.
“Right now your Conservative opposition is holding this government to account. From what we’ve really seen is an un- precedented attack on job creators, local business owners, the types of people who create the opportunities for everybody else,” Scheer told the crowd.
“It wasn’t just one thing this government did. We’ve seen them eliminate a whole bunch of tax credits for individuals. They’ve raised payroll taxes on businesses. They’ve canceled a lot of programs and measures that enticed investment into Canada.”
He believes it is all part of the Liberal mindset to try to achieve fairness and equality by “trying to tear people down” not building people up. He said the Conservative approach is different.
‘You don’t need to create losers in order to have winners. Prosperity breeds more prosperity, and success is contagious.”
After his opening remarks, Scheer sat down with Mission chamber president David Sawatzky to answer questions submitted by chamber members.
Asked if the Conservatives were elected, how long it would take to reinstate eliminated initiatives (such as children’s fitness and arts credits and income splitting for families), Scheer said it is a priority for him to act quickly on the issue.
“The good news on those is because they once existed, it’s very easy to put them back. All the bureaucratic paperwork is ready to go.”
He added that the Liberals have managed to reduce the amount of income they receive from the top one per cent while 81 per cent of middle-class families are paying about $1,000 more than they were when the Conservatives were in office.
He wants to get back to balanced budgets and reduce the tax burden for families.
“We have to win in 2019 because the only way to get out of a budget hole is to stop digging.”
When it comes to trade agreements, Scheer called himself a free-trader.
“I believe that when we can find willing partners that are willing to establish those level playing fields and let our goods and services flow and we let theirs here, both countries benefit.”
On the subject of electoral reform, Scheer said the final say belongs to all Canadians and his party pushed hard for a referendum on the issue.
Personally, he’s satisfied with system they have.
“I personally believe that the system we have inherited has served our country very well through two world wars, social upheavals in the ’60s and ’70s, major economic upheavals. We have a stable society and a stable government – even when it’s a government I don’t support being other parties. The stability has allowed us to get through a lot of these challenges that have faced the world.”
As for the legalization of marijuana, Scheer said he would vote against that bill.
“Beyond that, we are very concerned with a lot of the provisions.”
He believes the minimum age of 18 to purchase marijuana is too low and the taxation, suggested to be 50 per cent to the federal government and 50 to provincial, is unfair because the burden of dealing with the process and its effects would fall to every other level of government.
After the event, Sawatzky said it is a rare thing to have a federal party leader come and speak in Mission.
“I think it was a great event. I think we had some of our sharpest business people in the room and to offer them the opportunity to have a dialogue with someone who could be the next prime minister is an exceptional opportunity.”