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Experience will help steer Canada through economic recovery: MacKay

July 9, 2020   ·   0 Comments

As the country looks toward a new normal, an experienced voice is needed to ensure Canada is best positioned to come out the other side, according to Conservative leadership hopeful Peter MacKay.

A lot has changed at home and abroad since the former Cabinet Minister launched his bid this past January to replace Andrew Scheer as the permanent leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, but experience in crisis recovery has helped the Nova Scotia native stay on track in new ways.

During a socially-distanced local campaign stop this week, Mr. MacKay said his time at the Cabinet table, particularly through the recession of 2008 and 2009, has made him the right person to steer the national ship through uncharted waters.

“I was in government for close to 10 years across major portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Defence, and I had an economic portfolio with responsibilities regionally for Atlantic Canada, and that experience, particularly through the recession, albeit a different kind of crisis not nearly on the magnitude of what we’re facing due to COVID-19, [has given me a background] in economic management and crisis recovery,” said Mr. MacKay.

“We entered that period with a balanced budget in 2008 and emerged much stronger than other G8 countries at that time and…that experience in that era, in those portfolios, does set me apart from other candidates – and the positions I have taken, I believe, portray a broader, more inclusive vision for our party and our country.”

Canadians, he said, are looking for “sound judgement, fiscal prudence” and a plan for “how we manage our way through what is going to be a very difficult time in the economy. Those difficulties are already evident with figures related to job losses and, to that extent, Mr. MacKay has been building an eight-point jobs plan for Canada.

These points include support for small business, getting natural resources to market, making Canada “a technology powerhouse for the north”, restoring consumer and business confidence, making the country’s tax system “a driver of jobs and growth”, bringing advanced manufacturing jobs to Canada, deploying “pro-employment trade policies”, and getting government finances under control.

“Our campaign will get Canadians back to work, make necessary adjustments in our economy, particularly around our energy sector and our natural resource sector, manufacturing, technology and small business; it is looking at the way government manages itself as well as the economy, and restoring consumer confidence for both the businesses and individuals [while] restoring a sense that our tax system is fair, is inviting for new entrepreneurs, and those who might want to come back to Canada, as opposed to creating barriers,” said Mr. MacKay. “We don’t want to give the impression to the world that we’re not open for business and we can’t build things. We have to change that impression rapidly.”

To do so will take a coordinated effort between all three levels of government, he added.

Here in the GTA, issues that need to be tackled collectively include housing, transportation infrastructure, and getting people back into the workforce.

On housing and transportation infrastructure, it is about building.

“That could include things like high-speed rail,” he said. “For housing, it is a complex issue, but there are adjustments that could be made by the Federal government to work with contractors to help streamline the process for construction of new housing. It’s also looking at things like money laundering and organized crime because this is also an issue in terms of external forces that are impacting housing in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

“But we also have to recognize that, as a party, we have to overcome some of the stigma, perhaps, of not having sufficiently addressed questions around the environment. That’s another issue I know is particularly prevalent amongst millennials, amongst young people, but also in big cities. They want to know that we have a very real plan to address climate change.”

As the campaign continues, Mr. MacKay says he is looking forward to connecting with Conservative Party members, and Canadians more broadly, through social media channels such as Facebook Live as well as Zoom calls.

For a seasoned campaigner, it is a new way to reach supporters, but it is also a new way to connect with new people, some of whom, thanks to the global pandemic, also have new and different expectations of what they want from a leader.

“I think when COVID fully descended upon our country, there was a major priority shift, obviously dealing with human health and a lot of talk about the lack of preparedness,” he said. “In the aftermath of SARS and H1N1, people were correctly asking of the government, why weren’t we prepared? Why were we missing critical pieces of protective equipment, ventilators, respirators, the necessities? That question has yet to be answered, particularly when we know the Federal government sent 16 tons of medical equipment to China.

“I think there will be a reckoning for that and I truly believe there will be an opportunity to look at those circumstances.”

By Brock Weir



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