On May 27, 2017, the Conservative Party of Canada will be electing a new leader.
This leadership race will ultimately determine who will lead the Conservative Party of Canada (Conservative Party) in the 2019 federal election.
As Canadian Muslims, it is important that we exercise our civic duty to help choose the next leader of the Conservative Party, who could be the next Prime Minister of Canada.
How to vote?
In order to vote for the next leader of the Conservative Party, you must hold active membership to the Conservative Party before March 28, 2017.
Here is a link to register. A nominal membership fee of $15 is required.
Over the next few weeks, the Canadian Muslim Vote will be sitting down with a few of the 14 candidates contesting for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
We will be profiling these candidates so that you (our readers) can make an informed voting decision on May 27, 2017.
Member of Parliament for Wellington—Halton Hills (Ontario)
Political Affiliation: Conservative
Offices and Roles as a Parliamentarian
- President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (2006)
- Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (2006)
- Minister for Sport (2006)
1. Tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to run for the nomination to be the next leader of the conservative party and perhaps one day Prime Minister of Canada?
I’m from Fergus, Ontario which is a small town in South Western Ontario. I am one of four children of immigrant parents. My father is a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong and my mother is a Dutch immigrant from the Netherlands. I am in this leadership race because I would like to build a much bigger conservative party. A party that includes all Canadians regardless of race, religion, creed, or where they live. A party that wants to create greater opportunity for everyone and not just a few.
2. Why do you feel you’re qualified to lead the conservative party of Canada? Why should I vote for you over the 13 other candidates seeking the nomination?
I’ve got 13 years of experience in the house of commons as an elected member of parliament, I’ve won five elections in a row, I’ve served in opposition, I’ve served in government, I’ve been a cabinet minister, I’ve served as a chair of a parliamentary committee, and I’ve served in majority and minority parliament. So I understand how our political system works, how parliament works, and I think that is that is very important experience to have. I’ve also worked in the private sector for 10 years. I worked on bay street in financial services, and I think that’s important because you understand how a dollar is made and why government should spend tax money wisely.
3. In the last federal election, some would argue that conservatives ran on a platform that was somewhat divisive, do you agree with this statement? Do you believe this was the right approach?
I think we made mistakes in the last election. I think proposing the barbaric cultural practices tip line was a mistake. I think that played to fear and soaked division. As I said to my wife at the time, “we already have a tip line, it’s called 911!” and if someone is committing a criminal offence, forcible confinement, kidnapping, physical assault, these are criminal offences which we have laws against. You call “911” and we have police agencies and law enforcement authorities for pursuing those crimes. Anything beyond that is an overly intrusive role of the state and an intrusion in Canadians’ private lives. So that was clearly a mistake.
4. In your opinion, why did the conservative party lose the last federal election in 2015?
I don’t think there is anyone reason why the conservative party lost the last election. I think it was a confluence of events. Probably one of the biggest factors was the fact that we were in government for almost 10 years. And after 10 years, it usually very difficult for any party to win re-election.
5. Tell us a bit about your policy platform, what are the top three policies you’re campaigning on?
Economic, environment, democratic.
Economic: We are proposing the largest income tax cut of all 14 candidates, an $18 billion income tax cut, representing 1% of GDP which we will introduce in our very first budget in the spring of 2020, a few months after the next federal election (should we get elected). This is critical to kick starting the economy and creating growth in jobs.
The second pillar in our policy is environmental. We will start with the most conservative way to reduce emissions, because it is based on free markets and smaller government, which is to introduce a revenue neutral federal carbon tax that we would introduce in 2021 which would be fully implemented in 2030. This revenue neutral carbon tax would only be applied to the consumer side of the economy thereby exempting trade exposed and export oriented industries like oil and gas. We would use all those revenues to introduce the $18 million income tax.
And the third pillar is democratic reform. We believe strongly that we need to further reform the house of commons, parliament, the senate, and political parties to make them a lot more open and transparent and to take power away from party leaders and the prime minister who have too much of it and restore that power back to the people and grassroots party members.
On Palestine/Israel and ISIS:
I believe in the two-state solution, I think that both parties need to come to an agreement on the two-state solution. I don’t believe that unilateral actions on behalf of one party or the other is constructive to that conclusion. So, I don’t support unilateral actions on the part of the Palestinians or Israelis because I don’t think that brings us closer to that solution of two states. So that’s my view on the Israel-Palestine issue. Jordan is an ally of Canada in the middle east, and I think we must continue to work with our allies with Jordan and Israel to ensure stability in the region.
I think we have a role in combatting ISIS, I disagree with the current government’s approach. I don’t think putting ground troops in the middle east is a smart strategy. I think our role should be an air combat not a ground combat role. I think any western country that wants to put ground combat troops in the middle east is making a big mistake. I disagree with the current government’s approach on this.
6. With the recent refugee crisis in Europe and subsequent reaction by countries around world, the UK’s Brexit and the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies, where do you see Canada’s role in this global context which is becoming increasingly framed by fear mongering and alienation?
I think we have to do two things. First, we have to acknowledge the real concerns of millions of people about immigration and the state of the global economy, in other words we cannot dismiss the very real concerns that people have about immigration policy and about the global economy. But I believe there is a constructive way to address those concerns and there is a destructive way to address those concerns. And I believe as political leaders we need to be constructive in coming forth with polices and solutions to those very real concerns. That’s the approach I’ve taken in this leadership race and one that I will continue to take. Dismissing those concerns is not constructive. I think that’s what happened in Brexit and South of the border. People dismissed the concerns of ordinary people and I don’t think that’s the solution. We have to be serious about addressing those concerns but in a constructive way.
7. Nationally, hate crimes are on the rise. Statistics Canada released figures in 2016 that showed Islamophobia had doubled in a three year time frame. During that time we saw a mosque firebombed in Peterborough, and in January of this year we saw 6 innocent men murdered in their place of worship. Do you think this is a problem for our country?
Yes I do. That’s why I’m voting for Motion-103. I’m the only leadership candidate who is voting for Motion-103 because I do think we have a problem. I think the fact that 25 people were shot in a mosque, 19 of whom were injured and six of them are dead, is proof that we have a problem with anti-Muslim discrimination and prejudice. I think it’s important for a committee of parliamentarians to study this issue and come forward with a report.
8. As Prime Minister, what practical steps would you take to protect other mosques in Canada from experiencing the tragedy we felt in Quebec?
I think we need to take the advice that we get from law enforcement agencies at the federal level and from our security and intelligence gathering agencies to ensure that all the tools and resources are in place to combat these kinds of attacks.
9. Given the multicultural fabric that makes up our country, what does diversity mean to you as a Canadian?
Diversity means to me a diversity of races, religions and creeds, a diversity of national origins, but also a diversity of viewpoints, however, I think this is a very important point from where I differ strongly from the current prime minister, I don’t think diversity is everything. We also are all Canadians, and as Canadians we share things in common, a common citizenship, around which is centered a common set of political institutions, a shared history and a common set of values which we have enshrined in our constitution, in our charter of rights and freedoms, and in our laws. So yes, diversity is incredibly important and it’s an inherent aspect of what is means to be Canadian, and we have one of the most diverse societies on the face of the planet that has contributed greatly to the vitality of this country its diversify in race, religion, and creed, and its diverse points of view, but diversity isn’t all we are, we are also Canadians and as such we share together a common set of rights, responsibilities, a shared history, common political institutions and a shared future. And that to me is a very important second part of the equation, in building that common future we build an inclusive identity, an inclusive citizenship, that includes everyone in this country set around those common values and ideals.
10. Given the increasing level of engagement within the Canadian-Muslim community, what will you do to appeal to this growing and dynamic demographic group?
Well, to make sure that they’re included in our party and to make sure that they’re welcome to be part of our party, and to make sure that their voices are heard in the party. That’s why I’m running in this leadership race, to build a much bigger party that includes Canadians of all races, religions, creeds, and that includes Muslim Canadians. I’ve long believed that people regardless of faith backgrounds, race, and creed, are part of our country and political fabric and that should true of the conservative party.