Interview Series: OPC Leadership Candidate Christine Elliott

If you support the Ontario PC Party this is an interesting time for the party and a great time to get involved.

In order to vote for the next leader of the PC Party, please remember that you must be a member of the Party by February 16.

Voting will take place between March 2 and March 8. If you’d like to volunteer with one of the candidates, donate, fundraise or learn more about what it takes to get involved, drop us a line at info@canadianmuslimvote.ca. We are here to help.

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Christine Elliott

Candidate for Leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario

Political Affiliation: Progressive Conservative

 

1. Tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to run for the nomination to be the next leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario?

I am a lawyer by profession. I practiced law for a number of years before I got into politics with my first election in 2006, and it was really because of my involvement as a community volunteer that I decided to run politically. I served on the board of Canadian Mental Health Agency in Whitby as well as on the board of Children’s Treatment Centre that works with children with special needs as well as on the hospital foundation board. It was during that time that I started to see gaps in service and the needs of people not being met. I concluded that the best way to do something about it and to advocate for those changes was to become an elected member of the legislature. I take those principles with me in running for the leader of the party because I believe very strongly in public service and I would like to bring my experience and knowledge to become Leader of the Progressive Conservatives and hopefully Premier of the province.  

2. What qualifies you to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario? This is your third attempt at the leadership. What is different this time around and what can you bring to the table that differentiates you from the other candidates?

I have learned from past campaigns that it is important to have strong representation on the ground, in all the ridings in Ontario. We have that this time around and I feel very comfortable with the levels of support that we are receiving but there is still a lot of work that we need to do. I want to continue to do that work. What I am bringing to the table is my ability and experience. We have a very short time between March 10th and June 7th to get our message across and to win the next election so I feel strongly that we need someone with experience to start the job on March 11th and to strive towards that victory. I have been elected 4 times and I served for 9 years in the Ontario Legislature so I certainly understand how things work and I was also Deputy Leader of our party for a number of those years. It is very important to have that leadership experience. I also have had the opportunity to travel around Ontario to understand what the issues are in different regions of the province and that knowledge is important when making decisions in public policy so you can represent everyone in the province. I spent the last 2 years in healthcare exclusively as Patient Ombudsman. I’ve heard from patients, families and health providers what the most important issues to them are and how to improve our healthcare system. Finally, I have experience as bank auditor and I’d like to go through the Wynne budget line by line to root out the waste and the mismanaged funds of anything that is not providing value to our province.

3. Tell us a bit about your policy platform? Muslims in Ontario, in a recent survey we conducted, rated healthcare, jobs and the economy as key areas of interest. Feel free to also share your thoughts on the increase in minimum wage and last week’s job data which showed the loss of near 60k part-time jobs in Ontario.

Everyone wants to increase the minimum wage. We want people who are working hard to be compensated fairly. However, the recent increase that was just brought forward by Wynne was too big of an increase at one time and it is a cost that businesses cannot absorb at one time. As a result, many businesses are letting people go because they can’t keep up with the pay increase or they’re reducing their employee’s hours of operations or service. That’s the last thing we want to see. What was supposed to help people who earn minimum wage is actually hurting them and that’s not what we want. Future minimum wage increases would not be steep at one time but will be staggered over time.

4. Recent data from Statistics Canada has shown a continued prevalence of hate crime incidents across the country.  They’re targeted against racial or ethnic groups, religious minorities, and based on sexual orientation- examples include crimes against Black Canadians, Jewish Canadians, Arabs, and South Asians. In our community, Islamophobia is a major concern. What will you do if elected leader and premier to address these troubling trends?

I have no tolerance for any kind of hate crime or crimes against particular groups in Ontario. That is not what we stand for as Progressive Conservatives or as citizens of Ontario. We welcome all people to Ontario and no one should be subject to discrimination. We certainly want to make sure that anyone who is spreading those kinds of crimes or participating in those kinds of crimes will be brought to justice.

5. The previous leadership made great strides in building bridges with minority communities and placed a great deal of effort on outreach. What would the OPC look like under your leadership to ensure all communities are at the decision-making table?

The outreach would continue should I become Leader and Premier. It is important to have an open party who is welcoming to all. We’d ensure we continue to understand the needs of different communities should I become Leader.

6. What is your stance on climate change? You’ve recently announced your opposition to the new carbon tax. How will you address the $4B deficit without raising taxes or decreasing spending?

I do stand against the carbon tax. I’ve heard from people across the province that they do not need another level of taxation and that they’re finding it hard to keep up with expenses. Between feeding their children and paying their hydro bills, they’re finding that difficult. An additional tax would make life more unaffordable. Having said that, I understand that we need to be both fiscally responsible as well as environmentally responsible. In terms of the environmental issue, there are things we can do without raising taxes on people such as making businesses more green and preserving energy.

As for the fiscal responsibility, the carbon tax would have raised $4B in revenue over the next four years.  To address this issue without raising taxes, I would evaluate the budget and I would evaluate wasted funds and I’d cancel plans and programs which add no value. We can find the money if we don’t waste money like the Liberals have done.

7. On a lighter note, tell us what you like to do to relax when you are not campaigning?

When I’m not campaigning, I like to spend time with my family. I have three sons and I love spending time with them. I like to run and I’ve done several half-marathons. Running helps me clear my head and relax. I also like to cook and read.

On a closing note, is there anything you’d like to address that we haven’t asked you today?

Yes, I look forward to working with the Muslim Community, to understand their issues and concerns and to have their voice at the table.