The Conservative Party of Canada is requesting an emergency debate on the WE Charity controversy and local politicians are hoping for answers.
Candice Bergen, who is the House Leader of the Official Opposition, was at the Cranbrook constituency office of Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison on Monday (July 20) to discuss the emergency debate and WE Charity scandal.
“Andrew Scheer is in the House of Commons today (Monday) [and is] going to be asking for an emergency debate on the WE situation,” Bergen said. “We have not been able to ask the Prime Minister any questions about it and because he shut down Parliament we haven’t been able to do things like opposition days, or some of the normal things we can do in Parliament. We’ll see what the speaker says but hopefully we’ll get a chance to get some questions answered.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently publicly apologized for not recusing himself from the government’s decision to have WE Charity manage a $900-million student-aid program, saying his family’s longtime involvement with the organization should have kept him out of discussions.
I am requesting an emergency debate on Justin Trudeau’s $900 million scandal.
He can’t hide.
WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/igFJk0jJz3
— Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) July 20, 2020
Both Morrison and Bergen say that Trudeau “needs to be held accountable for his actions”, past and present. They also brought up a few other concerns that the Conservatives have, including firearms rights and how the Liberals have handled the pandemic financially.
“Trudeau needs to be held accountable. We need to know what other contracts may or may not have been given. How involved was the Prime Minister – what Cabinet Ministers knew about it and what did they say about it?” Bergen said to the media. “We’re not going to rest, Conservatives will not rest until, we get these answers for Canadians. We’re 343 billion dollars in deficit. This is just one example.”
Morrison agreed, saying that tax payers are the ones who are going to be responsible for paying back the deficit.
“That 343 billion has to be paid back. People forget that. We’re going to have to pay it and how do we pay it? Taxes. Where do the taxes come from? Strong economy. What do we have right now? None of that,” Morrison said.
“We have to make decisions for the good of Canadians – not personal gain,” said Bergen, adding that Parliament needs to return to normal for that to happen.
“The Liberals together with the help of the NDP have shut down parliament. So, the work that we would normally be doing is not being able to get done. When you’re in a pandemic, and in a crisis, Canadians more than ever need parliament sitting. They need to have everybody doing their job. The problems that are happening are going to continue and we’ll probably see the fall out in the months and years to come,” said Bergen. “[We’ve] seen Trudeau’s avoidance of Parliament as him wanting to avoid accountability. He’s really tried to take advantage of this pandemic. His excuse was health concerns, that’s why he didn’t want to go to Parliament, but we saw him go to a protest – which he believed to be a good cause and I don’t deny him that – but he went to a protest with tens of thousands of people but he can’t go to Parliament to be accountable for the decisions he makes? I think his avoidance had much less to do with health concerns and more to do with the things that he has been doing.”
Bergen and Morrison say it comes down to accountability, and conservative voters in the Kootenay-Columbia riding want answers as much as they do.
“Trudeau is not in the House of Commons today, we do have Parliament sitting because there’s a piece of legislation that the government wants passed, but Trudeau didn’t show up. So there are a lot of concerns in this area, this community, around fiscal responsibility,” said Bergen.
This is not the first time that Morrison has called out the federal Liberals for refusing to have Parliament sit until the fall. When a decision was made to have the committee meet four times over the summer until mid-September, with MPs attending in person or via teleconference, Morrison said the only way to ensure money is going where it’s supposed to is to open Parliament.
Bergen says that the suspension of Parliament has made her concerned for decisions being made, including a decision back in May to ban approximately 1,500 makes and models of military grade ‘assault-style’ weapons in Canada.
“Another issue that comes up all the time is law abiding firearms owners. During the pandemic the Liberals took advantage of that and have banned a number of firearms that are used routinely and in a safe way by hunters and sports shooters and, in my area, farmers. I think there’s a lot of concern that continues with the liberal attack on law abiding firearms owners,” she said.
Morrison adds that moving forward, the government needs to think about “safely” reopening the border to the tourism sector and making strategic plans for economic recovery.
“We need to rebuild our relationships internationally to get some international resources to come into our communities. We need to get the energy sector back firing on all cylinders so we can get the tax base rolling up. A lot of people in Kootenay-Columbia work in the energy sector so it’s important that we support Alberta to get that going,” Morrison said. “Another thing is with some of our small communities, supporting small business. The Conservatives want businesses to run themselves. We don’t want to micromanage business. We live off small businesses here so we need to support them a lot more.”
He went on to say that guides and outfitters across B.C. have made a plan to safely bring in U.S. citizens, which could help the tourism sector.
“Guides and outfitters in this province have developed a plan where they would pick people up directly from the border, take them up to do their hunting, guiding, fly fishing, hiking and then take them back to the border. It’s a really solid plan. But we can’t get that plan put forward. This whole area is tourism based. We’re starving for tourism. We need to open the borders but it has to be safe,” Morrison said. “We rely on temporary foreign workers. It has been really challenging for a lot of our farmers, for the temporary farm workers that we have, it’s hard for them to get staff and we’re loosing our crops. There’s a lot of side effects.”
“There’s a lot of concern around opening the borders but this is the kind of idea that makes sense,” agreed Bergen. “Doing it in a way that’s controlled and get that part of the economy going again. We have to be smart and follow health guidelines, but try to get some of these things jump started.”
With files from The Canadian Press
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.