Played on stage by the Kamloops Rube Band, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the time is now for his party to earn the trust of Canadians.
Scheer spoke at a party rally in Riverside park on Tuesday, telling a large crowd of supporters people have told him they regret supporting the Liberals in 2015.
“We’re going to need you to take the message door-to-door,” he said.
Voters go to the polls on Oct. 21.
The 2015 results in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo saw Conservative Cathy McLeod get re-elected with 24,595 votes and 35 per cent of the vote — the lowest totals of her three electoral victories. In the 2015 election, the New Democrat and Liberal candidates each earned 30 per cent of the vote, with Liberal Steve Powrie’s 21,215 votes the most ever received by a Liberal candidate in the riding.
Voter turnout was 73.4 per cent en route to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals ousting Conservative PM Stephen Harper from power and forming a majority government.
Asked if he viewed the riding as remaining a stronghold for the Conservatives, Scheer said no riding is taken for granted, regardless of past results.
“Elections are about the next four years,” he told KTW, noting he feels voters were swept up in a wave of support for Trudeau because of the multiple promises he made, some of which have been broken, Scheer noted.
The Liberals have recruited former Kamloops mayor and MLA Terry Lake for the 2019 campaign, but Scheer said he believes McLeod will hold her seat.
“One thing we’ve seen with the Liberal party in the last little bit is it really didn’t matter who they recruited to run for them. It’s Justin Trudeau’s way or the highway,” Scheer said, alluding to the ousting of Jody Wilson-Raybould from cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin affair.
He said McLeod offers “strong local representation” that she will continue to bring to her constituents.
Scheer told reporters gathered at the rally supporting small businesses and the forestry sector — given the recent closures of Interior sawmills — as key issues for his party in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding. He noted his disappointment with a lack of a resolution in the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. government after having conceded plenty to President Donald Trump in negotiations for a new North America trade agreement.
Asked how his party can attract younger voters — given that the majority of the crowd at his event appeared to be middle-aged and older — Scheer said he feels many young people are dismayed with Trudeau and are looking for an alternative, which gives Conservatives a chance to connect with them.
Scheer began his speech to the crowd by describing the last session of Parliament before the summer break as the last with Trudeau as prime minister, which generated cheers from the crowd.
He also slammed the government for its multiple scandals and touted his Conservatives as being the party that would tax Canadians less.
“We will run a government that lives within our means so we can leave more money in your pocket and let you get ahead — that is the fundamental choice coming up for Canadians coming up on Oct. 21,” he said.
Scheer said he would proudly promote clean energy products, such as the $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in B.C., and pledged to get large energy projects built in Canada, with a vision to create a national energy corridor from west to east.
The leader of the opposition, however, made no mention of his recently announced climate plan, which has been criticized for not explaining how much the federal Conservatives hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Scheer told KTW such criticism is unfounded, pointing out his plan does have emission targets, which are the ones the current government committed to under the Paris Agreement — keeping a global temperature rise this century below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees C.
“Those are the targets we are working toward,” Scheer said, noting the Conservative plan would invest in technology and leverage Canada’s ability to help other countries reduce their global emissions.
He added that emissions from China and India would more than replace all of Canada’s if the Canadian economy were to shut down tomorrow.
Ahead of his stop in Kamloops on Tuesday, Scheer spent Canada Day taking in events across the country, starting in the Maritimes and ending in Kelowna.