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US President Joe Biden addresses Parliament
Plus more on the Beijing interference inquiry, the escalator taxes on alcohol, and more
US President Joe Biden addresses Parliament
In an important visit, President Joe Biden arrived in Ottawa and addressed Parliament, affirming the strong, close ties that exist between the United States and Canada. The president spoke about numerous areas of cooperation between our two nations, touching on the conflict in Ukraine, the Arctic, natural resource development, and many others. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre also secured a one-on-one meeting with President Biden and raised trade and border security issues. A visit from the US president is important. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper used to say that prime ministers have two jobs; preserve Canadian unity and protect the relationship with the United States of America. They are our biggest trading partner and our closest ally. Countless jobs in Calgary and Alberta rely on continued good and healthy relations with the U.S., and especially with the American executive represented by the Office of the President. I attended the speech in that spirit and, as parliamentarians, we have a role to play in this type of high-level diplomacy.
Fighting against the April 1st automatic tax increases
The ever-worsening cost-of-living crisis is having a drastic impact on Canadians. Half of Canadians are reporting to pollsters that they are cutting back on groceries and 1 in 5 have reported skipping meals due to out-of-control cost-of-living expenses. If they expect any support, they will find none from this government. April 1 will feature yet another year of the Ottawa Liberals’ escalator taxes, which will see the carbon tax and the excise tax on alcohol increase yet again. Canadians cannot afford to pay higher prices with smaller paycheques but it seems like the federal government simply does not care. To fight against this, I co-sponsored Bill C-266 with my colleague MP Pat Kelly that would abolish the automatic increase to excise duty on alcohol to ease the burden on taxpayers, click the link below to read the bill in its entirety. Conservatives will fight for Canadian paycheques, not government revenues.
NDP-Liberal Coalition obstructs Beijing interference inquiry
The numerous reports of foreign interference in Canada’s democracy by the People’s Republic of China are extremely concerning. Canada needs a fully independent public inquiry to credibly investigate Beijing’s interference in our democracy and to uncover what and when the Liberal government knew about this foreign interference. But problems are emerging as Conservatives push for the public inquiry.
The first is the appointment of David Johnston, the former Governor General, as the special rapporteur to determine if a public inquiry is necessary and to further the investigation if the need arises. Let’s start with the obvious: Mr. Johnston is a good man with a lifetime of service, a successful academic career and an honourable performance as our Governor General. However, he is in hopeless conflicts of interest, both real and perceived. He is a known family friend of the Trudeau family and a member of the Trudeau Foundation, the same foundation which received over $1 million in funds from Beijing. Further, he has personal family connections to the People’s Republic of China, where his daughters studied, and has a warm personal rapport with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. The Prime Minister can hardly be said to have any credibility with this appointment. He chose a person he knew would have real and perceived conflicts of interest to inform him on how to respond to the credible allegations of electoral interference in 2019 and 2021. None of this will reassure Canadians. Anything Mr. Johnston recommends and Trudeau acts upon or not will be filtered through these conflicts of interest.
The Liberal government had opportunities to avoid the coverup and ensure transparency. An inquiry could have started immediately after a Liberal MP resigned from their caucus and more allegations came to light, but the NDP-Liberal coalition chose instead to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. This week, the coalition voted against the Conservative motion to force the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, to testify before the Ethics Committee. The Liberal government decided that Ms. Telford will instead testify before the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, commonly referred to as PROC. While that may seem like a win to some, it is far from the sort of transparency Canadians deserve. The agreement to testify came after a days-long Liberal filibuster to prevent any vote on the matter before a secret backroom deal was reached between the NDP and the Liberals, changing the committee from Ethics to PROC. The problem with PROC? The committee chair is a Liberal MP who formerly served as government house leader and a cabinet minister in 2019 and 2021. Again, the perception of a conflict of interest and of a high degree of personal interest in the outcome is palpable. Indeed, the chair was a member of the same cabinet that would be subject to a public inquiry to determine if there were sufficient efforts to counter foreign interference during the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. There is ample evidence that the chief of staff has the information that Canadians deserve to know about Beijing’s election interference. The prime minister’s chief of staff has testified twice before during government scandals, including the WE Charity and the interference in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The insistence on PROC is simply another attempt to obstruct.
Another figure at the centre of this is NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Elected as an opposition leader, the secret backroom deal with the Prime Minister has demonstrated that he has all but abandoned his duty to hold the federal government to account and instead serves as an apologist for mistakes and bad ideas pushed by the prime minister. He favours shielding his coalition partners instead of protecting Canadian democracy. This is an abdication of leadership and duty as an opposition parliamentarian. Canadians deserve answers. We know that Beijing’s interference did not change the national election results in 2019 or 2021. However, local elections were swayed and certain candidates were defeated, including two Conservative MPs in 2021. A foreign diplomat took credit for their defeats. The allegations include illegal donations, bullying of voters, and intimidation of international students to volunteer for specific candidates, all directed by a foreign government. Only a national public inquiry will give us all of the facts and compel testimony and documents to be released. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Canada Strong and Free Networking Conference
This week, the Canada Strong and Free Network hosted their annual conference in Ottawa, bringing together conservatives from across the country. The event featured many illustrious guests, including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the esteemed Preston Manning, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, Lord Conrad Black, and many others. It was a pleasure to attend and engage with policy experts on important topics such as the issue of housing and the new working class, and it was encouraging to see many energised conservatives looking to strengthen Canada’s democracy.