Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre tours Newfoundland with promises to cut carbon tax
Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was in Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday to drum up support for his push to become the next prime minister of Canada.
Poilievre started the day on the west coast of the island in Corner Brook to meet with residents before making his way to the Royal Canadian Legion in Clarenville — about 500 kilometres east. He refused to take questions from the media, opting to speak only to a packed house of about 100 supporters and provincial Progressive Conservatives about his plans if made Canada's next leader.
The Opposition leader rifled off a list of issues he says he promises to fix.
Among them are axing the carbon tax to not include home heating oil, which is something residents of the province are facing starting July 1 on top of the already high consumer price for the fuel.
"We put forward a motion in the House of Commons to say 'Listen, the NDP and the Liberals want to triple, triple, triple the tax and apply it to your heat, your gas, your groceries and everything else,'" Poilievre said.
"But for God's sake, show a little compassion. At least take it off peoples' home heating bills. We put that motion in the House of Commons and there was only one lowly Liberal member of Parliament who voted with us."
That Liberal MP was Ken McDonald, who represents the Avalon riding in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The federal Liberals plan is to implement the tax, but rebate residents of the province with quarterly instalments. The party estimates 80 per cent of people will get more money back than they pay in. That wasn't good enough for the governing Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party, which has urged Ottawa to reconsider.
Also on Poilievre's list of promises was building more homes to ensure younger generations can afford to buy their own, increasing domestic food production, defunding the CBC, approving natural gas projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, doubling oil production in the province and putting a spending cap on government.
"I'm going to cap government spending with a new dollar for dollar law that requires the government to find a dollar of savings for every new dollar of unbudgeted spending," Poilievre said.
"We know there's lots of waste out there for them to cut but there's no incentive for them to cut it because they just pass the bill."
Among the faces in Thursday's crowd were some familiar to provincial politics.
Former PC leader Ches Crosbie sat in the front row during Poilievre's speech.
"I supported him for the leadership campaign and I'm supporting him to be leader of the country and prime minister," Crosbie told CBC News.
"There are an awful lot of ordinary Canadians here, including working-class folks, including all kinds of people doing the same thing. They see in Pierre someone who is going to turn the country back to the free country it once was."
Crosbie has been a vocal critic of pandemic restrictions since leaving the provincial party, speaking in support of protests in Ottawa last year and donating to a crowdfunding campaign for the so-called Freedom Convoy.
Also in attendance on Thursday evening were current PC MHAs Lloyd Parrott, Craig Pardy, Jeff Dwyer and Tony Wakeham who is on his own campaign for leadership of the provincial Tories.
Pardy said he was there to listen to what Poilievre had to say as some of the issues pertain to his constituents.
"We have people who are finding it very tough to make ends meet. Add the carbon tax to them, add the carbon tax to the heating oil that's coming up and I don't think they can make ends meet," he said.
"I'm not an advocate of addressing climate change and environmental issues by taxing people more."
Myron Wheaton travelled from Frederickton in the Gander Bay area to hear Poilievre speak and meet with the leader of the opposition for a brief chat after his speech. A line wrapped around the room for the opportunity for residents to personally meet with the man vying to be their next prime minister.
Wheaton said he has been a Conservative voter his entire life and became a registered member of the Conservative Party of Canada when Poilievre ran for leadership.
His biggest takeaway from Poilievre's speech was also the elimination of the carbon tax.
"I burn wood and oil. It's a big concern," Wheaton said.
"Scrap it all together.… We're suffering. We're really suffering."