Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds his first news conference as leader on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

How would an O’Toole-led Conservative government handle the COVID-19 recovery?

How O’Toole responds to the Liberals’ plans will give a signal about where he intends to take his party’s policy

As the Liberal government toils away on a throne speech and post-pandemic recovery plan, newly elected Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is equally at work on his own response.

He’s not said whether the Conservatives will support the Liberals in the subsequent confidence vote, but even if they didn’t, it might not bring down the government.

The Bloc Quebecois says it will push for a fall election but even if the Conservatives agreed the two parties are still a few seats shy of the majority required to overtake the Liberal minority government.

Still, how O’Toole responds to the Liberals’ plans will give a strong signal about where he intends to take his party’s own policy for the post-pandemic period — and what he will pitch to voters in the next federal election.

In an interview with Durham Radio News on Wednesday, two days after he won the leadership race, O’Toole said he doesn’t think the Liberals have any intention of working with their opponents to stave off a fall election.

“I don’t want him to have a recovery plan that is more about ideological Liberal talking points than the well-being of Canadians,” O’Toole said.

That’s why he brought up the subject of Western alienation in his first call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said.

“This throne speech he’s doing, if it adds to Western alienation, Canada is seeing risks we haven’t seen since the referendum of 1995,” he said.

“I will be very fair with him, but I will be direct. I think he is taking Canada in a very dangerous way.”

READ MORE: ‘I don’t drop the ball’: O’Toole promises to fight for West, human rights

Which way O’Toole would like to take Canada was, of course, a large part of the leadership race he won in the early hours of Aug. 24.

When the COVID-19 pandemic gripped Canada early in that the race, he and the other candidates were forced to reframe some of their platforms to reflect the disaster the novel coronavirus was causing to the economic and social fabric of the country.

So, his platform does give some clues about what O’Toole would seek to do when setting Canada on a path to recovery.

A couple of caveats for those seeking to read the tea leaves: one, a leadership race platform and campaign promises do not always transition to a general election plan.

Also, O’Toole’s platform was released prior to the Liberal government doing several things that he also suggested he would like to do, including winding down the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and expanding employment insurance.

Still, here’s a look at some specific ideas he did advance as part of a nine-point plan.

There are specific measures related to COVID-19 throughout the plan, including ensuring increased testing capacity, reliable domestic supplies of personal protective equipment and using agricultural research funding to get more food grown in Canadian greenhouses.

He also promised to call a royal commission into the pandemic within 100 days of assuming office to ensure lessons learned are applied going forward.

Other ideas include:

— a reduced EI premium for any increase in $50,000 insurable earnings over the previous tax year to promote hiring, an expansion of the emergency loans program for business, and amendments to bankruptcy laws to make it easier for companies to restructure.

— turning the existing deduction for child-care expenses into a refundable tax credit covering up to 75 per cent of those expenses, though how much a family could get back would depend on their income. He’d also double the limits under the existing deduction, and extend the boost the Liberals gave to the Canada Child Benefit until the end of 2021.

— he’d give broadband internet providers a tax credit to cover the cost of replacing Huawei components on 5G infrastructure; review the tax code to simplify and flatten taxes; a new law to ensure free trade across provincial borders.

— A National Strategic Pipelines Act to speed approval of pipelines considered in the national interest, which he defined as “lines providing access to global markets or domestic refinery capability, especially petrochemical refineries producing the materials essential to PPE production.” He also suggested he’d work with the U.S. and Mexico to strike a deal to end the importation of oil from outside the continent.

— If unemployment numbers remain high due to the pandemic, he is also suggesting a shift in immigration, suggesting that Canada cut back the number of workers it is seeking to admit and instead increase people coming to reunite with their families, particularly if they can help with child care or family support here.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of CanadaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Staff at Artemis Place Secondary were shocked to find that one of the student-built greenhouses on the campus was stolen overnight on Jan. 11. (Artemis Place Society/Facebook)
Saanich school hopes to catch greenhouse thief red-handed

Student-built greenhouses stolen from Artemis Place Secondary on Jan. 11

File
Forty-two residential properties in Oak Bay were assessed the speculation and vacancy tax in 2019 for a total of $693,000. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
74 Oak Bay property owners paid $693,000 in spec tax

42 properties were assessed with the SVT in 2019

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said a lack of experienced crew members and the inability to detect navigational errors is what led to a Sooke search and rescue boat running aground in February 2019. (Twitter / @VicJRCC_CCCOS)
TSB: Sooke search and rescue boat crash caused by ‘misinterpretation of navigational information’

Crew members were lacking experience and unable to detect navigational errors

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open to Jan. 15

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)
Vancouver Island egg producer cries foul over ‘Island’ label

Egg farmer frustrated with regulations allowing mainland-laid eggs to be labelled ‘Island’

Police and fire crews at work at a fire scene at Mount Prevost School (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Classes cancelled by fire at a Duncan-area school for the second time this week

Fire this morning at Duncan area middle school follows Monday blaze at nearby elementary

Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance after numerous tire slashings between Jan. 12-14. (News Bulletin file)
Police seek public’s help after ‘tire slashing spree’ in central Nanaimo

Ten reports of slashed tires in the last three days, say Nanaimo RCMP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read