I want to start by expressing my sincere thanks for the honour to continue to serve as your Member of Parliament following the 44th General Election. Participating in the democratic process is important. Almost 60,000 out of 90,00 eligible voters cast ballots in Calgary Signal Hill. There were candidates representing six political parties and I would like to recognize the other candidates in our riding that let their names stand in this election. We are fortunate to live in a country where the citizens choose those who represent us, and that freedom is never something to take for granted. My pledge is to listen to the views of all constituents and then represent the majority opinion.
Obviously the majority of constituents who voted in Signal Hill were seeking a change in government at the national level. Unfortunately, little changed as a result of the election – which most Canadians deemed to be unnecessary. The cloud of COVID-19, which has been hanging over all of us for almost two years now, clearly ended up being the ballot box issue in this election. This was unfortunate because the election did provide Canadians with a choice on who would best manage the economy as we begin to hopefully move past the pandemic. In the end, differing plans for COVID-19 vaccination became the defining issue of the election .
Resumption of Parliament
Prime Minister Trudeau announced that he would recall the House of Commons on Monday, November 22. While the focus for legislation remains unclear until the reading of the throne speech, one item that is sure to arise will be the possible extension of COVID-19 supports. The current law allows cabinet to extend benefits until the end of November without parliamentary approval. Any program relating to business or individual supports beyond that date will require new legislation. I anticipate Parliament will only be in session for a few weeks before the Christmas break and then resume sitting at the end of January which will last until mid-June.
Conservative Official Opposition Priorities
Conservatives intend to prioritize issues surrounding Canada’s fiscal position and affordability. As a result of the heavy borrowing by the government, we are seeing rising inflationary pressures that are driving up costs to households. Canada’s inflation rate in August was 4.1% – the highest since 2003 – and concerns are being expressed by the Bank of Canada that action may need to be taken to control inflation. This will undoubtedly result in increased interest rates in the new year.
Conservatives will likely support specific additional COVID-19 financial assistance measures, if they relate to job sustainability and creation, however with the economy on the rebound, the time for individual financial assistance needs to come to an end. During the previous waves of government support, Conservatives were responsible for improving programs like CEBA, CERB, and CEWS that ensured benefits reached those for whom they were intended.
I know that many of us, myself included, were disappointed in the outcome of this election. It’s important to remember that when this election was called, pundits and pollsters were nearly united in their thinking that Prime Minister Trudeau would steamroll over the Conservative Party and easily reach his target of a majority government. As the campaign took shape, it became increasingly clear that many Canadians were willing to give Erin O’Toole and our team serious consideration, and until the last week of the election, a change in government was certainly within the realm of possibility.
Erin O’Toole has worked hard to make the Conservative Party of Canada better reflect the values and beliefs held by most Canadians. I believe strongly this is where we need to go as a party. These views reflect what the majority of those who supported the Conservative party in the election actually believe. It is also increasingly clear that we must undertake this work if we ever want to form government in Canada again. The last two elections have shown very clearly that Canadians will continue to support someone who many view as entitled, ineffective, and opportunistic because Conservatives continue to be painted as a party that stands for positions which are simply non-starters for most moderate voters.
I have no doubt saying this will upset some people who have traditionally voted conservative. But I also believe strongly that a moderate, fiscally conservative position is what the majority are looking for in Calgary Signal Hill. I believe Erin O’Toole is providing exactly that, and I will be working to support his continued leadership.
I hope this winter allows us more opportunities to come together with our families to acknowledge the challenge of these past 18 months, and to imagine brighter things ahead. Whether this coming together is over Zoom, or in person, I wish you and your family the very best in the days ahead
Ron Liepert, MP
Calgary Signal Hill