How would Scheer handle Trump? Lean on private industry, says Conservative leader

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer kicked off his party's 2019 election campaign with an event in Southwestern Ontario on Thursday.

The new federal Conservative leader kicked off the 2019 campaign in Ilderton, Ont.

Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer spoke to about 700 people in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding on Thursday. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The new federal Conservative leader kicked off the 2019 campaign at a park just outside of Ilderton, Ont., on Thursday.

Around 700 people came out to shake the hand of Andrew Scheer and listen to a 15 minute speech pitching himself as the way forward. 

"Conservatives will take our cues from the legion halls, from the small businesses, from the mini-vans to the parks," Scheer told the crowd, adding that Liberals will stick to the "cocktail circuit."

After his speech, Scheer spent about an hour shaking hands and posing for photos.

The Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding has elected Conservative MP Bev Shipley four consecutive terms. The riding also picked Scheer in the Conservative leadership race last month.

Scheer called the leadership contest a "great race, a clean race" that helped grow the party from 86,000 members to over 260,000 members. 

Scheer used his first official campaign event to riff on the way the Liberal government has run things while linking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

"I can't imagine how frustrating it is to live in Ontario," said Scheer, who is in the area for a family member's wedding.

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer kicked off the 2019 election campaign with an event near Ilderton, Ont. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"When you've got Kathleen Wynne doubling down on hydro, doubling down on pricing and carbon taxes and whatever it is she's calling it these days - and then you've got the federal government doing the same thing at the national level."

Scheer then promised to fight the carbon tax while adding he "would not let the federal liberals do what the provincial liberals have done to Ontario."

Carbon Tax Fight

After the speech Scheer told CBC News that it was important to meet with people in the manufacturing and agriculture industry like those in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding.

He said fighting the carbon tax is "job number one."

"It makes Ontario less competitive," said Scheer. "Manufacturers can set-up shop in the U.S. and sell right in to Canada with a huge advantage if Canada imposes this carbon tax or we let the Provincial liberals impose theres."

Working with President Trump

That led to a conversation about how he would deal with Donald Trump if he were elected Prime Minister.

"The first thing we need to do is build alliances with American companies that depend on Canada for jobs in the U.S." said Scheer.

"We have to go around finding business to put pressure on Congressmen and Senators and the President himself to keep that border open."

The Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding has elected Conservative MP Bev Shipley four terms in a row and elected Andrew Scheer during last month's federal leadership race. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Scheer said that trade benefits both countries and the best way to keep the border open is to "go into the U.S, and find those companies who employ Americans and say 'we need to keep that border open.'"

"We have to understand that Donald Trump is not going to change his mind on issues just because the Prime Minister tries to lecture him or sends out tweets that try to provoke and attack," said Scheer.

Scheer said that in the past, previous federal Conservative governments have signed trade deals with protectionist levels of government in the United States.