Andrew Scheer takes questions from public at Toronto town hall
Conservative leader fields question on illegal immigration, government spending and military procurement
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer took questions on military procurement, illegal immigration and how to make the party the "hip" with young people during a town hall in Toronto on Saturday.
Scheer blasted the Liberal government over its purchases of used fighter jets and accused the government of "politicizing procurement."
He reiterated his pledge that the Conservatives would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also said the party could appeal to young people by fighting for "free speech" on university campuses and changing mortgage rules to make it easier to buy a home.
"There are a few issues that are causing a lot of anxiety for young people in Canada today," Scheer said in response to a question from an audience member about how the party can appeal to young voters. "The first is housing affordability."
Watch as Scheer makes his pitch to diverse communities:
"I talk to so many young people who say, 'I don't know how I'm going to be able to afford to buy the type of home I grew up in,'" Scheer said. "This Liberal government has pushed the dream of home ownership further and further away from young people."
Scheer said the Conservatives would improve housing affordability by increasing the supply of homes by making it easier for new units to come onto the market, while making it easier to qualify for mortgages.
Scheer was asked several questions about illegal immigration during the event in North York, a diverse area in Toronto.
Watch as Conservative leader blasts Liberals on military procurement:
"Our preferred approach is to end the problem of illegal [border] crossings in the first place," he said, advocating for an immigration system based on "fairness and compassion" while "ensuring the integrity of our borders, so that people come to Canada the right way."
He promised tax reform and reiterated his opposition to the Trudeau government's carbon tax, which he called "a cash grab, not an environmental plan."
Competing town halls
Before Parliament returns from its winter break a week from Monday, Scheer and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been criss-crossing the country meeting with Canadians and fielding questions on a diverse range of topics.
During his swing through Alberta, Scheer encountered people angry about the state of Canada's energy sector after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project pending further environmental review and consultation with Indigenous peoples.
Scheer had to get out of his vehicle and walk to the venue in Nisku, Alta., because of a 22-kilometre convoy of truckers protesting Trudeau's carbon tax and environmental policies. Scheer sought to reassure people by promising to scrap the prime minister's carbon levy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Scheer also answered questions about what the Conservative party would do about a growing meth problem on the Prairies as the drug claims more lives each year. Scheer vowed to better equip police and unveil a gang prevention strategy.
Trudeau, for his part, has had a lot of questions about Canada's immigration system and how the federal government is handling a spike in asylum seekers entering the country by foot.
In Quebec, Trudeau was also confronted by a dairy farmer who was upset with the concessions the federal government has made on dairy in striking trade deals with the U.S., the EU and Pacific rim countries.
The town hall tour by the prime minister and the leader of opposition comes ahead of a federal election later this year. The various parties are soliciting feedback to help them craft the policy platform they will present to voters in October.
- A previous version of this story said Andrew Scheer reiterated his pledge to move Canada's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. In fact, he reiterated his pledge that the Conservatives would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Jan 22, 2019 1:25 PM ET
With files from CBC's John Paul Tasker