The House

Scheer sees role for notable Conservatives in fixing trade dispute

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says he believes former prime minister Stephen Harper could be helpful as Canada navigates a tumultuous relationship with the U.S.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sits in Toronto Mayor John Tory's city hall office on, Friday, March 23, 2018. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says he believes former prime minister Stephen Harper could be helpful as Canada navigates a tumultuous relationship with the U.S.

When asked about Harper's upcoming meetings in Washington D.C., Scheer said any time you have high-profile Canadians promoting free trade, it's a good thing.

"I think that Conservatives can be helpful," he told The House, citing former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former interim party leader Rona Ambrose's contributions to the trade negotiations.

Harper is expected to travel to Washington on Monday, July 2, CBC News has confirmed. He is scheduled to have meetings with Larry Kudlow — the director of the National Economic Council and Trump's go-to economic adviser — and John Bolton, the president's national security adviser, according to multiple sources who spoke to CBC News on the condition of anonymity.

A spokesperson in Scheer's officer said he wasn't aware of Harper's planned meetings before media reports confirmed it.

Scheer has been critical of some of the government's tactics in dealing with U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Canada should have immediately imposed metal tariffs of their own.

However, he said his party is committed to pushing Canada first.

"While we will hold the government to account here at home... we will support their efforts to get a good deal for Canada."

The Conservatives spent much of the end of this session of Parliament pushing the government on issues like trade, immigration and the carbon tax, but also asked questions about new fixtures at the prime minister's summer residence — including a swing set.

Trudeau pushes back against Scheer's swing prop

4 years ago
Duration 1:49
PM Justin Trudeau responds to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's repeated questions about a costly swing set at Trudeau's summer residence.

The party drew criticism for isolating that fact when it was later learned that Justin Trudeau had paid for the play structure himself.

Scheer said it took the prime minister a long time to correct the assumption that it had been paid for with taxpayer dollars, but the party has also come under fire for figures they used to attack the Liberals' carbon tax plan.

The statistics, appearing in a tweet on Scheer's account, showed the cost of a carbon tax in each province. However, the report cited used estimates of $100 per tonne, when the federal plan would come in at $50 per tonne. The author of that study later tweeted that the facts used by the Conservatives misrepresented her work.

"When we put information out … we go by the facts represented," Scheer responded, adding if figures are updated or changed, the party will correct their posts.

A carbon tax definitely won't be featured in the Conservative platform leading into the 2019 election, Scheer said. Some provinces have stated their opposition to the current Liberal plan, and Scheer said Conservative premiers — like Doug Ford — will join in the fight against the tax.

Their climate plan is coming, but Scheer refused to say exactly when.

"It will come out well ahead of the next election with enough time for scrutiny and analysis," he said.

The party has made gains in Quebec, including a big win in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord — handing the Liberals their first seat loss since Justin Trudeau became party leader.

Scheer has focused much of his work since becoming party leader last spring on Quebec.

He told host Chris Hall he's always believed Quebecers have conservative views on many issues like immigration and the carbon tax, but admitted his party has struggled in that province in the past.

"For some reason over the past few years we have been able to click or make that connection."

Scheer's mind is also on ridings the Conservatives lost in 2015. He explained he's trying to assess what went wrong, then go back to those areas to fix the issues.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer ended the spring sitting on the offensive. But the leader of the official opposition and his party have also been facing criticism for some of their tactics. The sparring may cool off a little over the summer, but it's far from over, as we're moving towards an election next year. Andrew Scheer joins us for a feature conversation.