Kitchen, Bonk welcome Scheer as Conservative leader

June 5, 2017 8:15 am
Kevin Weedmark

Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen and Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk are happy to see a fellow Saskatchewan politician, Andrew Scheer, as the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Scheer, MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle, won the Conservative leadership last week. He visited Moosomin in October during his leadership campaign. That visit was at a fundraiser for the Moosomin constituency association of the Saskatchewan Party.

Moosomin MLA Steven Bonk arranged the visit.

“It was right at the start of his campaign and I thought it would be a good chance for him to introduce himself to some of the people out in the Moosomin constituency,” Bonk said. “Andrew is actually my MP. The constituency comes right up to Wolseley and I am in his constituency, but I wanted to introduce him to people farther east.”

Bonk has known Scheer for a long time.

“I have been working with Andrew since his first bid to be elected to the House of Commons,” Bonk said last week. “I know him quite well. I consider him quite a good friend. I think he’s exactly what the Conservative Party needs. He’s a real consensus builder. He’ll be able to bring all types of Conservatives under the big blue tent again and he’ll do it in a more approachable way.”

Bonk said he was happy with the way the federal leadership campaign was run.

“The race highlighted the different types of Conservatives we have in Canada, and it allowed for a lot of different visions to be expressed,” he said.

Bonk said he believes Scheer’s policies will be good for the area.

“I’m very interested in international trade and exports. We are an export driven province, particularly our constituency—we rely almost wholly on exports.

“I think Andrew’s interests align very much with ours. He’s small government, pro-business, pro-exports, pro-trade. He opposed the carbon taxes which would be the worst thing for our industries in our constituency.

“I would love to see him as our prime minister. He’s a good friend of mine and I know he’s very capable and very intelligent. I think he’ll do extremely well. What you see on TV is what he’s like in real life. There’s no pretension.”

Kitchen says convention was exciting
Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen was at the leadership convention where the votes were counted.

Votes had been cast in advance, but as each round of voting was electronically tallied, candidates were dropped, and their supporters’ next choices were taken into account.

Maxime Bernier led on the first through the second last ballot, when Scheer finally pulled ahead.

“There was a lot more excitement there than I expected,” says Kitchen. “When they came out with the first results they eliminated the first five candidates, and then they played it out one at a time. It added a bit of suspense to it but the more you got to it the more excitement there was.”

Kitchen had been supporting Erin O’Toole, with Andrew Scheer a close second choice.

“I was supporting Erin O’Toole, but as soon as I saw that first vote I realized he didn’t have enough support to do it. I saw that Bernier did not have enough as far as I could see. That would allow Andrew to come up and win it.”

Kitchen says he is happy to see fellow Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer as leader.

“I had told everyone my very close second choice was Andrew Scheer,” he said. “I said to people if you are going to vote for Erin then put Andrew second. I have always wanted to have somebody from Saskatchewan, but I didn’t think the rest of Canada would want another individual from the West.

“But I look at it and see John Diefenbaker—who was my hero and got me interested in politics many, many years ago—was originally from Ontario and moved to Saskatchewan and fell in love with this place. Andrew Scheer was originally from Ontario and moved to Saskatchewan and fell in love with it, and now hopefully we will see a second prime minster from Saskatchewan.”

Kitchen believes Scheer will attract a lot of support as Conservative leader.

“The term I am using is ‘Scheer Excitement’ right now,” he said. “I am truly excited. Andrew is a young vibrant man. He provides a lot of experience. He did an excellent job of speaker of the house. He brings that experience to this role. He is young and he brings that aspect of being able to communicate to the younger generation. He is a strong family man with a big family and he truly understands what it is like to raise five children.

“Not only that, but he is quite funny and personable. He can be serious when he needs to be.

“His policies are ones I support and his views on the veterans and our military are exactly the way I see things. His other policies I support 100 percent.

“Today we had a caucus meeting and it was an excellent meeting. There is 100 percent support around Andrew and I think that is going to bode well for us.”

He said he believes losing interim leader Rona Ambrose will be a loss to the Conservatives.

“She originally campaigned to be the interim leader on the condition that she wouldn’t run as leader and I respect her for that. She said what she said and stuck to it, considering she had a lot of pressure to give in, and she could have done that if she chose to step down as the interim leader and take a run at things. I give her credit. I truly support and cherish people that say one thing and stick to that one thing. She gets a lot of credit for that.

“It is a shame because we are going to lose her and she would be a great asset in years to come, but I also understand and respect her decision to move on and let this be Andrew’s show.”

Kitchen will retain his role as critic for sport.

“Everything is staying the way it is for now. I anticipate over time he will see where he thinks people are suited and they have got to remember nine of the candidates were members of parliament and they are all back in the house and a lot of them had critic roles before they started in the process to run for leader, so they will step back in to some of the critic roles. People who have moved up no doubt will move back.”

Kitchen says he believes all the leadership candidates will stay on and serve under Scheer.

“Today they were in the house and at the caucus meeting this morning and they were all supportive and I do believe that every one of them has come around and supported Andrew,” said Kitchen.

“There is a saying, ‘Ubi concordia ibi victoria’ that is in latin and it means ‘with unity there is victory.’ Andrew will be able to bring all aspects of the party together and keep them together and fighting for the same cause, and that is to get the Conservative government back in power in 2019.”

Kitchen believes the new leader can turn things around quickly for the Conservatives.

“I think we have shown that we can turn things around quickly with an interim leader. We have made some tremendous inroads and have held this government to account.

“This government is coming forward right now with a white paper or discussion paper on the carbon tax and if you read that document it takes awhile to digest it but it is going to be very crippling as it goes forward and the amount of cost to it.

“It does not look good for Saskatchewan. We will continue to fight that and Andrew has said he will fight that.”

Kitchen said he believes Scheer will appeal to voters across Canada.

“I think he will play well across the country,” he said. “He will attract people of different ages, different perspectives, different walks of life. The party’s membership has gone up to 259,000 members—that is the highest it has ever been. That is a tremendous sign for this party.”

Kitchen says he believes a lot of the new members will stick with the party.

“I believe people have joined because they see a renewal and are reinvigorated,” he said. “They are seeing issues that are a concern to them on the tax front and on the spending front. People are looking at things and saying it is not my grandchildren, not my great-grandchildren, it is going to be my great-great-grandchildren that are going to be paying off that debt.”

Kitchen says he believes Scheer will be able to unite the party behind him, including the unsuccessful leadership candidates, and incorporate some of the other candidates’ ideas.

“I think a lot of them brought good ideas to the table,” he said. “Maxime brought different ideas, Michael Chong brought different ideas, and I think every candidate brought new ideas and there are some good points to that. I would expect that some of those ideas will come together through policy discussions at our convention next year. We will see that strengthen our party.”

Scheer supports Energy East, opposes carbon tax
Scheer spoke about the need for Energy East to move forward when he spoke in Moosomin in October.

“There is a lot of support here in Western Canada and here in Saskatchewan for Energy East,” he said. “I represent Evraz Steel in Regina, they are right in my constituency—about 2,000 private sector jobs in Regina and a whole bunch more in spinoffs.

“One of the things the Conservative Party is trying to do is make it more than just a western thing. It’s not just a pipeline that’s concerning to Western Canadians because this is where the natural resources are or this is where the manufacturing is, but it’s a national thing. It’s something people in Ontario should be concerned about, something people in Atlantic Canada should be concerned about.

“I was so ashamed when I was in the House of Commons and we put forward a motion that was very simple—it wasn’t calling on the government to pick winners or losers in industry, it was just calling on members of the House of Commons to support the idea of a west to east pipeline to get foreign oil out of our markets and allow our natural resources to flow freely across our country. And the Liberals voted against it, Ralph Goodale, a Saskatchewan MP, voted against the motion. I was so disappointed in that. And I was disappointed again with the carbon tax. I don’t think that those tanker loads of Saudi oil that are being dropped off at Montréal, I don’t think they’re going to pay a carbon tax when they load up in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or the Middle East. Why are we punishing our own natural resource sector?

“I’m telling you tonight I will oppose the carbon tax when I am leader of the Conservative Party. We will fight that and we will win in 2019.”

Scheer said he believes that, while the Conservative Party was defeated in the last federal election, it is rebuilding from a strong base.

“It’s been a rough year for the Conservative Party. We lost in October of 2015 but we’re a lot stronger than we were in the past. We have a great caucus, we started off with 99 seats. We just won the byelection in Medicine Hat, a strong validation for the issues we’ve been fighting on.

“There’s a lot at stake. It’s very important that we get the right leader in our leadership race. It’s very important that we pick somebody who can go up against Justin Trudeau and win in 2019. The deficits and debt that Justin Trudeau is racking up is truly alarming.

“I cannot let Justin Trudeau do to my kids what his father did. We are seeing tens of millions of dollars racked up on deficits that’s going nowhere. It’s not being invested in Canada. It’s not creating jobs. A lot has been spent overseas. The first $14 million of his new government spending went overseas. It didn’t help create a single Canadian job.”

Scheer said he hopes to be the next Prime Minister from Saskatchewan.

“In Saskatchewan we export a lot of things. We used to export our young people and that has stopped. We export our oil and gas, we export our uranium, we export our potash, our wheat, our barley, our beef. I think we now need to elect a leader of the Conservative Party who can export our common sense Saskatchewan values of hard work and rewarding those who honestly play by the rules, support their families and communities and help build this country.”