Moving on from Bernier, Conservatives to adopt new policy proposals at convention

Moving on from Bernier, Conservatives to adopt new policy proposals at convention


As Conservatives look to move on from Maxime Bernier’s bombshell departure, party members will vote on a series of policy proposals Saturday that they hope will help make their leader Canada’s next prime minister.

But at least some of the proposals could prove controversial, including a push to limit citizenship rights for those born in this country to non-Canadian parents.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer promised members a clear alternative to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in an address to delegates Friday night, saying Canadians are finally starting to see the prime minister’s “true colours … the tax-hiking, rule-breaking, perk-loving, deficit-spending, debt-mounting, virtue-signalling Liberals Canadians have come to know and despise.”

Delegates narrowed down a long list of policies Friday that the larger convention will then vote on today.

The policies are proposed by riding associations from across the country in an effort to give grassroots members a say over the party’s agenda. Scheer is under no obligation to put the policies agreed to by members in his election platform.

Notably, a resolution calling for the Conservative Party to disavow its support for supply management in some farm sectors did not make it on the list for a vote Saturday, angering some delegates who believe the party’s current stance is anti-capitalistic.

A number of delegates who backed the resolution told CBC News they might be inclined to support Bernier’s yet-unnamed party after seeing their favoured resolution shut out. (The plenary session dealing with this resolution ended before delegates could decide whether it should become party policy.)

Bernier, who announced he was quitting the Conservatives on Thursday, has long preached against supply management, which allows specific commodity sectors — dairy, poultry and eggs — to limit the supply of their products to what Canadians are expected to consume in order to ensure predictable, stable prices.

As if to further jab his finger in Scheer’s eye, Bernier sent a tweet encouraging those disgruntled delegates to join him as he looks to start a new party ahead of the 2019 federal election.

Here are a few policy resolutions the Conservatives are poised to debate Saturday:

A nod to social conservatives

The social conservative wing of the party holds a lot of sway; Scheer, who has identified with this branch in the past, likely wouldn’t be leader without them, and they represent a not-insignificant number of the party’s total membership.

They are also known in party circles as well-organized, devoted convention-goers who rarely miss a chance to put their ideas front and centre.

To that end, party members will be called to vote on a number of policies dealing with abortion, child and maternal health, euthanasia and pornography.

There is also a proposal to reverse the current Liberal government’s demands that would-be employers of summer students sign an attestation form affirming their support for Charter rights — which has been interpreted to include access to abortion — before they can qualify for federal funds to help cover wages.

“The Conservative Party believes that it is unethical and wrong to require applicants for government-funded programs to sign a values test attestation endorsing government ideology in order to be eligible to receive government funding,” the resolution reads.

If passed, the party would also call for restrictions on euthanasia, or medically assisted dying, for young people and “people who are not competent.”

“The Conservative Party does not support any legislation that legalizes euthanasia or assisted suicide,” the resolution reads.

On pornography, the proposed resolution would declare adult entertainment of this nature a “public health risk.”

“We support the development of laws, policies and programs to prevent pornography exposure and addiction, to develop recovery programs, and to educate society on the harms of pornography,” reads the resolution, which was proposed by the Thunder Bay–Rainy River riding association.

Dealing with asylum seekers

Scheer and the party’s immigration critic, Michelle Rempel, have been scathing in their criticism of the Liberals’ handling of the recent influx of asylum seekers — branding the uptick in claimants a “crisis” that is costing provincial coffers millions.

Rempel has repeatedly proposed extending the existing Safe Third Country (STC) Agreement that Canada has with the United States to cover the entire Canada-U.S. border by declaring all of it an official port of entry. This, she believes, would help stop would-be refugees from entering the country through irregular points of entry.

“The Conservative Party believes in stopping all illegal entries in Canada. To ensure the safety and the respect of our borders, the party commits that a Conservative government will take the required steps to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. to close the gaps relating to illegal entries in Canada,” reads the resolution, proposed by Quebec riding of ​Charlesbourg–Haute-Saint-Charles.

Also on the issue of migration is a proposal to upend a long-standing Canadian tradition of extending citizenship rights to anybody born on Canadian soil, regardless of the child’s parents’ citizenship status.

“We encourage the government to enact legislation which will fully eliminate birthright citizenship in Canada unless one of the parents of the child born in Canada is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada,” reads the resolution from a Newfoundland and Labrador riding.

While proposing to restrict some citizenship rights, delegates from the Vancouver Centre and Durham riding associations are suggesting Canada pursue an agreement to relax visa requirements for citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand looking to live or travel to Canada.

Boosting the economy

In addition to tackling social and identity issues, a number of riding associations have put forward proposals they say will be a boost to the Canadian economy.

A resolution from the riding association in Fredericton would make it official party policy to back the now-defunct Energy East pipeline, which would carry one million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick. (TransCanada, the pipeline’s proponent, pulled out of the project in 2017, citing a change in market conditions and new requirements from the National Energy Board.)

“The very essence of economic development, nation building, and regional development is the free flow of resources. The Conservative Party supports the development of the Energy East Pipeline as a means of creating Canadian jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” the resolution reads.

Another policy proposal would simplify income-tax forms, while another would affirm the party’s opposition to a federal price on carbon.

“We believe that there should be no federally imposed carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems on either the provinces or on the citizens of Canada. The provinces and territories should be free to develop their own climate change policies, without federal interference or federal penalties or incentives,” that resolution reads.


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