PC leader Pierre Poilievre’s swing through Northern Ontario continued with a visit to Sault Ste. Marie, Thursday.
It was a full house at The Machine Shop that came to see Poilievre and hear his plans if he were to defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next federal election.
It’s a well-known fact Poilievre wants to eliminate the Ottawa’s carbon tax, but used the occasion to tackle several concerns including housing, crime, and federal spending. He set the table for the lunchtime speech by making it clear the buck and the blame for many issues stops at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s
“Life costs more. Work doesn’t pay. Housing costs have doubled. Crime, chaos, drugs and disorder reign in our streets. And he (Trudeau) divides and distracts from all that he broke.”
A roar went up in the crowd when Poilievre followed up with, “Canada was not like this before Justin Trudeau and it won’t be like this after he’s gone!”
The opposition leader since September, 2022, Poilievre told the crowd Trudeau’s firing of seven cabinet members Wednesday is an admission the PM’s government is broken.
“He now admits that the Liberal ship is sinking, but when that happens, you don’t fire the crew, you fire the captain.”
That drew another raucous response from attendees.
With Poilievre’s background in finance – he served as shadow minister for finance (2017-2022) – it’s not surprising he took the Trudeau government to task over spending and a national debt Poilievre says has doubled under the current PM.
“He (Trudeau) has added more debt than all prior Prime Ministers combined,” Poilievre told the crowd. “To finance this, he’s had the Central Bank create cash, literally print money, the fastest money creation in over 40 years, and what’a’ya know, the fastest inflation in over 40 years.”
Poilievre said that Canada can’t keep spending at an “outrageous” rate and said his government would introduce a ‘dollar-for-dollar law’ to curb spending and inflation.
“Every new dollar of government spending we introduce will have to be met with a dollar of savings to pay for it. You’ve been pinching your pennies, its time your government did the same.”
But perhaps no topic Poilievre addressed in the 40-minute speech drew more attention and sentiment than Canada’s housing crisis. He said rising rental costs, mortgage rates, and increased downpayment amounts have led to nine in 10 young Canadians abandoning hope of ever owning their own home.
He blamed the crisis on bureaucratic red tape which he says has created a drag on new home construction. More new homes were built in Canada in 1972 than last year, he said, even though Canada’s population has nearly doubled since.
To spur construction, Poilievre plans to link federal grants large cities receive from Ottawa for infrastructure to the number of building permits they approve, targeting a 15 per cent increase.
“Those cities that meet the target, will get a building bonus,” said Poilievre.
Crime was also a prime topic, Thursday. Poilievre said soft sentences under the Catch and Release law has led to more crime with many crimes committed by repeat offenders “Jail, not bail,” Poilievre told the audience, to loud cheers. “We’re going to reverse Trudeau’s Bill C-83, which gives the most lax prison incarceration rules for the most violent monsters,” he added, noting the recent movement of dangerous offender Paul Bernardo from a maximum security cell in Kingston to La Macaza Institution, a medium-security facility in Quebec.
He said the Trudeau government is guilty of snubbing the resource sector, adding Canadian resources are under-utilized and said Canadian products should be used for projects in Canada. He cited local tube manufacturer Tenaris to underline his point. “Just today, I was at Tenaris, a company that employs 700 people in the Sault, making pipelines, making pipes through which energy passes,” said Poilievre.
“They turn steel into beautiful pipes. It’s a sophisticated workforce. Trudeau has killed two pipelines, and instead we’re bringing in 130,000 barrels of overseas oil, every day. “He’s blocked 15 natural gas liquefaction plants whose parts could have been made right here in the Sault,” Poilievre continued.
“Instead, the Americans are getting it. We have the perfect place to do it,” citing Canada’s favourable
shipping distances to Europe and Asia. “We’ll repeal the anti-energy and resource law, C-69.” said Poilievre. “We’ll build Canadian pipelines, with Canadian steel to take Canadian energy to Canadian
customers…made, here in the Sault.”
Poilievre also sharply criticized various mandates he says are blocking 20,000 immigrant doctors and 32,000 immigrant nurses from serving in Canada’s medical system because there’s no universally accepted standards of qualification.
“Why do we have these incredible wait times? asked Poilievre. “It boils my blood thinking how many doctors can’t work in this country while I’m sitting in a waiting room with my little girl, who has a migraine headache. The most obvious and simple way to bring doctors and nurses back is to get rid of these ridiculous mandates, that’s for one.
The answer, said Poilievre is a national licensing standard, a “blue seal” which mirrors the red seal certification process currently applied to tradespeople. This would see doctors and nurses write tests that when successfully completed, would license them to practice across Canada.
Poilievre also took issue with Trudeau’s banning of various guns. “Justin Trudeau, thinks the bad guys are the licensed and law-abiding hunters in the Sault,” he told the crowd. “He wants to ban your hunting rifle. He published 300 pages of firearms, and almost all of them are hunting rifles. People with a license, don’t do crime.” He promised to reverse a federal ban “on our hunters and our professional sports shooters.”
Poilievre also promised to tackle Canada’s drug problem, specifically opioids. “We’re going to stop this insane policy, that has liberalized drugs in our streets,” he said.
He blamed pharmaceutical companies for pushing oxycontin “for every little ache and pain.”
He said the US government successfully sued big pharma and recovered $54 billion. The money, he said, was then used to fund recovery and treatment programs.
“Trudeau hasn’t recovered a penny,” said Poilievre. “We’re going to stop giving out tax-funded drugs. We’re going to ban hard drugs. And we’re going to put the money into recovery, rehab and detox programs.”
Afterward, Saultite Linda Walker said her number one issue is crime. “I thought he had a fantastic speech, and everyone in gung-ho to have a new Prime Minister, said Walker. “One my biggest issues is crime, because I have a grand-daughter on drugs and I want crime eradicated and drug dealers put
Steve Frech, of St. Joseph’s Island said he had to be on hand Wednesday. “I joined the party to support Pierre to become the party’s leader so I can’t ignore what I spent my money on,” said French. “We’re going into crucial times in Canada, with climate change, employment, immigration and natural resources
not being utilized so we’ve got to have a leader who will do something with what we have.”
Ralph Naccarato, 89, a retired ASC employee, said he was impressed with much of what he heard, but has some doubts Poilievre will follow through if elected. “So far whatever they say, they’re right,” said Naccarato. “I agree with them, but will they keep their promise? I’ve seen it over many years, they don’t. They promise you so much but at the end of the day, they forget about you.”
Saultite Genesio Paciocco is also skeptical. “It’s easy to talk, but when it comes to action, he’ll be worse than Mike Harris,” said Paciocco, a staunch New Democratic supporter. “I don’t trust him. He’s a
career politician. He talks a good game but when it comes to the crunch, I’ll tell you one thing, he won’t be Prime Minister.”
In addition to the Sault, Poilievre’s Northern tour included stops in Thunder Bay, Kenora, Timmins, Sudbury. He’ll speak in North Bay Friday