by Colin Smith
Morinville News Correspondent
At the start of 2015 local MP Rona Ambrose could have had no idea that she would end the year as head of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Then the job came open with Stephen Harper’s resignation as the party leader following the conclusive defeat of the Conservatives in the Oct. 19 federal election.
With the Liberals taking a majority of seats in the House of Commons, the party dropped from 184 seats to 99, while Ambrose was elected as the MP for Sturgeon-River Parkland with 70.2 per cent of the vote.
Then on November 5 she was chosen from a field of eight MPs seeking to be interim leader of the Conservative Party.
Ambrose was first elected to parliament in 2004 as member for Edmonton-Spruce Grove. She held cabinet positions including Environment, Intergovernmental Affairs, Labour, Status of Women and Health.
“The new role for me is important both for us as a party and for Canada,” Ambrose said in a recent interview. “We will provide strong opposition to Trudeau government and be a voice for taxpayers.”
Ambrose pointed to tax increases and projected deficits of 10 billion dollars or more.
“We expect this to be a very big spending government,” she said. “Our main job is to hold Justin Trudeau to account.”
The biggest challenge for Canada in 2016 will be the continuing fallout from reduced oil and gas prices, Ambrose believes.
“There will be a huge impact,” she said. “It’s said there have already been 110,000 job losses and more to come.”
Ambrose said the Prime Minister has shown little concern over energy sector job losses, in contrast how he would react if the auto or aerospace industries were affected.
“I have been pressing Justin Trudeau on what his plan will be for dealing with these lost jobs,” she said. “He doesn’t have a plan.”
The Conservative leader asserts that a lack of concern is attributable to an anti-fossil fuel ideology. This will also lead to carbon taxes and increased regulation at a time when the energy industry is in trouble.
Ambrose also feels that the Trudeau government has dropped the ball in the fight against terrorism with its decision to withdraw the eight Royal Canadian Air Force planes now in action in Iraq.
“I’m disappointed in the pullout of the CF18s attacking ISIS,” she said.
“We’ve been pressing him to keep up the fight against ISIS. All our allies are stepping up the fight.
“This is the war of our generation. There is no bigger threat than the threat of ISIS. They’ve declared war on Canada.”
Another Conservative concern is the fate of “tough on crime” laws passed by the Stephen Harper government, such as more mandatory minimum prison sentences.
“The Liberals have said they are going to dismantle our crime legislation,” Ambrose said. “That is going back to a criminal-centred justice system. We will be fighting that tooth and nail.”
One Liberal government measure Ambrose does support is the recently announced inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, a reversal of the Harper government’s position.
Ambrose will have plenty of opportunities to challenge the government on these and other issues, as it’s expected the new Conservative Party leader won’t be chosen for at least 18 months. Ambrose has said she isn’t interested in the position.