by Stephen Dafoe
Interim Conservative Party of Canada Leader and Sturgeon River-Parkland M,P the Honourable Rona Ambrose, was the guest speaker at the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Sept. 7, packing the cultural centre with 117 local Chamber members, Rotarians, and guests from inside and outside the community.
Ambrose’s nearly 30-minute talk can be summed up in six words: The Liberals are bad for Canada. Ambrose spoke in broad national terms on the governing party’s faults from her perspective as opposition leader. The federal politician offered criticism on the current state of the economy, a lack of jobs, the folly of trying to spend the country to prosperity by incurring debt, and the unfriendliness to business by delays in regulatory approvals. Ambrose also spent time criticizing the tax burdon she believes Liberal policies will place on both income taxation and future Canada Pension Plan contributions.
Following Ambrose’s off-the-cuff presentation, the politician fielded several questions from the floor, which Chamber President Simon Boersma required to be prewritten and vetted so as to avoid a “free-for-all.”
Despite that admonition, one of the floor question included a long and passionate rant from an attendee wanting the gathering to be aware of the importance of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER) versus The Bank of Canada trials, something neither Ambrose nor Boersma were familiar with. COMER argues the Bank of Canada Act mandates the Bank of Canada provides federal, provincial and municipal governments with debt-free support for public projects. COMER has appealed the Court’s most recent March 2016 decision to strike down their argument.
In addition to being asked if the Conservative Party would change their policies prohibiting an Interim Leader from running as the leader, something Ambrose confirmed would not happen; the federal MP took questions on her stance on temporary foreign workers and Liberal plans for electoral reform.
Temporary foreign workers
For Ambrose, temporary foreign workers need to be just that — temporary. Her preferred goal is to enhance immigration to bring in skilled workers who would make Canada their permanent home.
“It is better to have people be committed to the community and stay, and that’s what we want – more people in the community that are going to stay for more than one or two years,” Ambrose said, adding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is supposed to fill a gap. “There is no other modern Western democracy that has a Temporary Foreign Worker Program. I believe it is better to enhance immigration, bring in the skilled workers, and keep them here.”
Ambrose said the previous government tried to scale back the program because there were some industries that had a high level of temporary foreign workers.
“At the same time we had double digit unemployment for youth. So there is this big mismatch,” Ambrose said. “You have to try and figure out how you balance these things. You’ve got 26 per cent unemployment among youth in parts of downtown Calgary and Toronto, and yet we are bringing in people to do jobs that youth can do.”
Ambrose said the TFWP would continue to be an issue for the Liberal government as it was for her government.
“They [the Liberals] say they are going to allow more temporary foreign workers, but I don’t know what that means for your businesses,” Ambrose told her Chamber audience. “It could be good. It could be bad. But at the end of the day, governments have to balance the best thing for Canada. Those are tough choices to make. We still have high unemployment in our youth. As policy makers, you’ve got to balance those things.”
On the question of understanding what the Liberal Government has planned for electoral reform. Ambrose said their thoughts were “clear as mud.”
[The Liberals have said] the last election was the last first-past-the-post election,” Ambrose said. “There is a committee that’s out there trying to figure out how we should elect our representatives.”
Ambrose’s and her party’s position is that whatever the Liberal government decides to change it to, must be put to the vote of the electorate.
“I don’t know what their motivation is to change our system,” Ambrose said, noting that despite the occasional minority government, Canada has stable government through the current process. “What they are saying is they want to change the way you elect your member of parliament. Some of the systems being proposed are very confusing. There has never been a change in the way we vote at any provincial government level without a plebiscite or referendum. That’s where we are in opposition to the government. They don’t want to have a referendum. They just want to make the decision themselves.”