BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Scheer serves up rhetoric

Newly minted Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has been touring the country, largely in an effort to boost his profile.

But based on who has been turning up and the comments coming from Scheer, he’s already preaching to the converted.

And consider that while he was in Salmon Arm last Wednesday, he immediately took aim at B.C.’s new NDP government.

“We know that you’ve got some turbulent times ahead in B.C.,” said Scheer.

“Coming from Saskatchewan, we know what it’s like when the NDP (govern) provincially, so you have our best wishes and our deepest sympathies right now.”

Obviously, the NDP made some significant mistakes while at the helm in the ‘90s, but it seems rather unfair to predict what Premier John Horgan will do when he’s barely found his way to the executive washroom. Slamming the NDP just simply panders to died-in-the-wool Tories who are apprehensive about what B.C.’s new administration may do.

It should also be pointed out that Scheer ultimately wants to be prime minister of the country, and that means all Canadians no matter their political leanings. What kind of a relationship is he going to have with provincial leaders if he’s slamming them publicly?

Now once he was done ridiculing B.C.’s government, he turned his focus federally to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals’ move towards deficit.

“One of the things that motivates me so much… was a driving thought that I had when I looked at my five kids, I decided early on that I couldn’t let Justin Trudeau do the same thing to them that his father did to my generation,” he said.

Once again, resurrecting the name of the senior Trudeau makes for good fodder when speaking to veteran Conservative members, but it should be pointed out that Scheer was five years old when Pierre Trudeau went for a walk in a snow storm and resigned. When Scheer refers to his generation, they were in Grade 1 and likely watching Punky Brewster on TV.

Of course Scheer’s Salmon Arm visit also focused on immigration and particularly those who cross the border into Canada without checking in with officials first. He accused the Liberals of not being compassionate.

“Because as people come across the border illegally, they’re coming from safe and secure places like Minnesota, North Dakota, upstate New York,” said Scheer.

“There are people who have to wait now even longer in refugee camps around the world. There is nothing compassionate making someone in Africa or the Middle East, who would be killed if they left those camps, wait longer while people cross illegally.”

Fair enough, but remember that when the Conservatives were in power, there were very tight rules on immigration and a limited number of refugees came to Canada. And as for those leaving the U.S. to enter Canada illegally, Minnesota, North Dakota and New York don’t feel that safe any longer because of the policies and rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C. Even those who were previously allowed to stay in the U.S. under special permits fear they will be tossed out.

In the end, Scheer may have been hoping Canadians would get to know him as he travels across the nation, but with comments like he made in North Okanagan-Shuswap, there doesn’t appear to be anything new to learn.