North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold is in Ottawa, excited about his new leader, disappointed to no longer be a shadow cabinet minister but pleased his input is wanted.
Arnold has been shadow cabinet minister for the Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard portfolio since November 2019. From 2015 to 2019 he was deputy shadow minister.
New Conservative Party leader, Erin O’Toole, downsized the shadow cabinet, Arnold said, while noting a number of reasons can come into play including regional representation and other factors.
He said O’Toole told the MPs that it’s part of his learning curve when you have a large talent pool and you have to choose who you put in place.
The new Fisheries shadow cabinet minister is from New Brunswick, Richard Bragdon.
“I have an excellent working relationship with the new shadow minister and we’re going to continue to work together,” Arnold said.
“He knows the depth of my knowledge and expertise on aquatic invasive species…”
Arnold said he has already met with the party’s new leader and had a great conversation. He said both O’Toole and Bragdon want him to keep providing input from the West Coast “so we’re all represented equally.”
Arnold said he’s very excited about the new leader.
“He’s putting across a message of hope and opportunity for Canadians and putting Canada first.”
Asked what he means by Canada first, Arnold said Canada has suffered on the world stage under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, having lost respect and trade abilities in trade agreements. He said Canada’s biggest trading partner is the United States, and “the relationship between the leaders certainly hasn’t been good for Canada.”
After the throne speech on Sept. 23, Arnold said he’s not sure what will happen as it is the government’s call.
“We are trying to show we can meet safely, respectfully, under the health restrictions in place,” he said of Conservative members. “Parliament should be sitting so we can bring back some certainty to Canadians.”
He said the uncertainty is hard for everyone – for small business, for employees and, now, with school returning, for parents.
“Again, there’s no certainty or direction from the government.”
One upside to not being a shadow cabinet minister anymore is that he will have more time to spend working for his constituents, which is really his priority, Arnold said.