June 2, 2020

Winnipeg
15° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Scheer takes campaign full circle, refocuses on Trudeau's ethical record

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/10/2019 (229 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer steps off a bus as he arrives at the airport in Mirabel, Que. Wednesday October 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer steps off a bus as he arrives at the airport in Mirabel, Que. Wednesday October 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

HAMILTON - Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pledged Wednesday to impose massive fines on politicians who break Canada's ethics laws as he took his campaign message back to its basic proposition: Justin Trudeau has rendered himself unfit to govern.

Accusing Trudeau of ethical lapses has been an attack line for Scheer since long before the campaign began in mid-September, and it — along with Scheer's promises to address affordability questions — were the one-two punch the Conservatives intended to use to knock the Liberals out of office.

But even as scandals piled up during the election, the polls suggest the two main parties remain deadlocked in national support.

For the next couple of days, Scheer is seeking to break that logjam in Ontario, campaigning Wednesday in the southwestern part of the province. There, he was in both Liberal and NDP ridings, and he's taken his attack lines against Trudeau ethics and added a new twist — the spectre of a Liberal/NDP coalition government.

"The NDP fought side by side with Conservatives against Justin Trudeau's corruption in the SNC Lavalin scandal, but now we see what they're really made of," Scheer said at an event in Essex, Ont.

"When they found they had a shot at power by being the junior partner in the coalition Canadians can't afford, their principles went out the window. We now see they are willing to prop up a corrupt prime minister."

Scheer changed up his daily routine Wednesday to showcase the momentum his party insists is building behind its leader.

Earlier in the day, he traded making his daily announcement only surrounded by Conservative candidates in favour of standing in front of a hockey rink stand filled with a raucous crowd of supporters, more than happy to boo alongside his denunciations of the Liberals.

The cheers and jeers visibly energized Scheer, though he did call for the crowd to be more civil after they attempted to shout down journalists' questions.

After an evening rally in Hamilton moved to a larger venue to accommodate the boisterous crowd, Scheer took a dig at a high-profile endorsement received Trudeau — a message of support from former U.S. president Barack Obama.

"I've got millions of Canadians endorsing me, coming out to our events, voting for us in advance polls and we're going to finish strong on Monday, we're going to win this thing," he said.

The promise Wednesday to introduce penalties of up to $20,000 for breaking the Conflict of Interest Act builds on a series of announcements already in Scheer's platform that address one of the perceived weaknesses of federal ethics laws: they come with very little punishment.

Trudeau was found to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act twice in the last four years: first for accepting a free family vacation at the private Bahamian Island of the Aga Khan, and second for trying to influence his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to overrule a decision by the public prosecutor not to offer a deal to SNC-Lavalin.

The Quebec engineering giant is accused of fraud and bribery related to some of its overseas operations.

In neither case did the act provide for any sanction against Trudeau beyond the public embarrassment of the findings.

The Act allows for a fine of up to $500, but only if public office holders fail to report conflicts of interest within a specific period of time.

Bill Morneau, Trudeau's minister of finance, was fined $200 for failing to disclose to the ethics commissioner the existence of a property he owns in France.

Scheer's plan would make the financial penalty proportional to the severity of the violation, to be applied for conflicts of interest, giving preferential treatment, using insider information or influence, accepting gifts and other violations.

He is also intent on strengthening the restrictions on lobbying, reforming laws for whistleblowers and closing what he says is a "loophole" in the Conflict of Interest Act that allows for a cabinet minister to hold indirect shares in private companies.

Canadians expect accountability when leaders break the law, Scheer said.

"They expect strong democratic institutions that have the power to investigate corrupt politicians to the fullest extent and they expect appropriate punishments for politicians who get caught, and that's exactly what I will deliver."

"Lock him up," came a cry from the crowd.

Earlier Wednesday, Scheer wrapped up what's likely his final visit to Quebec this election campaign by stopping by a Montreal-area Tim Hortons with one of his star candidates in the province, former Olympic champion Sylvie Frechette.

She attracted her own share of controversy at the start of the campaign. She was among the Quebec candidates who were saying publicly that a Conservative government wouldn't allow backbench members to bring forward motions or legislation seeking to curtail access to abortion.

While Scheer has said he'd personally oppose the idea, he has not said he'd forbid his members of Parliament from trying.

The confusion saw abortion rights suddenly become a question Scheer could not avoid, as his party, the public and the media sought clarity for days on both the leader's personal position and how he'd handle it in government.

It would take until after the first French-language debate — which saw Scheer get pummelled by his opponents for obfuscating his position — for Scheer to be clear: he is personally opposed to abortion, but would not back any effort to re-open the debate.

Frechette chalked the whole thing up to a misunderstanding, and said Scheer had always been clear about where he stood.

"For me, it's just very sad that we wasted so much energy on something that was already covered and was clear," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 16, 2019.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us