Ted Falk is tired of Justin Trudeau, and says many Liberal supporters are too.
Falk, the Conservative Party candidate for Provencher, is seeking a fourth consecutive mandate from voters in the Sept. 20 federal election.
In a Tuesday interview, Falk said Trudeau broke a promise by calling an election during the pandemic.
"It really wasn’t a necessary election, because he’d had support from either the Bloc or NDP to do whatever he’s wanted to do the last almost two years."
Falk has represented Provencher in the House of Commons since November 2013. He was re-elected in 2015 and again in 2019, when he collected two of every three ballots cast.
Falk spent much of his latest term in office contending with Parliamentary disruptions caused by COVID-19. Virtual House sittings, he explained, just weren’t the same as the real thing.
"The gravity of what we’re doing really hits you when you’re standing in the House of Commons and you realize what a privileged position you have there, and that you represent a hundred and some thousand people in your riding, and you’ve got to fight for these people, or represent them anyway, as best you can."
Falk said he nevertheless enjoyed serving on the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICP), which reviews activities carried out by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Department of National Defence, and other security agencies.
"I really, really enjoyed my work on NSICP," Falk said. "That was a tremendous honour."
Falk said he’s also proud of his work to restore the ability for residents of the RM of Piney and Buffalo Point First Nation to access health-care in Minnesota under a unique service agreement that was complicated by pandemic travel restrictions.
Falk said his re-election campaign is visiting just as many doors as ever but engaging in fewer doorstep conversations in order to be COVID-sensitive.
"I’m actually finding a lot of people are quite happy not to engage. They’ll give us a thumbs up as we walk away. I really get the sense that people appreciate that we’re not forcing engagement," Falk said.
Falk said voters are telling him they’re concerned about Canada’s debt load, and the prospect of new taxes.
"From business owners, I’m hearing, ‘I can’t get employees to work because of this crazy CERB,’" Falk said, referring to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provided $500 a week to employed and self-employed Canadians directly affected by COVID-19.
Falk said direct financial assistance has its place during a pandemic.
"But to just globally give everybody this increased amount, it’s really demotivated a lot of the lower end of our workforce."
Instead, Falk touted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s proposed benefit program for low-wage income earners.
"They have to be working to get the benefit," Falk explained. "That’ll be a tremendous help and it’s going to be a motivator for people to get back to work."
To voters worried about climate change after a summer of drought and wildfires, Falk said Conservatives "are not climate change deniers." O’Toole, he said, would be an "environmentally responsible" prime minister who would replace the carbon tax with a carbon levy.
"That levy will accumulate for you in an account that is for your discretionary spending on climate-friendly initiatives," Falk explained.
He contrasted that with a tax, which governments determine how to spend.
Falk said grain farmers’ yields are down but are holding steady when averaged year over year.
"I still am finding a lot of optimism in the farm community," he said, adding he sympathizes with beef producers grappling with high feed prices heading into winter.
Falk defines himself as a pro-life candidate, but O’Toole has said he is pro-choice.
"It’s the reality of our party," Falk said. "We (Conservative candidates) are allowed a variety of positions on issues of conscience on social issues. We don’t have to all be of the same opinion."
"I’ve said that I am very clearly pro-life, and I will continue to represent that viewpoint in Parliament."
Falk also said airline, law enforcement, and border personnel have told him they dislike Trudeau’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all federal civil servants and workers in federally regulated sectors.
"I am not a fan at all of mandated vaccines. I’m not a fan at all of vaccine passports."
Falk has chosen keep his own COVID-19 vaccination status private.
"If I declare my status, somebody’s going to weaponize it to their advantage to create further division," he explained.
"I see a lot of division being created in our communities, in friendship groups, in businesses, in churches, all on the issue of ‘vaccinate or no vaccinate.’"
"Leadership is also knowing when you shouldn’t be creating division, and I think I am showing leadership by not making an issue out of individual vaccination statuses."
Falk said reserving social privileges like restaurant dining for the fully immunized amounts to "discrimination."
He encouraged voters to "do their research" on vaccines, listing the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and health-care providers as credible sources of information.
Ask what his own research into COVID-19 vaccines has led him to conclude about the science behind them, Falk referenced a Public Health England study of 130,000 people that, he said, found "you were 13 times more likely to die from the Delta variant if you were double vaccinated than if you were unvaccinated."
The Carillon asked Falk’s office for a link to the study. None was provided before press time.
In July, fact-checkers from Reuters and the Associated Press debunked blog and social media posts that misconstrued information contained in a June technical briefing from Public Health England on the Delta variant and vaccine efficacy. Data from the briefing actually showed that vaccinated people are not at higher risk of dying from the Delta variant than unvaccinated people.
Falk noted public health experts provide conflicting information on COVID-19 vaccines "on a regular basis."
"And so at the end of the day, people have to do their own research and make a decision that they’re comfortable with."
On Sept. 14, Falk issued an apology for his vaccine comments, admitting his statistics were not correct.
"Vaccines are safe and effective," he said in written statement. "I have and will continue to be an advocate for getting vaccines to every Canadian who wants one. I apologize for any confusion caused by my comments."
He lamented that the pandemic has drawn attention away from other crises, like suicide deaths and opioid overdoses.
Asked about the People’s Party of Canada, Falk said he’s the best candidate to make a difference in Parliament on issues that matter to right-of-centre voters.
"I believe in traditional family values, I am very strongly pro-life, and I believe in financial accountability and stewardship," Falk said.
"I believe in peoples’ individual freedom and rights very strongly, and I see some of these things are eroding, and so I do understand people that have that issue."
Falk called PPC Leader Maxime Bernier "an opportunist" who makes grand promises because he knows he’ll never have to deliver on them.
"He can’t even get elected in his own riding," Falk said.
He also made a strategic argument against vote-splitting.
"A vote for the PPC is a vote for Justin Trudeau, in reality."
If the next government lasts four years, would the 61-year-old Falk serve out a full term?
"That’s a good question. I don’t know if I have an answer for that," he said. "This (politics) was something that I feel I was called into. I’m very sensitive to that, and if all of a sudden I feel that I’ve fulfilled my time and my calling, I think sometimes people stay too long, and I don’t want to be one of those."
"I’m looking forward to serving another term," he added.