OTTAWA – This afternoon, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke with Prime Minister Trudeau over the phone.
Mr. Trudeau wished Mr. O’Toole and his family well as they await the results of their COVID-19 tests.
Mr. O’Toole called on the Prime Minister to ramp up testing capabilities and methods. Mr. O’Toole emphasized the need to show Canadians that lessons from earlier in the pandemic have been learned as we prepare for the second wave, and for Canada to become more self-reliant by producing more PPE and medical equipment domestically.
Mr. O’Toole reiterated the need for additional support for small businesses, including rent relief direct to businesses instead of landlords. Family-owned companies are teetering on the edge, and there must be more direct support for them. Mr. O’Toole also called for additional support for workforce recovery, especially in sectors like tourism that will be impacted long term.
Mr. Trudeau discussed the desire to “build back better” and highlighted net-zero targets and a more sustainable economy as his goals.
Mr. O’Toole advised Mr. Trudeau that he believes Bill C-69 is unconstitutional, and that much of the western alienation Canada is experiencing today stems from it. Mr. O’Toole suggested that regulatory concerns over the environment need to be developed in partnership with the provinces and that the oil and gas, forestry, and agriculture sectors need the government to show confidence in them to be able to thrive.
Mr. Trudeau and Mr. O’Toole discussed their different approaches to environmental social governance. Mr. O’Toole emphasized that Canadian natural resource industries are global leaders and any Canadian resources prevented from reaching the market are replaced by resources from countries with poor records of human rights and environmental standards. Mr. O’Toole raised the Teck Frontier project as an example of a lost opportunity, noting that it would have contributed over $60 billion in GDP, had many Indigenous community agreements, and industry-leading environmental commitments. Mr. O’Toole also suggested that Indigenous equity ownership and resource revenue sharing models could become a benchmark for major projects.
Mr. O’Toole called on the Prime Minister to provide additional funding to the provinces for healthcare without trying to control how they spend the money. Every province approaches healthcare and long-term care for seniors differently, so an Ottawa-know-best approach should not be applied to how they spend those funds. Mr. Trudeau expressed concern with a lack of accountability for the money.
Mr. Trudeau noted that following the Speech from the Throne, the new legislation would be introduced to address the expiration of the CERB and that the Liberals would also reintroduce legislation related to MAID, sexual assault training for judges, and conversion therapy. Mr. Trudeau also noted he expected Elections Canada to bring forward some changes to the Elections Act regarding voting during a pandemic. Mr. O’Toole underscored the importance of allowing MPs to share their points of view in a respectful manner and noted the Conservatives would be seeking the return of committees to allow the investigations related to the WE Charity to resume as well as the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations and the study of systemic racism in Canada at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Mr. Trudeau and Mr. O’Toole ended their discussion by agreeing that the situation regarding Indigenous and non-Indigenous fisheries in Nova Scotia was reaching a boiling point and there is an urgent need to de-escalate tensions and find a solution.