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Tory leadership rules designed to favour insiders, says Rick Peterson

Edmonton businessman Rick Peterson said the new rules make it nearly impossible for an outsider to enter the race, and so far he is the only one to do so.

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A candidate for leader of the federal Tory party says new rules are designed to favour party insiders to win.

Edmonton businessman Rick Peterson said the new rules make it nearly impossible for an outsider to enter the race, and so far he is the only one to do so.

Candidates for the Tory leadership have to fork over $300,000 and get signatures from 3,000 party members in 30 different ridings, across seven different provinces. The deadline is less than three weeks away.

In the 2017 leadership contest, entrants only had to come up with $100,000 and 1,000 names. A total of 14 people entered.

“The party realized they had too many candidates the last time but they have gone too far with the pendulum this time,” Peterson, 65, told the editorial board of the Western Standard in a phone interview from Montreal where he was working to gather signatures.

“Signatures are a bigger problem than the money.”

“[The requirements] absolutely favour insiders – but I went into this with my eyes wide open. I don’t think this was the outcome they [the party executive] had in mind when they brought in the new rules.”

Peterson also entered the race in 2017, finishing 12th with 0.7 per cent of the vote. He noted a total of five candidates finished with less than 1 per cent and he was the second choice of most of Maxime Bernier’s supporters. Bernier finished a close second to Andrew Scheer.

“Being in such a crowded field, it was very difficult to get airtime. It was very tough to get your message out,” he said, adding half of Bernier’s ground team is already working for him.

“When Rona [Ambrose] decided not to run it meant there were no voices from the West. There was a big opening for a strong Western voice and a need for one.

“The opportunity to run is very compelling and I would hate to miss it,” said Peterson, adding if the party makes the wrong choice this time it “could be a very long time before we see a Conservative government in power again.”

But being a “small centre” playing professional hockey has given Peterson a taste of the role of the underdog and outsider.

After winning a national hockey championship at the University of Alberta, Peterson moved to play professional hockey in France. That’s where the economist and political scientist learned French and is now completely bilingual.

After watching Kinder Morgan pull out of the TMX project, the businessman founded a group called Suits and Boots, which now boasts over 5,000 members to lobby on behalf of the industry and its workers.

As founder of the group, Peterson spoke in front of a Senate committee on Bill C-69, known as the “no-more-pipelines bill”.

The venture capitalist said any Tory leader must be completely fluent in French. In fact, he said if he wins, he will consider running for a seat in Quebec.

“You have to walk the walk,” said the self-professed “unabashed” federalist.

In terms of his major opponents – Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole – Peterson gives them both failing grades for their lack of fluent bilingualism.

“I would give O’Toole a 3.5 and MacKay a 4. But they have both been in public service a long time and could have learned French if they wanted,” Peterson said.

Peterson said Canada has just moved into a decade that could be the best in the country’s history.

“I talk to business people and entrepreneurs and they are so positive and excited. I am unabashedly bold on the future of Canada,” he said.

“We have to be as courageous and [as] bold as the entrepreneurs. Not a party that looks backwards.”

He said his best hope to sway voters will lie in the two planned debates with the candidates and at the June leadership convention in Toronto.

“Tory members are very thoughtful when you give them your policies. And once you get into debates, candidates’ weaknesses become glaring,” he said.

The Western Standard grilled Peterson on some of the major issues:

PARTY REFORM: Peterson is calling for a major revamp on the way the Tory party operates, including a complete overhaul on the controversial Conservative Fund. He said currently the party makes it very difficult for new members and wants to wave membership fees for those wanting to vote in the leadership race.

“The Liberals are miles ahead of us. We are the only party that makes it difficult to join.”

CLIMATE CHANGE: Peterson wants to eliminate the carbon tax on consumers, but supports a carbon tax on industrial emitters along the lines of the Alberta UCP’s TIER program.

GUN RIGHTS: The avid duck hunter points out he has three golden retrievers. He said the current Liberal firearms plans focuses on hunters and sport shooters and not criminals. “Most Liberal regulations go against my gut nature.”

On anti-handgun laws: “Who am I to second guess police chiefs and people on the front lines when they say the handgun controls won’t work.”

Peterson with his dogs

GAY PRIDE PARADES: “I’ve already marched in gay pride parades. I don’t talk about it because it’s who you are. There are bigger things than that,” Peterson said, pointing out his campaign manager is a prominent member of the LGBTQ+ community in Vancouver.

ABORTION: “The courts have settled this issue,” said the solidly pro-choice candidate succinctly. Peterson added that under his leadership, MPs that introduce private members bills on the matter will be punished.

WESTERN ALIENATION: “When you get outside Montreal people in Quebec are just like Albertans. They are pro-energy,” said Peterson. He also would get rid of a provision in Bill C-69 that gives cabinet a say on mega projects so there can be no “political interference.”

SENATE REFORM: Favours an elected Senate, but will not re-open the constitution to rebalance seat distribution.

EQUALIZATION: “This is something that can be fixed in the first term…in the first year or 18 months. There should be a conversation across Canada so people know what it’s about. We need to look carefully at it because it is at the core of who we are as a country.”

Peterson said that while his campaign will commit to address Equalization, he will not release any proposals for reform or abolition.

Peterson’s full list of policies can be found at www.rickcpc.ca

The Western Standard will be holding editorial board meetings with other candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership throughout the campaign.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

News

Tory leadership hopefuls blast own party for taking wage subsidies

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

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The two top Tory leadership candidates have criticized their own party for accepting federal wage subsidies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

Over the weekend it was revealed the federal Liberal, Tory and NDP parties are all accepting the packages on behalf of their paid staff due to a steep drop in political donations.

In Alberta, the UCP party is also accepting the subsidy.

“Canadians have sacrificed enough,” O’Toole said in a Twitter post on the weekend.

“They shouldn’t have to pay wage subsidies for political parties. Under my leadership the Conservative Party will not take the subsidy and over time will repay the amount it has taken. I call on all parties to do the same.”

MacKay also tweeted he was against the Tory party taking the money.

“Political parties should not qualify for a wage subsidy and Justin Trudeau’s law is flawed. As leader, I would have stopped the application in its tracks. We should not be bailed out by taxpayer money with millions unemployed and small businesses struggling to stay afloat.”

At his daily press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to defend the Liberal Party accessing the funds.

Trudeau was repeatedly asked by reporters on Monday how he can justify his own Liberal party making use of the funding, given the amount his party has already raised this year. He did not directly answer.

“We put in place a wage subsidy that is available to small businesses, large businesses, non-profits and charities to be able to support people who might otherwise be laid off – this is going to be an important part of the economy bouncing back, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

The wage subsidy covers 75 per cent of an employer’s payroll if revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent in one month since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Bloc Quebecois did not apply for the subsidy.

Leader Yves-François Blanchet mocked the Tories and Liberals for using the program despite having already raised millions of dollars this year.

“The money is not a gift provided to the people by the government because they are nice people. It is reserved for businesses, the companies and the people who really need it. And the Liberals don’t need it and the Conservatives don’t need it. Maybe the NDP needs it. Maybe the Greens need it. We do not,” Blanchet told reporters.

According to the National Post, first quarter fundraising for 2020 shows the Conservatives raised $3.8 million, the Liberals took in $2.9 million, the NDP raised $964,000 and the Bloc raised $184,000.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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News

Bigots deface French signs in historic Calgary neighbourhood

Located in the community of Rouleauville, also known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

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Bilingual signs in a historic Calgary neighbourhood have been defaced, with French words being spray-painted out.

Located in the community of Rouleauville, now known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

But vandals have recently gone through the community with black spray-paint and covered up the French part.

“Oh look: Calgary’s bigots have been busy -erasing one tiny French word. Come on guys, we’re a better city than this! #frab ⁦@cityofcalgary⁩ ⁦@nenshi,” Sheila Risbud tweeted.

Defaced signs

Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, responded with disgust.

“These actions have no place in our province and must be condemned. Our government values the role of Franco-Albertans and is committed to ensuring the French language and culture flourish in Alberta,” she tweeted.

Rouleauville, now Mission, was originally named for Charles and Edward Rouleau — brothers who moved to Calgary from Quebec in the late 1800s.

The village had been founded by French Canadian priests. 

In 1907, when the village was annexed by the Calgary its French street names were replaced with the current numbered street system.

Council voted in June to add French to the signs.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP hires fired federal Tory official as new executive director

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

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The Alberta United Conservative Party has a new executive director – the man fired over the Andrew Scheer private school controversy.

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

van Vugt was the executive director of the Fund.

The firing came less than 24 hours after Global News reported that Conservative leader Scheer was using Fund money to send his children to private school, an arrangement van Vugt took responsibility for.

In a statement, van Vugt described the arrangement as “normal practice for political parties” and said “all proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”

The seven-person board, which included former prime minister Stephen Harper, were furious over the arrangement, Global reported at the time.

Other Tories said van Vugt was being made a scapegoat.

Van Vugt replaces Brad Tennant, who left the job to become a vice-president at the lobbying firm Wellington Advocacy. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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