IN THE NEWS ~ Things to watch when Parliament returns ~ CBC Radio: The House

Participants: ANDREW SHEER, PETER JULIAN

CHRIS HALL (HOST):

Of course, the opposition parties have their own priorities come Monday. Joining me now, Andrew Sheer, the conservative House leader, and Peter Julian, the NDP House leader. Both of you, welcome back to "The House".

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): Good to be here.

ANDREW SHEER (CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT LEADER): Thanks for having us.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): Alright. Let me start with you, Andrew. You know, the economy is obviously the government's focus heading into next week's session. What's the Conservative priority as it holds the government to account?

ANDREW SHEER (CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT LEADER): Well, there are a few initiatives that we think can be accomplished very quickly, low-hanging fruit, that the government can do to help stimulate the economy without spending a dollar of taxpayers' money. Those are things like approving important pipeline projects that gets our energy to market, or ratifying and finalizing trade deals that lower tariffs around the world to what Canada produces. Our dollar is quite low right now, if we had better trade access, we could reap the benefits of that. So, those are the things that we're going to be pushing the government to do.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): Alright. Peter?

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): Well, we're increasingly concerned with what we're seeing across the country: increase in equality. That means job losses, we're seeing increase in a number of Canadians losing their jobs. We're seeing an erosion of the healthcare system. And these, all within the framework of a record debt-load that Canadian families are carrying. So, action needs to be taken, investments need to be made. And we need to address this fundamental problem of inequality in Canada.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): Alright. Can I stop you just for a second, because neither of you have mentioned infrastructure, specifically. Is that one - Peter, let me start with you - that you believe money can also be moved now?

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): We feel very strongly that those investments need to be made. And I think the Liberals, to be fair, have committed to that. And I expect to see that in the budget.

ANDREW SHEER (CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT LEADER): Well, look, it depends. Infrastructure for the sake of just getting money out the door is not an effective way to stimulate the economy. We've got tens of thousands of people out of work in Alberta and Saskatchewan. And you know, spending money on municipal projects won't help address all those people. When we were in government, we did run infrastructure programs for much needed projects around the country. But we did it also at a time that we were reducing barriers for growth, whether it was reducing taxes, signing trade deals. And what I'm very frustrated by is... The Liberals are talking about things that will make Canada more uncompetitive: increasing payroll taxes, walking away from our trade deal. So, if they're doing that and then saying "but don't worry, we're going to build a bridge here and pave a road there so it'll all balance out", I don't think Canadians buy that.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): Let me start with you, Peter, ISIS, the mission. We've obviously heard that the planes, the CF18s, are coming back. We don't know when nor do we know what they will be replaced by. What's your concern?

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): Well, our biggest concern is cutting off the flow of money to ISIS. They are funding their despicable operations - these are pathological thugs - by selling oil on the market. And yet, I don't believe Canada has taken the action that it needs to do to cut off the flow of finances. It's the money that is fueling ISIS.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): So you'll be pushing that?

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): And we have to... Absolutely! We have to shut that down and it's the money that is the key.

ANDREW SHEER (CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT LEADER): We believe Canada has to do its part in the combat mission; we cannot leave the defense of innocent human beings in those regions, religious minorities, ethnic minorities, at the hands of these barbaric people. We can't leave the defense of the innocents to our allies at a time when every other country involved in this fight is looking at ways to enhance the role that their military's playing. Justin Trudeau has announced he's walking away from it. And if I can just say: what I've never understood on this is his response is that we're doing it because he promised to do it. But that's not a reason. That's kind of, you know... I've got kids, and sometimes I do find myself saying "You have to do that", "-Why?", "- Well, because I told you so". Well, this isn't like that. He has to explain to Canadians what benefit do Canadians receive from withdrawing our planes; how does that add to regional stability, how does that help the fight against ISIS to withdraw our planes. He's never articulated a case for doing that other than just "it was a campaign promise" to get a few points with a certain part of the electorate.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): One last question for you both, specifically outside of whatever the government's agenda might be. Peter, for the NDP, what is the most important thing you need to drive home to voters as you look at this first session?

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): We've lost the good full-time family-sustaining jobs that we used to have in the economy. We're increasingly getting temporary and part-time jobs. And so, what we really need is a government that has a plan in place. Now, the Liberals said they had a plan. We haven't seen much details in that yet. But we'll be pressing the government to put in place those plans to fight inequality, to revive our economy, and that means good family-sustaining jobs, enhancing our manufacturing sector, starting to reinvest in research and development. There are a lot of things that the government can do and I will be pressing the government to keep their commitments and to lay out their plan to address inequality and a failing economic status for most Canadian families.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): Andrew?

ANDREW SHEER (CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT LEADER): I do agree with Mister Julian on the importance of jobs in western Canada. We've seen a lot of people out of work. I just firmly believe that the government cannot create those jobs if it's making doing business harder, if it's increasing payroll taxes, if it's increasing regulatory burdens. They can spend all the money it likes in Ottawa, but if it's making it hard to do business in Calgary, Toronto, Regina, that's not going to work. As a party, I think our task is to show Canadians what the liberal government is actually doing. We obviously lost the last election for a few reasons, but our polling also show that Canadians are pretty satisfied with the actual job we were doing. They supported our policies, they supported our tax cuts. So, it's going to be important, in opposition as we hold them to account, to point out to Canadians and say "this is what you voted for", this is what the Liberals ran on, this is now what they're implementing and hold them to account for that. Because I believe there's a bit of a disconnect between what the Liberals ran on and what they're actually going to be able to deliver.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): Alright. I have to leave it there. Thank you both for joining me this morning. I appreciate it very much.

PETER JULIAN (NDP HOUSE LEADER): Good to talk to you.

ANDREW SHEER (CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT LEADER): Thanks very much for having us.

CHRIS HALL (HOST): That's Andrew Sheer, the conservative's House leader, and Peter Julian, who has the same role for the New Democrats.