With the Canadian political landscape being such a battlefield of opinions, viewpoints and mud-slinging back and forth between the biggest figureheads in the game, perhaps it was more than a little refreshing for constituents in the Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek riding to get some one-on-one face time with Conservative MP Kelly Block this past week.
Block was embarking on her 2017 New Year Tour, which took her to the community of Dinsmore, Wiseton and Conquest this past Monday, January 16.
In recent weeks, Block has given a thumbs-up to launching an ethics investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as voicing her support for a fellow Saskatchewan politician in his bid for the federal Conservative Party leadership position.
The tour is Kelly’s chance to speak with people in her riding about the issues that are important to them. In a way, the stops in these smaller communities is her way to somewhat ‘reconnect’ with people and remind herself that there is no issue too big or too small for Canadians; in particular, Western Canadians in rural Saskatchewan who many feel are being forgotten about by the federal Liberal government.
In addition to people coming out to ask Block questions, she also wanted to pick the brains of constituents about a number of topics by way of a questionnaire. Those in attendance at locations on the tour were given a consultation that they were encouraged to fill out and mail in to Block. Questions asked included what they thought of the proposed carbon tax, what their concerns were about the roughly $30 billion deficit, investments that could be made to build stronger communities, and if they felt the Liberal government’s policies have improved or decreased their quality of life.
Though Monday was only Day One of the tour, Block was happy with how that morning’s four stops had gone.
“It’s gone very well,” she said. “We stopped in Wiseton, and there’s a small business there that has opened up a place to have coffee, not dissimilar to this community which opened up this facility. We also went to Dinsmore, and stopped in at Milden and did a tour of BridgePoint (Center for Eating Disorders); they had tweeted that they knew about my tour and were hoping I’d stop in, and we actually did a tour of the place. And then here in Conquest.”
As expected, people were asking Block about the carbon tax proposal, as well as road issues in the rural parts of the province.
“In Dinsmore, the carbon tax came up many, many times,” she said. “I recall, about a year and half ago when I was here campaigning, the condition of the highways was an issue. So the carbon tax was one big thing they’re concerned about, and some folks were just glad to see that I was getting out into the community. It’s a chance to connect for me.”
Kelly’s take on the Liberal government, after being in power for the past 15 months, is that they seem to have forgotten what powers Canada, giving them a low grade in their role thus far.
“I think their record speaks for itself,” she said. “We take a look at what’s being reported on a daily basis in terms of the ethical issues they’re dealing with, and certainly you look at the deficit that has gotten much bigger, and with the last forecast right around Christmas talking about where we’re going if we keep going this way. I don’t think they’re doing a great job at all, and they certainly seem to have forgotten some of the industries that drive our country’s economy.”
One of the more interesting facets of Canadian politics being discussed right now is who will be vying for the role of the Conservative Party leader, with ‘Dragon’s Den’ celebrity and businessman Kevin O’Leary possibly throwing his name into the ring. Block has decided to put her support behind someone who also calls Saskatchewan home.
“What I will tell you is that I’ve come out publicly and said that I’m supporting Andrew Scheer, who is a fellow Saskatchewanian,” she said. “He’s a young Member of Parliament, he has a family, and we share a lot of the same values. He’s fluently bilingual and has represented a riding here in Saskatchewan for 14 years. He’s got my vote!”
When it comes to where Conservatives stand on the carbon tax issue, Block says that they’re willing to join in the fight that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been putting up against the proposal.
“We’ve been very vocal, prior to the house rising in December, about the fact that we don’t support a carbon tax,” she said. “We know that some provinces within the country that do have some form of carbon pricing, but we think that needs to be left to the provinces to determine how they’ll go about addressing the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. So we’re fighting right alongside Brad Wall on this issue, very much so.”
For the long-time politician, the best thing about going out on these kind of tours is it gives Block a renewed sense of perspective on what’s affecting everyday Canadians and reminding herself that while she fights alongside the Conservatives on issues in Ottawa, there’s a way of life in rural Saskatchewan that needs to be protected and made to help prosper.
“It’s about connecting with the community and connecting with people,” she said. “When the house is sitting, you don’t get home often enough, and I love rural Saskatchewan; I lived here for twenty years before becoming a Member of Parliament, and I think there’s a quality of life here and a community spirit here that I like to connect with.”