Federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer came to the Cloverdale Legion on Friday afternoon to discuss issues facing Cloverdale-Langley City constituents with Conservative MP candidate Tamara Jansen.
It was a packed house on Feb. 1, as supporters and community members gathered for an “informal conversation” with Scheer and Jansen, and to hear their answers on veteran issues and small business concerns.
Although neither Jansen nor Scheer made specific commitments to policies, they did speak to broad objectives and personal ideals.
The one-hour session kicked off with Jansen and Scheer relating on a personal level — both are parent to five children.
Jansen, a Langley-area businesswoman who hopes to unseat current Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag in the next federal election, interviewed Scheer for the first few minutes, before turning the microphone over to audience members.
The first question came from a veteran. He asked about the “elephant in the room, or rather, the dog,” gesturing to the PTSD service dog at his feet. He said he was frustrated with Veteran Affairs Canada, and how it “downloads” responsibilities onto province-level services that have massive backlogs.
“If there’s a program, they’ll send you to the province,” he said. “If there’s no program, they’ll send you home.”
| Veterans amongst the audience at a Feb. 1, 2019 event at the Cloverdale Legion.
So how would Jansen and Scheer see Veteran Affairs Canada run?
Scheer said that “when you have specific medical needs as a result of your service, that is the government’s responsibility” to fulfill those needs.
In response to a later question on how a Conservative government led by Scheer would run a Veteran Affairs department, Scheer said he would have “more specifics during the election campaign.” What he could promise was that veteran-related policies would be made “on a founding principle that [veterans] will get 100 per cent of the commitment that was there when they signed on” with the Canadian Forces and that the “rug would not be pulled from under them” in regards to programs being de-funded.
Audience members with small business concerns then took the microphone.
Jansen spoke about her experience as a business owner in Langley, and how it inspired her to get into politics. Before she retired and sold her business to her son, Jansen owned Darvonda Nurseries in Langley Township.
Jansen was frustrated when the Liberal federal government proposed changes to the tax system to end what was referred to as “tax loopholes” in 2017. The plan received backlash in the Cloverdale and Langley City riding, with small business owners expressing that they felt they were being unfairly targeted. The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce even went as far as starting a letter writing campaign in 2017, urging the government to scrap the proposed changes.
Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag held town halls on the topic in the fall of 2017, which Jansen said she attended. “It was so obvious that they were arrogant,” she said of the Liberal government. “They had no clue what we as small business do to create small jobs.”
Jansen also said she was shocked when she found she had to pay significantly more taxes to sell her family business to her son than she would have if she had sold to “a foreign entity.”
Another point of passion for Jansen was recent changes made to the Canada Summer Jobs program. She referred to the 2018 “values test” required of organizations applying for Canada Summer Jobs funding as a “fiasco.”
The Canada Summer Jobs program provides federal funds to organizations looking to hire youth as temporary, full-time help during a summer season. In 2018, applicants were required to state that their organization’s core mandate did not work to undermine constitutional rights. It required an organization to indicate they supported reproductive rights — including access to abortion.
“They were asking business owners a question that has nothing whatsoever to do with what we do,” said Jansen. “I mean, we sold flowers. Why am I checking this box to do that?”
If a business owner asked a prospective employee to answer a similar “test,” they would get “dragged in front of a human rights tribunal,” she said.