Federal Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer says the “number one priority” for any government is to keep its citizens safe, and he says his party has unveiled “a comprehensive plan to make Canada safer.”
Scheer was in Surrey Friday (Feb. 1) to take questions from the floor at a Surrey Board of Trade “townhall” meeting at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.
“The purpose of the Business Townhalls are to create a unique opportunity for Surrey’s business community to interact with leaders of each of the political parties that are wanting to make economic decisions for businesses,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
The board is giving each leader of the “primary four” political parties – the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada – a chance to stump, and maybe answer some local questions, leading up to the 43rd Canadian federal election set for Monday, Oct. 21.
Scheer was the first.
The first question from the floor was from Karen Reid Sidhu, the executive director for Surrey Crime Prevention Society. Reid Sidhu, referencing the Jan. 30 shooting of a transit police officer by a convicted criminal, asked Scheer what he’s going to do to be tough on crime.
“It impacts our economy,” she said. “If we don’t feel safe in our community, we are not going to be out there. We’re not going to be feeling safe in our community and be able to be the best we can be.”
Scheer said when it comes to crime, Reid Sidhu was “absolutely right.”
“The number one priority for any government is to keep its citizens safe,” he said. “We deserve to be able to live in communities where we don’t have that fear and that apprehension. When we see incidents, as we have unfortunately here in Surrey, tragic shootings, a rise in crime, Canadians want to see action.”
Karen Reid Sidhu asks Scheer if he’s going to be tough on crime, referencing Wednesday’s shooting. The suspect in the SkyTrain station shooting was jailed previously for killing a man in #SurreyBC. Scheer’s response: pic.twitter.com/DFYs1wCde7
— Lauren Collins (@laurenpcollins1) February 1, 2019
Scheer said his party has unveiled a “comprehensive plan to make Canada safer.” He said the plan introduces multiple steps that would address issues such as bail reform, “so that dangerous and repeat offenders aren’t just able to get right back out there in the streets, right back associating with the gang members that got them in trouble in the first place.”
The plan, Scheer said, would also include naming gangs and criminal organizations in the criminal code.
“Right now for a crown prosecutor to get a conviction for a gang-related offense, they have to prove every time that the same groups are in fact gangs and criminal organizations,” he said. “My plan would create a list that once that has been established once in a court proceeding, it would be there forever and that would free up resources to go and actually get the job done by getting the criminals off the streets.”
He said his party would also be tackling the issue of illegal firearms.
“My plan would target the criminals, and would also invest in more funds for our border service agents so they can track the illegal firearms coming in from overseas.”
Other questions from the morning session included issues with tax changes to small business, the housing market, immigration and refugees.
Scheer also visited Cloverdale and White Rock on Friday.