Conservative Party leadership candidate Patrick Brown says social conservatives would have a place in a party led by him but that he stands firm on his views on topics such as abortion.
In an interview on CTV’s Question Period, Brown pointed to his time in provincial politics when social conservatives were elected while he was at the helm of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
“There’s a place for all conservatives in the Conservative family and you’ll note that when I was leader of the Ontario Conservative party, there was a number of prominent social conservatives who got nominated,” he said. “Certainly, you know, I value their place.”
He said all leaders need to be clear, however, on where they stand on these contentious issues. Brown says he is “pro-choice” and a government under his leadership wouldn’t revisit the debate.
Several party leadership candidates went after Pierre Poilievre during the first official debate last week for not having previously articulated his position on abortion clearly.
Poilievre said on Wednesday he believes in “freedom of choice.”
Brown has also faced criticism for flip-flopping on the issue. As a backbench MP in 2012, he voted in favour of Motion 312, which would have ostensibly ordered a review on when life legally begins.
Asked whether he’d allow a free vote on a bill restricting access to abortion within caucus, Brown said while he respects the rights of MPs to have free votes, he “expects” not to have to go there.
“Our focus will be on getting Canada back on its feet, growing our economy, creating jobs and making Canada the destination of choice in the world for where you want to invest,” he said.
Brown often touts his ability to attract voters in areas the Conservative Party desperately needs to pick up support, such as the Greater Toronto Area.
While he wouldn’t declare his membership numbers to date, he said he’s confident he’ll attract “thousands of new Canadians…from every walk of life.”
INFLATION & ATTACKS ON THE CENTRAL BANK
The Brampton mayor says both international pressures and the federal government’s financial mismanagement through the pandemic is contributing to the high rate of inflation.
“We need to get our own financial house in order,” he said, adding that every sector is facing its own set of unique challenges.
“I look at the most obvious sector when we talk about inflation being the housing sector… there’s more demand than there is supply, and we have a lack of labour to build homes. We desperately need more labour. The approval process at every level of government is too slow.”
Brown says he does not share the same views as his rival Poilievre that Canadians can “opt out” of inflation through cryptocurrency, calling the stance “ludicrous.”
On Poilievre’s relentless attacks of the Bank of Canada, and specifically that he would fire Governor Tiff Macklem if elected prime minister, Brown called it “reckless.”
“I think it’s reckless to have political interference in the Bank of Canada and this is something that I think has shocked many economists and those in the financial markets across the country that a conservative would suggest something like that,” he said.
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
In light of the strains and stresses that COVID-19 has exposed within the health-care system, Brown says more care needs to be done outside of the hospital environment but still within the parameters of a public structure.
“What can we do outside the hospital? … Look at cataract surgery, we’re still doing cataract surgery in hospitals, you can do that in a publicly-funded manner outside of the hospital.”
Brown says he would rescind the Liberal government’s carbon tax and focus more on big emitters globally.
“If anything, if we’re going to be talking about how we can help with environment, we should be considering a carbon tariff at the border, leveling the playing field. You’ve got Canadian manufacturers who, frankly are competing with goods dumped into Canada, from China and India that do not have the same environmental regulations nor labour regulations,” he said.