Hoback touts Conservative team, slams Trudeau at campaign kickoff

Conservative Party candidate Randy Hoback cuts the ceremonial ribbon to officially open his new campaign office at 2333A Second Avenue West. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Conservative candidate Randy Hoback says he’s taking nothing for granted as he opens his campaign for a third consecutive term in office.

The incumbent MP for Prince Albert spoke briefly to the crowd of supporters who gathered to open his new campaign office on Second Avenue West Thursday evening.

Hoback focused on policy during his short speech, telling voters the Conservative Party would be responsible with public tax dollars, and emphasizing that they weren’t just electing him, they were electing a team.

During a media scrum, however, Hoback took aim at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who Hoback criticized for embarrassing Canada in front of international leaders.

“A lot of people say they just want to get rid of Trudeau,” he said when asked what the number one issue was for voters in Prince Albert. “They’re upset with Trudeau. They’re upset with how he conducts himself on the world stage. They’re upset with his policies in the oil and gas sector. They’re upset in the agriculture sector.”

Hoback singled out Trudeau’s weeklong trip to India in February 2018 as one of many instances where the Prime Minister embarrassed Canada. He also chided the Trudeau for his handling trade disputes with countries like China, who stopped importing Canadian pork in June due to safety concerns.

He said those slipups, combined with a recent Globe and Mail report that the federal government would not lift cabinet confidentially while the RCMP looks into the SNC-Lavalin affair, have voters looking for change.

“This last election in 2015 you wouldn’t get a crowd like this because people were generally okay,” Hoback said. “It was fine. It was happy go lucky, but they’ve seen four years of Trudeau and what it’s done to them and their families, the impact it’s had on our economy … and they don’t want any more of it.”

“You want an ethical person to be your Prime Minister,” he added. “You have this person out on the world stage, the other global leaders are saying, ‘well this guy’s unethical.’”

In response to the Globe and Mail report, Trudeau has argued his government has made “the largest and most expansive waiver of cabinet confidence in Canada’s history,” and that he respects the decision made by the clerk of the Privy Council. Hoback argued that Trudeau isn’t telling Canadians the truth about what he isn’t and isn’t allowed to reveal.

When it comes to policy, Hoback touted his party’s plans to lower taxes and support the oil and gas sector. He said voters concerned about climate change should embrace pipelines as a safer alternative to transporting oil, and argued Canada should be exporting more oil, not less of it, so that other countries like China could reduce their dependency on coal.

“We’re an exporting country,” Hoback said. “We have great technologies. The world needs our technologies, and if you want to tackle climate change and the environment, embrace Canadian technologies and do it with Canadian technologies. That’s what you’re going to see from the Conservative plan.”

The Conservative Party platform promises to immediately repeal a number of Liberal energy policies, including the federal carbon tax. Instead, the Conservatives plan to develop a Green Investment Standards Certification program that requires all companies who exceed their allowable emissions threshold to spend a proportionate amount on an eligible clean tech investment. The party claims this would reduce emissions and operational costs for the companies involved.

Hoback closed the interview by saying he’s looking forward to running a positive campaign.

“We’re going to do everything we can to be attractive for everybody,” he said.