Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre delivered a stump speech at a View Royal construction site Tuesday morning to a receptive crowd of workers, promising more jobs, lower income taxes and faster housing approvals if his party wins the next federal election.
Poilievre, who had started the day with a fundraising breakfast in Victoria, toured one of the half-completed buildings in the 336-unit rental-housing development near Thetis Lake Park, along with Conservative MPs Mel Arnold of North Okanagan-Shuswap and Frank Caputo of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.
After his speech, Poilievre answered questions and posed for photos with workers on the WestUrban Developments site.
Asked by the Times Colonist whether he would increase federal involvement in affordable-housing construction, Poilievre — still dressed in a construction hat and a high-visibility vest — said governments should get out of the home-building business and sell off federal buildings and land to developers. “We need to get the government out of the way and have the fastest building permits in the world.”
Poilievre said his plan requires that cities permit 15 per cent more “housing completions” per year or lose federal funding.
The federal Liberal government has committed to building 29,200 units of housing on federal land by 2029, an initiative that is also largely supported by the NDP.
Asked about the Conservative party’s electoral strategy on Vancouver Island, where the NDP hold six out of seven federal seats — the seventh is held by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May — Poilievre offered no details, saying only: “I start with a common-sense plan, and then I let everyone vote for it wherever they live.”
But Poilievre said he’s planning to return to the Island “many more times” before the next federal election, which must be called on or before Oct. 20, 2025.
The Conservatives began announcing candidates this month in Quebec, Ontario and Prince Edward Island but have yet to announce any in B.C.
With respect to the Liberal government’s pledge to phase out open-net salmon farms off Vancouver Island shores by 2025, Poilievre did not say whether he would maintain that commitment.
Instead, he said he would “work with ecologists, with communities, with First Nations and follow the science in all of these cases to make sure we protect the vital ecology and the livelihoods of our people.”
Poilievre spoke to a packed crowd in a Duncan rally on Monday night, part of a B.C. speaking tour that was postponed in the summer due to wildfires. A member of his team reported cars lining up on the highway for the event and attendance figures that exceeded the capacity of the meeting hall.
But NDP Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor said he isn’t worried for his riding. “He’s very good at giving a speech,” he said. “But I think when you look at the policies that are actually being fought for, that’s where people will see a real difference.”
MacGregor said his 2015 entry into federal politics was in part inspired by politicians like Poilievre, who held prominent ministerial roles in the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. “I saw first-hand how their policies in Ottawa were really hurting my community.”
Poilievre is expected to head back east for a private fundraiser in Kingsville in southwestern Ontario today, with further rallies scheduled for London, Ont. and Kitchener, Ont. this week.
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