Conservative Party leadership race | Charest wants to be in the Commons quickly if he becomes leader

(Ottawa) Jean Charest intends to enter the House of Commons as quickly as possible, thanks to a by-election, if he becomes leader of the Conservative Party on September 10.

Posted at 9:00 a.m.

Joel-Denis Bellavance

Joel-Denis Bellavance
The Press

The former Premier of Quebec, who represented the federal riding of Sherbrooke from 1984 to 1998 before making the jump to the provincial scene, confirmed his intention to use the necessary means to occupy as soon as possible the seat of leader of the official opposition in the Commons if members of the Conservative Party choose him as the next leader.

No decision has yet been made as to the riding he could choose for a possible return to the federal scene. Currently, the riding of Sherbrooke is held by Liberal MNA Élisabeth Brière.

It’s a good question that I really like, and the answer is yes. I think it would be important for me to be able to enter the House of Commons within a reasonable time.

Jean Charest, candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada

“Obviously, we don’t control the situation insofar as it is the Prime Minister who determines the date of a by-election. And you have to find me a constituency. But I can’t wait to have that problem,” added Mr. Charest in an interview with The Press friday.

He will participate in the show Everybody talks about itSunday evening at Radio-Canada.

MPs had resigned for Mulroney and Chrétien

In the past, it happened on a few occasions that a member of a political formation left his seat in order to allow a new leader to enter Parliament.

So when Brian Mulroney was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1983, Central Nova MP Elmer MacKay resigned to allow his new leader to run in a by-election. Mr. Mulroney was easily elected and was able to take his place in the Commons as Leader of the Official Opposition. In the general election that followed, Mr. Mulroney ran for office in his native region of Baie-Comeau.

In 1990, Jean Chrétien followed the same formula after being elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada four years after leaving politics. He sought the votes in the riding of Beauséjour, New Brunswick, which had been liberated by Liberal MP Fernand Robichaud, in order to lead his troops to the Commons. In the 1993 general election, Mr. Chrétien was re-elected in the riding of Saint-Maurice.

Hard on the Freeland budget

In an interview, Mr. Charest also harshly judged the federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, saying that it contained no credible economic growth plan and left public finances vulnerable to other economic shocks.

“The budget has a major flaw: there is no real plan for economic growth. This is sorely lacking in Canada. We need to grow our economy. The contrast is stark because the Trudeau government is spending. But to spend, you have to have money, you have to have income. We must have an economy capable of supporting the level of government spending,” said Mr. Charest.

“There is $50 billion in additional spending in this budget that is permanent. It is the highlight of the budget that is the most worrisome,” added the former Prime Minister.

Mr. Charest cited the Trudeau government’s decision to launch “a world-class Canadian growth fund”, which will be capitalized with $15 billion over five years.

“The government will collect taxes to build a fund of 15 billion to spend to support businesses. They will therefore tax companies to support companies on projects that they believe are advantageous. But if they created more favorable economic conditions, companies could invest themselves to create prosperity and generate income,” he said.

Mr. Charest considered that the Trudeau government’s record of stimulating investment is not very rosy, pointing to the creation of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was to make it possible to finance mega infrastructure projects in the country with the help of the private sector. The results are very mixed so far. This Crown corporation was offered a prize pool of $35 billion.

“The Infrastructure Bank never took off. It is the only bank in Canada that is still looking for a client,” he said.

Already some suggestions

Over the past few days, Mr. Charest has begun to unveil a series of policies as part of the leadership race. Among other things, he proposed to increase the national defense budget to 2% of GDP and to pass a Critical Infrastructure Protection Act banning illegal blockades like those that took place on the bridge between Windsor and Detroit. in February. He plans to unveil other policies in the coming weeks.

Mr. Charest is on a list of more than half a dozen candidates who are running for the leadership of the Conservative Party. The Conservative MP for Carleton, Pierre Poilievre, is considered the leader of the race. Events in which he participates attract many activists and curious people. Some events attracted some 1,000 people, notably in Lindsay, Ontario, and Vancouver.

Candidates have until April 19 to confirm their intentions.

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