I am a retired military officer and fighter pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force. I am a business leader. I am a Christian. I was born in Tory-blue Alberta and grew up in the B.C. Interior. I have never smoked a joint in my life, and I always voted Conservative. You could say I'm not your typical candidate to be a Liberal Member of Parliament. Given the conduct of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, the choice was clear.
Here's how I got here.
My journey "out of the blue" began in 2010 with the Harper government's decision to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets for Canada's air force. Stephen Harper said these planes would replace our aging CF-18s and provide great benefits to Canadian industry. Plus, they would only cost $14.7 billion.
What he said was also completely untrue. I was floored that our government could be so irresponsible with our tax dollars.
The F-35 is technically risky, ill-suited to Canada's priorities and comes with no guarantees. Its real price will be far greater than what Harper claims. The F-35 fiasco awakened me to the ugly truth that I had supported a government that has completely lost sight of everything it said it stood for. The deeper I looked the more disappointed I became.
Today, I see a government that's in constant conflict with the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Supreme Court of Canada; a government that muzzles federal scientists, climatologists and, to a certain extent, our national media. It stonewalls investigations into its own political misdeeds. It passed a so-called Fair Elections Act that stacks the deck in their favour while making it even more difficult for Canadians to exercise their most basic democratic right. It mismanaged the temporary foreign workers program and supports the Northern Gateway pipeline, despite the project's lack of consideration for our environment, First Nations and British Columbian communities.
Harper signed us on to a controversial trade deal with China that leaves Canada open to huge liability risks with no way out for 15 years. Oh, and the Tories hold the dubious honour of being the only government in Canadian history, or the history of the 54 member Commonwealth of Nations, to be held in contempt of Parliament. The contempt charge was a result of the government's refusal to hand over details and budgets of proposed bills.
Then there's the economy. Despite the millions of taxpayer dollars Harper has spent to convince us otherwise, his government has the worst record of economic growth since R.B. Bennett in 1930s. This Conservative government managed to turn 10 consecutive Liberal surpluses into seven straight Conservative deficits that resulted in the biggest national debt in our history.
As an objective, evidence-based thinker I came to the conclusion that Canada needs a new government and that Justin Trudeau's Liberals were our best alternative.
Justin possesses the necessary qualities to be successful. He can lead, he listens and he can make decisions. In a short time he has done more to reform the senate than the Harper government has accomplished in eight years. The Liberals have made positive and proactive moves toward improving transparency by requiring MPs post both travel and hospitality expenses online. Most recently, Justin tabled a private member's bill called the Transparency Act to improve the public's access to information.
Yes, all this as Canada's third party. It's called it leading from the rear. Something I occasionally saw in the military when exceptional leadership was not properly positioned. Justin is a true team-builder who brings a new generation of capable, successful people into public service.
I'm a realist. I don't think government will ever be perfect, but when it deviates so dramatically from the ideal it's time to remind our government whom it works for. This secretive and ideological Harper government has demonstrated it has little respect for Parliament and by extension Canadians.
It's time for change.
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