Conservative Party candidate speak at Queen's town hall

Michael Chong addresses student's concerns over the environment, employment and the future of the Conservative Party.

Michael Chong, Conservative Party leader candidate speaking at Queen`s town hall.

Chong spoke to Queen’s students in a town hall as a part of his campaign to be the Conservative leader that will face up against Justin Trudeau in the 2019 election.

Chong is the MP from the Wellington-Halton riding. 

Serving in the Harper cabinet before resigning for political reasons, Chong has taken part in many conservative circles along with being a party reformer. 

During the town hall, Chong brought up the need for the Conservative party to update itself in order to stay relevant in a modern world. 

Chong said he would do this by distancing the party from the divisive issues that were so detrimental to the Harper government in the 2015 election and focusing on creating financial stability and improving the economy to benefit all Canadians.

Chong explained that he wishes to create a Conservative party that appeals to much larger numbers of younger voters. To Chong, the Conservative Party must gain back some of the ground they lost by becoming what he calls a “big tent” party.

A “big tent” party is a political party that accommodates a large difference of political opinion within its policy. 

When asked about the process of creating a “big tent” party, Chong outlined the importance of listening to the concerns of all Canadians, even those within his party whose rhetoric may be divisive, in order to create compromises that conservatives from across the party spectrum can agree on.

Chong faced questions ranging from the military budget and Canada’s role in an unstable world, to skyrocketing housing prices in urban centres and how he would make housing affordable for young people in Canada. 

Chong explained that his plan to do this includes privatizing the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which he hopes would make housing affordable to all Canadians. 

According to Chong, this will reduce the expansion of government backed mortgage credit, which he argues is the largest single contributor to the increased housing unaffordability in Canada.

Chong was asked about his plan to enhance employment opportunity for recent Canadian university grads to which he responded, “we will introduce one of the biggest jolts to the Canadian economy in our first budget after the 2019 elections. In our spring budget of 2020 we would introduce an $18 billion corporate and personal income tax cut, a tax cut that would be the equivalent of almost 1 percent of GDP that would provide an immediate jolt to the Canadian economy and help kickstart  economic growth and investment in our economy. That is the biggest single thing we can do right now.”

Chong proceeded to explain his plans to effectively combat climate change, which is a large part of his platform. 

“I would eliminate the coal-fired electricity regulation, the passenger car and truck regulation, the heavy duty automotive truck regulation, the fuel efficiency regulation, I would get rid of them all!” Chong said when asked about the expansion of environmental regulations in Canada.

When asked about his thoughts on the sustainability of pipelines he answered that the solution wasn’t to simply halt construction of new pipelines, but create effective regulations. 

“Canada used to be heavily polluted from that ground level smog and for the government of the day, the real problem was getting down emissions. But our solution was not to stop construction of the 401, or stop the construction of new streets or roads. No they said let’s regulate emissions at the source, let’s mandate new emissions ... Now our air is much cleaner than it was in the 70s” Chong said. 

Chong said that he would “100 percent reopen the Keystone XL debate” if the Trump administration decides to move forward with the project. 

The town hall ended with a standing ovation as Chong thanked the crowd. 

Chong will compete against candidates such as Maxime Bernier and Kevin O’Leary for the head of the party. The party registration deadline is March 28 with the election to be held on May 27 in Toronto. 


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