By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Erin O’Toole and Colin Carrie may no longer be a part of the ruling political party, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be taking on new portfolios.
Both the Durham and Oshawa MPs were named to the Conservative’s shadow cabinet under interim leader Rona Ambrose.
O’Toole, who recently lost his bid to become interim leader to Ambrose, will sit as the opposition critic for public safety and emergency preparedness, while Carrie will make a return to segment where he held his first parliamentary portfolio, sitting as the Conservative’s deputy health critic.
“I am very excited about this new role. I’m looking forward to diving into it,” O’Toole tells The Oshawa Express about his new position.
Looking ahead to the upcoming session of Parliament, O’Toole says his portfolio is especially important, given the current world climate, and that his past experiences give him the right tools for the job.
“I think public safety is particularly in this day and age, less than a week after the Paris attacks, is a critical area for Canada,” he says. “I think Rona Ambrose selected me because I have a unique set of experiences. I served in the military, which is an important component of our public safety and security, for 12 years, and then I became a lawyer, so I’m very familiar between the balance you try and strike between ensuring that we have a free and diverse and open society, with the appropriate level of security and ability for police to investigate and foil attacks.”
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals set to start off the new session of Parliament on Dec. 3, O’Toole says that the new leader must be mindful of all Canadians in his course of action, not just those that voted for him.
“My perspective is that people wanted a change as much as style and in overall leadership, but they didn’t necessarily agree with every little promise he made over the course of the last number of months, and that will be the key test,” O’Toole says.
O’Toole says the first big issue he will be addressing the Liberals on is their plan to bring in 25,000 refugees from Syria before the end of the year.
“They ran on having a larger number of refugees than we thought was prudent. That’s fine and we accept that, but they should not be rushing the screening to satisfy some promise made in an election. We want not only there to be security at all parts of accepting these new refugees into the Canadian family, but we want them to be successful,” he says. “So why would they use an arbitrary deadline that was set in the middle of the election for such a large number, 25,000 people, coming from a place like Syria to Canada in the middle of the winter as they’re rushing to find places on military bases and other places to house people. We shouldn’t set arbitrary timelines. We should do this right, and security has to be a part of that.”
A return to health
Meanwhile, Carrie is set to return to the health portfolio – the same area where he received his first parliamentary secretary post in 2008.
“It’s my passion, so I can’t wait. It’s something that our government has invested heavily in, and I’m looking forward to making sure that the new government makes it as big a priority as well,” Carrie tells The Oshawa Express.
The Oshawa MP says the biggest immediate concern for him is that the federal government maintain transfer payments to the provinces and territories, and they don’t fall by the wayside to help pay for the Liberals’ proposed plans.
“We continued transfers to the provinces, even during the economic downturn. We continued transferring six per cent to the provinces every single year, where as the last time the Liberals, under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, faced challenges with their spending, they cut transfers to the provinces for healthcare,” Carrie says, adding the cuts amounted to approximately $25 billion. “I feel that healthcare is a huge priority for Canadians, and we have to continue supporting the provinces and territories in that way.”
Carrie will be serving under Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch. In the previous Conservative government, Leitch served as the Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.