Pierre Paul-Hus: federal elections in times of COVID? “If it is necessary, it is necessary”
The member for Charlesbourg — Haute-Saint-Charles, Pierre Paul-Hus.
Share September 25, 2020 Updated September 26, 2020 at 7:08 am Share Pierre Paul-Hus: Federal elections in times of COVID? “If it is necessary, it is necessary”
Olivier Bossé Le Soleil POLICY IN QUESTIONS / The Conservatives refuse to support the Speech from the Throne promulgated by Justin Trudeau's government this week, even if it means calling a new federal election. Member of Parliament for Charlesbourg — Haute-Saint-Charles and critic of the official opposition in Ottawa in matters of public services and supply, Pierre Paul-Hus looks at the future of things in the Commons in times of pandemic.
Q What were your first impressions of Justin Trudeau's Speech from the Throne and Address to the Nation on Wednesday?
A I was very disappointed. Like most political observers in Quebec.
National unity was essential for the Conservatives. Many parts of Canada have issues, so unity is important. And the first thing Mr. Trudeau does is interfere with provincial jurisdiction, particularly in health. For us, it was an affront to the provinces, particularly Quebec.
Also, we understand that we have had and still need programs to help entrepreneurs and the population against the economic effects of COVID. But the fact remains that we see a flagrant lack of control of public finances. We are announcing programs that have nothing to do with COVID, but which will cost billions and billions of dollars, without putting a budget on it and without means of control.
Q Barring a surprise, the NDP will vote for the Speech from the Throne and the election is not yet over. What do the Conservatives plan to argue in the coming weeks?
A We are asking to regain control of public finances, after having widened a deficit of $ 353 billion for six months.
We must continue to have assistance measures for COVID, but imperatively tighten the rules. Above all, we must not start creating new structural programs, which will further widen the Canadian deficit. We can't afford more.
The Liberal government's response to say that we have low interest rates is totally stupid! We can have low rates right now, but we don't know what it will be in six months, in a year, in two years. And we must not forget that these deficits will accumulate, add to the debt and we will have to pay interest! Just for the $ 353 billion, we're talking about $ 18 billion a year in interest. This is money that we will have to take from the budgets and that we will not be able to put elsewhere.
Q How do you justify an election in times of crisis, whether this fall or spring?
A The COVID situation is not ideal for holding an election, we understand. However, New Brunswick has just held one, British Columbia launched one on Monday. If the provinces do it, it is not impossible. There are situations where if you don't have a choice, you have to go. In the interest of Canada.
We could even go back five years, but here, it becomes even more obvious that with Justin Trudeau at the head of the country, we cannot continue any longer. If we have to hold an election, there will be means, while respecting sanitary measures, to proceed. We agree that it is not ideal, but if it is necessary, it is necessary.
Q The arrival of a new leader among the federal Conservatives is changing the dynamic, both within the party and with other parties. What marks the arrival of Erin O'Toole?
A What strikes people is to see his leadership. He's a confident guy who knows where he's going. Also, his approach to Quebec put forward during the leadership race, his platform, the positive encounter with François Legault. A Conservative Party that respects areas of jurisdiction, that works in collaboration with Quebec, that is what will appeal to Quebeckers.
Erin O'Toole is a man who shows leadership, who has been in the military, who has very down-to-earth values. Also, the two founding peoples who created this country, the French and the English, are important to him. This is why the recognition of Quebec is very important, as is the representativeness of Quebec.
Q Other provinces have adopted the cell phone app to detect COVID contacts, including Ontario. Should the Quebec government impose it?
A From a theoretical point of view, this application can be useful. On the other hand, from a practical point of view, the problem is respect for private life, the transfer of information. There is a lack of reliability. That is why Quebec did not want to take it, because cybersecurity experts have expressed reservations.
It is not true that the application works in standalone mode, there may be hacking on devices. So, as long as there is no confirmation that the software is safe from hacking or data theft, we must continue to have reservations about its use.