Conservative leader Andrew Scheer outlined his vision for the North on Wednesday in Whitehorse, speaking at a luncheon organized by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
The trip is Scheer’s first to the Yukon capital since becoming the leader of the federal Conservative Party, who are currently leading the incumbent Liberals in national polling ahead of a fall election.
During the luncheon, Scheer gave a broad-strokes outline of his northern vision, saying that a Conservative government would set aside special infrastructure funding for the territories, and that he would reform the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency to make it more responsive to local needs.
He pledged to offer specifics as part of his platform in the lead-up to the election.
“We know that in the North, you have specific challenges, and in the past, Conservative governments have had an Arctic and a northern strategy,” Scheer said.
“And I’m here to tell you today that throughout the campaign we will be making key announcements, specific policy proposals, that will speak to those concerns that will unlock the untapped potential in so many parts of Northern Canada.”
Carbon plan questioned
Scheer also reiterated his plan to scrap the carbon tax, instead replacing it with incentives to develop green technology. The tax came into effect in Yukon just days earlier, on July 1.
“As a government we’re going to be using our policy tools to incentivize that research and technological innovation,” said Scheer. “We’re going to set the parameters for success so that the free market can do what it has done for generations in this country.”
That policy proposal was met with some criticism. Shane Wolffe, who runs an energy efficiency consulting business in Whitehorse, said that the Conservative Party’s platform for the environment isn’t sustainable.
“We don’t need more research and development,” Wolffe said. “We need people doing the work. And that’s what the carbon tax is supposed to fund.”
Scheer also addressed the issue of unemployment in Indigenous communities, saying that his government would attempt to tackle the problem with a multi-pronged approach.
“We must have a component that is engaged in outreach for the Indigenous population, providing skills and training to get them to the point where they can be qualified for [jobs],” said Scheer.
“While at the same time, addressing some of the root causes of that unemployment. Some of the social issues that are going on within the community,” he said. “Making sure that there’s access to resources for families, whatever challenges may be existing.”
Scheer also met with First Nations leaders during his Whitehorse visit.
Yukon is the second territory Scheer has visited this summer. Two weeks ago, he spent time in Iqaluit with former Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq.
Related stories from around the North:
Finland: Finnish EU presidency to work on stronger Arctic policy, climate change mitigation, The Independent Barents Observer
Norway: Unfazed by youth climate protests, Norwegian gov expands Arctic drilling, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Warmest winter ever on the Northern Sea Route, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Local councils in Sweden more interested in climate change preparedness, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska’s largest city unveils climate plan calling for 80 percent emissions cut by 2050, Alaska Public Media