Wagantall says she is prepared for election

Federal election could come this spring

January 26, 2021, 2:03 pm

Yorkton–Melville MP Cathy Wagantall

With the possibility of a spring election, World-Spectator editor Kevin Weedmark spoke with Yorkton-Melville MP Cathay Wagantall about the possibility of an early election.

Are you hearing much about the possibility of a spring election. I know that Elections Canada has been looking at election ballots for as early as March. Are you hearing much about that possibility?
Well, those are the things really draw attention for us as well—the fact that Elections Canada has been told to prepare, beginning in March and going forward, and as well, they’re bringing in a bill on election preparedness that takes into account the fact that we’re in the midst of a Covid-19 crisis and of course that would change the look of the election, and right now we’re reviewing that bill. Some of it looks promising as far as ensuring that Canadians have a safe ability to vote and enough time to vote. Other than, that we know that Trudeau will probably call the election at his convenience when he feels, you know, it’s good for him. So we’re prepared. I’m preparing certainly at home here. In the riding with our team. We just have to be, I guess, prepared for whatever comes down the pipe.

So what do you do to prepare in a situation like this where you think it might be coming but events might change that?
Basically we want to ensure we have the finances in place. We have a meeting this coming Friday to talk about election readiness.

The reality is, the timeline is unpredictable. I do the basics, I put out some signage so that people are aware and we do a literature piece depending on how long the campaign is, I think it won’t be a long call on their part. So I’ll do one really solid lit. piece to hand out to folks and for me the big thing is connecting with people in any way that I can. I expect that I will still be able to door knock safely. I think there’s nothing better than being face-to-face with Canadians, but we have to do it in a very safe way.

If there is an election this spring, or sometime this year, where do you think the battlegrounds will be?
The battleground will still be Ontario, as far as winning our more seats back rurally there, as well as of course in the GTA area so that, I know, is the focus.

Of course out here, our concerns are being seen as the true choice to defeat Justin Trudeau, in the midst of a great deal of angst within the province here and Alberta as well with how we’re being treated by the federal government in respect to so many different areas.

I saw Mr. O’Toole put out a statement on Sunday trying to distance the party from the far right. Why was that necessary and what’s he trying to accomplish with that?
You know what, I cannot get into his head on that. We have our National Caucus retreat coming up at the end of this week and that’s when we’ll be having significant discussion on those issues. We know the pressure that we tend to face from some left-wing parties. You know the accusations do come, there’s no question that’s a tool they use but from my perspective, out here anyway, I don’t see this is an issue. We’re all Canadians and we’re focused on defeating Justin Trudeau.

So what do you think the big issues are for people around here?
There’s no question the environment, the carbon tax and the clean fuel standard are very hot topics and you know it’s just ridiculous that at this point in time, we’re saddling everyday Canadians with additional taxes is this regard. So that’s something that I will continue to speak out against.

And of course the economy, the need to get people back to work in a safe manner, is huge right now, how we come out of this. There are a lot of different perspectives and what I appreciate is that, even though those perspectives are from one end and to the other we are treating each other with respect and a lot of good research being done by a lot of folks. So, you know, especially in regards I think to continue the isolation in some ways and not in others and then the masks as well there’s been a lot of frustration. I think they just bring it to a whole new level of apprehension and frustration.

Do you think resource issues and energy issues much of a campaign issue? I see, the Keystone XL is cancelled yet again, this project has been on again, off again and you still have a huge differential in Western Canadian crude prices because of that. Do you think that’s going to be an issue at all?
We’re not interested in Trudeau’s lingo and his plans for Canada. We believe in building back stronger, and that includes every aspect of the Canadian economy, including our resource industries. Trudeau has been stepping back to some degree indicating that until 2050 we’re still going to need oil. Why is he coming out with that now and yet being so negative to the point where he shut down our resource industries even before Covid-19 is a very sore spot. So our focus is on championing everything about Canada. Our resource industry is a key part of that as well.

What’s going to be the main message that you’re trying get across in the next election?
The paramount issue to me is that we need to remove the Liberal government and we need to remove Justin Trudeau as our Prime Minister. That has to be our focus but whatever our perspectives are, that is number one and the only way we will do that as, you know Kevin, is to have all Conservative-minded people going in the same direction. And that means electing a Conservative government, and then we can do the things we need to do to get this country back on track.

Do you think there’s some room to move the dial? There’s only a few points separating the Conservatives and the Liberals nationally. Do you think there’s a real possibility to make some headway in the next election?
I want to say yes. I know that we’re obviously following that very, very closely and working across the country together with incoming candidates to ensure that we have the best people possible, and of course the messaging is going to be key and the question is—that window to gain is a narrow window and where do you see the potential to do that? I know even in Toronto when we came so close in that last byelection, that there’s potential.

Again it’s the messaging and getting our leader out, he’s doing what he can with Zoom right now but of course that’s not the same as what we would like to see with an election coming. And especially if it’s sooner rather than later.

I know our convention is in March and the Liberal one is scheduled for April. Of course, my concern there is that they’ll use that convention as their announcement of their platform and then just kick-off from there. So we’ll see what’s going to take place here.

It’s unfortunate that we sit on the opposition side of the floor with so little support from the other opposition parties, but the good thing is that we have been able to find when we have the floor to bring forward motions, that we are able to bring up things that they do all agree on and we’ve made some good in-roads on the issues around China and the issues around “where is the science you’ve been depending on and making your decisions on in regard to Covid-19—show it to us.”

So we’ve been able to do a lot of good work but again it’s a question of control over when that election is going to take place.

Why is this area so different than other parts of the country when it comes to political preference? What is it about the Conservative message that resonates with so many people here but not everywhere?
Well we have to recognize too and remember that we won seats right across the entire country. So there is representation right across the country.

Seats won by not as much as you won yours by?
Oh heavens no.

The seats in this area must be some of the biggest Conservative majorities in the country.
Yes, for sure. Alberta and Saskatchewan, no question.

I do believe it’s our sense of what’s important in life and what isn’t. People here understand the need to work hard to raise our families, where we have the privileges and responsibility to raise them in the way we feel is best.

The way that we communicate, I think is really important. There’s no question, I believe, we are the last bastion of common sense in many ways. Just that sense of home-grown, reasonable, rational, polite sharing of views, and yet very willing to say what needs to be said. I’m very proud to represent the people of this province, there’s no question.