Good evening. I’m Erin O’Toole, leader of the Official Opposition and of Canada’s Conservatives. As many of you know, my wife Rebecca and I have COVID-19. We have been isolating here at home like thousands of Canadians have throughout this pandemic. But it was important for me to find a way to safely connect with Canadians tonight. The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. Please be mindful of that in the weeks ahead.
We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, our country is more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage. Across this country, millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. Many fear losing their homes. And too many have lost hope. Mr. Trudeau says we’re all in this together but Canada has never been more divided. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, we’re now facing a unity crisis in the west and in the east as well. His Throne Speech has just demonstrated that things will be worse in the future. Mr. Trudeau fails to understand the real needs of ordinary Canadians.
Post-pandemic, and with high unemployment, we need jobs for Canadians. We don’t need just fine words. Mr. Trudeau told millions of Canadians that building back better doesn’t include their family. I believe we need to build back stronger as a country. We must be more resilient and self-reliant for the future. The pandemic showed we can only count on ourselves in a crisis. We need to be more nimble and community focused. We need to be working together to support one another and protect the vulnerable. When I spoke with Mr. Trudeau last week, I asked him to ensure that Canadians had better and faster access to COVID testing options. It is
unacceptable that we trust countries like Japan, Germany and the U.S. with our national security intelligence but don’t trust their approval of 15-minute saliva tests.
In March, the prime minister promised that rapid testing for Canadians would be his top priority. Half a year and half a trillion dollars later, Canadian families are lined up for hours for tests because the prime minister failed to deliver. I also asked the prime minister to offer solutions for Western alienation. We must show our fellow Canadians that we value them and respect their contributions to our country. Resource revenues contribute to building of roads and hospitals in every corner of this great country, not just in the provinces where the resources are found. Our country was built on exploration, hard work and perseverance, and these character traits are even more important today as we rebuild. I also asked the prime minister to outline practical help for small businesses. COVID-19 has been devastating to small businesses, especially family-owned businesses. The pandemic continues to devastate small and medium business across the country. Several companies have not received assistance with their rent, for example. They need our help now. After four years, we’re stalled. Small and medium businesses deserve our help and our respect because they really could make a huge contribution to creating jobs for Canadians. It’s quite unfair to forget them and leave them out.
Canada’s foreign policy must be built on our interests and values. I believe in free trade, but I also believe in fair trade where countries follow the rules—free trade amongst free and democratic countries. For far too long. Canada has paid a high price for trade with communist China. The price has been too high for Canadian access to safe, reliable PPE in a pandemic. The price has been also too high for many Canadian workers. We must open up new, dependable markets in the Indo-Pacific and work with our allies to rebalance global trade. We will show the Communist Party in Beijing that we are a proud trading nation, but that the one thing not for sale is our values.
So my first big speech as Conservative leader was at 1:30 in the morning and now my second is from my front porch while I’m recovering from COVID. This was not the first month I had planned, but as I told my team two weeks ago: ‘through adversity to the stars.’ Canadian families, whether mine or yours, will get through everything. We must do so together with our shared faith in the true north, strong and free. Thank you.