The MP for the Battlefords is lending his support to a southern Saskatchewan caucus colleague expected to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Andrew Scheer, MP for Regina Qu’Appelle, announced Tuesday, Sept. 13 that he is stepping down as Opposition House Leader, in anticipation of a leadership bid. While a statement from Scheer said he is still exploring the feasibility of a run, Battlefords-Lloydminster MP Gerry Ritz said in an interview Tuesday that it’s a foregone conclusion.
“He’s made his announcement. He’s just fulfilling his role as the House Leader here at the caucus meetings in Halifax, but he’s also made the announcement that he’s stepping down for that leadership run,” Ritz said. “I’ve been working with (Scheer) for the last, I’m going to say three or four months.”
Ritz said Scheer, who served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2015, will focus primarily on Canada’s economy, and how the country can work together.
“We’re seeing, again, some east-west conflicts when we see pipelines not being built,” he said. “Those are really this century’s railways, that bond this country together and create economic prosperity that creates the jobs that creates the ability to have the social programs that we’re used to here in Canada that we take for granted.”
Ritz said the economy is the foundation on which Canada is built, and pipelines are needed to move product to market. He finds it frustrating that the scheduled National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline proposal are on hold, after being disrupted by protests in Montreal in August.
“It was very unfortunate, a few people that can tear down an industry that drives the economy through Canada, and creates the equalization payments for a lot of those very same people, for the programs that they want in their province of record,” he said. “So it boggles my mind that very few people can hold a democracy random as they did in that instance.”
Ritz and the other members of the Conservative Party caucus are in Halifax for two days of meetings, against a backdrop of the leadership contest scheduled for May 27, 2017 to replace Stephen Harper. There are five registered candidates so far, with three others having declared their intention to seek the leadership.
-With files from CJME’s Sarah Mills
Geoff Smith is battlefordsNOW's News Director, business and agriculture reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @smithco.
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