The Conservative Party, which was decimatedin Canadas three largestcities and lost much of its B.C. power base in 2015, are about to get two new leadership campaign entrants who vowto fix that problem.
Andrew Saxton Jr., son of one of B.C.
s most prominent and successful entrepreneurs, will announce details of his candidacy in North Vancouver on Tuesday. Im a proud British Columbian, and we should be at the table when the next Official Opposition leader is chosen next May, said Saxton, a former finance industry executive who represented the federal riding of North Vancouver from 2008 until his defeat in 2015. Heportrayed himself as a social policy moderate and fiscal conservative determined to help Tories win back the trust of urban Canadians.
We are going to stay close to our base in rural Canada, but in order to be back in government we have to win back urban Canada, and we didnt do it last time, he said in an exclusive interview. Saxton, 52, served as parliamentary secretary to the ministers of the Treasury Board and finance while representing North Vancouver. Like almost all B.
C. urban Tory MPs, he lost his ridingin 2015 in a province where the party took only 10 of 42 seats, far below the results in 2011, when the party dominated by taking 21 of 36 ridings. He is the son of Andrew Saxton Sr.
, who emigrated to Canada from post-war Hungary in 1947 and would eventually become a founding executive in such companies as Laurentide Financial Corporation, King George Financial Corporation, Grouse Mountain Resources, the B.C. Television Broadcasting System and the Granville Island Hotel and Marina Ltd.
The second expected candidate who has scheduled a news conference Tuesday is Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson. A fluently bilingual Alberta native, Peterson ran unsuccessfully for the B.C.
Conservative Party leadership in 2014, and in the past has been critical of former federal leader Stephen Harpers lack of visibility in Vancouver and other big cities. Saxton and Peterson will enter a race that appears wide open after the partys most visible ministers in the Harper era, like Jason Kenney of Alberta, Peter MacKay of Nova Scotia and James Moore of B.C.
, declined the opportunity to take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election, setfor 2019. Declared candidates include MPs Maxime Bernier of Quebec, Michael Chong, Erin OToole, Chris Alexander and Kellie Leitch of Ontario, Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost of Saskatchewan, and Deepak Obhrai of Alberta. Former minister Lisa Raitt, an Ontario MP who now services as the Official Opposition finance critic, is among those also expected to declare their intentions soon.
Saxton portrays himself as a functional though not fluent French-speaker, and as a social moderate and fiscal conservative who understands the sentiments of Canadians in the multicultural big cities. He cited the focus on hot-button issues like the right of Muslim women to wear a face-covering niqab at citizenship ceremonies as one of the partys errors inthe 2015 campaign. It was an issue that was important to some people in some parts of country, but not all people in all parts of the country.
It definitely became a distraction. While Saxtonsaid he will outline his major policy planks during the leadership campaign, he said the focus on winning back cities will includehelping entrepreneurs thrive and aiding Canadians on bread-and-butter economic issues. The cost of living, housing, and job opportunities are all very important issues that need to be addressed.
Saxtonsaid the big fiscal deficits planned by the Trudeau government will eventually putthe entire country in the same situation thatB.C. found itself in duringwhat he called the lost decade of the 1990s, when the NDP ruled the province.
Im very concerned were having the same experience now at the federal level. In a crowded field of candidates touting their fiscal conservative credentials, Saxton said he stands out due to his experience in the finance industry, which included stints with Credit Suisse on Wall Street and as senior vice-president with HSBC Private Banking in Singapore. Im the only candidate who has significant private sector experience in the finance industry, as well experience in government as parliamentary secretary to two significant ministriestreasury board and finance.
On B.C. issues, Saxtonsaid if he became prime minister he would consider at least partly revoking the crude oil tanker moratorium that the Liberals have promised for B.
C.s north coast. That promise, if implemented, would prevent Enbridge Inc.
from shipping diluted bitumen from a proposed terminal in Kitimat. We may have to look at a partial removal (of the moratorium) because we have to have a gateway to get our resources to market, he said, noting that the tax revenues help pay for hospitals and universities. Saxton joined the majority of declared candidates who reject Kellie Leitchs proposal to have a values test for prospective immigrants.
Our values are certainly worth protecting, but to put a screening test (in) isnt workable and it doesnt sendthe right message. On candidate Brad Trosts focus on raising issues like abortion and the need to protect traditional marriages, Saxton said: The Conservative Party is a big tent party, we welcome people who have different opinions. But I will not be revisiting issues already decided byParliament.
Saxton, who attended Torontos exclusive Upper Canada College during his high school years, rejected the notion that he may have trouble relating to working-class Canadians. He said he worked summers to pay for his university education and in fact took his first job at age nine. His mother, the owner of the old Rainbow Lodge in Whistler, told him that summer that he was to dig up and sell worms to guests using rental rowboats to fish on Alta Lake.
He earned $100 that summer. If I write write a book some day Ill call it From Worms to Wall Street, he quipped. It taught me the importance of hard work.