Conservative MP candidate Helena Konanz met with Anarchist Mountain residents at the community’s Summit Centre earlier this month to discuss her platform and hear their concerns. (Vanessa Broadbent photo)
By Vanessa Broadbent
Justin Trudeau’s spending and tax increases dominated conversation when Conservative MP candidate for the South Okanagan – West Kootenay candidate Helena Konanz met with residents of Anarchist Mountain earlier this month.
Konanz, a former Penticton city councillor and first time MP candidate, met with locals at the Summit Centre on Anarchist Mountain to share her platform and hear constituents’ concerns.
Konanz told residents that since being nominated, she’s heard worries about the current Liberal federal government from constituents.
“There’s one thing a lot of people have in common: that they’re not happy with the current government,” she said.
Many of these worries, Konanz said, are a result of increased taxes.
“People are worried about things like paying for groceries or hockey for their kids or paying their Fortis bill.
“A lot of these people are middle class people and they work really hard for their money and they are worried about their taxes, how much they’ve gone up.”
To pay off the Liberal’s $18 billion deficit, Konanz said the Trudeau government will need to raise taxes and include initiatives like the carbon tax.
“What’s interesting is it’s been proven that the provincial carbon tax does not work and there’s more CO2 emissions in the air since the policy has gone through,” she said.
• Read more: Conservative nominee Helena Konanz says time is right for 2019 federal election bid
Konanz said she believes that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will drop the carbon tax, and instead the party will invest in technology.
“It’s important to Canadians to be responsible environmentally and we’re known throughout the world as that. Carbon tax does not solve that problem so we need to entice businesses to run cleaner and invest in technology.”
A carbon tax has a stronger impact on residents in rural areas, including the South Okanagan, Konanz said, unlike cities and urban areas where public transit is more accessible.
“To get around here we have to drive cars,” she said. “Down the road there will be a phasing out of fossil fuels, but let’s face it, right now, especially if you live in an urban area, we are the ones being punished.”
Citing her experience as a city councillor, Konanz said one priority is being fiscally responsible.
“If you were to talk with any of the city councillors that I sat with they would say that Helena is fiscally responsible with how she votes and how she approaches things,” she said.
When asked about immigration, Konanz said there’s been a lack of leadership on the issue.
“I believe it needs to be fair and compassionate; fair in that there’s a lot of really good people who have been waiting a long time to come in to this country, and now they’re being neglected for people who are crossing the border right now,” she said.
“It needs to be approached completely differently.”
• Read more: Pipeline opinions mix like oil and water
As for building pipelines, Konanz shared her support.
“It’s a safer way to transport (oil) in every way and it’s what we need to do,” she said. “There’s certain things that are good for this country and one of them is getting the pipelines and transporting oil from coast to coast.”
Konanz noted that a decline in Calgary’s economy and office towers sitting empty in the city’s downtown are an “obvious indication” of the need for a pipeline.
While not as obvious, she said the impact locally is “more insidious.”
“People aren’t getting hired for positions in companies that are connected with the resource industries. They are having to move away and for some reason our schools are closing.
“This is affecting us locally as it is everywhere,” Konanz said.
One resident asked Konanz if she’s worried that Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada will siphon votes from the Conservative party, splitting the right-wing vote and allowing the Liberals to claim leadership again.
“I think that we have to take every party seriously,” she responded. “I think that you don’t let your guard down.”
As for her opinion on Scheer, Konanz shared confidence in his leadership.
“I think he’s going to be a great leader and he’s a better leader every day as he approaches the election,” she said. “If you listen to him speak now, he speaks so much stronger and more authoritative than he did even a few months ago, and I do believe he’s very approachable.”
Konanz said she’s also received a lot of support from both Scheer and his party. Scheer mentioned Konanz in a Conservative caucus speech in January.
“He mentioned a few candidates that he felt were going to make a big difference in the party and he mentioned me,” she said. “I feel really honoured that he mentioned me out of the four people that he mentioned in the country but I plan to work hard for you and I want to have an influence on the decision making.”