John Brassard recognizes Ottawa politics will have a different dynamic this time.
Re-elected to a second term as Conservative Barrie-Innisfil MP, Brassard says the minority Liberal government must function on another level than the previous majority Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enjoyed 2015-2019.
“Everybody is going to have to work together in order to make sure that we meet the challenges that are facing Canadians,” said Brassard, 55. “It’s a very interesting dynamic. The Trudeau government will have to ensure that it works with opposition parties.”
Parliament is scheduled to resume Thursday, Dec. 5 – with a speaker selected in the morning, the Throne Speech in the afternoon – before a short session leading to the Christmas break for MPs.
Brassard has a long list of priorities for Canada’s new government – affordability, climate change, international challenges such as the rise of protectionism in trade, expanding Canadian trade markets, the impact of artificial intelligence and how it affects future employment, and the transition to a greener economy.
There’s also a very real feeling in western Canada that they’re not being heard in Ottawa, Brassard said, noting it’s documented that more than 100,000 jobs have been lost in Alberta alone.
There wasn’t enough emphasis on these issues on the recent campaign trail.
“The thing that was most disappointing to me in the course of this election was that it did turn into a personality, not policy, debate. I think that was everybody’s fault,” Brassard said. “My hope is, as we head into this Parliament, that we put this election behind us and start focusing and working on matters that are important to Canadians.”
Brassard sits on the leadership team of the Conservative Party of Canada and is involved in the tactics and strategy in the House of Commons. He says the priority is to govern.
“I don’t think there is a real appetite on the part of Canadians for an election anytime soon,” said Brassard. “What Canadians expect us to do is to get to work and face these issues that are important to them and their families.
“That’s not to say that we are always going to agree on things. Our job is to oppose the government.
“We’ve got to make sure, in opposition, when the government spends or invests money…that it’s being invested in the right way and in the proper areas.”
But Brassard says good ideas can come from any party and the new Parliament must embrace this idea.
Another change in this Parliament will be the composition of committees. Liberals had a majority on committees in the last Parliament, and could control how they worked, but not this time. Brassard would like the environmental committee, for example, to look into climate change and really dig into that issue.
In that vein, the former Barrie city councillor notes the Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund, 2007-2017, saw significant reduction in the lake’s phosphorous loads and fish habitats were restored. Its funding was cancelled in 2017, Brassard said, but the Liberals announced they will re-instate it. Brassard said the Conservatives will hold the Liberals to their word.
“They stood on the shores of Lake Simcoe and they said they were going to make that commitment,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that they live up to that commitment.”
Brassard says affordability remains the singular, most important issue to Barrie-Innisfil residents – household debt, future employment and just paying the monthly bills.
“There’s a lot of affordability anxiety that exists, and we’re going to have to make sure that we address that on behalf of Canadians,” said Brassard, who was a Markham firefighter for more than 30 years.
John Brassard will be sworn in as Barrie-Innisfil Member of Parliament at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 in Ottawa, with 35 friends and family expected, including wife Liane and their children Jeff, Courtney, Matt and Mitch.
Brassard was Deputy Opposition Whip in the last Parliament, a role he will continue to play this term.