The Conservative Party leader is on Vancouver Island this week talking about tough-on-crime policies and new approaches to dealing with the drug overdose crisis.
Federal Tory leader Pierre Poilievre held a rally in Nanaimo on Wednesday, March 15, and has another planned for Greater Victoria on Thursday, March 16.
Poilievre arrived in Nanaimo via seaplane and he said almost immediately, a community member approached him and showed him security video of backyard intruders armed with clubs and knives. The Conservative leader also referenced this week’s shooting at a Nanaimo homeless encampment.
He said his party, if elected, would bring in “common-sense” bail reform requiring newly arrested repeat violent offenders to stay in jail at least until their trial and sentencing in done.
“I’m all for giving a young person who makes one mistake a second chance – rehabilitation, get them back to their lives, get them a job and let them have a new start; I’m fine with that,” Poilievre said. “But when someone is committing 30, 40, 50, 60 violent offences, they’ve got to stay in prison.”
He said the current catch-and-release justice system is expensive because of the additional policing necessary, and he also thinks tougher penalties will deter crime.
Poilievre talked as well about his recent announcement that a Conservative government would launch lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, seeking billions in damages for their part in the opioid crisis. The idea is that the federal government could then use that money for recovery and treatment programs.
“We’ll detox addicts, give them a safe place to stay for 90 days to have counselling and work out the underlying psychological problems that led to their addiction and come up with a life plan that will get them back into the world drug-free and happy,” he said.
The federal funding would be used to build and buy residential facilities for rooms and beds, and also to staff those facilities, he said, and he wouldn’t be keen on allowing provinces to determine how best to use new federal dollars to deal with the issue.
“I will want results for the money we spend,” he said. “The federal government will only pay for recovery and treatment, mostly in-patient, that delivers results.”
At a rally and meet-and-greet at the Nanaimo Fish and Game Protective Association clubhouse Wednesday evening, he touched on a range of subjects including gun laws, freedom of speech, foreign interference in elections, fiscal management and taxation. It was Poilievre’s second rally in Nanaimo in eight months and he told the News Bulletin he believes his priorities of lower prices, homes people can afford, safe streets and powerful paycheques will deliver Conservative victories in Vancouver Island ridings.
“There’s a lot of working-class people on Vancouver Island and they’re tired of being punished for doing the right thing … All theses paycheque penalties punish hard work and that’s why people can’t get anywhere,” he said. “I’m going to bring home more powerful paycheques by cutting income taxes so we reward hard work again.”
His meet-and-greet event Thursday, March 16, is at 6 p.m. at Sidney’s Viscount Aero Centre.