EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of profiles on the candidates in the federal election in the Sarnia-Lambton and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex ridings.
Brian Everaert – once a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada – says the People’s Party of Canada is now the true voice of conservative voters in the country.
That’s why the 45 year-old ironworker who is currently working at the massive Nova Chemical expansion has taken up the banner for Maxime Bernier’s new party in Sarnia-Lambton.
Everaert says he had been a Conservative for years, although he didn’t vote in leadership contests. He’d grown tired of the party’s move toward the center. The tipping point for Everaert was the election of Andrew Sheer as leader. He says with more votes reported than cast, it was clear the party wanted to move into liberal territory with Sheer instead of back to the right with Bernier – who placed second in the race.
“The party has become more liberal over the years; the true conservative party is the PPC.”
Everaert watched as Bernier launched his new party and he liked what he heard. Of particular interest to him was Bernier’s take on income taxes. People making up to $15,000 would be exempt from taxes, the next $85,000 would be taxed at 15 per cent, says Everaert. That has big implications for the hundreds of tradespeople in Sarnia, he says.
“We pay huge income taxes; if we’re only having to pay 15 per cent instead of 45 per cent, that’s huge. That’s literally hundreds of dollars a week. That can turn the economy around in Sarnia-Lambton.”
He’s also excited about the plan to remove the Capital Gains tax. “It would put more of our own money in our own pocket.”
Everaert acknowledges the plan comes with a price tag. It would be paid, he says, by eliminating all foreign aid except in emergency situations. “The Liberals sent $2.4 billion or $2.5 billion to South Africa alone to help fight climate change – that stops…When we’re sending money overseas and we’re not taking care of our own, that’s a problem,” he says.
That line of thinking spills over into the PPC’s immigration policy. Everaert says the party plans to cut the number of immigrants coming to Canada from 350,000 a year to 150,000 a year. The party platform says that number could be as low as 100,000. The PPC also wants to tie immigration to jobs and reduce the number of family reunifications. “We’re all for immigration, but we know we have a low-income housing problem; but how do you solve it when you’re bombarding people into the system. That’s not to say we won’t bump it (the number of immigrants allowed into Canada per year) in the future but we want to get things back in shape in our country first.”
Everaert adds shortage of low-income housing has been made worse by successive Conservative and Liberal governments doing nothing. He says the current government simply doesn’t have the money because many immigrants “still do not have a job or are on ‘the (welfare) system.’”
Statistics Canada says in 2017, nearly 80 per cent of immigrants found work in the first year in Canada.
Bernier has often pushed for a smaller federal government with provinces taking more control of issues now in the federal realm. That’s what he wants to do with the issue of climate change, according to Everaert.
The Sarnia-Lambton candidate says Bernier and the PPC don’t deny the climate is changing but “we don’t feel it is an emergency.”
Everaert adds “watching them march little kids around telling them they have 12 years to live, that really bothers me.”
One issue sure to be of interest in the PPC platform in the riding is the plan to get rid of the quota system for farm products such as dairy, eggs and poultry. Everaert says the party plans a “very generous buyout” of quota and says many farmers would want to compete in the free market economy.
“It’s not Canadian…that I can’t go and get cows and start a dairy operation,” he says.
He adds getting rid of supply management would drive down the cost of staples which would benefit low-income Canadians. “Fixing pricing to me is not a Canadian thing…we have to look out for the people who don’t have the means…(supply management prices) are hurting low-income families who don’t have the money.”
Sarnia-Lambton has been held by the Conservatives since 2006. But Everaert – who has run both provincially and municipally in the last two years – believes people will turn to the PPC.
“There are a lot of people tired of the Conservative and the Liberal parties and they’re looking for a change. They are a lot of people who don’t want to talk about it…but they’re going to go behind the ballot box and they’re going to mark their box for the PPC.”
Everaert faces Marilyn Gladu (C), Carmen Lemieux (L), Adam Kilner (NDP), Peter Smith (Green) and Tom Laird (CHP) Oct. 21.