Sorenson turned down shadow cabinet
Battle River-Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson
Battle River-Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson says he turned down the opportunity to sit in Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer’s shadow cabinet.
There were a few eyebrows raised when the former finance minister under Stephen Harper and one of Scheer’s biggest supporters during the leadership race was left out of his roster of critics.
Sorenson, however, said he can best serve the government in his current role as chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
“I really enjoyed where I was at,” he said. “In public accounts, typically, we try to have continuity throughout parliament. … The Trudeau government is doing a lot of spending — well we look at government and departmental spending.”
The announced cabinet was widely considered a party unity measure with many of Scheer’s main challengers for party leadership being named to some of the high-profile positions, including runner up Maxime Bernier who was named the Innovation, Science and Economic Development critic and Michelle Remple who is now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship critic.
Sorenson, however, says there was no need for mending bridges with this cabinet announcement.
“If there were bruised egos or if there were hurts, I’m not aware of them,” he said. “Honestly, everybody was right there, committed to Andrew, committed to the party, unified, working together, realizing we have a big job ahead of us and that we cannot afford another four years of Justin Trudeau.”
Sorenson said the upcoming session, which starts on Sept. 18 will be an important one.
The biggest issue he says they will be discussing in Parliament are the federal government’s proposed tax plan for small businesses.
The Trudeau government says the plan is designed to close loopholes that Finance Minister Bill Morneau says give a number of wealthy small business owners an advantage over other Canadians.
Three so-called loopholes the government is looking at closing include income sprinkling, passive investments in stocks and real estate, and the ability to convert a corporation’s regular income into capital gains.
Sorenson the plan is detrimental to the Canadian small business owner and will only hurt the economy, and local residents are concerned.
“The small business tax increases that Bill Morneau has talked about, I’ve held eight meetings around the riding and it came up at every one of them,” he said.
Sorenson points to specifically the medical field and Canada’s ability to not just attract doctors but to hold on to them. The new small business tax increases will make that extremely difficult.
“Especially if we are going to recruit doctors to the rural areas, every measure the Liberals are bringing forward are going to hurt us,” he said.
This is just one example, but Sorenson says it will hit many small- to medium- sized business owners, including farmers, extremely hard.
With a projected 2017 debt of almost $30 billion in the last federal budget, Sorenson views this purely as a cash grab by a desperate government.
“It is a big step they are taking and it is a step in the wrong direction,” said Sorenson. “If you’re trying to grow an economy, it’s not about how much money you can take from tax payers. Our philosophy was … if you leave money in the pocket of tax payers, you tell them that we want your small- to medium- sized business to succeed. We want you to create more jobs, hire more people, buy that new equipment. That’s what builds an economy. When you start grabbing money from taxpayers they tend to hold onto it pretty tight. When they hold onto it pretty tight, consumer spending and economies tend to stagnate.”
The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will also be discussed at length during the session. NAFTA negotiations are in the early stages and there are stumbling blocks being raised at every step by the three negotiating countries.
Earlier this year, the U.S. put a 20 per cent duty on Canadian softwood lumber, though it received a temporary reprieve at the end of August. There have also been concerns over impacts to the agricultural sector in the renegotiations while the U.S., Canada and Mexico butt heads over labour laws and protections, and improved access to professional visas.
“Changing rules midstream is concerning. It is imperative we have a strong agreement with the United States and moving forward on our exports and on our products that we both produce, manufacture, or export like our energy,” said Sorenson.
The final big issue heading into the session is Omar Khdar and the Trudeau-approved $10.5 million settlement and apology that was handed out to the former Guantanamo Bay detainee. Khadr pleaded guilty to the murder of U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer after being detained and tortured for eight years. The conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. The settlement was arrived at by the Trudeau government to end a lawsuit that claimed his charter rights were violated by the Canadian government.
The settlement has been widely criticized by the public and political parties. It was another issue that was brought up at every stop on his recent tour of the riding.
“The fact he did this while parliament wasn’t sitting, $10.5 million to a convicted terrorist,” said Sorenson. “I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of [calls, letters and emails] into my riding office, and I’ve had about four in favour of the payment.”