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Conservative David Busch promises Saanich-Gulf Islands voters to be a voice at the table

Unlike incumbent Elizabeth May of the federal Greens, Busch believes he can shape policy as part of a Conservative government
Conservative candidate David Busch, here seen with his family, calls the current federal election unnecessary and potentially reckless. (Jeff Slater/Submitted)

David Busch doesn’t mince words when asked whether he thinks the current federal election campaign is necessary.

“This was completely unnecessary,” said Busch, the Conservative candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands. “And I only hope that Dr. (Theresa) Tam got it right this time when she says it is totally safe, because otherwise it is utterly reckless as well.”

A lawyer who previously worked in health care as a critical health nurse, Busch later said he looks forward to the next 30-plus days of the campaign, as he runs against incumbent MP Elizabeth May for the second time in less than two years, having finished second in the fall of 2019 with 13,784 votes, almost 20,000 votes behind the former Green Party leader.

Busch believes the election offers Canadians a chance to cast a verdict on the six-year record of federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as prime minister.

“Do we want to keep with the path that Trudeau is on?” asked Busch in criticizing Trudeau’s fiscal record, COVID-19 pandemic response and ethical lapses. “Do we want more of that or do we want a path that is going to turn around and make sure that we have a clean environment, that we have jobs for kids, that our kids are going to be able to live in the communities where they grew up in?”

Busch later also pointed to concerns about Canada’s international reputation (citing the current situation in Afghanistan) and health care.

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With this broader portfolio of topics, Busch appears to stand apart from at least two of his local competitors, May and New Democrat Sabine Singh, who identified climate change and the environment as the primary ballot issue. So what do Conservatives know that their competitors don’t?

“Whenever I ring at the doors, it is three things,” he said. “The environment, the cost of living and health care. Pick your order, and at the end of the day you have to be able walk and chew gum at the same time. You have to look at all three.”

The question remains though: why is the environment only one of several issues rather than the pressing issue as deemed by the scientific community. “I would say that we are giving it the importance that it deserves if you look at our climate plan,” he said. “It was independently audited and it is going to meet or exceed Trudeau’s plan,” he said.

Navius Research found in a study commissioned and funded by the party that the plan centred on a personal low carbon savings account in place of a carbon-tax scheme among other measures “achieves comparable greenhouse gas reductions” to the federal policy announced in April.

Governments have many options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the report reads. “The announced federal policy focuses more on carbon pricing, while the Conservative plan focuses more on flexible regulations,” it reads. “Both of these policy approaches are effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

This said, the authors also note that it will likely require stronger policies than considered so far by “any federal government or major political party to date” to achieve Canada’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40‑45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

While May identified Busch as her biggest obstacle in returning to Ottawa, Busch’s constant criticism of Trudeau suggests he is training his eyes elsewhere. While Busch acknowledged the advantages of incumbency and May’s name recognition, he said Conservatives offer a different path and plan that can work.

“And I can be a voice at the table,” he said. “At the end of the day, and I have the utmost respect for Ms. May, she will never be a voice at that table. So the question is: do the voters of Saanich Gulf-Islands want to have a voice at that table? Do they want to see a plan that is going to work for the environment, for health care and for their standard and their kids’ standard of living?”

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