When Nick Csaszar stopped by for a chat last week, he happened to spot a business card from Conservative Party candidate Brad Vis and it set him off but in a good way.
“Very polite young man, very likeable, I have a lot of respect for him.”
Csaszar stayed with his collegial theme for a few minutes, moving up the food chain to work his party leader in.
“Much like our leader, Max,” he said.
“He sits next to Elizabeth May in Parliament, they’re seatmates and they’ve agreed not to talk politics, they get along admirably, they’re great friends.”
Back down to the constituency level, and he wraps it up with one more example.
“I’ve gone and met with (local Green Party candidate ) John Kidder, what strikes me all the time is the vast majority, and I do mean the majority–and I’ve been involved in politics as a supporter and behind-the-scenes campaign guy in Mission for many years–and you know what? Ninety-five per cent of us, we all want the same thing for people, we just don’t agree on how to get there,” he said.
Mission resident Csaszar is the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon for this fall’s federal election.
“We want to make lives better for people, we just don’t agree on how to get there and how to prioritize the role of government, the role of community organizations – I’ve been volunteering most of my life and you find yourself from time to time in a board meeting in a heated debate or an argument over things and sometimes you lose track of the fact want the same things.”
Which brings it back to “Max” who is of course Maxime Bernier, who formed the PPC after a failed shot at the Conservative leadership in 2017.
One of the reasons Csaszar was glad to chat and have a chance to introduce himself to local constituents is that he thinks a lot of people get Bernier and the PPC all wrong.
“We’ve been branded as alt-right, anti-immigration, anti-this, anti-that and nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“On matters of fiscal policy, we’re very fiscally conservative. We have libertarian underpinnings. There’s also very strong, what you could classify as classical liberal, beliefs. Belief in the individual, belief in the right to speak, the right to think, the right to act, and that government’s role is to ensure that you are free to be the best version of you without being onerously involved or oppressive in your life.”
Csaszar moved on without prompting to the file on which his leader and party probably take the biggest public-perception hit.
“Take immigration for instance; right now, based on the numbers that are released from the parliamentary budget office we have a net drain, we spend a little bit more than we actually get from immigration,” he said.
“The arguments being made that we actually need immigrants, for sure, it’s undeniable, there’s all kinds of good reasons for immigration.”
For his party, the good reasons are economic reasons, and the PPC would make decisions primarily on that basis, Csaszar said, adding that would include cracking down on the numbers of family reunifications unless family members already in Canada were willing and able to post a bond.
“If you want to bring your parents over, your grandparents over, terrific, post a bond, because we know that older people are going to place a drain on social services, be it health care, be it housing, be it seniors care, all those sorts of things,” Csaszar said.
“We’re doing that to the detriment of people who have worked here all of their lives.”
Csaszar shifted pretty seamlessly from seniors to veterans, transitioning with a reference to Justin Trudeau’s infamous “asking for more than we can give” comment, and giving an example of how he believes tax dollars would be more properly spent than on current immigration policies.
“We just unveiled our clear policy and platform on veterans, to restore the veterans’ pension program, which was initially killed under Stephen Harper and then further worsened by the Liberal government, and end these buyouts and payouts,” he said.
“If you’re wounded as a soldier, you should be taken care of for the rest of your life, period. And that commitment was made just this weekend in writing.”
Csaszar widened his focus again to his party’s general philosophy on government.
“It comes down to recognizing the role that government has to play which is to support people with good policies. Do the things it does best which is the rule of law, courts, policing, national defense, environment, fisheries,” he said.
Csaszar talked for a while about salmon populations in general and specifically about the Big Bar slide, where he said no expense should be spared.
“Clean air water, fisheries, wildlife, those are huge priorities for us.”
Asked why that list didn’t include any reference to climate change, another issue where his party has faced criticism, he jumped quickly back to specific policy and to criticism of the federal carbon tax, before zooming out again.
“Where climate change is concerned, a carbon tax is going to be a net loser for everybody. Canada is responsible for 1.5 per cent of global emissions, so if we were to stop producing, completely halt everything, we would make no difference whatsoever,” he said, adding
a carbon tax would be punitive without other viable options available for necessities such as transportation and heating.
“We’re free marketeers; we strongly believe in the free market. That’s what’s lifted more people out of poverty than anything else. Government doesn’t invent or create solutions. Government can create the policies that lead us there. You’ve got to incentivize things.”
Csaszar is a little hard to pin down with regard to his party’s stand on human-caused climate change at the most basic level–whether or not it exists.
“Max has been clear on this, he agrees that we play a role, he just doesn’t agree that science operates on a consensus, there’s no such thing as a consensus in science. There’s testable hypothesis of fact or there isn’t. We haven’t come to the point where we can say that there’s this or that exactly. We know that we’ve played a role, we just don’t know how much.”
He does know the solution, though, It’s firmly at the centre of his message.
“The free market has already been moving. The oil sands have cut their emissions by 85 per cent in the last 25 years, I believe. And that was long before there were any carbon tax initiatives. It’s in their best interests to improve their technologies.”
Csaszar is glad to acknowledge that, every bit as much as his faith in unfettered markets, his skepticism about any sort of government intervention, regulation, taxation, etc. is part of his conservative world view. He likes to talk about good intentions being poorly served by unintended consequences.
But he wants to hear opposing ideas and debate them; he believes our society is losing the ability to do that and he believes we’ll be much worse off as a result.
“The only way we’re going to get there, is let’s talk about it, let’s have a debate, there’s all kinds of things that are off limits, that we can’t talk about,” he said.
“For instance, the whole climate change narrative. If we want to argue about climate change, If you have anything to say that’s contrary to the common narrative today, you’re just automatically branded a climate change denier. Same is true of all sorts of other matters such as immigration. If you want to lower immigration, you’re branded an Islamophobe, you’re branded as a xenophobe… wait a minute, we want to have a conversation. This is what we believe, this is what I think, here’s why, can we not talk about it?”
If all goes well, he’ll get his chance in Lillooet. The News is working with the Lillooet Chamber of Commerce to organize an all candidates forum for early October.
Csaszar has already said won’t miss it.