Security emerging as a top election issue amid terror threat: finance minister

Canada’s finance minister is saying publicly what political observers have long suspected: expect to hear the Conservatives talking a lot about national security in the upcoming election campaign.

OTTAWA — Canada’s finance minister is saying publicly what political observers have long suspected: expect to hear the Conservatives talking a lot about national security in the upcoming election campaign.

Joe Oliver told a conference Friday that the threat of terrorism at home and around the world has become a significant concern for Canadian voters — rivalling even the economy, a perennial favourite.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Oliver’s remarks came on a day when terrorism was on the minds of Canadians, with RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson briefing MPs about the investigation into last year’s deadly attack on Parliament Hill.

Oliver told his Ottawa audience that while pocketbook issues remain the top priority for Canadians, national security is a mounting concern.

“The reality is there’s a war being conducted by international terrorists, by jihadist terrorists,” Oliver said in the question-and-answer session that followed his address to the Manning Centre networking event.

“That’s an issue which you normally don’t think about in the context of an election, but it’s emerged as something that Canadians are concerned about.”

Oliver later dismissed the notion that the government, always keen to burnish its fiscal credentials, would prefer these days to talk about terror threats and public safety than they would the hobbled Canadian economy.

“I’m talking about the economy and I haven’t changed the message at all,” Oliver told reporters following his appearance.

“But when new facts or threats emerge, the government has a responsibility to respond to them and that’s what we’re doing.

“It’s not my portfolio but others who have that responsibility are responding and the prime minister, of course, is talking about it. This is an issue of importance.”

Oliver’s department, meanwhile, has been focused on another pressing matter: the negative economic impact of low oil prices.

He delayed the release of the federal budget — April at the earliest, he says; it’s usually February — so his department could get a better handle on just how badly cheaper crude would hurt the economy.

The delay has been beneficial, he acknowledged, because his team knows more now than it did a few months ago.

“It’s getting closer, the date is getting closer,” said Oliver, who also refused to answer questions about what might be included in the budget.

Oliver’s cabinet colleague, Defence Minister Jason Kenney, said the government was elected to focus on economic growth and jobs — subjects he stressed will remain the top priorities and will be reflected in the upcoming federal budget.

But Kenney said it doesn’t mean the government shouldn’t do something to respond to threats against international and Canadian security such as those posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“I think it’s obvious that the attacks in October were at least inspired by the insane vision of ISIL … a genocidal terrorist organization that has explicitly, and on several occasions, said that it’s targeting Canada,” he told The Canadian Press on the sidelines of the conference.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Economy and health care expected to be hot election topics

Premier Rachel Notley makes announcement on Tuesday morning

Politicians hitting the road for votes in Alberta election campaign

EDMONTON — After firing up supporters at campaign kickoff events, the leaders… Continue reading

Central Alberta resident launches fantasy board game

Central alberta man launches Kickstarter for board game A central Alberta resident… Continue reading

Cruel and sadistic: Central Alberta dog rescuers believe there are dog fighting rings in province

With the increased number of stolen dogs, some central Alberta rescuers are… Continue reading

Opinion: Let’s be heard ‘loud and clear’ during provincial election campaign

By David Marsden During the banquet for Sunday’s Boston Bruins alumni game,… Continue reading

Documentary on Colten Boushie case to open Toronto’s Hot Docs festival

TORONTO — A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man… Continue reading

Want to help bees? Plant flowering herbs

Herbs are among the most useful plants in nature. They can tantalize… Continue reading

UN: Gene editing for human reproduction is ‘irresponsible’

GENEVA — A panel convened by the World Health Organization said it… Continue reading

Photos: Three moose spotted in Red Deer Tuesday

Three moose were spotted in Red Deer Tuesday morning. Red Deer resident… Continue reading

Andreescu rockets to No. 24 in WTA Tour rankings after Indian Wells title

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu has rocketed to No. 24 in the WTA Tour… Continue reading

Canadian figure skaters looking to reach new heights at world championships

Nam Nguyen, Alaine Chartrand and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro all have… Continue reading

Man linked to largest art heist in history freed from prison

HARTFORD, Conn. — A reputed Connecticut mobster who federal authorities believe is… Continue reading

Most Read