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MP vying for leadership of Conservative Party of Canada

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Lisa Raitt chats with Simcoe's John Davies during a meet and greet at the Norfolk Tavern in Port Dover Saturday. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Lisa Raitt chats with Simcoe's John Davies during a meet and greet at the Norfolk Tavern in Port Dover Saturday. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

PORT DOVER - 

If Canadians are ready for a change at the top, Lisa Raitt believes she is the best person to provide it.

The Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate and MP for Milton made a stop at the Norfolk Tavern in Port Dover Saturday where the 48-year-old highlighted the differences between herself and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I knew that I was on my own in a sense,” said Raitt, a Cape Breton native who was raised by her grandparents. “My grandparents didn't have wealth, the value of the house wasn't there to pass on to the next generation, there was no inheritance or RRSPs. In fact, when I was 19 I was paying more back into the house.”

Raitt, a mother of two, went from humble beginnings in the Maritimes to become a lawyer, CEO of the Toronto Port Authority and member of prime minister Stephen Harper's cabinet.

“I understand what it's like to live at the bottom of Matilda St. in Cape Breton and I know what it's like - and I know what they want - on Bay St. in Toronto,” she told the crowd of about 25 people.

“And I know what it's like to sit at the cabinet table trying to weigh all of the issues across the country.”

Raitt feels taxes are too high, there's not enough jobs available across Canada and families in the country are being squeezed more than ever.

“I think the government isn't being run,” Raitt told the crowd. “The government is lurching from one crisis to another.”

While jobs and lowering taxes are front and centre on her mind, Raitt first aims to rally her party by getting everyone on the same page.

“The most important thing that I want people to know is we need to make sure that the Trudeau government doesn't get a second term in 2019 and that I'm the person to unify the party and get us elected,” she said in a meeting with the assembled press.

“To win in 2019 we need to have the best team possible. The team has to be focused on one topic and one outcome … I've got lots of ideas on how to help the team do that.”

Questions from the crowd ranged in topics from her stance on carbon tax and environmental issues to how our government should deal with newly elected U.S. president Donald Trump. Raitt spoke to the latter during the question and answer period and further afterward.

“My focus is on protecting Canadian interests and that means we need to keep that border open both for travel and for trade,” she began. “We need to ensure that our companies aren't going to be non-competitive with the United States so there's stuff we can do ourselves and there's negotiations to be had with the United States, but we've always been a respectful country and we continue to be a respectful country.”

The party will elect its new leader from 14 candidates on May 27. Haldimand-Norfolk MP Diane Finley was unable to attend the event – she is barred from showing support for any one leadership hopeful as part of the election organizing committee.

jrobinson@postmedia.com