- We spoke with Montreal candidate David Tordjman about the Conservative Party platform, what the party will achieve for Montrealers, and its plan to appeal to young people.
- Tordjman, who wears a visible religious symbol, also discusses the controversial Bill 21.
- This is part of MTL Blog's 2019 election interview series.
This is MTL Blog’s Election Interview Series.
Over the course of the next few weeks, leading up to the Federal Election on October 21, we’re speaking to candidates from Canada’s major federal political parties, including the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, and the People’s Party of Canada. This week, we spoke with David Tordjman, the Conservative candidate for the Mont-Royal riding in Montreal about the Conservative party platform, what he can achieve for Montrealers, and the controversial Bill 21.
Born and raised in Montreal's Côte-Saint-Luc to immigrant parents from Morrocco, the father of 5 has had a career as a humanitarian, city councillor, and engineer.
We caught up with Tordjman at a gathering of young Conservatives and discussed his party's platform, immigration, the environment, Bill 21, and more.
All questions and responses have been edited for clarity.
Tordjman says he believes in the betterment of his community and the world alike. In his early career, Tordjman's humanitarian efforts after the Haiti earthquake in 2010 led to a three-year contract with the United Nations. His engineering expertise helped with infrastructure and development.
He also works as a consultant for First Nations communities in Northern Quebec, collaborating with tribal leaders to find sustainable solutions for communities.
When I asked him about why he chose to run for the Conservatives, Tordjman said that "I was very attracted to running for the Conservative party, because I see the changes they want to make, and I see issues with the present government that I think we need to correct."
So, what exactly are those changes? And what plans do the Conservatives have for the Canada and Quebec in particular?
Let's say the Conservatives win the nomination. Andrew Scheer is Prime Minister. What are the Party's top priorities?
We need to, on the environment, work on really targeting the large polluters. We need to invest in green technologies. There are simple things — not tax credits, but grants, for making your house more energy-efficient. I'm doing my door to door and I'm seeing in some parts of my riding that people need this kind of help because they can't afford it. We can help these people make their homes more comfortable, more energy-efficient with these firm and immediate actions.
Making the large polluters responsible, that's how we affect real change. Not by taxing people. Taxing is simply not going to work. People are not going to drive 60% of the way to work and they're not going to buy 60% of the groceries they need. They're going to continue living the way they are. If we target the large polluters and we make them invest in green technologies — those are the things we can export to the developing world.
On the economy, we need to fix the taxation issues that the Liberals have implemented, and that is hurting a lot of small businesses. We need to work on our international relationships. Our biggest partners are turning their backs, and we need to reinforce our relationships with them.
We also need to balance our budget. A balanced budget will strengthen our capacity to weather the storms of a slowing economy. It's a good economy right now but we need to be smart about how we spend our money and how we invest our money in Canada. In August alone, the Liberals promised $13 billion with no plan on how to repay it. We're $20 billion in debt and there's no sign of it being balanced.
Young Canadians historically, I think, haven't been inclined to vote Conservative. Why do you think young Canadians should vote for the Conservative Party?
People always ask me, why Conservative? It almost has a connotation, "Conservative." You think of an older man with a tie and it's not that. I've been speaking to French Canadians, English Canadians, and new immigrants. I've realized, a lot of them, that they are fundamentally Conservative in a lot of their beliefs.
Across my riding, people who thought that they were Liberals see what's happening with the government, and are actually listening to the things we're putting forward and it's making sense. And things that make sense are not as scary, right? They're paying attention to it. When we say balanced budgets, it makes sense. And I understand that governments need to spend and it's an important element. But we can't hope that the budgets will balance themselves. We have to do something about it. Families are hurting in the sense that they have less money now than they did four years ago.
They understand that they know their needs. They don't want to rely on social services. But if they do, we need to make sure they're there. People want to be able to work and have high paying jobs. These are things that concern people, and once they start reading into it and seeing what our platform is, the word "Conservative" doesn't scare them anymore.
I think that's what's happening here. We're seeing young Canadians from all kinds of walks of life who hear the message and it's a message that they can understand. It makes sense. It's not that scary of a word anymore.
As you said, there's this negative connotation that "Conservative" has. Though young people may not agree with Justin Trudeau's attitude or polices. But there are a lot of undecided voters out there right now. If you had to convince a young voter to vote Conservative, what would you say?
I think young Canadians are looking for somebody who is going to take responsibility and lead the country in an ethical way. My oldest son was questioning how the Prime Minister, found guilty twice with Ethics Code violations, is not taking responsibility. Youth understand responsibility is a big element. They're looking for that in a leader.
I don't need to sell the Conservatives to them. I just need to speak to them and connect with them. When I hear what's important to them and we talk it out, it's an easy sell, so to speak.
By listening to them, I understand the core of their concerns, and in the Conservative policies across the board, I think we meet a lot of their concerns.
They may not be looking to retirement yet, but they want to make sure that they have a good-paying job and that their country is well regarded internationally.
Immigration is a big issue here in Quebec. What are your personal positions and the Conservatives' positions on refugees and immigration numbers?
On immigration, we're not looking to reduce the numbers. We are always open to increasing the numbers, but immigration has to be done right. New Canadians need to integrate. We need to integrate them into our schools, into jobs, and into housing. When I say integrate, I don't mean in a negative way. I mean that in the most positive of ways. Everybody has their heritage and everybody has their culture — that's a richness for Canada.
On refugees, there's no shift from what Canada is and should be: a safe haven for refugees that are escaping persecution and even natural disasters. Canada should always be there. They weren't there during the Holocaust and Canada has learned those lessons.
Would you support a values test like the CAQ is proposing?
I don't think that's the way to go. People came to Canada because they want to live here. My parents are immigrants and I don't think they would've appreciated being questioned on their values.
Would the Conservative party support or reject Bill 21?
Andrew Scheer has been very clear on Canada's position, and as Prime Minister, he'd respect the provincial jurisdiction. It's not something that he would ever bring forward on a federal level. So, that's the end of the discussion. It's going through the courts right now. And it will be decided by the courts.
What are your personal feelings on the Bill as a public servant who wears a visible religious symbol?
I'm a public servant in the sense that I'm a city councillor and I used to be the head of public works and engineering firm.
I can guarantee you, my religious symbol or anybody's religious symbols never affected the decisions that I made. It's my personal choice to wear a kippah. It's a religious symbol for me and there's nothing wrong with me staying humble to my ethics. It will never negatively affect anything I ever do for the public. People that are working shouldn't be limited.
As a city councillor, we had a rally to speak out against it. We held press conferences to voice our opposition. If somebody came to me and said, "I can't get a job because of my religious symbol" I would want to defend that person and I would do whatever I could to help them out.
Does the Conservative party have an action plan to help fund public transit initiatives in Montreal and Quebec?
We'll definitely continue funding that. Public transit is something that I find critical in many of our large Canadian cities, where we're behind what we should be at in terms of the level of access to public transit. We need to make public transit a key investment.
One thing that Andrew Scheer has put on the platform is to no longer work through construction development. He wants to make government leaner and more efficient. We can give money to important projects directly, without multiple levels of government that just end up eating into what funds are available. We need to do things in the right way.
One last thing I'll say is that if you're doubting the present government and you want to hear more about what the Conservative government can do and will do for Canada, for Canadians, for their future, please contact me. Reach out. I've actually put my cell number on all of my ads because I want to be accessible.
We need a government that's going to do the right thing. I want to be a part of that government.
Missed our other interviews? Check them out here:
, People's Party of Canada
Jagmeet Singh, New Democratic Party
Green Party (coming soon!)
Liberal Party (coming soon!)
The Canadian Federal election is happening on Monday, October 21st, 2019.
Voting for the first time? Want to know more about how our electoral system works? Check out our this handy guide from our colleagues at Narcity Canada!
Stay tuned for more from the Conservatives and all the other Federal political parties in Canada.