Longtime journalist looks to lead riding

KANATA-CARLETON – Veteran foreign affairs reporter Matthew Fisher is looking to lead the Kanata-Carleton Conservatives in the next federal election, whenever that might be.

Today (Oct. 21) Canada narrowly avoided a federal election following a series of events related to the ongoing WE Charity scandal. The Conservatives forwarded a motion to create a special committee to look in to the ongoing WE Charity controversy stemming out of a single-source contract awarded to Canadians Craig and Marc Kielburger who head up the Free The Children volunteer organization. The nature of the roughly $900 million contract and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family’s relationship with the organization soon became scandalous.

WE Charity eventually returned the contract, but the controversy has dogged the Liberal party ever since. The Conservatives and Bloc Quebcois wanted to form a new committee to probe alleged Liberal corruption, the Liberals turned it in to a confidence vote, and just hours ago, the motion was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 180 against to 146 for.

The New Democrats, Green and Independent MPs sided with the Liberals to defeat the motion.

Fisher, who announced his nomination bid on Oct. 6, says this politicking isn’t good for the country at a time when the country needs its government working.

“I’m one of the few people who have flown on the prime ministerial plane with both the father and the son,” Fisher told West Carleton Online yesterday (Oct. 21). “I wasn’t terribly impressed by the father and am much, much, much less impressed by his son.”

And Fisher can boil down why he’s throwing his hat in the Conservative bid to two words.

“Justin Trudeau,” he said.

Matthew Fisher with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters battling Islamic State terrorists in Iraq in 2016.
Matthew Fisher with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters battling Islamic State terrorists in Iraq in 2016. Courtesy Matthew Fisher

Fisher says he is an original resident of Kanata, moving with his parents and four brothers in 1966. He attended Stephen Leacock Public School in Beaverbrook and played hockey for years “with the lads from the Valley” as a member of the West Carleton Flyers.  

Fisher currently lives in Kanata, close to where he grew up and where his late mother, Barbara, lived for more than 50 years.

Fisher has spent more than 35 years as a foreign correspondent, working in more than 170 countries, reporting on elections, famines, earthquakes, coups and assassinations. He has been on the frontlines of 20 wars. He was an eyewitness to the Rwandan genocide with General Romeo Dallaire, went outside the wire on combat patrols with Canadian troops in Afghanistan many times, and was embedded with the U.S. Marines in Iraq during the most intense battle of the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Fisher says he’s pretty familiar with the rural community of West Carleton. He played hockey there and several West Carletonites attended Stephen Leacock back in the day.

“There’s a lot of Conservative support in West Carleton,” Fisher said. “I’m familiar with the area because I went to public school and high school with many of the kids from West Carleton,” he said. “They were Conservative then and they’re Conservative now. They’re good people, they work extremely hard and are kind of no-nonsense.”

While there are tons of issues to address in any future possible election, Fisher says it boils down to one thing.

“It really is in every way an election about Justin Trudeau,” Fisher said. “His elitism, his attitude towards work, his scandals. I don’t think people realize how damaging his trip to India was – one of the most populous places on earth. There was Admiral Norton, SNC Lavalin, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, the WE Charity scandal, blackface. Childish behaviour.”

Fisher believes in preserving our rural communities. This includes action to support farmers, protect landowners’ rights and provide more reliable assistance to flooding victims. He also believes that much more must be done to engage with and promote Kanata’s world class high-tech sector. He says the West Carleton agriculture community is an astute bunch as well.

“They’re watching the price of agriculture products in Chicago,” Fisher said. “The price of grain and meat products matter here. The agriculture community doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves based on its importance globally. We don’t hear the Liberals talk about the agricultural industry’s needs hardly ever.”

Fisher says he knows what the Conservatives have to do to win the riding.

“We need to get several 1,000 voters in the riding to change their vote,” he said.

He recognizes that’s a challenge in a riding with popular Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon. McCrimmon is a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, but Fisher has a 35-year-history with the armed forces as well.

“I’ve done military coverage for more than 35 years,” Fisher said. “Both my parents were veterans. I’ve spent a lot of time with forward-deployed Canadian Forces. I’ve been on every single peace-keeping mission for the last 35 years. I’ve been in major, serious combat, a number of times.”

And of course, the current Number One issue, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to reflect on that as we move forward and decide what we want the public service to look like,” Fisher said. “By next spring-summer the crushing reality of spending, and not all of that has been on the pandemic, will become apparent. It’s not going to b pretty and it will require a lot of adroit thinking and doing and not just writing cheques.”

In general, that will be what decides the ruling party in the next election.

“I think Canadians will want a much more responsible government,” Fisher said. “Not just one that writes cheques. We have to be ready for it. We’re facing a medical crisis right now. We’ll be facing a financial crisis in 2021. Who do you want leading at that time?”

Currently the federal Conservative party does not have any dates scheduled for riding nomination selections.

For more information on Matthew Fisher, visit his website here.