BOW VALLEY – With the Conservative Party of Canada having a new leader under Pierre Poilievre, Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards has a new job as shadow minister of veterans affairs.
As shadow minister, his main task will be providing an alternative view to the veterans affairs portfolio.
“What you are doing as an opposition shadow minister is you are monitoring the file on behalf of the Official Opposition, critiquing the government where that is necessary, making alternative suggestions,” he said.
As shadow minister, Richards will be directly involved in bringing the concerns of Canada’s veterans to Parliament.
“Hearing what their needs are, hearing what their ideas are, and trying to put those into action,” Richards said. “Much like any issue you are working on, there are lots of things people are paying attention to, lots of issues to be addressed.”
Previously, Richards served as the Chief Opposition Whip from 2020 to 2022, and as the shadow minister of tourism from 2015 to 2020.
While this new portfolio will present new challenges, Richards is looking forward to working directly with veterans.
“I don’t come into this with first-hand knowledge of being a veteran myself, but what is important, like how I approached the role I had in tourism, is you talk to those who are experts and those who are involved,” Richards said. “In this case, that is our veterans.”
Veterans Affairs is one of the most high-profile portfolios in Parliament, including the shadow portfolio, requiring the person appointed to be ready to tackle a wide range of issues and concerns.
“It is even more critical when you are dealing with the issue of veterans affairs and the needs of those who served the country,” Richards said. “One of the most important things when one takes on a role in public service like this, is you are representing a variety of different issues and you have to be capable of a broad range of different things.”
The aspect of his new portfolio that Richards is most looking forward to is being able to talk directly with veterans and show the respect he has for veterans through his work.
“I look forward to building those relationships with our veterans and to say thank you with tangible solutions with my role.”
The party is looking ahead to the next election, under its high-profile leader in Poilievre. According to Richards, the party is united behind its leader, and ready to bring an alternative vision to Canadians.
“Being united as a team, in whatever you are doing, is critical,” Richards said. “Canadians are counting on us and expect us to offer an alternative to the Liberal government and to do that we have to be united.”
While he has a new portfolio to manage, Richards also states that this will not impact his ability to help constituents in the Bow Valley as their Member of Parliament.
“I have always juggled the various responsibilities I have had within my caucus, within the government and the Official Opposition,” Richards said. “It has never let my prime focus move from where it should be, on my constituents. That is my first priority.”