Scott Brison officially declared his candidacy for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party at U of T’s Hart House yesterday. From here, Brison will trek across Canada to “engage Canadians in a debate about the future of our country,” as he put it.

Brison, a Member of Parliament from Nova Scotia since 1997, called on youth during his stump speech. “Young Canadians today are the most educated and informed generation in the history of Canada.” Brison said. “Yet 98 per cent of all Canadians don’t vote for any party.”

Brison wants to reach out to these voters. “I invite all Canadians to join with us today to build a new PC party, to build a new and stronger Canada,” he said.

The young Brison, who has raced in three New York City Marathons, hopes to give the competition a good run for their money come election time. “We are already attracting Liberals, Alliance supporters and people who have never been involved in the political process.”Brison was introduced by his campaign chair, Ken Kalopsis, former president of the Canadian Alliance. “This is not about uniting the right,” said Brison. “It is about uniting Canadians to do what is right. We are reaching across the walls that have been built between our party and the Canadian Alliance with ideas that will rebuild the trust in the PC party of Canada.

“Ideas should not be confused with ideologies,” Brison added. “Ideologies sometimes divide people. We need ideas to bring Canadians together, not divide them.”In the coming weeks, Brison will lay out his policy platform. From what Brison has indicated, it will be based on three points: fiscal and tax policy, Canadian health care, and the economic security and well-being of Canadian citizens.

But how? Brison highlighted three ideas he says are necessary for the future well-being of all Canadians.

“We need to replace corporate welfare with dramatic corporate tax reductions and replace failed regional economic development programs, because the market can pick winners and losers better than you or I.”He also advocated the restoration of balanced funding of health care between the federal government and the provinces.Brison, the finance critic for the Tories, attacked Liberal spending policies.

“We need a new Employment Insurance system creating individual EI accounts allowing Canadians to upgrade their skills or to roll into RRSPs upon retirement,” he noted.“For the past decade, the world has been moving forward while Canada has stood still.

“The bold, innovative new ideas which my campaign is about will bring Canadians back to our party —and Canada back to a position of strength and leadership in the world.”