Tories, NDP pounce on Liberal campaign promises – National | Globalnews.ca
Justin Trudeau‘s opponents attacked his campaign promises from all angles Sunday, with the Conservatives laser-focused on spending while the NDP said the Liberals want to “scare people” into settling for less than what they are offering.
The Liberals unveiled their platform for re-election while Trudeau addressed a crowd in Mississauga, Ont., one of the cities in the key Greater Toronto Area battleground.
The platform promises new taxes on the wealthy, large international corporations, foreign housing speculators and tech giants to help cover the cost of billions in new spending and tax breaks for the middle class.
Among the offerings is a suite of measures aimed at easing the burdens of student loan borrowers, expected to cost $280 million next year and $1.4 billion by 2023-24.
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The reforms include increasing student grant amounts by 40 per cent, extending the post-graduation grace period to two years and pausing repayments for parents of young children and those earning under $35,000.
To pay for it all, the Liberal platform projects four straight years of deficits — 27.4 billion next year, falling to $21 billion in year four.
Trudeau sidestepped two questions on when a Liberal government would return to a balanced budget, saying he believes “responsible” investment is the way to grow the economy.
”The Conservatives are the ones obsessed with balancing the budget on the backs of services offered to Canadians, on the backs of education, on the backs of our health-care system,” he said.
“We’re making … a very different choice.”
Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is the “fiscal anchor” the Liberals are choosing to work with versus balancing the books in each budget, Trudeau said. That figure, already low by international standards, would decline throughout the Liberals’ mandate if re-elected, the party said.
Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre capitalized on the dollars-and-cents angle in his response to the plan.
“Anyone want to go camping?” he asked, referencing the Liberals’ pitch to introduce a bursary for low-income families to visit national and provincial parks.
“Well, free camping is among the $56 billion of new spending promises that Justin Trudeau has just finished making. And he expects you to believe that no one will have to pay for any of it.”
He warned that Trudeau would have to introduce new taxes in order to afford his vision.
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The Conservatives, on the other hand, have yet to release a full platform but are pitching a tax cut regardless of income level, as well as an end to the carbon tax.
“Only the Conservatives have a plan to leave more money in your pocket to let you get ahead,” Poilievre said.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who did not have any campaign events scheduled Sunday, said in the spring that a Tory government would balance the books in five years.
Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh sought to contrast the Liberals’ social-spending heavy plan with his own party’s pitch to voters.
Speaking to reporters in B.C., he balked at the suggestion the Liberals were “eating his lunch.”
The party’s platform, he said, doesn’t mention dental care or meaningfully tackle affordable housing and student debt.
The Liberals are “trying to scare people into settling for less,” he said.
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He also accused the party of backing away from its commitment to universal pharmacare and offering “pretty words” instead.
The platform states that the Liberals will “take the critical next steps” on implementing a plan to provide no-cost prescription drugs, but was not separately costed.
Singh, who is proposing to immediately cancel interest on student loans, said Trudeau’s plan still leaves the government profiting off students.
“This is not a progressive plan,” he said. “Our plan is far better.”
The Green Party has yet to weigh in on the Liberal plan. But leader Elizabeth May has promised a balanced budget in five years, massive investment in social programs and strong goals on greenhouse gas emissions.
The party is proposing free tuition at a cost of $16.4 billion in its first year, and a universal pharmacare plan costed at $27 billion.
One analysis, from an organization led by a former parliamentary budget officer, questioned how the Greens would balance the books.
With files from The Canadian Press and Andrew Russell, Global News
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