OTTAWA—On the day the New Democrats revealed their campaign promises would lead to a massive increase in government costs and revenue, the Liberals and Conservatives traded shots on the economy from either side of the GTA, and the spectre of the SNC-Lavalin affair returned to the campaign trail.
With NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh campaigning in Vancouver on Saturday, and just nine days left before election day on Sept. 20, the New Democrats unveiled how their plan to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy would rake in $166-billion in federal revenue over the next five years — far more than what the Liberals and Conservatives are proposing.
But the NDP is also promising significantly more new spending of almost $215 billion on new programs that outpaces the expected revenue of their new taxes by $48 billion over that time.
The Liberals, by comparison, propose roughly $78 billion in new spending over the next five years, while the Conservatives pledge $51 billion. And like those two parties, the NDP does not propose to balance the federal budget within the next five years.
Among the most expensive programs the NDP promises to implement are:
$38.5 billion to create a universal pharmacare;
$18.4 billion to implement a guaranteed basic income for people with disabilities;
$17.5 billion on Indigenous child welfare;
$14 billion to build 500,000 new affordable homes;
$11.8 billion for public transit;
$11.1 billion on dental care for people without private insurance.
The NDP also pledges to maintain the Liberal government’s already-earmarked spending of $30 billion over five years to implement $10-a-day child care programs across the country.
The federal deficit, however, would be comparable to the projections from the Liberals and Conservatives: the deficit under their plan would hit $145 billion this year under the NDP plan, and decrease to $34 billion by 2025-26.
The reason this is possible is because of the NDP’s new taxes, including the 1-per-cent tax on wealth exceeding $10 million that would rake in $60.2 billion over the next five years, and wide application of capital gains taxes that would bring in $44.7 billion, according to analyses conducted by the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The party would also raise more than $9 billion over the next five years by blocking oil and gas companies from accessing tax breaks for the resource sector.
“The plan has been really clear to Canadians: we’re going to invest in you,” Singh said in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. “And we’re not going to put the burden on you. We’re going to ask that the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.”
Earlier, in a Mississauga backyard, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made his own broad appeal to progressive voters, positioning his party as the only alternative to Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives, whom he accused of favouring “trickle down” economic policies that fall short on what most Canadians need.
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Trudeau pointed to child care, where the Conservatives would scrap the Liberals’ nascent child care programs — worth $30 billion over five years with seven provinces on board so far — and replace it with tax credits for parents. The Liberal Leader also attacked the Conservatives on climate action, stating O’Toole would weaken federal efforts to slash emissions.
“The choice in this election: it is whether we move forward with a progressive vision for supporting families and building them a better economic future, or do we go back to an approach that failed Canadians time and time again,” Trudeau said.
While Trudeau was speaking in Mississauga, O’Toole took to a lectern outside a GO Station in Whitby and slammed the Liberal government’s “out-of-control spending, borrowing and debt.” He vowed — without pledging any new money — that a Conservative government would prioritize transit projects in the GTA and rein in inflation by balancing the federal budget within 10 years.
O’Toole also seized on a question about the forthcoming publication of a book by Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Liberal cabinet minister at the centre of the 2019 controversy over SNC-Lavalin.
Wilson-Raybould has long asserted she faced inappropriate pressure from Trudeau and his staff to intervene in a criminal case against the Montreal-based company and offer an agreement to defer prosecution. The Globe and Mail published an excerpt of Wilson-Raybould’s book Saturday, in which she portrays Trudeau as “either complicit or incompetent” and suggests he wanted her “to lie” so that the controversy would go away.
O’Toole said in Whitby that this is “a reminder that Mr. Trudeau will say and do anything to win” and that the Liberal leader has pushed women like Wilson-Raybould and former Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes out of politics.
“Canadians no longer believe Justin Trudeau. He ran on ‘sunny ways,’ promises a different style (and) different approach to politics,” O’Toole said.
“We saw with how he treated Jody Wilson-Raybould, how he put the interests of a corporate entity lobbying about a judicial proceeding ahead of doing the right thing.”
Back in Mississauga, Trudeau denied he ever wanted Wilson-Raybould to lie about the situation, and pointed to how the controversy was studied by parliamentary committees and scrutinized for months in the media. He also characterized his differences with Wilson-Raybould as an “unfortunate” episode in his overall quest to improve the lives of Canadians.
“When you do big things, not everything always goes the way you’d like,” he said. “And people who were allies and fellow travellers in a particular fight give different perspectives in different directions. And it’s unfortunate. But obviously, I don’t spend a huge amount of time dwelling on that. I spend my time focusing on how we’re going to continue the hard work of being there for Canadians.”
While most of his remarks involved criticizing the Conservatives, Trudeau also took pains to portray the NDP in a negative light. He repeated his accusation that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is being “profoundly cynical” by implying during the campaign that a Liberal or Conservative government would be equally bad for the country.
“For Canadians, it makes an enormous difference,” Trudeau said it French, later accusing the NDP of claiming the Liberals have done “nothing” on climate change since 2015.
“I’m sorry, a price on pollution right across the country, over the objections of conservative premiers all the way to the Supreme Court, is not nothing,” Trudeau said.
“It is profoundly cynical to try and convince people that the other guys have done and are doing nothing when you yourself can’t do your homework and put forward a credible plan.”
In Vancouver, Singh defended his characterization of the Liberals as “bad” and the Conservatives as “worse,” and pointed in particular to the Trudeau government’s record after six years in power — a period in which Canada’s annual greenhouse gas emissions have slightly increased, according to government figures.
Singh also criticized Trudeau for increasing government supports for the fossil fuel sector, which have occurred largely though the independent Crown agency, Export Development Canada.
“We shouldn’t be stuck in a battle between bad and worse,” Singh said. “We’re saying we can do a lot better.”
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