Liberals pitch middle-class savings as second full week of campaign beckons

Conservatives promise supports for veterans, NDP pledge billions to curb natural disaster effects

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau crosses a street as he makes his way to make a policy announcement in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Liberals tried to turn the page on Justin Trudeau’s blackface controversy — and one-up their main rivals — with policy announcements Sunday again aimed squarely at middle-class Canadian wallets.

The Conservatives promised more robust support for Canada’s veterans, while the NDP pledged billions in funding to curb the effects of natural disasters on communities.

Campaign-trail discussion largely shifted back to meat-and-potatoes policy after a steady diet of fallout from Trudeau’s blackface scandal.

Recently discovered images showing Trudeau in black or brown makeup at costume events before he entered politics had dominated the last few days of the campaign — offending many, raising questions about the Liberal leader’s judgment and throwing his party’s re-election efforts into disarray.

Trudeau trekked to a residential neighbourhood in the ethnically diverse Toronto suburb of Brampton, Ont., to announce he would make the first $15,000 of income tax-free for most Canadians if given a new mandate.

The Liberals would raise the basic personal amount by almost $2,000 over four years for people earning under $147,000 a year. It would save the average family $585 a year, Trudeau said.

The announcement follows a pledge from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to cut the tax rate on the lowest federal income bracket (up to $47,630) to 13.75 per cent from 15 per cent over four years, which the party says would save a two-income couple earning average salaries about $850 a year.

Trudeau contrasted his plan with Scheer’s by emphasizing Canada’s wealthiest one per cent would not benefit at all from the Liberal tax cut.

“Our plan lowers taxes the most for people who make less, gives the middle class some breathing room and ensures that the wealthy don’t get an extra hand up,” Trudeau said.

READ MORE: Policies on veterans, climate change emerge as leaders head back to the trail

The Liberal leader also promised to cut cellphone bills by 25 per cent. He said he would encourage companies to reduce their bills by that amount over the next two years, and if they are unable to meet that target, the Liberals would introduce further competition.

“Right now, Canadian cellphone plans are among the most expensive in the G7,” Trudeau said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has promised a price cap on cellphone and internet services as well as a telecom consumers’ bill of rights, chided Trudeau for promising to work with telecom firms.

“Again and again, Justin Trudeau says one thing to Canadians before the election but refuses to take on big corporations afterwards,” Singh said.

Scheer, meanwhile. ventured to Prince Edward Island to promise more support for veterans, hoping to reset the relationship between his party and the ex-military community after more than a decade of tensions with previous governments of all political stripes.

The Conservative leader said as prime minister he would clear a backlog of veterans’ benefit applications within two years and create a reliable pension system.

Scheer also promised to strengthen post-service transition supports, help more veterans get service dogs, enshrine in legislation a guarantee that every veteran is treated with respect and gets services in a timely manner and support commemoration projects such as the National Memorial for Canada’s War in Afghanistan.

“As prime minister I will take a personal interest in ensuring the commitments we made today are followed through on,” he said.

During a stop in Gatineau, Que., Singh pledged to add $2.5 billion to the federal government’s disaster mitigation fund. He said the idea is to help people — like those in west Quebec who recently faced severe flooding — avoid disasters and be able to stay in their current homes.

The national Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund has already set aside $2 billion to support large-scale infrastructure programs that help communities better manage such risks.

The federal government says an increasing number of Canadian communities have experienced significant weather-related events and disasters triggered by natural hazards such as floods, wildland fires and droughts — calamities that are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

Singh said “we can’t just close our eyes” to the prospect of more weather-related disasters.

Green Leader Elizabeth May had no big plans Sunday other than a fundraiser in Victoria.

May was in Winnipeg on Saturday to talk up her party’s plans to combat the opioid crisis by decriminalizing drug possession and improving social supports for people who use drugs.

Asked about the proposal Sunday, Scheer said while he would not recriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, the Conservatives think making other drugs legal is a bad idea.

— With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone and Morgan Lowrie

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: McKenna defends Canada’s climate credibility amid Trudeau controversy

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Chilliwack junior roller derby team celebrates long-awaited win over Seattle

NWO Junior Roller Derby hosted two games on the weekend against the Seattle Derby Brats

Violin meets piano in The Red Violin at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Jasper Wood joins the Bergmann Duo for an intimate morning concert in Chilliwack

Bold and brazen singer Begonia brings colourful show to Tractorgrease in Chilliwack

The musician from Winnipeg is equally comfortable singing lullabies, headbangers and ballads

PHOTOS: Home, Leisure and Outdoor Living Expo runs all weekend in Chilliwack

There are more than 250 vendors set up for the annual home show at Chilliwack Heritage Park

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Henderson at the Chilliwack SPCA

Henderson, also known as Biggy, has FIV, a virus similar to HIV in humans

Kobe Bryant killed in California helicopter crash: reports

NBA star was reportedly in his private helicopter at the time of the crash

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Most Read