OTTAWA – How do you debate a prime minister who doesn’t show up?
That’s the question for the leaders of the Conservative, NDP and Green parties today as they prepare for the first leaders’ debate of the federal election tonight in Toronto.
Justin Trudeau isn’t coming, choosing instead to spend the second day of the campaign in B.C. and Alberta, the latter hostile territory for the Liberal leader when it comes to the subject of oilsands development.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he’s not surprised Trudeau isn’t showing up, given the re-emergence of SNC-Lavalin in the headlines.
At an event in Toronto, Scheer said he also thinks Trudeau is skipping the event because one of the main themes will be foreign policy, and Trudeau has embarrassed Canadians on the world stage.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Trudeau’s absence from the debate poses a challenge, given his opponents all want to argue about the fact it is Liberal policies that have failed the country.
On The Campaign Trail
Justin Trudeau says a re-elected Liberal government would impose a national one per cent tax on properties owned by non-Canadians and non-residents in an effort to curb foreign speculation in real estate.
At a campaign stop in Victoria, B.C., the Liberal leader says the tax would help deter foreigners who wish to speculate in the housing market, which has been a key contributor to a surge in home prices in some markets in recent years.
The Liberals say the changes would help ease affordability concerns that affect first-time home buyers.
Trudeau is also promising to expand a program first announced in last spring’s federal budget to help first-time home buyers lower their monthly payments through a shared-equity mortgage with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
He says a Liberal government would increase the maximum-qualifying price of a home for applicants to this program in the high-priced housing markets of Victoria, Vancouver and the
The enhanced program would come into force as of November and proposes to increase the value of a qualifying home in those areas to nearly $800,000, up from approximately $500,000.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is accusing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of trying to change the channel over the SNC-Lavalin affair through attacks on a Toronto Tory’s stance on the contentious abortion issue.
Scheer was speaking on Day 2 of the campaign in the riding of York Centre where the Conservatives have selected Rachel Willson to run.
Liberal cabinet minister Carolyn Bennett, who is running in another Toronto riding, released a video earlier in the day that shows Willson discussing her desire to end abortion through “pro-life legislation.”
Scheer accused Trudeau of “fear-mongering” and reiterated his party’s position that he will oppose any measure to introduce legislation on that.
He says his party is focused on making life more affordable for Canadian families, which includes a pledge to make maternity leave tax free.
Scheer began his campaign Wednesday with polls suggesting the Conservatives are essentially tied with the Liberals, while the NDP and Greens are fighting for third.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is channeling his roots as a member of the Ontario legislature by promising to build a hospital in the city of Brampton if he is elected prime minister.
The commitment, which comes despite the fact hospitals fall squarely within the domain of the provinces, suggests the New Democrats are concentrating their efforts in areas where they have the best chance to win seats.
Although the federal Liberals swept Brampton’s five seats in 2015, Singh is no stranger to the area northwest of Toronto, which he represented as deputy leader of Ontario’s New Democrats. It also has a large south Asian population; at one point, Singh answered a question in Punjabi.
The NDP leader acknowledged the difficulty he could face in fulfilling the promise, given that Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government would ultimately have jurisdiction over the project.
Singh also found himself deflecting questions about the fact the New Democrats still do not have a full slate of candidates, attributing the slow pace to his efforts to increase the party’s diversity.
He will be on hand later tonight in Toronto for the campaign’s first debate with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Green party Leader Elizabeth May. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is not taking part.