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Trudeau, Scheer trade populism warnings, corruption charges on campaign

Last Updated Sep 26, 2019 at 4:05 pm EST

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Thursday the political instability in the United States and Britain serves as a warning to Canadian voters to avoid the pull of divisive populism that he accuses his Conservative opponents of fostering.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, raised the SNC-Lavalin drama that has dogged Trudeau in the past by promising a new law to investigate “sleazy” politicians to hold his opponent to account.

Trudeau linked the impeachment drama unfolding in the U.S. and the Brexit agony rocking the U.K. to the “politics of fear” that he says Scheer is bringing to the current Canadian federal election.

While he did not mention President Donald Trump or Prime Minister Boris Johnson by name, Trudeau continued to link Scheer to other Conservative politicians, such as Ontario Premier Doug Ford and former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Trudeau said Scheer is running on the same failed policies of Harper from the 2015 campaign that brought the Liberals to power.

“Some of the consequences of the populist tendencies that we’ve seen over the past few years in places like the U.K. and the United States are clearly on display for Canadians right now,” Trudeau said in the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area in Sudbury, Ont. after announcing a series of new environmental conservation measures.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer fired back by promising a Conservative government would launch a judicial inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Scheer made the announcement in Trudeau’s Montreal riding of Papineau, saying an inquiry would finally provide Canadians the answers they deserve about the government’s involvement in SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution.

“It’s a cover-up on an historic scale,” said Scheer.

Scheer said he would introduce legislation that would allow the RCMP to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for access to information protected by cabinet confidence, saying it would prevent politicians from hiding behind the current system of protecting frank and open discussions among ministers.

“The measures I’ve announced today and others I will announce later in the campaign will safeguard our democracy against the whims of sleazy and unscrupulous politicians.”

Scheer was speaking at Jarry Park in Montreal’s east end, and was to accompany Conservative candidates in what have historically been among the safest Liberal ridings in the city: Mount Royal and Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel.

Mount Royal has gone for the Liberals in every election since 1940; it was the seat of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre for nearly 20 years.

Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel has elected Liberals since it was created in the 1980s, though its three MPs have been Alfonso Gagliano, a minister brought down in the sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s; Massimo Pacetti, whom Justin Trudeau expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2014 over allegations he’d harassed another MP; and Nicola Di Iorio, who stopped showing up in the House of Commons before eventually resigning last winter.

Still, Conservatives have never come close to winning there.

Green Leader Elizabeth May says her party’s climate change plan would cancel proposed pipeline projects and transition Canada’s energy infrastructure to a carbon-free grid system.

Speaking at an event in Montreal, May says the Green plan would modernize Canada’s electricity grid to supply renewable energy across the country.

She says a Green government would scrap existing gas projects, including a $9-billion project to pipe natural gas to Quebec’s Saguenay region.

Her announcement comes a day before hundreds of thousands of people were expected to join a march in Montreal and elsewhere across Canada as part of an international day of protest over climate change.

Trudeau continued a string of environment-related announcements – promising to protect one-fourth of Canada’s lands and oceans by 2025, along with measures to help low-income families go camping in a national or provincial park – before whistle-stopping his way southeast to a rally in Peterborough, where cabinet minister Maryam Monsef is fighting to keep her seat.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says, if elected, he would offer annual rent subsidies of up to $5,000 to provide immediate help for families struggling to pay for housing.

The NDP says the rental benefit would cost the federal treasury $1.35 billion per year and another $450 million from the provinces beginning next year.

Singh said there’s a “`massive” housing crisis across Canada and that it’s not just a problem in big cities. He stressed that it’s also a major concern in smaller communities such as Campbell River.

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters and the New Democrats say one-fifth of Canadians spend more than half of their incomes on rent and utilities.

In its platform, the NDP says it would build 500,000 quality, affordable housing units over the next 10 years – and it promises half of them will be constructed within five years. To get it done, the party intends to work with provinces and municipalities.

The plan, the NDP says, will begin with $5 billion in additional federal funding in the first 18 months. The effort will help create thousands of jobs across the country, the platform says.