NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

The three main political parties continued promising to make life more affordable for Canadians on Wednesday, by promising to create new programs, boosting support for ones already there or finding ways to cut spending to pay for tax cuts.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was first out of the gate in Sudbury, Ont., Wednesday morning, with a promise to extend full public dental coverage to those whose household incomes are less than $70,000 year — billed as a move toward eventually including dentistry in universal public health care.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau then said in Fredericton that if re-elected, his government would increase old age security by an extra 10 per cent once seniors reach age 75, as well as boost the Canada Pension Plan survivor’s benefit by 25 per cent.

Then Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced in Hamilton that he would review all federal business subsidies and get rid of programs where the money benefits shareholders, corporate executives, foreign companies and lobbyists or consultants — rather than protecting jobs.

The Conservatives say this would save the federal government $1.5 billion a year.

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The promises came as the federal election campaign marks a milestone today: one week down, four-and-a-half to go.

The first week has seen Trudeau criss-cross the country. He launched his campaign in Vancouver, and continued with swings through Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. He has appearances scheduled today in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Marquee promises he’s already made include a massive expansion of child-care and parental-benefit programs, an increase in the value of homes eligible for the first-time home-buyer incentive and a package of smaller measures to help new businesses get momentum.

Trudeau’s campaign hit a snag early on when his media bus ran into his plane, and he was also knocked a bit offside when the SNC-Lavalin affair re-emerged in the headlines with word the RCMP investigation — now paused for the campaign — was being stymied by the protection of cabinet confidences.

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Scheer has also travelled extensively, focusing his energies on getting to know voters and announcing a range of tax credits targeted at families. He’s also been forced to dodge dirt flung at his campaign by the Liberals, who spent the early days of the campaign challenging him on controversial statements made by both him and his candidates.

Scheer is campaigning in and around Toronto today.

Singh has focused his campaign in Ontario and in Quebec, where he launched a platform directly aimed at reigniting the passion for his party in that province. He’s had his share of candidate troubles as well, including finding enough of them to run under the orange banner, a problem the party says will be solved by the Sept. 30 deadline for candidates to register.

Singh is spending a second day straight in Ontario, moving on to Barrie and Toronto after his announcement in Sudbury.

The Green party has released its national platform, a document that leader Elizabeth May says seeks to show that all national policy must now be considered as a means to respond to the current climate emergency.

While May spent the early days of the campaign mostly in her home province of B.C., where she holds her seat, she moved squarely onto the offence after that by hitting ridings the party thinks it might be able to win, including Guelph.

May is back in Vancouver today, though.

And People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier saw new life given to his campaign with word that he’ll have a spot at the officially sanctioned leaders’ debates scheduled for early October.

The nod from the debates’ commission validates his argument that his party — though polling at only four per cent nationally — does have a chance of electing an MP.

Bernier is in New Brunswick today, for the latest in a series of relatively low-key meet-and-greets with local candidates.

Despite all the leaders’ moving around the country, the polls aren’t moving that much. New data released today by Leger shows the Liberals and Conservatives are still neck-and-neck for the lead, and the NDP and Greens fighting for third place.

The Canadian Press

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