Trudeau takes aim at Ford over possible kindergarten cuts as campaign-style rhetoric heats up
Greater Toronto Area is expected to be a key battleground in the federal election this fall
Justin Trudeau says he's not just concerned about possible cuts Premier Doug Ford could make to Ontario's education system as Canada's prime minister — he's also concerned as a father with children in the province's schools.
Trudeau made the comments during a wide-ranging town hall meeting Thursday night at a Milton, Ont., high school.
Trudeau told the crowd that cuts to education won't help the economy grow or provide opportunity for Canadians. But the cuts would also hit home on a personal level, he added.
Trudeau urges Ontarians to send message to Ford government
"I'm also a parent who has three kids in the Ontario public school system," he said, adding the potential cuts "worry me as a parent who's got his youngest kid in all-day kindergarten right now."
The program was introduced by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty and was fully rolled out in 2014. It saves families thousands of dollars a year in child-care costs, but it costs the province $1.5-billion a year, at a time when the government is grappling with what it says is a $14.5 billion deficit.
Ford's government is conducting education consultations, including about the possibility of removing class size caps for kindergarten and primary grades.
Trudeau urged people to send a message to the Ford government.
"I'm hoping that Ontarians ... will make very, very clear that it would be a very bad political choice to cut opportunities for students and to cut education budgets," he said.
Says GM plant closure a 'shock'
Trudeau took questions from a crowd in the high school's gymnasium while others watched from an overflow room nearby.
Trudeau's office said approximately 1,300 people attended the 90-minute event, which was the latest in a series of
question-and-answer sessions held across the country.
The prime minister faced queries on a variety of subjects, including his environmental policy, immigration and political unrest in Venezuela.
Trudeau was asked twice what the federal government is doing to protect the jobs of autoworkers in Oshawa after General Motors announced it was closing its assembly plant there at the end of the year.
Trudeau said the news came as a "shock and a disappointment," and the federal government will continue to fight for the jobs.
"We are also working with the unions and other potential investors and automakers to look at what a future could be for that particular plant," he said.
Campaigning with Olympic medallist Milton candidate
The pair surprised commuters at a transit station in the suburb west of Toronto, posing for pictures and chatting with people as they got off a train.
Van Koeverden, a star candidate for the Liberals, will face Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt, the popular incumbent in the Milton riding.