Tory candidate Joe Oliver throws barbs at Liberal economic plan
In final days before the vote, Conservatives draw sharp contrast between them and Grits
The Conservatives are ramping up their attack on the Liberals in the final days of the election campaign, drawing out differences between the two parties when it comes to the economy.
With just nine days to go until most Canadians cast their ballots, Conservative candidate Joe Oliver on Saturday raised more clearly than before the possibility of a federal Liberal government. Advance polls opened Friday.
"There is a real scenario in which the Liberals can form the next government and [Liberal Leader] Justin Trudeau can become the next prime minister, and that would have real consequences for the economy," he said during a campaign event in his Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence.
The Liberals lead the polls and have been rising steadily in the polls over the past month. CBC's Poll Tracker has the Liberals at 33.6 per cent support over the Conservatives' 31.8 per cent, as of Friday. The NDP trail at 23.8 per cent.
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The messaging this weekend, focused on the economy, was by no means subtle. Oliver claimed the Conservatives' priority is "protecting Canada's fragile economy" with low taxes and a balanced budget, while the Liberals would raise taxes and run "permanent deficits." (The Grits have promised to run modest short-term deficits and then reach a balanced budget in 2019.)
"[The polls] been quite divergent one from the other and we don't focus entirely on polls, but what clearly is in play here is the possibility that our low tax plan for jobs and growth may not be the plan of the next government," Oliver said.
He pointed to the Liberal government of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as a cautionary example.
"You have to look no further than the Ontario Wynne government to see what the result would be: massive taxes, increases in spending that result in huge deficits, credit downgrades and a deteriorating economy. This is not what Canadians want, this is not what Canada needs," he said.
Fight over pensions
Oliver, who's facing a tough battle in his Toronto riding against Liberal candidate Marco Mendicino, made his remarks at a local pizzeria.
The event was focused squarely on criticizing Trudeau and his party's plan to enhance pensions, renewing an ongoing public fight between the federal Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals.
The issue of pensions has been divisive in Ontario, especially this past summer when Premier Kathleen Wynne released details of the new Ontario Registered Pension Plan. It sparked a war of words between the premier and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who slammed it as an "enormous tax increase."
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Oliver repeated that what the Conservatives have dubbed the "Trudeau-Wynne tax" would hurt the wallets of middle-class Canadians. Oliver said Trudeau "endorsed" Wynne's pension plan earlier this spring, and warned it could be used as a model for the rest of the country if the Liberals come to power.
"One could surmise that this plan could kill over 100,000 jobs. This would be terrible for Canadians, it will send shock waves throughout our economy," the Conservative candidate said.
The Ontario Liberals responded to Oliver's remarks Saturday afternoon.
"The ORPP is a savings plan for Ontario workers designed to help them achieve retirement security. Joe Oliver is simply wrong when he calls it a tax," they said in a statement.
Under the Ontario plan, which was approved in legislation in April, workers will have to contribute 1.9 per cent of their pay, to a maximum of $1,643 a year, which employers will have to match for every employee.