Federal party leaders' claims from the English-language debate

A round up of fact checks on some of the most notable claims made during the debate.

CBC News has been tracking truthfulness on the campaign trail

The federal party leaders squared-off at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., on Monday night. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

All six of the major federal party leaders met on the same debate stage for the first time during the election on Monday night.

The wide-ranging discussion touched on many topics and included significant claims from all the leaders — some about their own records and proposals and others levelled at their political rivals.

Highlights from the federal leaders’ debate

2 years ago
The six main federal party leaders battled it out in the English-language debate, looking to distinguish themselves from the pack in the final two weeks of the campaign. 17:07

Throughout the campaign, CBC News has been assessing the truthfulness and accuracy of statements from federal politicians and their parties.

Here is a round up of fact checks on some of the most notable claims made during the debate.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

The claim: Trudeau said his government has brought Canada "three quarters of the way" to achieving an emissions reduction target laid out in the Paris Agreement, which is 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The facts: If Canada were to meet its Paris Agreement target, the country would have to emit no more than 513 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) projects that absent emissions-reducing policies put in place since the Liberals formed government, the country's output would be about 815 megatonnes in 2030.

Therefore, to reach the Paris Agreement target, Canada requires policies that will eliminate 302 megatonnes from what we would emit if we did nothing at all to combat climate change.

According to ECCC, the Liberals' current plan accounts for 224 of those 302 megatonnes by 2030, or just under 75 per cent.

That said, those are still just projected reductions.

In 2017, the most recent year for which data is currently available, Canada's output was 716 megatonnes, or two per cent below 2005 levels.

For those reasons, Trudeau's claim is misleading — although there is still more than a decade to achieve the goal, and the Liberals have offered new proposals during the campaign aimed at closing the remaining gap of 25 per cent with a goal, they say, of exceeding the target.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer

The claim: Scheer said that a Conservative government would pay for its proposed tax cut and credits by reducing "corporate welfare" and slashing "Canada's foreign aid budget by 25 per cent."

The facts: The Tories say they can save a combined $3 billion by eliminating some "corporate handouts" and cutting the foreign aid budget.

But that figure amounts to only a fraction of the costs associated with the party's tax proposals. 

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that reducing the rate paid in the lowest-income tax bracket alone would cost about $4.9 billion by 2022.

Further, the Conservatives haven't specified which corporate subsidies might be scrapped and there are lingering questions about their math on foreign aid.

Scheer's implication that those two cost-saving measures would pay for his party's proposed tax changes is misleading.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

The claim: Singh said, as he has numerous times on the campaign trail, that the Trudeau government gave $14 billion to corporations so that they could "buy jets and limousines."

The facts: In its fall economic statement last year, the federal government announced $14 billion in tax incentives for Canadian businesses over the next six years. 

Under the plan, businesses can entirely write off the costs of some machinery and clean energy equipment, as well as an increased portion of new assets.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau suggested at the time that the policy was intended to help Canadian businesses keep pace with U.S. competitors. In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump's government cut the country's corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 per cent. 

Christopher Ragan, an associate professor of economics at McGill University, told the Canadian Press that Singh is being misleading when he implies only the rich will benefit from the move.

"It's not just about private jets and limousines," he said. "It's about driving investment in the economy, which drives growth and drives productivity."

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

The claim: "I'm very pleased that we are the party standing on stage today that has a full platform, has the budget numbers publicly accessible and approved as a budget that passes muster by Kevin Page and the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy." 

The facts: The Green Party was the first in the current campaign to attach a price tag to its platform. The initial costing was not particularly well-received by many economists. One consistent criticism was that the party's fiscal outlook was reliant on highly uncertain revenue projections.

Kevin Page is a former Parliamentary Budget Officer who now heads the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa. Throughout the campaign, Page and his team have been independently evaluating the fiscal merits of the party's platforms.

He initially gave the Greens' plan a failing grade. The party then revised its platform costing and provided Page with additional information about its baseline economic assumptions.

The updated platform submission got a passing mark for its more realistic projections and overall transparency, though Page said it was still wanting when it comes to "responsible fiscal management." 

The re-evaluation by Page and his team means May's claim is mostly true, but there are still questions about the long-term sustainability of the Greens' proposed measures for fiscal sustainability.


  • This story has been updated from an earlier version to include more details from Environment and Climate Change Canada about the Liberals' emissions target calculations.
    Oct 08, 2019 1:35 AM ET


Lucas Powers

Senior Writer

Lucas Powers is a Toronto-based reporter and writer. He's reported for CBC News from across Canada. Have a story to tell? Email lucas.powers@cbc.ca any time.

With files from Abby Plener, Earvin Solitario and Stephanie Hogan

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