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Trudeau pitches plan for student debt relief in platform

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds up his party's platform at a press conference in Waterloo, Ont. on Monday, October 5, 2015.


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau released his platform Monday morning – "A new plan for a strong middle class" – choosing Waterloo's Wilfrid Laurier University as the venue to announce that a Liberal government would give relief to students through grants and relaxed repayment of loans.

A Trudeau government would exempt graduates from repaying their student loans until they earned at least $25,000 a year; the interest would be paid by the federal government until that time. In addition, the Liberals would increase the maximum Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $3,000 a year for full-time students and $1,800 for part-time students, according to the document. It also commits that the level of non-repayable grant assistance for a student would rise by $750-million per year, increasing to $900-million by 2019-20.

The platform outlined at the Ontario university is mainly a repackaging of announcements Mr. Trudeau has made throughout the lengthy election campaign, including the centrepiece of his platform – if he forms government, the Liberal Leader says he will run three modest deficits before balancing the budget in 2019, and invest $20-billion in infrastructure over 10 years in areas such as transit and housing. The platform was released as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announced the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal had been reached.

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Mr. Trudeau also says he would also restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to children. A Liberal government would also increase subsidies to bring down the high cost of food in Canada's North.

The event was carried live on Facebook, and was an opportunity for the Liberal Leader to show off his comfort with social media and provide a generational contrast with his opponents. Mr. Trudeau took questions from Facebook members and the live audience.

In his remarks, Mr. Trudeau relied heavily on the themes and lines from the speech he gave Sunday at a major rally at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Ont. Between 5,000 and 6,000 Liberal supporters attended, with many bused in from across the province for the event. At the rally, Mr. Trudeau outlined a positive future, telling his supporters that Canadians deserved a better government.

As he did in Brampton, he said in Waterloo, Monday morning, "This campaign has never been about me. It's always been about Canadians. We are in this for Canadians."

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, he says, is trying to scare Canadians about the economy and their security. Conservatives have also tried to define Mr. Trudeau through a series of critical ads, including the "not ready" ad, which also talks about his "good hair."

Mr. Trudeau's message of hope and belief in a better future comes with just two weeks left in the 78-day election campaign; the race is still tight but the Liberals seem to have the momentum, according to national opinion polls.

The NDP, which is committed to balanced budgets, is critical of Mr. Trudeau's plan. Last week the NDP launched a campaign targeting NDP-Liberal swing voters, warning the Liberal plan doesn't add up and will cut $6.5-billion in services, including health care. It is focusing this message in critical battlegrounds, especially the Greater Toronto Area.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More


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