The Conservatives are standing by their use of ads that falsely say the Liberals plan to legalize hard drugs, as another example of the Tory-endorsed claim has surfaced.
The Globe obtained a copy of a flier sent out in the Scarborough area of Toronto that says “Justin Trudeau has a plan to legalize hard drugs.” The flier has English and Chinese languages on both sides with the same message.
A picture of someone shooting up is accompanied by the question: “Do you want Justin Trudeau to legalize hard drugs in your community?”
At a campaign event in Toronto on Sunday, Mr. Trudeau called the ads “reprehensible” and a “lie.”
The flier goes on to say: “Only Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives will stop Trudeau’s hard drug legalization plan and keep our kids safe.”
Mr. Trudeau said during the French language TVA debate on Oct. 2 that a re-elected Liberal government would not legalize or decriminalize hard drugs “right now,” but clarified with reporters immediately afterwards that he has no plans to do so if he wins a second mandate.
“We will not be further decriminalizing any drugs other than cannabis," Mr. Trudeau told reporters after the debate.
The Conservatives are defending their ads, accusing the Liberal Leader of being unclear.
“If Justin Trudeau tells us precisely when he is going to legalize dangerous drugs, we will amend our [ads] to reflect this new information,” Conservative spokesperson Simon Jefferies said on Sunday when asked about the fliers.
On Friday, The Globe reported that the party was also pushing similar ads on its Chinese-language Facebook page.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was not campaigning on Sunday, but defended the online ads when asked about them on Saturday.
“We’ve called attention to the Liberals’ inability to come clear on this," he said. “This is something that Canadians have a right to know about: whether or not they’re going to give Justin Trudeau a second mandate where he will continue to go down this road of making drugs more accessible.”
Mr. Trudeau said the ads are a distraction from the Conservative platform, which outlines $53-billion in cuts over five years to balance the budget while also introducing an across-the-board income tax cut.
“The Conservative Party is continuing to mislead and even lie to Canadians,” Mr. Trudeau said.
“I think it is reprehensible. We have been very clear, we will not be legalizing hard drugs. We will continue with the approach that we have that has been working on fighting this terrible opioid epidemic.”
Parts of the country have been dealing in recent years with a surge in deaths from overdoses linked to illicit opioids.
Mr. Trudeau has said his approach to combating the opioid crisis will be “grounded in science, in harm reduction, in safe consumption, in giving more tools to our medical professionals.”