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The leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties clashed over the cost of party platforms Wednesday as the Liberals released a package of commitments that Justin Trudeau noted is costed while other party platforms are not.

The Conservatives released their platform, titled Canada’s Recovery Plan, on the second day of the election campaign while the Liberals released Forward for Everyone on Wednesday.

Mr. Trudeau noted that only the Liberals have released the cost of their platform - $78-billion in new spending over five years.

“This is a responsible and prudent plan that is fair and also completely transparent. You’ll see in this platform that we have laid out all the numbers, the biggest promises all costed by the [Parliamentary Budget Officer] so that Canadians can have confidence that this is a real, concrete plan,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference.

“None of the other parties have shown their numbers, have shared their costings beyond a few projections that rely on magical thinking like three per cent growth through the coming decade every year for Canada, which has only happened once in our history.”

At his daily news conference, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said his party had submitted its platform to the Parliamentary Budget Officer as soon as it could, and will update the plan when the budget officer replies to its request for analysis. The NDP, which released its platform ahead of the election call, is also awaiting an assessment from the budget officer.

Mr. O’Toole dismissed the Liberal platform as a “cobbled-together plan” of past Liberal commitments.

In a statement issued after the release of the Liberal platform, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that Mr. Trudeau had the chance to do things that would make things better for Canadians but had done nothing for six years.

Deputy Ottawa bureau chief Bill Curry , chief political writer Campbell Clark and Queen’s Park reporter Laura Stone report here on the Liberal platform.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

ONTARIO ANNOUNCES VACCINE-PASSPORT - Ontarians will have to show proof they have received full immunization against COVID-19 before entering indoor restaurants, gyms, theatres and banquet and meeting halls under a new system unveiled by Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday. Story here.

TRUDEAU BACKING LPC CANDIDATE FACING ALLEGATIONS - Justin Trudeau is standing by Liberal candidate Raj Saini, a two-term MP running for re-election in the Southwestern Ontario riding of Kitchener Centre, facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward women.

KEY AFN ELECTION PRIORITIES - The Assembly of First Nations released key priorities for the next federal government on Tuesday, including calls for an emphasis on reconciliation, climate leadership and economic growth for First Nations.

LPC CANDIDATE FACING LAWSUIT - The Liberal candidate in a downtown Toronto riding is facing a $1.5-million lawsuit even though the party’s internal screening process states candidates should not be involved in potentially controversial litigation.

PROTESTS CHALLENGING PARTIES - Party leaders are contending with how to handle emboldened protesters on the campaign trail, where outdoor campaign events, designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, have created security challenges.

O’TOOLE ON BALANCED BUDGETS AND RYERSON NAME CHANGE - Erin O’Toole said a Conservative government would balance the federal budget within 10 years “without cuts,” reiterating the party’s notion that it can shrink the deficit by growing the economy instead of trimming government spending. Also, the Conservative Leader says he respects Ryerson University’s decision to change its name, after he previously criticized the debate and referred to similar efforts as cancel culture.

NEW MANITOBA PREMIER - The governing Progressive Conservative caucus has chosen former deputy premier Kelvin Goertzen as interim party leader to replace Premier Brian Pallister, scheduled to leave office Wednesday. He will hold the title until the party’s leadership vote, which is slated for Oct. 30.

PROTESTS HAVE DOGGED LEADERS BEFORE - Tristan Hopper of The National Post writes here about how protest mobs have previously featured in Canadian politics. “At multiple points in recent memory, prime ministers — particularly those with a term or two under their belt — have been dogged by some supremely impolite demonstrators. Often, some of the most defining images of Canadian leaders were in how they responded to a rabid mob.”

WHERE IS THE PREMIER? - In Alberta, the Premier’s podium has been empty since Aug. 9 amidst a surge in the Delta-driven fourth wave of the pandemic. CBC reports here.

LEADERS

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, in Montreal, holds a news conference on the French language and visits TVA studios for a Face à Face interview.

Campaign-Trail Commitment: Mr. Blanchet committed to ensuring the province’s Charter of the French Language applies to businesses and institutions under federal jurisdiction.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, in Ottawa, makes an announcement and holds a media availability.

Campaign-Trail Commitment - Mr. O’Toole promises to scrap the Canada Infrastructure Bank and commit funds on its books to infrastructure projects as part of a new approach to the file. He also said a Conservative government would connect all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2025.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul holds a meeting with the General Council of the Union des producteurs agricole du Québec and was scheduled to hold a press conference on decriminalization in the afternoon.

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau announces details of the party platform and holds a media availability.

Campaign-Trail Commitment: The Liberal Party released a fully costed campaign platform that details $78-billion in new spending over five years, partially offset by $25-billion in new revenue from tax hikes focused on large corporations and the wealthy. Story here.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ,in Montreal, makes an announcement and holds a virtual town hall.

Campaign-Trail Commitment: Mr. Singh committed to using available federal lands as a location for affordable housing.

ELECTION SPOTLIGHT – SASKATCHEWAN

14 seats. At dissolution of Parliament: 14 Conservatives.

Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan campus:

“Saskatchewan does not figure prominently in the calculus of the 2021 election and rarely garners more than passing attention from national campaigns. The province has been firmly in the Conservative column for several electoral cycles and there is little reason to expect a significant change. With the defeat of long-time regional Liberal “boss,” Ralph Goodale, in 2019, the governing Liberals lost their meagre toehold in the province. There are several vulnerable seats, particularly in Saskatoon West, where the NDP has a shot, and in the North, with long-serving MLA Buckley Belanger, running as a federal Liberal, bringing his personal following into a race that is divided largely on ethnic lines between the northern and southern parts of the constituency. But most of the province remains staunchly Conservative.

“Canadians are long used to seeing Alberta leading the anti-Liberal effort in Canada’s but the centre of gravity in this movement may be shifting eastward. Saskatchewan’s popular Premier Scott Moe had made no effort to hide his disdain for key Trudeau government policies, particularly on carbon taxes and climate change. Pointedly, Moe reacted strongly to Liberal Leaser Justin Trudeau’s criticism of the province’s small privatization measures in health care, pointing out that Quebec has had a similar program without federal condemnation. The Conservative party remains popular in both rural and urban areas, and the NDP have failed to gain traction, with lingering tensions between the provincial and deferral branches of the party hampering the Saskatchewan ground game.

“Indigenous issues figure prominently in provincial affairs but are not yet significant in the 2021 federal election. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has courted the Indigenous vote but it is unclear that Indigenous people are as engaged in federal politics as they were in the 2015 election. Prime Minister Trudeau’s pattern of virtue signalling and over-promising has not impressed Indigenous electors to date and Conservative Leader Erin OToole’s general avoidance of Indigenous issues has not endeared him or his party to Indigenous voters in Saskatchewan. Save for a handful of ridings, including Saskatoon West and northern Saskatchewan, the Indigenous VIPs do not appear likely to figure prominently in the election.”

OPINION

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the absence of fiscal restraint by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole in the election campaign: So far, the fiscal debate in this election campaign hasn’t attracted any actual participants. It is a chimera of airy disinterest and magical thinking. It’s obvious that the public isn’t in a mood to hear politicians promising to cut spending, or balance the budget, or tackle the debt. It’s fine for party leaders to argue for greater or lesser public spending. But it would be worth knowing how far they think that spending should go, or under what circumstances they think it should change. Or if they think there should be any limits.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau finding the victimhood that the Liberal campaign needs: “It’s fair to say that the Tories have a history of flirting with the populist right. (I should know: I’ve written at least a dozen pieces criticizing them for it.) It’s also true that the vaccine-hesitant are disproportionately represented among their supporters. And it’s certainly true that a subset of these have been radicalized, part of a general climate of unreason fuelled by social media. But to jump from this to blaming the Conservatives for the Ontario mobs, or to conjure out of them a threat to democracy on the scale of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, is unworthy and overwrought. This is not the U.S., and Erin O’Toole is not Donald Trump.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on whether medicare actually matters at the ballot box: “If they were being honest, all the major parties would say they support a role for private providers and funders within the health care system, to varying degrees. They need to stop pretending this is a black-and-white issue and, instead, try and answer the question: What should and shouldn’t be covered by medicare? Just as importantly, what mechanism should be used to make that determination? That’s the policy discussion we need.”

Colin Robertson (Contributor to the Globe and Mail) on why Canada needs to recognize the Taliban in Afghanistan: “Shunning the Taliban as retribution for the West’s defeat would be a mistake. That the Taliban include drug-dealing, misogynist killers as members is beside the point. Diplomatic recognition should not be considered a seal of approval, but rather as the means by which a given country represents and advances the interests of its citizens. That’s why, despite the blood of millions on Mao Zedong’s hands, we recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1970; Pierre Trudeau recognized that we could not be a responsible player in global affairs if we ignored one-quarter of the global community.”

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