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Scheer, Trudeau talk platforms, firearms in Toronto; Singh stays in B.C.

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal election platform is out, and it’s brimming with talking points not only for Justin Trudeau, but for his political rivals as well.

There’s billions in new spending — $57 billion worth, according to the Conservatives’ critical math — to be financed in part by new taxes on the wealthy, large international corporations, foreign housing speculators and tech giants.

“Liberals are proposing to continue to invest in Canadians because it is working to grow our economy, create opportunities for everyone,” Trudeau said Monday in Toronto as he repeated his explanation for continuing to increase spending.

There’s billions in red ink, too: the platform projects a $27.4-billion deficit next year, falling to $21 billion by the fourth year of what would be a second Liberal mandate, should Trudeau’s growth-and-investment approach win out over what he calls the cuts and austerity of Andrew Scheer’s Tories.

Scheer began his own set of campaign appearances Monday by highlighting what Conservatives consider Liberal disregard for the federal balance sheet — an image Trudeau seemed to lean into Sunday as an important point of distinction between the two parties.

“We must elect a Conservative government that will live within its means,” Scheer said in suburban Whitby, Ont., before announcing a Conservative government would make it easier for thousands of Canadians to access the federal disability tax credit.

“(Trudeau) has made billions of dollars in uncosted promises that will force him to either raise taxes, break promises or break the bank,” Scheer said.

Trudeau spent Monday morning in Toronto talking to health-care professionals about what he has promised a re-elected Liberal government would do about guns. That’s a hot topic in a city that has seen 340 shooting incidents this year alone, with 503 victims — 28 of them fatal — according to Toronto police data.

That includes outlawing the semi-automatic AR-15, which was used in many recent U.S. mass shootings, as well instituting a buy-back program for legally purchased assault rifles.

“These are the things that people are calling for,” Trudeau said. “They are concrete actions, not just statements of urgency, because we recognize the public-health emergency that gun violence is becoming, as highlighted by these professionals.”

Scheer faced questions, too. The Liberals are trying to make hay with the fact that the Conservative leader never finished the licensing process to become an insurance broker, a job he says he had before politics. The party says he was accredited, but left the industry before getting his licence.

On Monday, Scheer said he worked in an insurance office for about six or seven months in 2003 and that his tasks included supporting more senior staff, answering questions from customers and providing information to people who came into the office. He said licensed brokers finalized transactions.

The Conservative campaign has more stops planned in Toronto and nearby Brampton — part of the electorally important suburban belt ringing Canada’s most populous city.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh continued to focus his efforts on the Vancouver area, where he promised to bring in universal child care, costing no more than $10 per day, across the country by 2030.

He also said voters in Ontario and elsewhere should not believe Trudeau when he says the election is about a choice between the Liberals and Conservatives.

“Mr. Trudeau is going to scare you and say you have to settle for less, but you don’t have to settle for less,” Singh said.

Green Leader Elizabeth May is beginning her day in Vancouver, while People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier travels to Windsor, Ont.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2019.

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer saying Canadians should elect a Conservative government that will “leave” within its means.

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